The MacKenzie Wedding

  In March 1944, F/O Andy MacKenzie let it be known that he was going to get married to a pretty WAAF named Joyce before the end of the month. They would tie the knot in Tunbridge about 25 miles away from Kenley and the whole of 421 Squadron would be invited to the wedding.  
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McElroy Collection
The pilots of 421 Squadron thought it only fitting to mourn the passing of their comrade by holding a funeral procession through the town on the way to the church. Left to right in the picture are W/O Willie Warfield, F/O Gordie Smith, F/L Frank Clark, F/O Jack Bamford, F/O Lloyd Hennessey, F/L Wally Quint, F/L Johnny McElroy. The rest of the gang is hidden.
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McElroy Collection
Some of the others in the procession are: F/L Bill Stronach walking behind Bamford just visible behind Hennessey. Next to the right are Quint, F/O Bob Murray, McElroy, F/L Ralph Nickerson, F/O Gordie Smith, F/O Bill Cook, F/L Bitsy Grant and F/O Lorne Curry.
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McElroy Collection
Nickerson has left the parade and Smith has moved up revealing Cook more clearly. Two others are now visible -- to the left of Smith is F/L John Paterson and to the far right is F/O Al Brandon. The bell-ringing goes on.
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McElroy Collection
Finally the procession approaches the church and we see Frank Clark giving the bell a few last vigourous clouts, no doubt urged on by Lloyd Hennessey.

  The squadron ORB for 25 March 1944 said:
"Flying Officer 'Andy' MacKenzie's big day dawned bright and clear (ground fog), squadron took off on practise dive-bombing at 0900 hours, but due to ground haze, had to make low level attacks. One hood came off and landed on Caterham Hospital with no casualties. The bus left at 1215 hours for the MacKenzie-Jacks Nuptials, and although the groom arrived a trifle late, the fatal words were pronounced at 1332 hours. The party commenced at Milden Manor, Tunbridge. A meal was served, followed by many drinks and much kissing of the bride. As time wore on the party became somewhat rougher, when this witness staggered for home, the groom had just been thrown into the swimming pool, followed by several of the throwers. Evidently from there on everyone went swimming and it is hoped that no 'Red Indian' will be found recumbent at the bottom of the pool tomorrow morning."
 
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McElroy Collection
Guess who threw the groom, F/O Andy Mackenzie into the pool? None other than cigarette-smoking F/L Johnny McElroy and F/L Frank Clark! ... while F/L Len Thorne, F/O Bill Cook and F/L Bill Stronach break up laughing.

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last updated 30 September 2003 in sunny Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.