CALLS have been made to make sure the brave deeds of the telegraphist air gunners during the Second World War are not forgotten.
A service was held for the Telegraphist Air Gunners (TAG) Association at the Fleet Air Arm memorial in Lee-on-the-Solent yesterday.
It marked the association’s 66th anniversary and 60 years since the memorial was put in place.
During their 28-year history from 1922 to 1950 there were 3,000 TAGs. During this time, 507 were killed in action.
Peter Murray, 74, secretary for the National Association of the Fleet Air Arm, said: ‘Looking around, those here are all old people, and they are getting fewer and fewer each year.
‘As that happens it’s likely these brave men and what they did will get forgotten. There’s only about a dozen TAGs left now that were able to get here today.
‘It’s important to pay homage to them and remember what they did.
‘I don’t think people realise just what it was like for them.’
Michael Worship, of Arundel Drive in Fareham, is the association’s treasurer and he added: ‘These were the brave guys who flew in back of the Swordfish planes, and all those battles you don’t even hear about. The conditions they experienced were horrendous because they were open to all weathers.
‘They really were the guys who helped us win the war. We should be remembering them. There aren’t many of them left and we hope this memorial service will carry on as a tradition long after the last TAG is gone.’
Ninety-year-old Charles Simpson was a wartime TAG who returned from his now home in British Columbia, Canada, to see family and attend the service.
He said: ‘I last came three years ago, and we are getting fewer and fewer, but it’s still about the comradeship.
‘It’s lovely to be able to see the others again and talk about our experiences.’
Many of the TAGs experienced being shot down, including Arthur Page, 89, from Lyndhurst, when his plane was returning to the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious in the Japan Sea.
He added: ‘A lot of us were in the Far East, which really was the forgotten army.
‘I don’t think a lot of people today would know much about us.’
During the service HMS Sultan’s chaplain Rev Simon Horne read a list of 10 TAGs who have recently died.
The service ended with The Last Post followed by a minute’s silence before Reveille and the laying of wreaths on the memorial.