From: Andrew Downard, Ballarat, VIC
Subject: Return to Cyprus

Hi Tony,

A question for the ‘brains trust’ amongst the membership!  Maureen and I are planning a return to Cyprus 45 years after we met there in the mid 70’s.  We have talked about trying to visit RAF Akrotiri, Air Movements and in particular the Scuba Dive Club where we spent a good deal of time above and below the water.  So is this even possible and how might we go about organising this?  Any suggestions and guidance most welcome.

New £2 coin celebrates the centenary anniversary of the Royal Air Force
The Royal Mint have unveiled (1st January) the design for a new two-pound coin issued in celebration of the centenary anniversary of the Royal Air Force, which came into being in 1918. The need for air power was realised during the deadly European conflict which erupted in July 1914. At that time, the ability to fly was in its infancy, but the value of taking to the skies and delivering firepower from the air was already being recognised — on all sides.  Since its formation on the 1st April 1918, the Royal Air Force has defended the skies above Britain and has been at the forefront of Britain’s defence. From the first wooden biplane, through the development of hi-tech supersonic jets, to today’s lightning aircraft — it has always been at the cutting edge of innovation — marking the aviation milestones of the 20th century and beyond.
From: Chris Kirby, 73700  Bourg St Maurice
Subject: RAF Movers Ladybird Book

Hi Tony,

I hope you had a great Xmas & New Year. Here's wishing you a splendid 2018.

Am still on the floor, rolling with laughter at that Ladybird book - brilliant! (reminds me of Rompers Green, the Lyneham tales from the 80s). Can the identity of the Ladybird author be divulged, or is the name witheld for legal reasons? Ha ha.

As ever - many thanks for a super edition of the OBB. Sorry I did not get my act together in time to submit an entry for that one. Have been literally snowed under here in Bourg St Maurice, France (see attached photo). Unusually heavy falls so far this winter, even for the Alps.

Anyway, all the very best to all Movers worldwide.  Must dash - gotta go & dig the cars out. Again. Bah humbug!

Rip Kirby.
One of the last remaining Bristol Type 170 freighter aircraft has been transported from New Zealand to a museum in the UK where it will eventually go on display.

The freighter was designed and built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, had a 108ft wingspan and featured distinctive clamshell doors that allowed cargo - including vehicles and large animals - to be loaded via its nose.

A total of 214 freighters and Wayfarers - the passenger variant - were built and delivered to airlines and air forces across the world between 1945 and 1958.

One of the remaining 11 freighters has been transported from Ardmore airfield, near Auckland, New Zealand, to its new home at the Bristol Aero Collection Trust.

The aircraft was transported on lorries at either end of its journey - in the UK by Kings Heavy Haulage - and the sea voyage took place on a Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics vessel, heading from New Zealand to Bristol's Royal Portbury Docks via Singapore.

The freighter will not immediately be on public display as it will be condition assessed at a nearby hangar.
Bristol Freighter Returns to her Birthplace
Memories of RAF Lyneham
When the Air Ministry entered into its Expansion Scheme in the latter half of the 1930s, it was realised that there would have to be several new airfields built to house aircraft storage and maintenance depots to cater for the thousands of new aircraft on order. The most suitable location for these stations would be towards the western side of Britain so as to be less likely to attack from the enemy.

A site for one was found 10 miles southwest of Swindon, west of Lyneham village. Contractors commenced its construction in early 1939. By this time a policy of housing flying training establishments alongside the storage units had been taken, consequently Lyneham had a mixture of four large ‘J’ type hangars and several groups of ‘K’ and ‘L’ aircraft storage hangars, these latter dispersed well away from the main technical site. Initially only a perimeter track was laid and it was 1942 before the three concrete runways were provided.
In more recent times, Lyneham became the Royal Air Force's principal transport hub and was designated as a Master Diversion Airfield: it was one of the primary airfields to which aircraft could divert in the eventuality of their home bases being closed due to weather, or other unforeseen events such as aircraft crashes.

The airfield became renowned for being the "gateway" between the United Kingdom and Afghanistan; the station was also where repatriation of British personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan took place. The bodies were transported through the nearby town of Royal Wootton Bassett, with crowds lining the streets to pay tribute to the fallen.

The station closed on 31 December 2012 with the majority of its personnel and other assets having moved to RAF Brize Norton. On 31 May 2011, a parade was held, attended by the Princess Royal, to mark the departure of the squadrons. The final Hercules left Lyneham on 1 July 2011. Daily flying operations ceased on 30 September 2011.

The site is now known as Ministry of Defence Lyneham (or MOD Lyneham) and is home to the Defence School of Electronic and Mechanical Engineering (DSEME).

Detailed History of the Station
From: Ronald Meredith, Spalding, Lincs
Subject: Memories of RAF Lyneham

Been to Lyneham many times, first in 1957 as trainee Mover loading Hastings. However, my forever remembrance was in May 1964 when  I returned to the UK from RAF Idris in Libya, en-route to be married. I had met my wife-to-be in Tripoli. The Hastings Operational Conversion Unit at Thorney Island, c/o my big pilot buddy,  Flt Lt "Jacko" Jackson, kindly brought me back to the UK for a farewell party at Thorney, and another Hastings with a trainee crew took my car, kit and caboodle and was due to arrive early am the next day.

During the party at Thorney, word arrived that the cargo flight with my car and kit had been diverted to Lyneham. Come the morning, we could not  get any ground transport to get to the rail station, so Jacko organised another Hastings with a trainee crew, to deliver me to  Lyneham. However, perhaps as a result of the nights party, on arrival overhead Lyneham, the aircraft captain requested permission to taxi around the south taxi-way for experience and could they send out a vehicle to pick up one passenger.

I was duly collected and dropped off at Customs, as I told the driver that I had a car to collect. I recognised the Customs officer as their head honcho, the name Dan Payne comes to mind, but I may be wrong in that regard.  Anyway, I was taken to see my car and advised that most of associated paperwork was correct, however, they had found 2 items that did not match with my written declaration; 1. A portable radio  set and 2. A demijohn of Cyprus sherry. I explained that I had bought the little radio just before my departure, it was still in the original wrappings, the sherry had been given to me as a wedding present by my staff on departure. The HM Customs representative gave a big sigh, "OK young man, we will regard the radio as a car radio, you do not seem to have one. The sherry, consider that as a present from HM Customs and Excise."

