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Woodbridge/Ipswich: Quest to reunite RAF 152 Squadron members yields latest discovery

09:55 17 January 2014

RAF veteran Douglas Chaplin and squadron researcher Rob Rooker.

RAF veteran Douglas Chaplin and squadron researcher Rob Rooker.

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An eighteen year quest to reunite RAF squadron members from across the world has yielded its latest discovery - at an east Suffolk retirement home.

RAF veteran Douglas Chaplin pictured in March 1946 on the last Spitfire flown by 152 Squadron.RAF veteran Douglas Chaplin pictured in March 1946 on the last Spitfire flown by 152 Squadron.

RAF veteran Douglas Chaplin read about the efforts to locate members of his former 152 (Hyderbad) Squadron in the Ipswich Star recently when he recognised the distinctive black panther emblem pictured on the side of a Spitfire.

The 89-year-old veteran contacted Rob Rooker, the Ipswich security worker who has spent years researching 152 squadron and the two arranged to meet in Woodbridge last week, near Mr Chaplin’s home.

Mr Chaplin said he enjoyed looking at Mr Rooker’s squadron scrapbooks and reminiscing about his time posted in the Far East during the Second World War when he was an engine fitter 2E.

“We were a happy squadron,” he said. “I would like to have spent more time with them - I loved working with Spitfires and Rolls Royce engines were a pleasure to work on. I had three great mates and we used to enjoy ourselves the best we could.”

Mr Chaplin left the RAF in 1947 after time in Malaya and Burma and took a job with an engineering firm in Suffolk.

Although his friends from the squadron are sadly too frail for reunions, Mr Chaplin has praised Mr Rooker’s efforts in bringing together so many other 152 veterans.

“I think he has done a wonderful job reuniting people from all over the world,” he said.

Mr Rooker also welcomed the chance to meet another of the veterans he has spent so much time researching.

“It’s always nice to hear their stories,” he said

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