Chicksands 2000 or Bust

We'll be looking for you and will leave a light on.


Reunion Dates: July 10-16, 2000

(arrival July 10th and departure July 16th or 17th)
Brig. Holtom has taken time out of his impossibly busy schedule
to post daily events as they happened, below, and to our Message Board. Thank you, Sir!

FIRST PICTURES (click below and use your 'back button' to return here)

UPDATES 7/11/00, 7/12/00,7/13/00, 7/14/00 and 7/15/00!

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Daily Reports From Chicksands Y2K

Brig Chris Holtom (07/11/2000)
From Chicksands, REUNION PROGRESS.

The weather was awful on Monday, but nothing appears to dampen US spirits! The trip to Phantom was a great success and others had their picture taken with Earl Spencer at Althorp. Today the weather is improving - we saw the sun this afternoon after a BBQ in the WO/Sgts Mess - 250 people at that one. Tonight we return to the Mess for the concert - still too cold to stay out. The forecast for tomorrow is much better so we look forward to the parade and events in the afternoon. The museum is ready - just in time!

 Best wishes
Chris Holtom

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Brig Chris Holtom (07/12/2000)
From Chicksands, REUNION PROGRESS.

The weather has been kind and the parade went very well. I believe we did the veterans of Chicksands proud and we have a lasting memorial to both the past and present Servicemen who have had the honour to serve here. Mr Glyn Davies, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy gave a fine address, but admitted that a certain Sam Braswell had given him some words! Nice words Sam, the bit about cold huts, "blokes" and warm beer was hugely appreciated by the veterans. However, the bad news is that our Lord Lieutenant, who was on parade is the head of the Whitbread family (biggest brewers in UK) and the High Sherrif, who was on parade, is from the Wells family (biggest brewers in Bedford)! No, seriously, thank you Sam for your help with this site and that nice gesture for the address - a brilliant touch!

We have enjoyed a series of excellent medieval displays today and in an hour we go to a beating of the retreat and then the Dinner/Dance. Tomorrow we open the US museum which has been fun to create. Above all, the best thing about this whole reunion has been the enthusiasm of the veterans - they are enjoying every aspect of being back here and we really appreciate having them here. Best wishes Chris Holtom

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Brig Chris Holtom (07/13/2000)
From Chicksands, REUNION PROGRESS.

The Beating of Retreat and Dinner/Dance were excellent. We sat on the Priory lawn to listen and watch the Minden Band perform the ceremony, ending with John Collier on the bagpipes "The Day Thou Gavest Lord is Ended..." Then we walked over to an excellent spread of food in the Sergeant's Mess. £500 raised in the raffle will go to the "Americans at Chicksands Museum" Fund. Amongst the prizes was the only bottle of Priory Poteen in the UK! Sarah Saunders-Davies (nee Osborn) the brother of the present Baronet took the trouble to talk to many of the veterans at the dinner. It was clear she enjoyed herself. She has been extremely supportive of our efforts to decorate the Priory with Osborn artefacts.

Today we opened the museum, with the honors conducted by Barbara MacNamara (Senior US Liaison Officer in UK). She has only been in UK a week and it was great that she took the time to come along. Ed Wiggins gave us some tales about the early days at Chicksands and Bill Ernst delivered a fine piece on the value of the work done by personnel from the base. The museum has engendered much favorable comment and I anticipate a rush of photos, stories and items for display. I now have 4 US volunteers as curators of the museum - all ex-Chixters who have settled locally.

We opened the Robbie Kennedy Way in the afternoon, with Jean Kennedy cutting the tape. She then took a walk around the lake with a good crowd following. At 5 pm we held the Chicksands Alumni and Friends Plenary meeting. We agreed that this over-arching group would be a useful mechanism to "preserve and promote" Chicksands and all that it means. We will post our discussions and agreement in principle on the website shortly.

Tonight we wind up for the barndance. Prizes for the sports will be presented and closing remarks will be made by Bill Grayson and myself. It has been a great week and one that we will all remember. Now they are talking about the next one!

We made the regional TV last night, there will be a full page spread in the local papers next week and I am sending stuff to the Washington Post and Stars and Stripes. There will be a video of the week, when we get around to selecting the best bits.

Tomorrow, its more trips, a bit more golf and a final dinner in the Priory for those special people who did all the work. Best wishes Chris Holtom

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Brig Chris Holtom (07/14/2000)
From Chicksands, REUNION PROGRESS.

The barndance was a riot! I believe we caught this piece of culture from the US Ho(e?) Down and that strange activity is the Americans turning Scottish Country Dancing into some kind of Mid West stomp. Its probably all Aaron Copeland's fault. Whichever, we had a great time. Bill Grayson said some nice things and handed out some superb and unique plaques, Tim Bigelow got his hair cut for Cancer Relief and raised £425, there were some extremely generous donations to CA&F and at the end, a fine rendition of "God Bless America" by a lady who has preserved her Scots accent perfectly!

Today its more coach trips to Althorp, Stratford, Bletchley Park and Duxford. We are preparing for our annual Open Day and this evening I have a chance to thank the US Coordinators at a dinner in the Priory. We have had a great time.

The first pictures are at

Best wishes Chris Holtom

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Brig Chris Holtom (07/15/2000)
From Chicksands, REUNION PROGRESS.