While en route to pick up the future Mrs. Meredith from Heathrow, I was inclined to the view that the Swindon football team must recently have been doing very well!

Ron Meredith

[Editor's note: It was folklore that when going through Lyneham Customs the inspectors were far more strict/diligent/mean if the Swindon football team had lost their most recent match!]
From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury
Subject: Lyneham

Hi Tony,

I had three occasions to remember RAF Lyneham, the first being in December 1954, when, after being kitted out with ill fitting KD at Innsworth and then being transported to Clyffe Pypard for an overnight stay, we had an early morning bus ride to Lyneham where we boarded a Hastings bound for Fayid in the Canal Zone. They had to clear the snow off the wings before take-off and then a few hours later we landed at Luqa, Malta, in bright sunshine. We had a two day stop-over here as the kite needed an engine change so we had time to explore Valetta before continuing our journey to Fayid; landing in the dark and to the sound of much gunfire.
After six weeks disembarkation leave my posting arrived in the mail; yes, RAF Lyneham! With just a few months to go before my demob, I was put into working with HM Customs searching unaccompanied personal effects in crates sent ahead of the families and lads returning to the UK.

Many of the crates would have false bottoms in them and we found hundreds of cigarettes and bottles of spirits stashed away which of course would be confiscated. The customs officer with us spent most of his time peering through rolls of 35mm film.  The crates would all be shut and secured with banding tape and then taken down to Calne railway station, a lot lighter than when they arrived!  Happy days.

After over two years in the Middle East during the Suez crisis, I managed to get a spare seat out of Aden on one of the first flights of a VIP De Havilland Comet to Lyneham. The flight was via Entebbe and then a night stop at Kano. Next day we continued via Idris to an arrival at Lyneham on a cold and rainy afternoon. Here I had a confrontation with a customs officer with regard to my expensive camera which I had purchased a year ago and had the receipt to prove it but the customs officer would not accept it but I stuck to my guns and he got fed up and let me go. Had he looked in my suitcase he would have found a couple of watches and some more items that I should have declared.
From: Charles Gibson, Monifieth, Angus
Subject: Memories of RAF Lyneham

Ah yes, RAF Lyneham. I did two tours at Lyneham, January 1966 to December 1967, then December 1970 to January 1974, both on Air Movements. Used to drink in Malcolm's Morgue in Lyneham Village and the Borough Arms in Wootton Bassett. Oh happy days!

Chas 43rd
From: David Taylor, York
Subject: Memories of RAF Lyneham

Just what I was waiting for, Tony. Here is a piece from my autobiography, "A Suitcase Full of Dreams - Expanded & Re-packed" ISBN 978-0-9534082-3-8, available via Amazon.

"The Sunshine Boys", as we were known as to the rest of Lyneham - Following disembarkation leave I found myself in the depths of the beautiful West Country, Wiltshire. Perched atop Dauntsey Bank, to be precise, with Bradenstoke-cum-Clack close by. Who could ever forget a name like that?

Although I wasn’t to know then, RAF Lyneham was where I would be based for the final four years of my service career. I say based, for that was the reality of it. I probably spent more time away from the camp than I did at it, which made them the most prolific years of my life to date. As far as travel and experiences went they were certainly that.

If people thought we spoke strange up in Yorkshire, down here was different, for sure. This became obvious almost as soon as I attempted to engage in conversation on my first visit to a local pub. A man stood next to me at the bar, and I asked him a question. He looked quite bewildered at first, and the time he took to reply made me feel that this was perhaps the most awesomely complex question he had ever been called upon to answer. Or maybe he was just winding himself up, for once he started, there was no stopping him. It sounded like he could have been relating Cook’s first voyage of discovery, so long did he take. And, to confuse things yet further, his hands flew this way and that, like he was warming up for a bout of martial arts. Then he suddenly stopped. I think he may actually have just paused for breath, but I got in quick and thanked him.

Hadn’t the heart to tell him I barely understood a word - lots of arr’s and ee’s, but little else it seemed. Not that it mattered a great deal, for by then I’d forgotten what it was I’d asked him. But I did manage to translate most of what it was he said as I downed my pint and prepared to leave.

"Tell ee what, young fella. Ee don’t say a lot, but ee’s awfy hard to understand."
So, come October 14th, 1960, I was back in my element with Transport Command, though by choice this time, for I was a man with a mission. I had a cunning plan in mind, and although it was already in operation, I realized I was as good as aiming for the moon, and even the Americans had not yet landed there.  The Lyneham posting was phase one of my plan, the easy part, preference of choice being one of the perks offered on completion of an overseas tour. I was assigned to first-line servicing, exactly what I would have wished for, had I not had something else in mind. Something I suspected to be an even better option!  I allowed a couple of months to pass, giving myself time to size up the situation, gain experience, slot myself into the system as it were. And with the two months up, I played my hand. I was volunteering again, to join Transport Command Mobile Servicing Flight, a select group that had come to my notice as far away as Malaya.

We’d had a flight of Vulcans stage through Butterworth, en-route to an exercise in New Zealand. They’d been accompanied by a Britannia, carrying the servicing personnel and, as was my want, I’d wandered over to have a look round the Britannia, and although few restrictions applied here, I was approached.
"Hello, Dave Taylor, isn’t it?"  I looked round, recognised a face I hadn’t seen since Cosford, six years ago. Same entry, similar trade - he was Inst Gen, whereas I was Inst Nav - yet I couldn’t recall his name. But I think he realized that.  ‘Rex Chapman,’ he said, offering his hand. ‘Instruments, general,’ he stated, as if offering an excuse for my forgetfulness.

