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Date: Sun, 18 Nov 2001 13:55:42 EST

Subject: American Museum Meeting




This afternoon the following individuals met to discuss the American Room in the Museum of Defence Intelligence at Chix:

Don Beets
Margaret Beets
Bob Seman
Mike Butcher
Sue Douglas

The following actions were agreed:

1) The group feels like the first priority for the American Room needs to be a full inventory of donations so that we can do three things: a) do the insurance estimate for the museum committee that has been requested by the January meeting; b) be accountable to donors and their heirs; and c) return items that won't be used as it is obvious we have stuff that is unlikely to be kept permanently.

2) In order to conduct an inventory, the group would like to meet at the museum on 24 November at 0900 and work throughout the day. If anyone has information on what is already in the museum, including cost figures, that we could have copies of we'd be grateful. I have not managed to see Brigadier Holtom, but he has kindly provided his home number and I will speak to him before he departs on 13 December.

For Sue Carpenter: I will call Cathy Lamb about making arrangements to get into the museum on the 24th, but if that fails, I may have to ask for your assistance in arranging this.

For Clive: If you wouldn't mind dropping the boxes you have so kindly kept safe in Bldg 600 off in the
museum by the 24th, we'd be grateful.

3) Sue Douglas has agreed to contact both AIA and the big Air Force to try to obtain any and all historical
information they hold on the base, assuming Bill Grayson doesn't already have this info.

4) The group agreed that the second priority would be to work with the museum and Deborah Morley to help ensure the items/information in the American Room adequately and clearly tell the story of the US presence at Chix. At present, there aren't enough storyboards that actually explain the displays and not all parts of the Chix story are portrayed. The general feeling is that functional displays might be best (the founding, the 3 missions (comms, ESC and the base support role (firehouse, etc.)), the base as a small city (school, chapel, clinic, etc.), relations with the community, social life (sports, dances, fetes, etc.), closure), but obviously Deborah Morley may have better ideas and we would hope the Chix Alumni and Friends would also have ideas (Bill has provided some input already). Whatever is decided in January, we believe we need to work with the Chix Alumni and Friends to document the story and get well designed and professionally done storyboards in place to support what Chris and others have already accomplished. Obviously other displays will need to be done too and items sorted out. It is likely we will need to ask the Chix Alumni and Friends to help fund some of this if we have to get a local graphics company to produce the storyboards. Between Sue and Bill Grayson and Chris, we believe most of the necessary info is laying about and we just need to decide what to use. Bob Seman volunteered to be our liaison with Deborah Morley.

5) The group agreed and Bob Seman volunteered to lead on contacting Cathy Lamb and sorting out some sort of rota whereby we assist with tours of the museum as much as we can given that Ernie and Mike work various hours and Sue works away during the week.

6) The group agreed and Sue will action putting ads in the Beds on Sunday and the Alconbury base paper to see if there are any other retired Americans who would like to help with the museum.

7) The group agreed that we should support the Chix website with articles and inputs, perhaps using those materials that won't be needed in the museum but would be good on the web (photos, etc.). This is a project for 2002, but we will know better by then what we have and what we can do.

8) Don agreed to keep Frank Merlino in the loop as he isn't on email and also to provide some storage boxes as a temporary measure to house the loose donations currently in the American Room. We will need to discuss with the base about getting some storage space as Bob has a cabinet he can donate, but in the interim, Don and Sue have offered their lofts as temporary homes for anything not securely on display and Mike has kindly agreed the use of his van if transport is needed.

9) The group is keen to continue supporting Chris and the new Chix commander in whatever way possible and continuing to serve as approval authority for funds the British need to spend on our behalf.

10) Finally, the group are agreed that we believe the most feasible thing we can do is get a set of static displays agreed and in place for the American Room and ensure they are documented well enough that any visitor can appreciate the displays and the US role at Chix. If subsequently, materials become available from whatever source, we can work with the folks in the states and our British museum counterparts to make the most of them, but we would like to see the room in solid state, as many of the local Americans are in fact not in the area a great deal of the time and those that are are mainly in full time work. The Americans have been gone nearly 7 years now (scary isn't it?) and we need to capture the story before time makes it any fuzzier! Most of it has already been done - we just need to pull the info together.

I'll see the locals on Saturday! If anyone is coming that doesn't have a base pass - email Sue Carpenter at and I am sure she will kindly forward your details to the security folks at the gate. I would also be happy to meet anyone at the gate assuming my pass will allow me to sign guests in.

Comments from the States are welcome and after the inventory, we will go back through all the correspondence we've had with people and begin to take on board all the info/suggestions we've had.




