The FAP Gene Support Group

(Familial Adenomatous Polyposis)

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My R.A.F. Life

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 similar afterwards.

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 working life.

Hut 292 RAF Bridgnorth

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 quite baffled.

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.

Mick and Ann's wedding

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 Admin Wing 1965

RAF Gutersloh Stores Team

RAF Gutersloh Stores Team 1965

RAF Sharjah Taxi Queue

RAF Sharjah Taxi Queue 1969

RAF Sharjah Tea Wallah

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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