THE Yanks were coming this week in 1979.

RAF Fairford was preparing to welcome what was perhaps the area’s biggest influx of US military personnel since FD Roosevelt agreed to help Britain with a spot of bother in Europe nearly 40 years before.

Fairford was about to become home to 15 US Air Force KC 135 Stratotankers, vital for mid-air refuelling of the American aircraft whose Cold War roles included probing the defences of the Eastern Bloc and deterring the Eastern Bloc from probing ours.

The Adver duly sent a reporter to interview the base commander, Colonel H Rex Sullivan, 46, who was described as a stocky no-nonsense Oklahoman.

The impending arrival of the Stratotankers led to local fears about noise pollution, not to mention Fairford being higher on the Soviet target list should nuclear war break out.

The Colonel was anxious to build bridges, and had learned the importance of good PR while trying to win hearts and minds in Vietnam in 1962 and 1963, where he helped war orphans.

“I want people to relate to the air force boys here,” he said. “I’m having a front sign made out of Cotswold stone.”

His plan was for it to say: “Welcome to RAF Fairford.”

The colonel also planned to encourage the newcomers to fit in with their adopted surroundings, including by leaving behind their American cars and buying British ones more suited to narrow country lanes.

His personal transport was a Morris 1300 GT owned by his wife - although he also had an E-Type Jaguar.

Away from the perilous global military situation, we ran a couple of pieces about disco, which was still at the height of its powers. Two years on from Saturday Night Fever, no cure was in sight.

Among the photographs we ran that week 39 years ago was one of the 10 young people who made up The Funkateers, a group we described as Swindon’s latest disco fashion trendsetters. They were due to appear at Theatre Square venue The Affair, although we did not indicate whether they were singers, dancers or both.

Perhaps any Funkateer who happens to be reading this will get in touch and share a memory or two.

As professionals, they possibly wouldn’t have been allowed to take part in a competition we announced in another story.

We said: “The world disco dancing championships start right here in Swindon with the town’s very own answer to John Travolta.

“For Swindon’s number one disco dancer has the chance to compete against the best shake rattle and rollers in the world - and he could end up with more than £15,000 in prize money.

“But first the hunt is on to find Swindon’s top twinkle-toed groover. And it begins at the town’s Brunel Rooms dance hall next month.

“Dancers will boogie and bounce in four separate beats - and the winners of each heat will meet in the grand final on August 10.”

The competition seems to have been for budding Travoltas alone, with no mention of would-be Newton Johns.

Dance wasn’t the only branch of the arts given space in the Adver that week.

We visited the Wroughton home of a gifted amateur painter and sculptor called Elsie Tolchard.

The 76-year-old’s talent had first emerged when she was a child, but her study of art took second place to the need to work and contribute to the family budget.

It wasn’t until she was in her sixties and retired from a long career as a shopworker that she took up her brushes in earnest again, and also passed an art A-Level at Swindon College.

Her work ranged from portraiture and still life to a striking bust of Sir Winston Churchill.

The artist, who was also a potter, a poet and a volunteer art teacher for people with learning disabilities, said the greatest hindrance she faced was a lack of funds for materials.

She added: “Every Christmas, when people ask me what I want, I ask for oil paints.”

Our other local stories included specialist cleaners being brought in to tackle a rash of graffiti at the bus station, the arrival of the Rev Dennis Wright as the 20th century’s first full time pastor at Stratton Green Baptist Church and the two-millionth visitor to the Oasis Leisure Centre.

Linda Ellis, of Somerset Road, was the visitor in question, and we photographed her receiving a bouquet from manager Graham Swatton.

“Opened three years ago,” we said, “the Oasis drew a half million in each of the first two years and three quarters in the third.

“Then there have been nearly a quarter of a million in the last three months.”

According to the manager, the annual tally of visitors was expected to be at least a million a year from then on.

The pool, he added was especially popular, drawing people from as far away as Penzance.