 We had a great dinner in the Priory for the Coordinators and then today was the Public Open Day. I reckon about 7000 people wanted to get in the Priory all at the same time! The weather held off from rain and I believe people enjoyed themselves. Several US veterans found themselves on BBC local radio. I have no idea what they said but the media people seemed happy (usually a bad sign in this country!) So now its all over. We have had great fun here - it has been a pleasure having everyone over to see the old place. Perhaps we should do it again in 2005?

Best wishes Chris Holtom

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Friends of Chicksands Priory Newsletter May 2000

 The 2000 season has started briskly. Whilst the twice monthly tours have been down in numbers, we hosted a very effective tour for Mid Beds Council which was extremely well received. We look forward to providing a similar service for the Court of the Painter Stainers Livery Company and a Holts Tour that is coming to Chicksands via Bletchley Park, later this month.

The main event in the foreseeable future is the hanging of the 9 portraits of the baronets in the Priory. Sir Richard Osborn has not only kindly agreed to the idea in the first pace, but he has also funded a substantial share of the costs. Sir Stanley Odell, our Patron has played a critical part in negotiating this superb offer, getting the funding going with a most generous contribution and the MOD Art Collection has helped substantially with framing costs. The Friends and the Officers Mess will pick up the balance of £614 each. A fair price to pay for 9 outstanding pictures which will do so much for the Priory’s interior. The pictures should be in place by July.

Plans to move the Abbott from the Orangery to the Osborn chapel in the Priory are well advanced. This task also will be complete by July. We expect to receive the clock, suitably restored and mounted to go on display in the Priory by the middle of the year. One of the restored clock faces will hang on the wall in the stable gatehouse directly underneath the point where the clock tower originally stood.

Walled Garden BBQ 10 June 2000. The Friends BBQ will take place on the 10th of June, starting at 5.30 pm. Please meet at the walled garden in Chicksands. The cost will be £5 per head. Because we are a little slow getting the details to you, please ring 01462 752100 (working hours) to book a place or 01462 752697 (out of hours). The garden is looking outstanding and you will be able to see some of the garden ornaments donated by the Friends and the Americans.

Tour Guides. We still need more tour guides. The next Friends Open Day is 4 June, where there will be an opportunity to receive the tour guides information to take away and learn a bit more about the Priory. During July we have the prospect of running tours for 4 days during one week, so please come forward to help spread the load.

Newsletters. Because there is so much going on, it is likely that we will try and provide short newsletters like this one on a more regular basis, rather than accumulate information and provide it less frequently.

That’s all for the moment. This short note is provided by DISC staff at the direction of the Chairman of the Friends of Chicksands Priory Committee.

May 2000

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Posted by Brig Chris Holtom on 6/6/2000 from the UK

The accommodation on base will cost £10 per person per day. You get bed and breakfast for that. If you want meals that are not paid events (such as the dinner/dance) the midday meal is £1.97 and the evening meal is £2.82

The contact number on camp for information is 01462 752321. Its in the registration cell and you can get most information you need there. I recommend you book for the paid events on arrival. I have had to set a limit on places and they are filling up fast. See you next month. Best wishes

Chris Holtom

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 Memorial Day - (reprint from All Things USAF)

My father First Lt. Holiel (Toby) Ascol was a bombardier in the 436th Bomber Squadron at Carswell AFB, Texas. He bailed out of a burning B-36 off the coast of British Columbia on February 15, 1950. One year earlier he wrote a poem for the Memorial Day Issue (base paper) of the Lone Star Scanner called "Taps For A Flier". Perhaps someone out there might remember my father or his poem.

Taps For A Flier

The last note of the bugle softly fades away.

Lingering echoes in the valley whisper sweetly as they say-

He is gone but not forgotten at the close of this sad day.

We'll remember when in battle how with gallantry you died.

The brave example you have left us as you crossed the Stygian tide;

In the memory that we bear you, you're still fighting by our side.

Brave men die, but not their spirits; they are with us evermore,

Cheering to us from the heavens high above the bomber's roar.

Your strength and courage seem to reach us from beyond the shining shore.

Courage born of bravest danger can overthrow the throne to kings-

We vow to finish what you started or we'll throw away our wings.

In our minds we'll always keep you 'til the cry of victory rings.

- - - - -

My father served 426 combat hours on 53 missions in the Aleutians in 1942-1943 and was decorated with the Purple Heart and Air Medal.

In loving memory of my father


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This web site has all the information you need to get a passport.

If you wait too long it will cost more, be sure and check the dates.

Passport Information

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Lists of doctors and solicitors/attorneys

The Special Consular Services office is open Monday through Friday from 8.30 am to 12.00 Noon and from 2.00 to 4.00 p.m. The Embassy is closed to the public for U. S and British holidays. For assistance, you may write

American Embassy
Special Consular Service
55/56 Upper Brook Street

Or call [44] (171) 499 9000 in an emergency.

The medical emergency number used to be 999 (does anyone know if that is correct?) email Sam Braswell

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 NewBiggleswade, England

This site has lots of information, maps and links to areas in which we may be interested.

 Well worth a visit. PLUS the Bedford Web Ring!



UK Guide

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