‘Yes, of course. What are you doing out here, Rex?’ Which is all it took. He showed me round and explained about what it was he did, which is when I became aware of the opportunities available with Mobile Servicing Flight. That was for me, I decided, and determined there and then that it should happen. Now, here I was, nine months on, at Lyneham, successful once again. And it had seemed so easy. Luck,? Fate? Destiny? Who cared. It was what I’d set out to achieve, so I wasn’t about to instigate a sociological study into the hows, whys, and wherefores.
So it was I joined the chosen few. A couple of dozen at most, Rex no longer among them. We, also, were pooled, flew with any squadron, any type of aircraft.  "Not just the Brit and Comet," Willie Wilson - another instrument fitter with MSF - told me. "Any of 38 Group aircraft, when they’re operating away from base, especially in places where there’s no RAF presence. Which, of course, means travelling with them to... well... wherever.  Wait for the Monthly Planning Requirement," he suggested, "It’s due out tomorrow, then you’ll see."
I found the Monthly Planning Requirement to be an event that generated quite an air of excitement and anticipation in our crewroom, for those who happened to be there at the time, that is. It detailed the expected requirement in aircraft and crews needed for the following month: flights to the Far East, USA, Australasia, VIP flights to wherever. Everyone selected their preferences. Those who were already away in some foreign land were likely to miss out, but it was a swings and roundabouts kind of thing. Next month we could be away somewhere when the MPR was issued. Even our MSF training was different. As there were no RAF courses covering the civilian equipment fitted to the Britannia 312 and Comet C2 and C4, I was to find myself dispatched afar: Smiths Industries, in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside; the de Havilland factory, at Hatfield, Herts.

Training complete, I was now about to begin a life living out of a suitcase. Not as bad as it sounds, for after the Valetta, Hastings, the Britannia and Comet were magnificent aeroplanes, service aircraft in which we did travel first class, relatively speaking, and certainly technically far in advance of the Sunderland and Whirlwind.

Living out of a suitcase was to prepare me well for future years. My suitcase was now of better quality, and much bigger, room for many more dreams; the formidable-seeming layer with which I’d returned from the Far East would barely line the bottom of this case.
The advantages of joining MSF were twofold - the varied nature of our work, and the amount of travel involved: rapid response alerts; ferrying troops to the world’s trouble spots; liaison exercises with the army; introductory trials with new aircraft types away from their home base; route proving flights down possible diversions. Such flights usually involved the use of Commonwealth and US Air Force bases.

We also participated in Royal flights and VIP tours; much-prized flights with Paris based NATO Defence College personnel. A choice here, were you lucky enough to be selected: Southern Capitals, or Northern Capitals, (Europe, that is) where NATO staff officers familiarized themselves with their area of influence, and we familiarized ourselves with the women and bars, with lots of sightseeing thrown in. We alternated in these duties with the United States Air Force, year and year about. (Flying the tours, that is, not the women and bars. The Americans proved themselves quite capable on that front.)
From: Tony Freeman, Thornhill, Dumfries
Subject: Memories of RAF Lyneham

Thank you Tony,

I was at Lyneham one Saturday in the 1990s when I was hosting a Major in the US Air Force Reserve when who should arrive at the Terminal but HRH The Prince of Wales.  My guest was almost out of his head with amazement that he should be witness what to us would be a routine event and imagine his dismay when I had to request he desist from taking a photo of which was air side.  Oh for 2000 years of history!

Best wishes

From: Fred Hebb, Gold River, NS
Subject: Memories of RAF Lyneham

Ah, memories of RAF Lyneham.

Some I may wish to forget but I do want to remember the good times we had on Cross Check. I remember our first pass we made over the station when we had toilet paper rigged so that when the parachute opened the boxes exploded and toilet paper was spread over the infield. We did bring our own beer and whisky, Canadian of course. There seemed to be a party every night, dancing, drinking and having a good time. After all that we managed to get to work during the day and got the job done. There was of course a nice dinner for all and the reception by the Brits was something to remember.

To end it all we did a high speed low level pass over the taxiway and climbed out like a home sick angel. Many of our team have now passed, but I will remember them all.

Fred Hebb
From: Richard Lloyd, Dalgety Bay, Fife
Subject: Memories of RAF Lyneham

Following my graduation from the Movements School and while awaiting my posting to Khormaksar, I had the great good fortune to be posted to RAF Lyneham as a supernumerary on the Movements Squadron. Anyhow, I arrived there in mid 1966 and was assigned to a shift led by an amazing DAMO called Harry Lawson, whose Traffic Officer was Penny Roberts.

At this time RAF Lyneham was the premier Transport Command Station, with 216 Sqn Comets (Mk 2s and Mk4s), 10 Sqn VC10s, and 2 Sqns of Britannias, No’s 99 and 511. The station also hosted 33 MU, tasked with converting Lightnings being sold to Saudi and being updated for RAF service.

It was from the short, normally crosswind runway that the Engineering Officer OC 33MU,  Wg Cdr ‘Taffy’ Holden accidentally got airborne in a Lightning in 1964, and successfully landed it back on the runway with minor damage to the aeroplane, and absolutely none to his reputation! I have extracted the following from:

An engineering officer had an extremely scary experience when some ground running tests went badly wrong... on 22nd July 1966, the aircraft was with 33 MU at RAF Lyneham being worked on to fix a persistent electrical fault that only showed up when the aircraft was accelerating. Wing Commander Walter "Taff" Holden was undertaking taxiing tests to see if he could replicate the problem. The canopy was off, ground locks were in on the undercarriage and the ejector seat safety pins were in. Initial slow(ish!) speed taxi runs on Lyneham's 'lazy' runway did not show up the fault, so Taff tried a further run but inadvertently advanced the throttles too far into the reheat position; now a Lightning doesn't give you much time to think in reheat, and before Taff could figure out that the throttles hadn't jammed but were just through the reheat gate, disaster loomed in the shape of a fuel bowser crossing the runway in front of him. Just missing this, he was soon about to cross the main duty runway - as a Comet on its take off run shot past!

Having avoided disaster twice by pure luck, the end of the short lazy runway was coming up fast and he had no choice but to lift off, having had no luck trying to get the throttles back to idle - and having run out of time to do anything about it. Luckily Taff had some limited hours on lighter prop-driven trainer aircraft - Tiger Moths, Chipmunks and Harvards - and this experience enabled him to calmly explore the aircraft's handling and make some attempts at landing. Luckily Taff had some limited hours on lighter prop-driven trainer aircraft - Tiger Moths, Chipmunks and Harvards - and this experience enabled him to calmly explore the aircraft's handling and make some attempts at landing.

