The Northcliffe squadron left at dawn. Their mission? To conquer the Press Golfing Society in the annual skirmish. Their target? The wonderful Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire, close to the home of the legendary Dam Busters squadron.

Ably led by Group Captain Vyvyan “Guy Gibson” Harmsworth and Flight Lieutenant Garth “Barnes Wallis” Burden, 14 brave chaps from the Northcliffe’s “Bomber Command” went into battle.

The aim of the real 617 squadron was, of course, way better than the Northcliffe’s, whose bouncing bombs go down in history as the famous Dam Busters raid on the Ruhr Valley.

Northcliffe squadron leader Vyvyan regaled everyone in the officers’ mess after the mission and then had the audacity to lift the trophy!

There had been plenty of  refuelling. Many “bouncing balls” went missing  in action. The manager of the “Officer’s Mess” in the Dower House hotel next to the course said afterwards: “The bar takings were excellent. Come back again soon.”

Mission accomplished, then, for a convincing Northcliffe success.

Flight details. The Northcliffe’s bombing accuracy prevented the PGS from a hat-trick of recent wins.  They held a two match lead overnight after their first sortie. Then, on their second mission, had a virtual clean sweep of match wins with just one of the 7 matches being lost.

Back in the officer’s mess,  the Lord Northcliffe Challenge Cup was handed over to “Group Captain” Harmsworth by the legendary PGS “Red Baron” Pat Eager, whose men had fought valiantly under the blue skies to retain the trophy.  The result now stands  at 12 successes to the Northcliffe and  8 to the Press Golfing Society with one match halved.

The Northcliffe, founded in 1910 and the Press Golfing Society in 1904, are two of the country’s oldest golfing societies.

Next year’s annual match, hosted by the Press Golfing Society, will be played at Ferndown Golf Club in Dorset, home of the Army tank regiment.   Strict training by both sides is now underway.

Words based on the log books of Kevin Price and Garth Burden.

Aerial photo reconnaissance.  Ian McIlgorm.