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North Oxfordshire and Cotswolds Area Report Summer 2009.

Following on from the sad news in our last area report, I am very saddened to say that local paratrooper veteran Ared Ashton has passed away. Fred was one of the first to be trained in Airborne operations and was a veteran of the D-Day landings. We will remember him fondly and our condolences go to his family.

This year is of course the 65th anniversary of D-Day and for many of the veterans will be their last opportunity to return to the beaches. As an Area we wholeheartedly applaud the Council of Management donating to the Normandy Veterans Association enough money to fund the return of ten veterans. We have been doing our own bit and have raised through a second hand book sale, auction, donations (collected by Don) and a raffle a further £768.37 which we will be passing on to the Association. The auction (of nearly 50 lots) was held at our March meeting, with Tony acting as auctioneer and Brian Tegg doing a sterling job as porter. Our Area members had donated some really fabulous items such as parts of Spitfires, WW2 webbing equipment, helmets, jerrycans and an RAF evasion map printed on silk. One lot which attracted great interest was a pair of books which contained pictures of some young ladies and their collection of militaria, but I can’t remember who bought that now. The Area members have been very generous to my badgering them for money and I sincerely thank them all for everything that they have given and bought. What a great bunch you all are.

In remembrance of one of our founding members, Noel Brion who passed away last year, his family have donated a trophy to be awarded annually to the person who has contributed most to the Area. The trophy is a WW1 piece of trench art and takes the form of an 18pdr shell case that has been turned into a Guardsman’s hat. It is magnificently done and has been mounted onto a wooden base. Noels son Mark came to the February meeting and presented the trophy to Ian and Joanne Spicer who run our website and who also produced a wonderful calendar of military vehicles that are owned within the area. It is an award that is richly deserved by Ian and Joanne and we thank you for everything that you do.

On the vehicles front, I am very pleased to hear that Tobin’s staghound is progressing well with the running gear finished, hull interior painted and fitting out having been started. Fuel tank is in and the brakes are now all “plumbed”. Hopefully by the time you read this the two engines and transmissions will be installed, but Tobin has indicated that this will be an interesting exercise as the hole appears quite a lot smaller than what he has to fit in there!

Looking at my calendar, I am amazed at how quickly it has filled up with events. Even if I can do only half the things that I would like to do, then it is going to be an exciting year.

We have fixed our annual get together at Swinbrook (near Burford) for the weekend of the 15th and 16th of August. With a couple of drive outs to sites of local interest, camping, and an evening barbecue, it should be a great weekend. All are welcome. Please contact me if you are interested in joining us.

In the latest windscreen I noticed that the topic of “entry level” vehicles was raised. I will say that I know of a very fine looking WW2 GMC that was recently advertised for sale at the very reasonable price of £2,500. You can still get a lot of WW2 truck for not a lot of money it seems

We regularly try and get guest speakers to come and talk to the Area members and I am pleased to say that for our May meeting (on the 28th) we have Bill King returning to talk about the Home Guard Auxilaries. As you probably know the Auxillaries were trained to remain behind in the event of a German invasion and commit acts of sabotage behind the lines until such time that they were all killed or captured. All of Bills talks really are fabulous and very well supported with photographs and plans.

The Area meetings usually attract in excess of 30 members and we always meet on the last Thursday of the Month at the Hook Norton Brewery visitor centre where we are happy for anyone with a similar interest (in beer and military vehicles) to come and join us. Where else can you get such good beer for only £2 a pint?

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