His first two attempts to line up on the runway didn't go well but on his third attempt he got it right - and only made the error of landing in the attitude a tailwheel aircraft would, with the result that he scraped the tail and in the process cut the brake chute's cable. When he deployed the chute, then, it simply dropped off immediately and he had to rely on the wheelbrakes alone to stop him before the runway end. This they did... with 100 yards to spare. Unsurprisingly some years after the event Taff suffered some post-traumatic stress problems but recovered fully with some help. It is a remarkable story and to have the aircraft still in existence over 50 years later is a bit of a bonus.
But that was a couple of years before my arrival. Lyneham was huge and mighty exciting as my first experience of an operational base. I recall being shouted at by the SWO as I walked to work - his message was ‘I am saluting you, Sir!’ from about 50 yards away.

Harry Lawson was from Kirkcaldy - just about 6 miles from where I was brought up in Aberdour, so we had already something in common. Harry had been a Major in the Royal Army Music Corps, and was a talented musician. A man with a great sense of humour and mischief, stories about him are legend. At his farewell from the RAF years later at SCC Hendon he cut off one sleeve of his No 1 uniform, slid it on to the other sleeve so he looked vaguely like a Group Captain. It’s alleged he planted sunflower seeds round all the buildings at SCC as a ‘time bomb’ present to Hendon. Harry educated me in classical music and gave me a love of Mozart’s music which lasts to this day.

Another young mover was Dave Welch, awaiting his discharge from a short service commission after 3 years. His immediate previous posting had been Khormaksar, and thanks to Dave I was well-prepared for my posting there, in particular volunteering at the Aden Forces Broadcasting Association, for which I worked throughout my posting there. (see my earlier piece ‘Into the Remote Places’). Dave and I continued our friendship at RAF Northolt after I returned from Aden, and when he was working for 3M.

I took every chance to fly from Lyneham and spent weekends in Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus, courtesy of our resident squadrons and the movement shift system which, if I recall rightly, meant you were off, once a month, from Thursday evening until Tuesday morning.

I have many more reminiscences of happy times at Lyneham, many of them prompted by the wonderful series ‘Rompers Green’  by Herc Pilot & cartoonist  Chas Finn- Kelcey.

Best regards to all,

Dick Lloyd

[Editor's Note:  Although Rompers Green was published in the Old Bods Briefs as an ongoing monthly series many moons ago - I believe it's time to resurrect it and do a re-run, commencing later in this edition.]
From: Steve Harpum, York
Subject: Memories of RAF Lyneham

Hi Tony,

RAF Lyneham was the back-drop to some of the best times of my life, and where it all began.  I had been in the RAF a couple of years before being posted there, in January 1984, straight off the Movements Course, but Lyneham (and UKMAMS) were where I really began to enjoy my service career.  

I travelled the world from there, saw some amazing sights (and some terrible things too) and most of all met some fantastic people, some of whom I am fortunate enough to call my friends to this day.  I went back for another tour in the 90's as a Sqn Ldr and had the great good fortune to work with some of the same great people, and meet some new ones.  Some of them are no longer with us and the world is a poorer place for that, but I count myself lucky to have served with them.

I recall TacEvals, Henley forklift trucks, ConDec transfer loaders, night shifts watching (ahem) videos in the deserted pax lounge, stroppy loadmasters, the good, the bad and the ugly of aircraft captains, the UKMAMS crew-room full of 'gizzits' acquired from all over the world, the noise of Fat Albert, Mess life and the superb summer balls and much, much more.  Throughout it all I recall good company and a real sense of team-work.

Two people who featured large in my life back then were Bob Dixon and Hughie Curran; both of them had the misfortune to share a room with me while 'down-route', and both of them were kind enough to share displeasure at having to endure my apparently stentorian snoring.  To misquote Wg Cdr Spry, "I learnt about bollockings from that!"

Even so, without a doubt, my memories of RAF Lyneham are that they were very happy times indeed!


From: Andrew Downard, Ballarat, VIC
Subject: Memories of RAF Lyneham

Hi Tony,

I had two postings to Lyneham and much preferred it to Brize.  Some interesting tasks over the years there but, enough of work!  There were always some characters wherever you were in the Movements world and Lyneham was no exception.  One particular player we had on our shift had perfected the art of avoiding work.  The old crew room on the cargo shed in the early 70’s had a sliding hatch from the shift SNCO’s desk into the room piled with movers, smelly wet-weather gear and expired inflight rations.  On a regular basis a red faced Chiefy would stick his head through and bark at someone to go off and do a job. 

The guy in question would always pick the seat that was set back against the wall at the side of the hatch, out of sight unless the hatch jockey was a contortionist.  Couldn’t dodge the team tasks but missed his fair share of any random jobs that came up.  One day the hatch banged open and a loud voice asked for a volunteer to wash the DAMO’s car.  To our amazement our lad bolted to his feet and volunteered.  This was the cause of much head scratching.  A little later a couple of us walked around to the back of the shed only to find the DAMO’s mini parked beside our lads own mini with a transfer going on of all major electricals, wiper blades and any other wearing part that could be easily unbolted and swapped!

Another example of SNCO’s sticking their heads out of hatches involved a very high level visit by the head of the Italian air force.  Yours truly got pinged to don the white overalls and push in the steps (remember the white overalls?  Usually worn over a pair of jocks and a bad attitude).  This was a real dog and pony show with a Harrier set to do some demonstrations.  We are all out on the pan in front of the terminal with lots of gold braid and thick bands on sleeves lined up with us.  We heard the Harrier winding up and then a sudden quiet.  After about a minute the window on the upper floor that housed the Load Control section opened and the Sergeant in charge leaned out and said ‘SIR’ loudly.  As this covered about 95% of the group on the pan they all turned around, “the Harrier's crashed!”  Then the window closed.  The silence that followed was priceless.  The solution as I remember was the Italian aircraft was sent around and three firetrucks were tasked to keep themselves between the crashed Harrier and the VIP flight.

It is so sad to see that Lyneham is on the ‘closed’ list but I guess it means you can get a parking spot in Wootton Bassett High Street and a table in the Mallard!

Gerry Davis, Bedminster    
Subject: RAF Lyneham 1968-1971

I arrived at Lyneham on a Sunday in July of 1968; it was raining. I got some bedding and a room in the Air Movements block, I looked around, but not too many people about and nobody that I knew.  So I got something to eat, looked in the Airmen’s Club, but didn't fancy it. It was getting near opening time, so I thought that I would try the local Pub. The rain by this time was really belting down. Somebody suggested that I ought to take the shortcut, through the church graveyard. Off I go, across this, by now, quite muddy and squelchy grassed area. There were central heating pipes underground in conduits and all of the concrete covers were off as the pipes were in the process of being re-lagged. They were laid about 4 ft. deep in long lengths. I passed through the church yard, turned left, up the road to the crossroads, there on the left was the pub.

