Talking marksmen, Typhoons and tanks

In this second article, following on from last month’s tale, local historian David Martin, recalls meeting Lord Carrington a second time at Hainault Forest Country Park’s centenary celebrations.

In 2006 I was invited to exhibit at Hainault Forest Country Park as part of its centenary celebrations.

The park was opened by Edward North Buxton and Earl Carrington and the centenary was celebrated by inviting back their descendants – John Buxton and former foreign secretary Lord Carrington.

Upon learning this, I made myself known to Patrick Buttress, then London Borough of Redbridge Parks and Countryside Manager, told him about my previous meeting in 1980 and that I would like to meet Lord Carrington again.

After the formal Speeches I set off, approached the VIP entourage and introduced myself. Lord Carrington already knew about me, described me as the ‘Spitfire man’ and invited me to cut the cake with him.

To emphasise his intention, he grabbed my arm.

I obviously could not participate and waited nearby.

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With formalities over Lord Carrington enquired about our first meeting and I explained about how my interest in family history led me to Bledlow Church to photograph the font, meeting the vicar who gave me the key with the instruction to post the key in the bungalow with a red door, then meeting his bodyguard as he planted bulbs in the Lyde.

Hearing this he noticeably relaxed, became friendly and went on to describe his bodyguard as ‘that wretched fellow.’ I thought this slightly unfair as the man was there for his personal protection.

On one occasion he asked the bodyguard about his gun, whereupon the man claimed to be a marksman.

Lord Carrington challenged this, so they went into a field and waited for a rabbit to make an appearance.

One came out of a burrow and the bodyguard fired in quick succession, emptying the magazine.

The bodyguard missed and failed the test.

Lord Carrington and a family member visited my exhibition on RAF Station Fairlop.

They were most interested and listened intently, then asked numerous questions.

I had brought with me a copy of a booklet, entitled ‘My War’, autobiography of my friend Ken Trott, a Typhoon pilot, who flew from RAF Station Fairlop in 1943, before moving to Needs Oar Point in preparation for D Day landings on 6 June 1944.

Ken landed in France in July and flew operations from a temporary airfield B3 St. Croix, made possible by Somerfield tracking, and survived a head on collision with an ME109 on 13 July 1944.

Lord Carrington had been a tank commander during the war and after D Day was attacked by the Germans and so called friendly typhoons, despite bright yellow painted identifying marks, but seemed genuinely sorry about Ken’s collision over Normandy and his subsequent capture and interment in Stalag Luft 3.

Later on, I asked for his support for a memorial at Fairlop Country Park for those who served in two world wars. He was kind, encouraging and generous with his support and in 2013 we were successful in gaining approval for our memorial.

Sadly, Lord Carrington passed away on 9 July 2018, age 99.