In attendance:

Brig Holtom
Sue Douglas
Don Beets

Ernie Rudge

Actions Agreed:

  1. Sue Douglas will open an account entitled Chicksands US Museum with the Community Bank at RAF Alconbury. This will achieve two things for us. First we will be able to receive $ cheques without paying large transfer and exchange fees. Second, it gives more control over the cash held, to the US element of the museum. Sue Douglas will provide two signatures (Any two of herself, Don Beets, Ernie Rudge, Frank Merlino, Frank Santo or John Seman).

  2. Commandant holds 2339.58 in the account as a credit to the US Museum. It has been agreed to place 200 in a central fund of the Museums of Defence Intelligence. The Intelligence Corps and the Medmenham collection agreed to this, thus there is 600 available to deal with contingencies of benefit to all three museums on base.
  3. Don Beets will buy a VCR/TV set for the museum to allow us to play various videos we have of relevance to the museum.
  4. We will have a museum work day on Saturday 29 Sept 2001. All helpers and friends are welcome. On that day we will arrange the photos on green baize using velcro pads. Before that day, the Comdt and staff at Chicksands will prepare the existing boards with a baize cover and also mount many of the photos we have received from ex-Chixters over the last year.
  5. It remains our medium term intent to knock down some temporary walls opposite the US room to allow expansion. In the long term we plan to link both buildings to double the size of the museum.

C G Holtom, Brig
Comdt DISC Chicksands

Sam Braswell
John Seman
Sue Douglas
Frank Santo
Ernie Rudge
Clive Sanders
Frank Merlino
Mike Butcher




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:/

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!


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.


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.


Thanks to Bob Cope ( 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


DISC 1/1300 12 Feb 01


1. I am conscious that we need to accelerate the pace of activity regarding the US Museum at Chicksands. Since our inaugural meeting on the 29 Sep 00 we have had the first meeting of the Co-ordinating Committee of the Museums of Defence Intelligence (14 Nov 00). Clive Sanders represented the US interests (Frank Merlino sent his apologies). We agreed the following key issues:

2. The possible move of the museum is now less likely in the short term. We have an aspiration for two buildings nearby, but we need significant funds to fit them out. This aspiration should be a target objective in the medium term.

  1. The next meeting of the Co-ordinating Committee is 15 May 2001. I have

recommended the US Working Group meets in the morning at 1030 hrs in the HQ and our representative can carry forward to the afternoon any particular issues for the Co-ordinating Committee.

4. Meanwhile, I have paid for another seated mannequin, we have recently received donations totalling US $950 and our fund now has about £1400 + in it. I am also receiving occasional artefacts – Ed Wiggins sent a replica of the Golf trophy, Larry Tart has sent a video of the National Vigilance Park’s aerial reconnaissance memorial and I have interesting early pictures from several donors. Please keep it going – I do not care if we bulk out!



Commandant DISC


Don & Margaret Beets 67 Blackmore, Letchworth, Herts SG6 2SZ (

Frank Merlino 24 Princes Road, Bromham, Beds MK43 8QD

Frank A Santo 5 Palmer Close, Shefford, Beds SG17 5EE

John R Seman 36 Marlborough Park, Kempston, Beds MK42 8AN (

Sue Douglas

Ernie Rudge

Alex Wendruff

Clive Sanders c/o HQ DSSS

William Grayson

Sam Braswell

Bob Cope

Feb 2001

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


November 2000






Agenda Item 1 - Welcome and Introduction


1. The Chairman, Brigadier C G Holtom, Commandant DISC, welcomed those attending, as follows:

Brigadier (Retd) B A H Parritt CBE 	 		The Intelligence Corps Museum

Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) N J Dunkley OBE 	The Intelligence Corps Museum

Wing Commander M D Mockford OBE (Retd) 	The Medmenham Collection

Mr C Sanders 	 	The US Commemorative Room

Mr D Smurthwaite 					Curatorial Adviser

Mr J Doherty 						Bedfordshire Cultural Strategy Officer

Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) J D Woolmore OBE BEM Secretary


2. Apologies were received on behalf of Mr F Merlino (The US Commemorative Room)


Agenda Item 2 - Draft TOR for Coordinating Committee Action


3. The Chairman summarised the draft TOR (copy attached) for the

Museums of Defence Intelligence Coordinating Committee. He highlighted

the phrases “to provide a forum” and “coherence without prejudice to the

individual elements”.


4. The Chairman stressed that he acts in an independent capacity only as the

Commandant and Chief Executive of the DISC.


5. In response to a request for comments on the draft TOR, the following

were made:


a. Medmenham – very happy and represents a good start. Only

query is why enshrine timings and location of future meetings within

the TOR. Chairman agreed that this was a valid point and the detail

may not be relevant. Following an offer to remove paragraph six the

Medmenham representative expressed his contentment and asked that

the paragraph remain.


b. US – agreed with TOR.


c. Intelligence Corps – agreed with TOR. Conscious that we have a

living Corps to preserve but initial concerns at the possibility that the

Corps image could be diluted have been allayed. Now, thanks to the

Chairman and the Intelligence Corps’ own Trustees, a good working

structure has been achieved.


