The Tempsford Special Duties Squadrons

 

     
 

The story of the TVARA

- until now!

 

The Tempsford Veterans and Relatives Association (TVARA) came into being, under a different name, in 2000 based, originally, on relatives of the crew of Hudson FK790, shot down over Holland in July 1944. Following the discovery of the remains of the pilot, J W Menzies, those who were relatives of that crew first met in 1997/8, and kept in touch with each other up to the time of Menzies’ funeral, and afterwards.


The “official” Tempsford Squadrons’ reunions had finished in 1997 – much to the dismay, it was later discovered, of many of the veterans – so when it was suggested to Bob Body (nephew of J W Menzies) that it would be good to reinstate some sort of summer meeting, he started with the people he knew, and worked from there. The November Remembrance Services at the Barn organised, at that time, by W/Cdr Tony Smith, had always been well attended, and many of the attendees at these Services became early members of what was to become the TVARA. There had been an informal summer meeting, in 1999, organised by the then farm manager John Button, which took place with quite a small number attending a picnic & barbecue in one of the hangars at Tempsford. This was purely a social event; a chance for relatives and veterans to meet and visit the museum and Barn. At this first unofficial meeting, it became clear that many wanted to make this Summer Gathering an annual event, so Bob decided to organise something on a slightly more formal basis. The November Remembrance Day Services continued, of course, and it was decided to incorporate a church service into the Summer Gatherings, as this had been a much appreciated part of the earlier “official” Squadron reunions.


Since 2000 the activities of the group have only been possible thanks to the goodwill of Lady Erroll, the owner of the land on which Tempsford Airfield stands. In recent years, the numbers attending the Summer Gathering have grown considerably; more and more relatives and veterans have found out about these Summer Events, either by word of mouth, or after visiting this website or www.161squadron.org and have contacted us. Many of these enquiries come from relatives who wish to find out more about what their father/mother/uncle/cousin did during his/her wartime service. Several have managed to make contact with the relatives of other crew members, thus continuing the “tradition” begun by the founder members of the group. In order to maintain the excellent relationship with Lady Erroll, it has been necessary to keep the numbers manageable, so the TVARA has to restrict membership and attendance at events to veterans and those who have a genuine link and family interest in the Tempsford Squadrons 1942-1945. The Tempsford Veterans and Relatives Association is what it says – members may, of course, bring guests, but no-one who is not a veteran or the relative of a member of one of the Squadrons has an automatic right to attend.

When Bob Body decided to emigrate to Crete, we needed a safe pair of hand to take over the organisationaltasks for both the Summer Gathering and the November Remembrance Service. A natural candidate was Edwin Bryce, whose own uncle had been lost flying from Tempsford with 138 Squadron. His brief, in 2006, was simple - “All you have to do is get a group of people onto an old, disused airfield twice a year....”. Edwin both successfully managed a growing membership and continues to build on the foundations, maintaining regular contact with veterans and relatives, including distributing newsletters.

Since 2006, when the main responsibility of organisation was passed to Edwin, the TVARA has gone from strength to strength. In 2005/2006, there were about 40 names on the “books” - today that number is close to 300. Latterly, due to pressure of work, Edwin has needed to hand the administration of the TVARA back to Bob & Helen. Thanks to the wonders of technology this can now easily be managed "remotely" from Crete!

Anyone wishing to research the part played by their relative in the work of the Tempsford Squadrons should contact Bob Body directly via the email link on this site. Bob has copies of over 35,000 pages of records concerning the operations of the Tempsford Squadrons, so can be an invaluable help in finding information. Veterans, relatives and those with a personal link to the Tempsford Squadrons 1942-45 are invited to join the TVARA, to keep abreast of events, to make contact with others they know and to receive regular newsletters.

Now there is an Australian Branch of TVARA (ATVARA) and, in July 2012, a number of veterans & relatives held their inaugural meeting at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance. It is wonderful to think that veterans & relatives on the other side of the world are able to meet and remember in the same spirit as the original group!

   

 

 

 

 
     
 

 
     
     
     
     
 
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