Not many people in, all locals. So I was getting into my second half gallon, when a chap mentioned, after looking out of the window, that the car park was flooded and he had better get off home while he could.   The sky was flashing with lightning and the rain was really belting down. He opened the door and water flooded into the pub straight down into the cellar which was filling up quite quickly.  The landlord got quite worried and so was I, so I thought that it was time to try the bottled beer!  Not long afterwards, while the remaining customers and myself were now standing on the chairs (there was about 4 inches of water in the public bar) the landlord said he was closing the pub.

I got to the road, which by now was knee deep in water. It was difficult trying to identify the centre of the road, but I eventually made it to the church, where the water was even deeper, got through the gate started to make a bee-line for the Air Movements block. It was pitch black. Then, crash, bang, wallop! I disappeared down the unseen, flooded conduit. My first thought as I came up for air was how lovely and warm the water was. Gosh! did it stink. It was mixed like thick brown soup, with rust from the pipes. It tasted lousy too. Then I discovered that I could not get out. So minor panic. I eventually did, after considerable effort, as the water was higher than the top of the conduit. I paddled, squelched and tumbled my way back to the block.

What I must have looked like would have probably scared the pants off Dracula. I got under the shower fully dressed, trying to wash each layer of some of the filth off.  Boy, were my clothes and I in a bad way. I dumped all of my clothes in a smelly pile in the drying room, thinking that I would try and wash them at a later date.  Had to, no money for clothes; £10 per week didn't go very far even in those days.
The next day, collected my "Blue chitty" and reported to the Station Warrant Officer, along with other newcomers. He asked about the rain the previous night and how it might have affected anyone.  When I told him of my misfortune, he asked , "Was I in uniform or civilian clothes" as I was in civilian clothes it was alright then.  He promptly put me on duty as Orderly Corporal for taking an unauthorised short cut out of and into camp.

So started my last three years, for Queen and country, as a regular and my first day at Lyneham. I had just got back from lovely sunshine, after spending all my disembarkation leave at our house in Spain. Imagine how I felt!  One of the shifts on Strategic Air Movements was lucky enough to have me allocated to them. At that time there were two air movements sections, either side of the airfield; strategic and tactical.  Eventually the Britannias and the Comets moved to Brize, and air movements was reduced to one section.

After quite some time I was allocated a married quarter. Whooppee! hang on, where is Compton Bassett? Only many miles away, in the middle of nowhere, no shops at all, just a single GPO phone box, which was continually being vandalised. Wasn't I lucky?  I did manage to save a few shekels and buy an old banger of a car to help speed up the transport situation.

At Lyneham, as in life generally, there were many incidents worth a mention and I shall try my best to recount some of them.  I did two years on shift, my last year I shall come recount later.  I did take out an airfield driving licence (F1629). I had to produce my previous one from NEAF MAMS. The MT Flt. Sgt. said that he had not seen one before with all the lines filled out with different vehicles.

As you probably know the cargo hanger has crew rooms attached.  At one point, during a very bad winter, the powers that be decided to dig up all of the concrete floor and resurface it.  We were allocated one of those grass covered hangers across the main road, over a mile away; that created problems for us. I and others, had to drive both the 12,000 lbs forklift and Condec there and back many times in all weathers, and hours, we had to make sure that the loads were secured properly, and we were still using the same crew and shift office. There were many civilian charters, mostly in the cargo role. Lots of those airlines no longer exist.

"Monarch Airlines" with a Britannia, came in quite often. One of the lads off shift got a job as Loadmaster with them. Well, he didn't last long. His first charter into Lyneham his old shift was on duty.  He and the Flt.Sgt didn't quite hit it off.  There was an almighty row over the fact that the a/c had no lashing gear on board. So this lad demanded some on loan as had happened before, but not all of it was returned. It finished up with the powers that be contacting the Airline and made him a "Persona-non -grata". We got feedback soon afterwards that he was “let go".
We had an L749 Constellation, on a one-way charter come in for loading. On shutting down its four engines (one of which had locking wire wrapped around the cowling) Oil poured out of all of them onto the nice new concrete pan. The station boss was not pleased, and wanted it loaded ASAP and told the captain to leave immediately it was loaded. In the meantime I gave the Loadmaster a lift to the NAAFI shop so that he could purchase 3 clothes lines to tie down the load down with.

There was another incident worth a mention. This one night the fog was a real pea-souper. The shift Sgt. eventually turned up from the Sgt's. mess, towards the end of the shift and he wanted the land rover to check all the a/c which we had loaded. Yeah right!

Well, about an hour later, he gets back to the section in a terrible state. He said that he couldn't see to drive through the fog, got out of the land rover to get his bearings, then couldn't find the vehicle again. So he abandoned it, somewhere out there in the fog, with door open, engine running and lights blazing. Then he told me to go find it and promptly buggered off.

During this time there were virtually no visible signs of airfield security. That was until the hi-jacking's, kidnappings, shootings and bombings started to kick in. It got to the point where we were often asked to produce our F1250 identity cards by the RAF Police while we were loading and unloading aircraft.

At the start of my last years' service, on a night shift, we had loaded 3 Hercs; two flat floor loads and one palletised load, the latter being chained down and not using side-guidance. When finished we were told to offload the palletised aircraft then rearrange the load to accommodate a Herc prop which had been loaded onto a pallet for a u/s aircraft up route.

Two Condec's were required, one was driven by me and the other by a tired, moaning, miserable git of a civilian driver. He had whined all night 'cos he couldn't get any kip. Then to top it off we wanted his assistance once again, at about 0700, when he was of duty at 0800.

He kept "giving it welly" at the aircraft, pointing out, as loud as he could, that he had a long way to go to the MT to collect his car, together with the fact that he wasn't going to get any overtime, and he wanted to get home.  By now, we had 3 pallets off onto one of the Condecs, had the other one at the aircraft, with the palletised prop at the rear ready to place the other pallets onto it.