6. The Chairman asked whether the post of Chairman should have a vote. Chairman

It was agreed that this should not be the case but he should retain the right of

veto in order to safeguard the interests of the Service in accordance with

MOD policy and Ministerial advice. It was also agreed that he should have

the right of ultimate sanction of any proposal which impacts upon the Agency.


7. Following a suggestion from Brig Parritt, it was agreed that another Chairman

representative of the Agency is required to act in support of the Chairman.

Equally, this post will carry no voting rights.


8. External Technical Support. It was proposed by the Chairman that the

requirement for continued support from the National Army Museum, as

Curatorial Adviser, be reaffirmed and that this should, if possible, be

available to all elements of the Museum. David Smurthwaite stated that this D Smurthwaite

was acceptable at no extra charge and the proposal was agreed. The

Chairman also proposed that Jason Doherty, as the Bedfordshire Cultural J Doherty

Strategy Officer, be invited to attend Coordinating Committee meetings.

This was agreed, subject to authorisation by the Chief Executive of

Bedfordshire County Council. The Chairman offered to take the necessary Chairman

action. Both individuals were then welcomed to the Museums of Defence

Intelligence as equal partners.


Agenda Item 3 – Coordination Issues


9. Visitor Charging Policy. Options under discussion were:


A statement to visitors that donations would be welcome.


An unequivocal request to visitors for donations.


Introduction of an outright charge.


After much discussion, it was agreed that: Sub Committee


a. A statement would be made to visitors, confirming that entry is

free but pointing out in unmistakable terms that the Museum

depends upon donations. The sum of £3 per visitor was assessed to

be a reasonable contribution.


b. Donations made following visits solely to specific elements of the

Museum would stay within that element.


c. No donation would be expected for visits by parties of school



d. The National Army Museum would be asked to construct

donation collection boxes.


10. Charitable Status. The method whereby charitable status rules and Sub Committee

guidelines should be applied could not reach consensus. It was therefore

agreed that the matter should be referred to an all-party sub-committee for



11. Corporate Finance. The method whereby donations made to individual Sub Committee

elements are passed to the corporate Museum Fund could not reach

consensus. It was therefore agreed that the matter should be referred to an

all-party sub-committee for examination.


12. Insurance. Following discussion, a requirement for corporate insurance

for the Intelligence Corps Museum and the Medmenham Collection was

identified. The Chairman declared his intention to arrange this with the MOD

insurers, at a discount, through the DISC Regimental Administration Officer.

David Smurthwaite stated that the cover must include the display cases.

The Chairman added that Third Party cover will also be included.


13. Working Group Sub Committee. It was agreed that a Working Group Chairman

Sub Committee, representative of all composite elements, is to be created to

consider the issues of Trustee rules and guidelines, finance, property, display

of artefacts, insurance and a shared shop. A member of the Working Group

will report to the Coordinating Committee for endorsement of proposed

action. The Sub Committee will also act as the Project Team for the move of

the museum in the event that this ultimately is confirmed.


Agenda Item 4 - Future Plans


14. Possible Move of Museum. The Chairman outlined the current situation Chairman

and stated that, if the Museum is forced to move, every effort will be made to

make available alternative accommodation of the same ground and

infrastructure area. The Agency will provide all resources necessary for the

transfer. Accommodation under consideration is within DISC Buildings 202

and 207 with interconnecting corridor. Mrs Suzie Nichol, the wife of a serving

officer, has been commissioned to undertake preliminary planning of the new

museum layout.


15. Additional Composite Elements. The Chairman stated that prospective

additions to the Museums of Defence Intelligence are the Royal Navy,

Y Service and Beaumanor. Clive Sanders stated that Director GCHQ would

almost certainly be pleased to support the Y Service exhibits.


Agenda Item 5 - AOB


16. Security of Artefacts. Medmenham representative voiced concern over Sub Committee

the security of small, easily removed, artefacts. The Chairman advised that

display design must cater for security and the Curatorial Adviser added that

only items designed to be handled should be accessible to visitors.


17. Corporate Sales Outlet. Following general discussion, agreement was Sub Committee

reached in principle that a shared shop would be established. Each element

would be responsible for provision and maintenance of its own unique stock

which would first be considered for inclusion in the shop by the Coordinating

Committee. Other detailed considerations relating to the sales outlet are to be

referred to the sub committee.


Agenda Item Six – Date of Next Meeting


18. The next meeting will be held at Chicksands Priory at 1430 hrs on

15 May 2001. Secretary

Secretary Chairman

March 2001 May 2001


1. TOR for the Museums of Defence Intelligence.


Those named at Paragraphs 1 and 2.

All remaining Intelligence Corps Museum Trustees.

Chairman, Society of Friends of the Intelligence Corps Museum

Secretary, Society of Friends of the Intelligence Corps Museum


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