World War II

Korea

Viet Namn

Desert Storm

Cold War

Intelligence Museum

At Historic Chicksands

"Where We Were and Where We Did Our Thing"

A Few Pictoral Highlights
3 Articles Below Photos

Entrance to the Museum

 Bill Ernst, Ed Wiggins and Barbara McNamara, Dpty NSA

The First and the Last Chix. Ed Wiggins, 1950 and Sue Douglas, 1955.

Brigadier Chris Holtom makes opening remarks prior to cutting the ribbon

Patricia McIntyre, Deputy Dir. NSA cuts the ribbon
to officially open the Intelligence Museum-Chicksands

Col. Bill Bowers Memorial Case

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update 01/01/01 (Three Messages on this page)


NEWSLETTER MARCH 2001

The first phase of the US Museum at Chicksands was established in July 2000 in time for the 50th Anniversary Reunion to mark the arrival of the 10th RSM at Chicksands in November 1950. Thanks to the generosity of many people we now have the basis of a display that marks many aspects of the 45 years US forces were based at Chicksands. There is a good display of images of the museum at Sam Braswell's website (http:/videoranch.net/chicksands.htm).

I would like to mention specifically those who played major parts in the creation of the museum. First Bill Grayson, who secured the SP-600 and the R-390 radios for us. Bill has also got Generals Minnehan, Morrisson and Smith alerted to our activities, he has persuaded TRW to be one of the sponsors of the Reunion and he has continued to act as a key driver of ideas and a co-ordinator of activity in the US. Then there is a specific group of veterans, mostly 10th RSM, who raised a large sum of money to have the FLR scale model made. Their names are recorded on a scroll painted by Bill Bryant that hangs beside the model. Vince Wuwert and John Kelly provided the uniforms on the mannequins that bring the radio display to life. Many of the early arrivers at Chicksands provided photographs, artefacts and stories. Amongst them are: Richard Stranathan, George Montague, Edsel Wiggins, Earl Richardson, Whitney Booth, Larry Eisenberg, Ambrose Jackson, Tap Slater (recently deceased), Frank Brandon and Roger Sprague. Then the later generation, Bill Smith, Mark Wendruff, Sharon Butcher and several others added their contributions. Since then several people have donated cash to the museum. Sue Douglas has notified me of the names of at least 6 contributors. Bob Cope in the US has been sending me regular emails concerning donations and the cash keeps coming in. The next Newsletter will detail these people by name.

Finally, I mention the help received from Mac McMahon in the last days before the museum opening and of course, Clive Sanders, my so-reliable and effective "fixer", without whom there would be just a pile of artefacts!

PROGRESS

Late last year we formed an informal Working Group, comprising several US citizens who now live in UK. Sue Douglas, Ernie Rudge, Don and Margaret Beets, Frank Merlino, Frank Santo and Bob Seman were at that first meeting. Mark Wendruff would have been, if he could. We agreed some general principles, set out some general objectives and agreed to become part of the Museums of Defence Intelligence. We were determined to keep our funding and decisions on layout and display content separate, but we saw benefit in shared advertising, curator support and conservation advice. We also agreed to share income from tours three ways with the Intelligence Corps and the Medmenham collection (aerial photography). Specific donations to the US Museum remain in our own account and for the sole benefit of the US Museum. Since the meeting in September 2000, members of that group have tidied up the existing displays and re-arranged several exhibits to accommodate new artefacts. They have done this on an entirely voluntary basis and the museum owes them all a debt of gratitude.

PLANS

We now have £1737.68 in the bank and that does not include a recent cheque from Col Jim George, yet to be cashed. All bills are paid. We have two fine models, two mannequins and two more "acquired" by Clive from Bletchley Park. We have the two radios and headsets. We have several uniforms and recently a history and uniform of the fire department from Mike Butcher. We hold numerous photographs and memorabilia, mugs, badges, medals. We

 have a memorial display case for Col Bill Bowers and a semi-antique table that holds up the model.

What we lack is space. There are several options, but all involve a move and considerable cost. In the short term we will stay where we are.

On the 23rd March Sue Douglas, Clive Sanders and I met to decide on some objectives for this year. We proposed the following actions:

* Investigate setting up a US$/£Sterling account at Alconbury. It costs us a lot in bank charges to convert currency.

* To invite General Minnehan and Gen Larsen to visit Chicksands when they are next in UK

* To engage with Barbara MacNamara (Senior US Liaison Officer in UK) to secure permission for more displays

* To invite JAC Molesworth down to view the museum on 9 June 2001

* To establish a regular Newsletter for wide distribution.

* To purchase a video player

* To tell the story of the November 1956 "Chicksands Missile Crisis" (Don't worry Roger - no names!)

* To build some mobile stands to permit changeable displays

* To secure and re-mount, professionally, the existing displays

* To create a Chicksands Fire Service exhibit

These objectives will keep us very busy this year. We need all the help we can get - cash, labour, artefacts, pictures and stories.

These objectives will keep us very busy this year. We need all the help we can get - cash, labour, artefacts, pictures and stories.

FUNDS

Thanks to Bob Cope (cope@netxpress.com) we are receiving a steady stream of generous contributions from many ex-Chixters. This Newsletter is designed to give those who have donated some idea of what we are doing with your cash. I believe we will need some serious corporate sponsorship if we are to create the extra space needed to do justice to this exciting Cold War story. Our income from visitors is still sporadic - there are problems charging formally while we remain inside a British garrison. That said, we enjoy a rent-free, overhead-free, tax-free existence and there are many other benefits, not least, being part of this wonderful site. Our future depends on a firm base, which we now have, a continued flow of revenue and artefacts, which we have and the regular input of volunteer help, which we also have. So I see a bright future. Real growth will depend on serious corporate sponsorship. That too, I see as achievable, but it will take time for our own story to be recognised as being so critical a part of that delicate balance that was the Cold War for 40 years.

