19th Air Formation Signals was formed at Kirkburton in November 1943. It moved to the Far East, arriving in Bombay in December 1944, serving in Burma before eventually settling at RAF Changi, Singapore, where it provided ground communications for the Far East Air Force until disbanded in November 1971.
Following an initiative by Mr George Brew, 37 past members of the Regiment met for a Reunion Luncheon in London in August 1993 and the 19th Signal Regiment Association was formed. Mr George Brew was elected Chairman and Colonel Colin Gilbert, the last Commanding Officer of the unit, accepted an invitation to become President. Membership of the Association peaked in 2003 (over 320 past members and widows) and now stands, in 2008, at 177 members and 41 widows.
The Association is affiliated to the Royal Signals Association and membership is open to all who served in 19th Air Formation Signals (or in the unit in its later titles) and to Royal Signals members of CAFSO Branch, HQ FEAF.
Annual membership fees are £ 3.00. For further information, contact the Association:
Mr F D Isaacs
Flat 1 Eden Court
37 West Cliff Road
Dorset. BH4 8AZ
Tel 01202 766056
The last recorded flight of a Bristol Beaufighter took place at RAF Seletar in May 1960 (or was it?*) but thanks to the efforts of the restorers at The Fighter Collection - co-located with the Imperial War Museum at Duxford - another is expected to be restored to airworthy condition. The team has already restored a Bristol Blenheim to flying condition but Bristol Beaufighter JM135 is the biggest restoration project ever to be undertaken by them. The centre section and fuselage was recovered from Australia - JM135 being British built and served with 31 Sqn, RAAF. The cockpit itself is from an Australian built aircraft as is one of the wings. The other wing is British built and differs in a number of significant details.
Ailerons, rudder, undercarriage doors and elevators have had to be built and new skins have had to be made for the wings. Two new air intakes for the oil coolers have been made and they are described as 'a work of art in themselves'. Work is continuing to rebuild the wings. 'The cockpit, undercarriage and tailplane have now been fitted and the aircraft is beginning to look like a Beaufighter. It is understood that there are two Beaufighter engines 'somewhere in India' and the scouts are out looking for them! The sale of the aircraft to an Australian gentleman is no longer to take place.
Note*. See 'Seletar, Crowning Glory' The history of the RAF in Singapore by David Taylor. Woodfield Publishing 2002. ISBN 1-903953-16-2, pages 161 & 191 where it is recorded that a Beaufighter was restored to flying condition 'for one flight only' to fly past during the last Queen's Birthday Parade held in 1961 (?) at Changi, Singapore.
Association Christmas cards may be obtained from Maureen Soward at £4.00 per pack of 10 (including post and packing within the UK). Ring 01258-860647 for more details or a sample card.
Dvr Thomas William Horry
Was posted to 19th Air Formation Signals at Hill Hall Camp, Essex, in October 1944 and served in 120 Construction Section until June 1945 when
he moved to HQ 3 Coy. He moved to UHQ in August 1945 and returned home on the SS Orduna leaving Rangoon in June 1946.
In October 1945 he was driver for Gracie Fields when she toured Burma. He died in October 1984 and his daughter would like to contact anyone who remembers him from his service days. If any reader can help, please contact the Association Membership Secretary whose details will be found on the home page.
RAF ASSOCIATIONS - FAR EAST RAF Changi Association
- The RAF Changi Association was formed in 1996 and members of 19th Signal Regiment may apply for Associate Membership. This association publishes a newsletter, The Changi-ite, two or three times each year
- Has a presence at all major air displays in the UK
- Holds an Annual Reunion Dinner. This year (2003) on Saturday, May 17th, at Birmingham
- Arranges group visits to Singapore & Penang. The next visit in January/February 2004
- Has negotiated that Singapore Airlines offer 'net' fares to members of the Association.
For more details, visit the web site at http://www.rafchangi.co.uk/ or contact the Assistant Membership Secretary, Mr Malcolm Flack, 01494-728562
RAF Seletar Association
The RAF Seletar Association was formed in 1997 and membership is open to all who were associated with RAF Seletar including, for example, children who attended school there. This association:
- Publishes a newsletter, The Searchlight, two or three times each year.
- Holds reunions in this country. This year September 19th-21st in York
- Arranges group visits to the Far East. In 2003, Singapore, March 9th to 20th.
David Taylor has written a history of RAF Seletar entitled 'SELETAR, Crowning Glory - The History of the RAF in Singapore'. 220 Pages, 8' x 10', soft back. Published by Woodfield Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1-903953-16-2. Available from all good bookshops price £ 15.00. This was reviewed in the Christmas 2002 edition of the 19th Signal Regiment Association.
RAF Penang/Butterworth Association
The RAF Penang/Butterworth Association was formed at the Casuarina Hotel, Batu Ferringhi, on 30th August 1996, by a group of 43 people marking the 25th Anniversary of the handing over or RAF Butterworth and RAF Penang to the Malaysian Government in October 1971. Members of 19th Signal Regiment who served at RAF Butterworth and/or RAF Penang may apply for Associate Membership. This Association:
- Publishes a newsletter twice a year.
- Holds an annual reunion in this country. The weekend 11/12 October, 2003, at Solihull
- Arranges occasional reunion trips to the Far East.
For further information, contact the Association Secretary, Pete Mather, 01344-429238.
These three associations operate in close collaboration with each other and with the National Malaysian and Borneo Veterans Association.