An exchange of words took place between us, very similar to my suggesting that he "make love and go away" thinking that he would walk off. But no, he jumped into the Condec at the aircraft, the one with the prop on, slammed it into gear, reversed quickly, braked hard, the pallet overrode the roller chocks crashing onto the pan. He got out of the vehicle and disappeared.
Nearly 0800, all the camp was walking to work and had a splendid view of it all. I sat down on the edge of the aircraft ramp with my head in my hands as if waiting for the hand cuffs. I kept thinking through a tired haze what it would be like with a ball and chain round my ankles. Also would the bread and water last for a long time?

Guess who was put on a F252 as being responsible? As it turned out I was only admonished; I guess they had to show that some action had been taken. I felt terrible and actually lost the plot after this. Oh yes, from then on the civilian driver avoided me and Air Movements like the plague; nothing happened to him of course.  Before handing in my airfield driving permit, I wrote a letter to the RAF News which was printed. I had pointed out that I was a Supplier 11Q.Eq.Am., employed on Air Movements virtually as a full time specialist vehicle driver with only the same pay as an ordinary Supplier. There surely wasn't another trade group that had this unpaid advantage over its airmen, or was there?

Well, shortly after that all the driving was carried out by either MT drivers or civilians.  Then shock, horror; they posted me to the station stores at St. Athan. It looked like payback time to me! I did manage to wrangle my way out of that though as I had less than a year to serve, plus I had already applied for Lyneham as my last tour of duty in readiness for civilian aviation employment. Add to that the fact that I had not been near a stores in 11 years.  I asked to be taken off the cargo shift and was placed on the reception desk in the pax section, that job entailed wearing best blue. Shortly afterwards I moved over to the Route Hotel reception. There were a motley collection of huts under the supervision of a MALM. He was a nice chap, just biding his time like me. All I did for the remaining few months was turn up, issue a few keys and not too much else.


From: Alexander Angus, Leeds
Subject:  Memories of RAF Lyneham

Probably the shortest posting - posted in December 1969 - posted out within 6 months, to accompany the Britannia move to Brize Norton. 

However, one manic weekend while our shift on TAMS covered Friday 16:30 till Monday 08:00, some airlift or other, saw us loading right through the weekend, with the odd break for food etc. At one point, the TV crews were covering the job, and as most, if not all, the equipment came in on civvie trucks, they were not allowed to back up to the Hercs, consequently, all boxes had to be conveyed by hand onto the aircraft.

Wishing to ensure a good shot of the job, as two of us had shifted the last two boxes and emptied the truck, the camera crew asked if we'd just put the last boxes back on the truck so they could shoot it from the other angle, though we, the humpers, were not exactly happy about it, Sarge said yes. So, not exactly delighted, we conformed, however, having almost finished the request, my compatriot turned to the camera whilst filming was still ongoing, and with a thumb in the air, asked, "Is that alright for you?"

"CUT!" was the only word I heard, followed by a sigh.

No names, no pack drill.

Other than my contact betwixt Condec and hangar door, I hadn't long to collect memories, not a bad send off to Brize, with a nosh up in the cargo shed, and a third encounter with a certain Larry Lamb - Air Cdre not actor.

The Fall and Rise of XK699 Sagittarius
From: James Gillespie, Swindon, Wilts
Subject: Sagittarius
I’m sure many of our readers will remember Sagittarius, the old Comet Gate Guard at RAF Lyneham. First dedicated in 1987, it was, regrettably, allowed to fall into disrepair and eventually became a terrible eyesore.  It was decided to move it to the aircraft museum at MoD Boscombe Down - the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection (BDAC) where it would be preserved as the last remaining RAF Comet - the first jet transport aircraft of the Royal Air Force, the others having been scrapped.

However, upon close examination, it was determined to be in such an advanced state of deterioration, it would be impossible to restore. The BDAC were able to salvage the sharp end, before the scrap dealer disposed of the rest. After much hard work, the BDAC has, over the past several years, been able to restore Sagittarius' front end to exhibit standards

To add to the pictorial display on the following pages, I’m a member of staff with my local Air Cadet Squadron (although I do intend to retire this coming June after 12 years in uniform).  When the cadets have an afternoon flying slot at MOD Boscombe Down, I always book them in to visit the BDAC in the mornings. This makes a full day for them, and so far, they’ve all said it has been fun. The BDAC staff are always glad to see cadets and are happy to explain the details of the exhibits.

I’ve no doubt the BDAC will be pleased to receive a plug in the newsletter if you are able to mention them!


From: Jeremy Porter, Long Ashton, Somerset 
Subject: Memories of RAF Lyneham

I go to Lyneham twice a week with work. It is so sad, the Terminal and UKMAMS HQ are virtually derelict and the REME has turned the aircraft bays directly opposite into a parade square.


[Photographs courtesy of Ian Campbell Aikenhead]
From: Nigel Moore, Devauden, Monmouthshire
Subject: Photos

Dear Tony

Happy New Year etc etc! I have finally got around to sorting some promised photos for you - sorry about the delay but we have been away over the festive period.
Belfast delivering Gazelles for the Army Air Corps RAF Sek Kong, probably about June 1976 - "Sailor" on the left
VC10 being handled by Cathay Pacific late 1977 Kai Tak International.
Self, Cpl George Quarless & Sgt Alan Scarisbrick - Falklands Sept 1982
Flt Lt Pat MacKenzie inspecting his new transport!
JSMC HQBFI Falklands September 1982
Kelper Store luxury accommodation - Falklands September 1982
From: David Forsyth, 85730 Le Langon 
Subject: Memories...
Bill Girdwood and Chas Collier
Tony’s Christmas Newsletter had a more than usual personal dimension for me in bringing together two very different characters from different parts of my RAF career: it recorded the deaths of two good friends, Bill Girdwood and Chas Collier. I had heard of both as soon as they happened but somehow seeing both mentioned together in Tony’s Newsletter seemed to make their loss all the more poignant.  Conscious that this is a Movers’ Newsletter, I hope that the readers may be interested in reading a little from outside the Movements’ sphere about these two estimable characters.
Chas Collier

I first encountered Chas Collier in 1969 at Marham where, a “mature” bachelor, he ran the Domestic Supply Flight. It was here that he was to meet the lady who was to become his wife, I believe during his “unusual” stay in Ely Hospital. Chas was a remarkable character with an unusual personal style. Great company, he regaled us with stories, some which seemed barely credible to a first tourist like me, of his time in far flung parts of the globe – all rather out of keeping with Barrack Stores at Marham.

