National Service had finished and a pal
from my school days had the brilliant idea of us joining
The Canadian Air Force. Problem was this was only possible
by serving in the R.A.F. first and transferring or something
After filling in forms at the recruiting
office in Leicester my friend backed out but with my brother
having enjoyed life in the R.A.F. as a national serviceman
(he actually signed on for an extra year) I carried on.
Then what happened next should have warned me to be careful
with future decisions.
I had an 'A' grade in my maths GCE exam
and opted for the accounts section. Imagine my surprise
when told my maths wasn't good enough and was offered the
proud sounding trade of 'Clerk Equipment Accounts'. This
was the same as pay accounts or so I was told. Didn't take
long to realise I was a Storeman to all intents and purposes
and as it turned out was for the next 30 odd years of my
Hut 292 RAF Bridgnorth
|My hope was
to get away from the Leicester area and after being
made welcome when signing the final paperwork was given
my first orders which were virtually 'Here's a ticket
to RAF Bridgnorth, don't miss your trains or else'.
The eight week square bashing course was
a real roller coaster with about 20 of us in a hut and plagued
by two corporal drill instructors. One the kind friendly
type and the other a bully. I think it took us about three
weeks to work out this was all part of their fun and how
they must have laughed over drinks in the local pub.
I remember taking Sandy a lad from the
Highlands home on a weekend pass. I could just about understand
him if he spoke very slowly but friends in Leicester were
My trade training was about another eight
weeks at Kirton-in-Lindsay. The bonus was we had a civilian
instructor and seemed to be treated slightly better. Then
my first posting and dreaming of Scotland, Cornwall or anyplace
away from Leicester. So where was RAF Cottesmore? Turned
out 20 miles from Leicester!! Another sense of humour from
my new masters.
|It had its benefits as
Oakham had a decent pub, The Roebuck, where we would
often be knocking on the door at opening time. Another
asset was it had a coffee bar at the rear where I eventually
met my future wife Ann. Turned out her dad Victor was
a past landlord of the place.
Our wedding Oakham 1967
Memories of Cottesmore were mostly happy
ones and sharing a room with three Geordies was never dull.
One Sunday we went down into Oakham and gave our pint of
blood to pass away the time and get a free cup of tea and
a biscuit. Also my first Vespa scooter for £10 gave
valiant service around East Leicestershire even though I
could not manage to pass my test. Well not until I returned
from my next posting in Germany and upgraded to a Lambretta.
RAF Gutersloh Admin Wing 1965
RAF Gutersloh Stores Team 1965
RAF Sharjah Taxi Queue 1969
RAF Sharjah Tea Wallah 1969
I finished my service at North Luffenham
only about 6 miles from Cottesmore. In between postings
to Gutersloh in Germany; Sharjah in the Persian Gulf; 16MU
at Stafford and Waddington completed my 12 years.
Highlights were building a beer bar in
a 'clothes drying room' for Christmas in Sharjah. 12 of
us spent about a week lining it with plywood and converting
it into a ships bridge. Even included a gangplank and ships
bell. When we worked out the cost to the RAF we nearly ripped
it all out for fear of several charges. All the bars were
judged by the Group Captain and ours won a couple of barrels
of beer and was opened straight the way. It eventually closed
several days later and was the only one not to close with
us working shifts behind the bar. My favourate customers
were the RAF Police Dogs who appreciated a change in diet
throughout the night.
The other high spot was ordering spares
for the Lancaster Bomber whilst at Waddington. In the final
stages of getting its air worthiness certificate it was
actually given the same priority for spares as the stations
V Bombers and several hours were spent with the MoD on the
telephone trying to find bits and pieces.
There were many other parts enjoyable and
otherwise but could fill pages of them. Perhaps a page for
each station I served on might be something for the future.
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