Thank you all for the interest you have shown so far. Its only 8 months since the museum was formed. At this sustained rate we will grow fast. However, we need all of you to flush out people, pictures, stories and artefacts to give some depth to what we have at present.

Chris Holtom Commandant Chicksands

March 2001

US MU

Intelligence Museum To Expand

Once again every person who served at Chicksands has an opportunity to do something that could have a far reaching effect.  I think we all can agree that it is very significant that such a tiny base had such a considerable impact not only towards the successful conclusion of World War II but the Cold War as well. I feel that it is not only fitting, but proper that The Intelligence Museum receives whatever support we may give towards making it a part of the British Imperial War Museum. Click on "Museum" for more information.


I salute Brigadier Chris Holtom, not only for the many courtesies he has shown us in the past, but his far reaching vision towards preserving that certain part of history of which we all were a part.

 

An Important Message From Sue Douglas

Sue Douglas sddougl@aol.com Mon Oct 9 09:28:06 2000

All, I and three fellow retirees living in the Bedfordshire area Ernie Rudge, Don Beets, and Frank Santini (possibly mispelled)] have been invited by the current Commandant of Chicksands, Brigadier Chris Holtom, to serve on his museum committee.

As some of you will know, the British Army has taken over the base and the MoD is consolidating a lot of its training there. They have built a wonderful Intelligence Museum that includes a US Air Force room. The museum was opened in July at the Chicksands reunion and lots of former Fighting Chix attended.

The first committee meeting was held on 29 September. So what does this have to do with you and why the email? Well, I am convinced that Brigadier Holtom has a real vision for the museum and am hoping to help the committee expand and improve this fitting memorial to all the US Air Force troops that served at Chicksands. To do that, we are going to need a lot of help. First of all, let me say that the long term plan is to possibly make the museum part of the Imperial War Museum, creating a triangle between the famous airplane museum at Duxford, the ever expanding WWII code breaking museum at Bletchley Park (near Milton Keynes) and Chicksands. Lord Sainsbury (a famous and influential face in the British commercial and government world) put the Brigadier in touch with the right people at the Imperial War Museum and they are interested. But first, the Chicksands museum must prove it is a viable organization.

The museum is currently located in the old chem warfare building (as of 1993-5) next to the base headquarters by the pizza hut (Social Actions building) across from the post office. This is way too small and the Brigadier has donated two larger buildings (the old supply building and warehouse) to house the museum. These obviously need refurbishment to make them suitable. The idea is to create a unique Museum of Defence Intelligence highlighting the contributions of all the services ever assigned to RAF Chicksands from the Y-service in WWII to the USAF presence to the current day.

There are also plans for a first class website. In the meantime, the museum has been listed as a registered UK charity and the base is exploring how to make it more accessible to the public given the security concerns surrounding an active military base.

So what do we need? First of all, lots of publicity. I will be sending a cleaned up copy of this email to Jo Ann Himes at the FTVA for publication. I am also hoping Bill Grayson will send this out to all the Chix Alumni and Friends. I hope you will pass this on to all your friends who were at Chix and spread the word via squadron newsletters if you are still on active duty.

The next thing needed are items to display. The museum is currently full of wonderful things from the 1940's to the early 1960's, but has hardly anything from the 70's-90's. We could use uniforms, patches, photographs, and items showing how we lived (baseball trophies, hats, photos in the dorms, etc.). We also need an old 1950's/60's style black, rotary style telephone.

The committee plans to do a number of living displays in the new museum. These will show the various missions of the organizations assigned to Chix and how we lived and worked. We especially want to do some interactive things that will enable school children, whom we want to target, to get a feel for the place.

Right now, the idea is to build a big model of the base for the center display and then have others surrounding it. We are keen to model the comm squadron and show how a message might come in from anywhere in the world and be routed through Chix. The idea is to have an old od-28 that a child could type a message on and have to take home as a piece of yellow punch tape. ((Brings back memories, eh?)). We also thought a plotting board with map and grease pencils might be cool. We also want to maybe do a baseball display ((Maybe dedicated to Bill Siefring?)).

Thus, we are anxious to have your thoughts on what we might display and any donations of items that might help. I am especially keen to get a Mod-28 donated and will pursue this through Dave Hill and contacts in Maryland. We are also hoping to create some US Air Force items to sell in the gift shop. Your thoughts on that would be appreciated. I thought we might copy some of the old flight hats if I could get one to use as a model and maybe patches and insignia.

Finally, we need funds - about $25,000 to start - so I am looking for suggestions for corporate sponsorship and any small donations that units or organizations might make through fundraisers held on the museum's behalf. Two other things worth noting - the museum hopes to be the official archive for historical papers associated with Chix and intends to register as such and fund to provide that service to enquirers. We are also hoping to create some multimedia displays, perhaps with people who were stationed at Chix describing various aspects of life there. So if we have anyone with good stories to tell, including ghost stories about the Priory, we'd be grateful to hear from them. Speaking of the Priory, the British have spent five million pounds restoring it and it is absolutely beautiful. It really did my heart good to see it, and the base, in such good condition.

Thanks for taking the time to pour through all this info and please pass it on to other Chix alumni. Any feedback or display donations will be gratefully received. I had a good time digging through my old photos and "memories" trunk to find things for the museum. I hope this finds you all well.

Best regards,

Sue

 

sddougl@aol.com

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