304 Air Training Squadron 1941

Len Fuggle brought in this wartime photograph of the 304 Squadron (Rye) A.T.C. pictured outside the south door of St. Mary’s Church.

How many can you recognise? Len put names to many of them. All the lads came from the town or the immediate villages.

Len himself can be picked out second from the right. Cpl. Bill Wickens, is seated on the right hand of Pilot Officer Edward Bear. Bills younger brother Eric was also in the Squadron (sixth from the left). 304 Squadron Commander Edward Bear was Chief Coastguard for the area, a big responsibility in those war torn years.

On the extreme right of the picture Bob (La La) Edwards, one of this town’s best known characters, stands proudly to attention. After the War Bob, who was a coalman by trade, became a leading light in the Bonfire Boys and a Part Time Fireman. He played soccer for Rye and was regular second team goalkeeper for several years.

Ken Farr, fifth from the right, was a keen cyclist and raced with the Rye Wheelers prior to and after the War. Sadly, Ken died young when he was stricken with cancer.

Third and Fourth from the right respectively stand Charles Williams and Bert Catt, two more well known Ryers. Further along the line, sixth from the right is Ryer Alf Crouch.

Bill Bashford, standing centre with glasses, worked for several years with Len Fuggle at Halfacres the Butchers in Cinque Ports Street.

Eighth from the left, peeping over the hat in front is Clyde Wratten, whose father George, was driver of the Camber Tram. Two further left is Percy Fletcher who now lives in Udimore Road. Then next standing, George Pettit the upholsterer with John Wickens, who later owned shoe shops in the Landgate on his left.

Richard Tiltman, standing behind Bill Bashford, was a keen airman. He later served his National Service in the R.A.F. Richard’s father Dick Tiltman, was a very popular Rye milkman.

Among the others that have had a name put to them are Peter Bray (third from the left). His father ran the Ypres pub. Next to him Bob Hobbs, who later emigrated to Calgary, then Bill King. Ivor Tribe, Ken Locke, Gordon Potter, Dennis Dee, John Clarke, Gordon Weller and Charlie Kirby.

Can you place the rest. Have you any stories about these old Ryers and their later exploits? Any more photos from the period?

304 Squadron later became 2274 Squadron based at the Grammar School and with Peter (Percy) Mitchell as Squadron Commander. In the years after the War there were many lads keen on flying and the A.T.C. Squadrons were very active.