I only learned about the group recently as both my partner and I took on the quest to continue my father’s research. We both have become inspired and full of admiration for the work the group does.
After the above article was published in the EDP relating to this website and my father’s work, we received an email from Janine Harrington, expressing her admiration in the work we had done. Janine is the secretary of the RAF 100 Group Association and had heard about our website after a friend had sent her a newspaper clipping, it later turns out that the lady who had sent this (Evelyn Bartram) was actually a distant relation of mine. This only came to light at a family party for my Mother’s 70th Birthday where she came over and introduced herself explaining that she was the wife of the late Len Bartram. Len had grown up in my own home village of Hindolveston, and as a schoolboy during the war had seen the airfields grow and develop with great intrigue, this also led to his involvement with the RAF 100 group association, more of which I will cover below.
So how did the RAF 100 Group Association start?
I unfortunately never met Eileen or Martin, so many of the words written below have come from tributes paid to them but I thought it important to include so that you had an insight into the inspirational people that were involved in establishing the group.
Eileen Boorman (nee Staunton) (taken from the words of Martin a brother’s tribute)
Eileen Boorman was born in 1925 in Farnborough, Hants.
Eileen was an accomplished pianist and had even won prizes in local Music Festivals. She joined a band which played at many RAF stations covering the Lincolnshire area. This led her to meet her future husband, Flying Officer Stafford Sinclair, DFM who at the time was a pilot officer on his first tour of operations over Germany. They married in December 1944.
The story begins with a somewhat sad start, losses were so heavy during those very dark days.
So many young women lost their partners, many families lost loved ones, and in this particular case, Eileen had only been married 3 months before her husband was sadly killed in action over Hamburg on March 21st 1945.
During the same period, she sadly also lost her own father and the family moved to Hastings to be close to her Mother’s family.
Music continued to be an inspiration in her life, and she even became a proficient dancer taking part in many dancing competitions achieving creditable scores against top flight dancers and being asked to become a professional. She was also part of the Hammond Plus group band with her brother Martin (who played the drums), this band continued for more than 25 years.
In 1991 Eileen and her brother Martin visited Norfolk and went to the site of the airfield from which her husband flew in 1944\45, and in Martin’s exact words,
“It was such a sad sight that we decided to form an Association and erect a Memorial at the site of the airfield as well as a Book of Remembrance in the local church. The dedication in 1994 was attended by representatives of all the Commonwealth Air Forces and the American Air Force sent a Colour Party and Escort. Her pride in this achievement was only exceeded by the pleasure it gave her to meet and spend some time with men who were contemporaries of her husband Stafford”.
Martin the younger brother of Eileen was born in Lincoln May 1930. On leaving school he trained as an electrician followed by national service with the RAF. Later on in his career he became a driving examiner at various test centres across the country before starting his own business as an instructor. He formed an association with self employed driving instructors enabling coverage for sickness and time off and pioneered the idea of video instruction for pupils.
Martin also had an interest in music and learnt to the play the drums, alongside his sister who played the keyboard in the band Hammond Plus.
What is evident in the tribute I have read is Martin’s determination and conviction especially with work for the RAF 100 and 214 Squadron Associations.
In the words of the RAF 100 Association secretary Janine Harrington
“They were the catalysts behind the Association, the movers, the inspiration. Both wonderful people, and passionate that those who served under RAF 100 Group in wartime be remembered.”
So, in summary why was the association formed?
From the beginning of a sad loss of a husband, Eileen was driven to create something in his memory and for the many who served under RAF 100 Group. Together with her brother Martin they were passionate about the cause and had a determination to bring veterans together and ensure they were truly honoured.
I personally wanted to include the late Len Bartram especially after meeting recently and talking with his wife Evelyn which gave us a great insight into Len and his work.
Len’s story is particularly close to my heart as he grew up in my own home village of Hindolveston, and of course his wife as we now know turns out to be a distant relative. As a young lad Len first developed his interest in the RAF 100 group because he was intrigued by the development of airfields in the area, let alone the different aircraft that were arriving.
Len completed 3 years National Service in the RAF as an Airframe fitter becoming Leading Aircraftman.
He also became a Queen’s scholar studying in forestry in Sweden, receiving a Gold Medal from Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, which must have been a very proud day.
Len became quite an expect in local airfields, giving many talks on the subject and this knowledge is what brought Eileen and Martin to his door. At that time Eileen and Martin were planning a Memorial in Oulton where Eileen’s late husband had been based. Their friendship continued from there and is where the connection to the RAF 100 Group Association was formed.
Evelyn was very humble in the part she has had to play in it all, and it made us both smile when she said “she just made tea and cakes”. However, I feel she also had a vital part to play as it was obvious to see how she had continually supported Len in his passion for this cause, so certainly not a part to be underplayed.
Len Bartram shaking hands with the Queen Mother during an award ceremony for planting the most number of trees in Norfolk
Janine Harrington and the beginnings of the association
It was Evelyn's husband Len who became Historian on the first Committee formed, and in turn he advertised in 'Yours' magazine about bringing the Association together. Janine Harrington and her mother (whose fiance Flt/Lt Vic Vinnell served at RAF Foulsham in 192 Squadron) wrote to Len Bartram about Vic, which in turn lead to them all become founding members of the Association.
Len then put Janine and her Mum in contact with so many others who knew Vic and his Canadian Pilot Flt/Lt Jack Fisher which is how finally, after so many years since the war, her mother was able to talk and share about her beloved sweetheart and how he never returned from the final fateful operation in a Mosquito DK292 on the night of 26/27 November 1944 - a few days before they were due to be married - what happened on that night remains a mystery to this day.
The association going forward
Every year in May, since the formation of the association in 1994, veterans, family, friends and anyone who has an interest come together from across the world and meet up in Norfolk to remember the work done by the members of RAF 100 Group, they take part in a series of events which include remembrance services, and more poignantly come together at the Oulton memorial originally erected by the founders of the association.
Janine remains passionate about preserving the history and stories of RAF 100 Group through her writings and the association, and hopes to keep the memory of these forgotten heroes alive.
In the words of Janine - "it is about creating a wider awareness about RAF 100 Group and the birth of electronic warfare in which they were actively involved, both on the ground and in the air."
We will remember them!
To become an RAF 100 Group Association Member
Membership of the RAF 100 Group Association is open to all - to veterans who served in any of the Squadrons under 100 Group during WW2; to their relatives and friends, researchers and historians, people of all ages wanting to know about the work undertaken by this secret group, and those wanting to share experiences of the life and work of those who served. We have members from all over the world.
Membership costs £20 per year and it entitles you to a membership card which offers free admission at the City of Norwich Aviation Museum, three or four magazines a year filled with knowledge and shared experiences; and an invitation to join us at our annual reunion held in Norfolk with a full programme of events.
For further information and to become a member contact the Association Secretary Janine Harrington via email - firstname.lastname@example.org or post - 7 Ashley Court, Filey, North Yorkshire, YO14 9LS.