One of the esoteric places he described was Majunga; little did I know that 2 years later I would see the place at first hand. Habituees of this Newsletter will have read Chas’ delightful stories about his time there and from later postings.
Our paths then parted until 1986 when I found Chas again at Sealand shortly before his retirement from the RAF. More latterly I had been in touch with him through e-mail.  One of the Supply Branch’s characters and a great supporter of Tony’s Newsletter, his presence amongst us will be sadly missed.

Our condolences to Elaine and family.
Bill Girdwood

I first met Bill at Harrogate in the mid-1980s. Just back from setting up RAF logistic arrangements for the Falklands war, he was the recently-arrived Head of SM 50 (RAF), the Branch which was trying manfully to ensure that the then growing Tornado fleet had enough spares to meet its day to day tasks and meet its NATO generation commitments as well. This was a difficult job since most of the Tornado support decision-making was in London and all too often the Harrogate Northern outpost was left out of Ops and Engineer decision-making yet found itself accused of being unable to provide spares when required. The supply chain was throughout Italy, Germany and the UK with NAMMA and Panavia in Munich being another link in an extended supply chain.

Avuncular, pipe-smoking Bill outwardly kept calm and steadied the ship, providing tremendous leadership. Not slow to make it clear where fault lay, he was incredibly loyal to those who met his own exacting standards. He taught me a great deal about dealing with people and arriving at a set of personal standards by which to abide in professional matters. He also remained very focused on getting the job done and was not afraid to ruffle feathers when he could see things could be done better.
When he was promoted to be Deputy Director SM15 in Carlisle, responsible for spares support for aircraft bought from the USA, the C130 and the Phantom, I was privileged to replace him in Harrogate – a hard act to follow with a team who had great respect for “Uncle Bill”.

He finished his RAF career as Station Commander at 14 MU, RAF Carlisle. Remaining in Carlisle he busied himself in local politics amongst other things – including of course his great love, Rugby Union. I was delighted to have him join us for a France -v- Ireland match at le Parc des Princes, in 1986 - which he thoroughly enjoyed and he was in turn appreciated by some of my French friends.

We kept in infrequent touch across almost 3 decades. More latterly we had kept in touch through e-mail, his last to me coming just before his admission to hospital.

Another of the Supply Branch’s great characters, his departure for the Changing Room in the sky, at least for me, marks the end of an era.

Our condolences to Eileen, the girls and their families.

David Forsyth
From: Elaine Collier, Ewhurst, Surrey
Subject: Chas Collier


I would like to thank all who have written such kind messages of condolence to me about Chas, they were and are much appreciated. Can you please pass on my thanks in your next missive.


Elaine Collier
I'm unsure how disembarkation was carried out. Leave was the primary goal and I think early next morning we assembled at a reception centre, to be issued with railway passes, two weeks of pay, and instructions as to where to report at the end of the one week of leave, in my case to a hotel in Harrogate. (There is a curious mistake in my RAF Records, which states that I went to Hinton in the Hedges, Northants, a place I've never seen, and it may be that the Personnel Reception Centre, No. 7 PRC, moved there at a later time).

My first call before going home was to Jane Edwards in Manchester. We had been writing and I had some presents for her: a dress, nylons and chocolate. She was then living in a small terraced house on her own. After a lot of talking, I took the evening train to Cornwall. An awful journey, as often happened in wartime. The train waited in Crewe station for four hours. It had no heating, but it was possible to get tea in the station buffet, in the usual glass, utilising the lower half of a sawn bottle. In the small hours we were on our way again. I slept for much of the time but for a while had a long conversation with a well dressed, middle aged man, who sat beside me until we reached Bristol around  breakfast time. I bought some sandwiches on the platform and when I returned he had gone.

After 21 hours the train reached Bodmin Road station. It was dark, with no bus for Bodmin, from where I hoped to get a St. Austell bus that would drop me within a half mile of home. A Post Office mail van from Bodmin was in the station yard and I recognised the two men with it from my time in Bodmin Post Office before joining up. Strictly against the rules, I was smuggled into the back and secretly dropped off in Bodmin. Thanks to them I, and all my kit, were home about 8 pm. (I then heard that a school fellow in the army had been killed, hitching in the dark towards Bodmin Road station).

It was superb to be home once more and to distribute presents to Mum, Alastair and Muriel (Dad was on a transfer to the wireless station at Ongar, Essex). There must have been more than masses of sweets and chocolate, but cannot remember. Then disaster! My wallet, which had been in the side pocket of my jacket, was missing. With a flap over the pocket it could not have fallen out, it had to be deliberately removed. Then, and even now, I am sure it was done by the smooth individual who went missing at Bristol.
Part Three - Back in the UK - Jan 1945 - Jan 1946
MY TIME IN THE R.A.F., 1943-1947
An Air Mover's Story in Eight Parts
Norman Victor Quinnell, 1925-2008
Apart from the precious leave money there was some Canadian currency, other items from Canada, addresses, and my rail pass to Harrogate. I had to write off for another with an explanation for the loss. Also, draw on what savings I had, though I'm sure Mum insisted upon giving me money, which she could ill afford.

Whatever was done during that very odd week, I had to give Mum details of Rosemary, and how I envisaged the options. She remembered her from school days, when I was Rosemary's first boyfriend, until Desmond intervened (and I switched to Ronnie Drew). Worried, but understanding, she left it all up to me.

I don't recall when or how it was done, but at some time later (while at Harrogate)  I went to Mere, stayed overnight, and went through the possibility of marriage, with Mrs Glencross and Rosemary. Certain conditions were advanced by Rosemary's mother, which I thought reasonable, and, unless there were further problems or objections, there could be a wedding in March. This meeting must have been in the middle of the leave period, so as to further confer with Mum, and presumably inform Dad of events, although we knew he would express little interest.

Perhaps with some relief I arrived in Harrogate in the middle of January. A fine spa town in which almost every hotel had been requisitioned by the RAF, just like Torquay. The one I was in was large and along one side of a square with central gardens and even in peacetime must have been a quiet area. Once the formalities of reporting in were over, it became clear that this was another waiting place, sharing a room with three or four other newcomers. Some in the building had been there for weeks, awaiting a posting to further flying training. I guess there were around a hundred of us, and the usual permanent staff complement of NCOs and junior Officers. The CO was a Sqdn/Ldr Leslie Ames, a pre-war cricketer of considerable fame, though by now somewhat portly, but pleasant and approachable.

