The Ulster Aviation Society recently threw a surprise birthday party for a Lisburn man known as a hard-working, generous and friendly member of the group.
Some 70 aviation enthusiasts jammed into their hangar’s meeting room to pay tribute to one of their most dedicated colleagues. Now 90 years old, Fred Jennings served for many years as a radar and communications specialist at Nutt’s Corner and Aldergrove before his retirement. He had joined the Royal Air Force’s 320 (Dutch) Squadron in 1943 as a radar expert. Fred was with the squadron at Melsbroek, Belgium, on January 1, 1945 when the German fighter force launched a massive, but desperate attack on Allied air bases in Belgium and Holland. Fred took cover in a nearby slit trench, with more luck than several of his colleagues.
The attack was a pointless gesture, resulting as it did in the deaths of many of the Luftwaffe’s top pilots and combat leaders. The enemy’s air force was never a significant threat after that.
Among the guests at the event was Carson McMullan, honorary consul for the Netherlands, who thanked Fred on behalf of the Dutch government. Almost all the aircrew in 320 Squadron were originally from the Netherlands.
Society chairman Ray Burrows paid tribute to Fred for setting up and running both the UAS radio room and its 3,000-volume aviation library in recent years.
He has also provided generous donations toward the recent purchase of the Society’s Phantom jet fighter and its full-size replica Spitfire fighter. The Society, with 430 members, is based in a hangar compound at Maze/Long Kesh, a Royal Air Force base during World War Two. It preserves and restores a display collection of some 30 aircraft, some of them dating back more than 70 years.
Further information on the UAS can be found on the internet: www.ulsteraviationsociety.org .
The Society is also on Facebook.