Thursday, November 12, 2015

Remembrance at Fairlop Waters

Visitors to Fairlop Waters, together with pupils from John Bramston, Mossford Green, Fullwood and Manford Way primary schools were joined by Redbridge Mayor Cllr Barbara White for two minutes of silence at 11am on Wednesday 11th November in memory of the pilots who died fighting in the First and Second World Wars.

David Martin, chairman of the Fairlop Heritage group, said: “This is a first – we have 186 children attending and it is brilliant. It would be lovely if children at Fairlop that morning can talk about it when they are my age. It is an important place with more than 400,000 years of history.”

“I have been organising the Remembrance commemoration at the airfields since 2009 and hope to honour every one of the 18 countries, who served there during the wars.”

“This year, Ireland and Russia were honoured, with their national anthems played while representatives of both countries looked on.”

“Lt Claude Handley Trotter, from County Galway, Ireland, who died in 1918 and Pilot Officer Stanislav Kurowicki, from Kotelniki, Russia, who died in 1943, were honoured.”

“This was the first Fairlop ceremony without Harold Bennett – the first pilot to fly operational from RAF Station Fairlop in 1941, who died in January, aged 93.”

Pictures courtesy of David Martin and Ron Jeffiries


  1. Whilst David Martin is to be commended, yet again, for his sterling efforts, it is a great shame that very few of the children attending will have left with any real appreciation of the proceedings other than that provided before or afterwards by their teachers.

    Like the many of the adults present they will be unaware of the names, let alone the histories, of the Irish and Russian pilots specifically commemorated on Wednesday. The adults would have been able to follow the basic outline of the service, based on their knowledge and memories of services in previous years but I doubt that many of the children could. The behaviour of the children in such a bewildering and, no doubt, boring situation is to be commended.

    So, what was wrong? The totally ineffective Public Address system was what was wrong.

    Unfortunately we approached the site of the service from the outside of the building and, due to the large space reserved for the children, could not see the central area from where the service was to be conducted and, therefore, appreciate how bad the situation was likely to be. When the service started 15 minutes later it was too late to do anything except, possibly, use a rolled up newspaper and some sticky backed plastic to create a primitive megaphone. I regret that I came unequipped with either of these items ...

    I offered to provide David with any advice that might be needed some while ago - three years on, that offer has not been taken up. The offer still stands ...

    It does not need a wealth of experience to realise reasonable good results from a PA system and, as B21 has recently acquired one which Alan tells me is yet to be used in anger, some simple points might help a wider audience.

    - Never place a microphone in front of a loudspeaker;

    - Keep the loudspeaker(s) as far away from the microphone(s) as possible;

    - Try not to position a microphone downwind of a loudspeaker;

    - Hard surfaces, eg: windows, can reflect unwanted sound back to the microphone;

    - Human bodies are very effective at absorbing sound - the more bodies, the greater the absorption;

    In any transmission system it is important to maintain a clear path between transmitter and receiver. In a PA system, these equate to the loudspeaker and the human ear.

    - The human ear is typically 5ft/1.5m above ground level;

    - Loudspeakers should ideally be mounted above head height. Siting the loudspeaker(s) at knee level in font of a crowd - as on Wednesday - will not work.

    I saw a second loudspeaker after Wednesday's service. Assuming this works with the existing set-up, the best solution at Fairlop would be to mount the speakers at the top of the pillars supporting the veranda roof, one at each side. If there are no suitable fixing points available, it must surely be possible to arrange with Vision for a single hook, nail or screw to be provided on the relevant posts from which the speakers might be hung?

    The amplifier in use is combined with its loudspeaker in a small unit intended for indoor use with a fairly small audience. With an audience of around 200, as on Wednesday, the amplifier part really needs to be separated from the speaker so that each part can be put in the most appropriate location. Perhaps a volunteer could be found to make a new box to house the amplifier alone?

  2. If ignorance is bliss, Knowsie should be a very happy person.

    Contrary to his totally inaccurate opinion, children attending were very aware of the Irish and Russian pilots commemorated during the ceremony.*

    Knowsie should ask himself why I say this with confidence. This is where his ignorance reveals itself.

    Instead of wasting time criticising others inaccurately, some of us have spent considerable time speaking in school assemblies, prior to the visit, about the history and heritage of Fairlop, the pilots, groundcrew and remembrance.

    So it was neither bewildering nor boring for them.

    If Knowsie had paid attention, he may have noticed he attended a (*) ceremony not a service, and that the crosses laid by children each had an RAF personnel name and photograph on. Again they knew about them, Knowsie did not.

    If he cares to join Fairlop Heritage Group, and If Knowsie makes himself known beforehand, I will place him in charge of the public address system.

    As for his boasts of his superb knowledge of sound, perhaps he obtained this from Wikipedia. Wikipedia is renown for inaccuracies too.

    David Martin