Meals were taken in the building with separate rooms for us, Officers, and Staff. The day started after breakfast with an 8am parade assembly and roll call, outside on the road, and controlled by a drill sergeant. Discipline was a bit difficult to maintain since 50 yards opposite was a hotel with WAAF, and every morning one woman deliberately appeared at a window completely naked, and watched the ritual chorus that greeted her appearance. Most days were taken up with lectures related to flying, but with no exams or tests, and punctuated  by visits to a gym and swimming pool. Maybe once a fortnight the CO organised an outside person to give a talk on some non-military topic of general interest, art, geographical, historical, etc. A very comfortable existence.

It was in early February that a notice was put out suggesting that, rather than hang around, there were opportunities to be a glider pilot. Transfer, and a short period of training would be arranged, with no loss of rank or pay. It was greeted with indifference at Harrogate, but must have been advertised elsewhere, for after the war I met a John Lightfoot, who had been at school with me and had made the temporary transfer from navigator to glider pilot. He was soon in action at the Crossing of the Rhine in late March. Apart from the glider pilot offer there was another curious suggestion. One could volunteer to transfer to the Army and, with a little training, become a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry. This had barely any appeal since the pay rate was similar to that we would have by the end of the year. I knew no one who made the change.

Off duty I went to Knaresborough a couple of times, to be fascinated by the well or spring where objects were hung by a small cascade to become impregnated with lime. On one weekend Rosemary came up and stayed a night at a small hotel, and was able to update me on the progress of arrangements for the wedding, which would be on March the 12th. And so, well beforehand, I saw Squadron Leader Ames, to request special leave for marriage, and to be granted 7 days, I think.
Mere, at that time, had no Catholic church, the nearest being Warminster and Shaftesbury, both inconvenient. There was, however, a tiny 19th century chapel of ease at a hamlet called Bonham, which adjoined Sir Henry Hoares estate of Stourhead. It had not had a marriage ceremony for more than 50 years, and was not regularly open, but could be used with a Shaftesbury priest officiating. In advance there were various formalities: 1) Being under 21 we both had to have written parental consent to marriage. 2) The Catholic Diocesan bishop had to grant special dispensation that Rosemary could marry a non-Catholic. 3) I had to have some instruction from a priest which included learning lines to be quoted before or at the time of the ceremony.

I went to Mere a day or two before and, I suppose, stayed at The Talbot or similar. While at Harrogate I had arranged for a 4 or 5 day stay at the Valley of Rocks Hotel in Lynton for the honeymoon. The choice of venue was partly influenced by the fact that the industrialist and philanthropist Lord Nuffield paid about 15% or 20% of the cost of accommodation in a large number of hotels for aircrew on leave. A superb gesture which has long been forgotten

Mum, Alastair, and Muriel came to the wedding. They may have stayed at Gillingham, since I recall a taxi being sent. Otherwise, of Rosemary's family, there may have been a sister or two, but the details have largely faded from my mind. Certainly, once we had all returned from Bonham (doubtless with the priest), there was a meal at a sedate café in Mere, after which I guess people went their various ways. There were no photographs, probably at the behest of Mrs Glencross, who certainly wanted everything to be very low key. We took a train from Gillingham to Lynton - a rail line existed then - and had our brief time of relative luxury at the Valley of Rocks Hotel. 

Subsequently, Rosemary returned to her mother's at The Shoe, Mere, and I to Harrogate. There I stayed, except for one weekend, until the Halfpenny Green posting on the 17th April.

Halfpenny Green was, and is, an airfield adjacent to the eponymous village, some 6 miles from Stourbridge, and towards the Birmingham conurbation. It was then used by No.3 Advanced Flying Unit. For me it was primarily air bomber duty, though one was expected to assist the navigator to some extent, and occasionally combine both jobs. Normally the crew would be pilot, navigator, air bomber (bombaimer). I don't remember that there was ever any wireless operator.

There were a few officer pilots but most were NCOs, and the majority had formerly been with active squadrons, bomber or fighter, and several belonged to unofficial clubs. The Caterpillar Club had members who had parachuted to safety, and wore a small copper pin badge of a caterpillar, concealed beneath a pocket flap or jacket collar. There were two or three pilots who were members of The Guinea Pig Club. They needed no badge, since they had recovered from extensive burns, and undergone pioneering plastic surgery under Archibald McIndoe, who was later knighted.  One, a Flying Officer, had a severely reconstructed face; no matter at the time, but one felt for his difficulties after demobilisation.

Two Polish sergeants were renowned for somewhat eccentric flying habits, a custom which seemed to be related to most RAF Poles, and finding you had one of them as pilot was considered a prelude to adventure.

On the Station there were a number of Free French Air Force personnel, being trained similarly to ourselves, though with French pilots. The only times we were in contact was off duty, and for a while about twenty shared accommodation with us in a Nissen hut. They were a friendly bunch, with no more English than we had French, A few were from France but most seemed to have originated from Algeria and Morocco. We managed simple communication and one taught me the words of several popular French songs, J'Attendrai etc. For the first time, we encountered an item of French forces ritual, perhaps, the daily issue of about a half pint of red wine. They were quite willing to share but it was such unpleasant stuff that after the first sips further offers were graciously declined.
Flying started two days after arrival. Again, the ubiquitous Anson was used, although some Blenheims, and Bolingbrokes, a version of the Blenheim, appeared available. There were different types of target for day and night bombing. From distant memory day bombing with detonating bombs was set in wilderness areas, marsh flats or moorland, and the results radioed to the pilot. Night targets utilised a camera with infra-red film that picked up a narrow beam projected vertically from a specific point. It was of course invisible to the bombaimer, lying down and peering through the perspex to a blacked-out landscape. A large building, such as a warehouse, or a cathedral, was fitted with an infra red light and used as a target. Occasionally a target map would be issued for additional guidance, but the results were not known until the film was developed back at base. A flight involved either normal bombing or infra red.

When night flying the return time could be from 2am to 6am, so the morning was often free, to catch up on sleep. Otherwise there would be the usual routine of lectures, PT, etc. Some time was taken learning details of the, to us, new Mark 13 bombsight fitted in all the aircraft. The previous one, the Mark 9, could not take account of the aircraft's attitude; if a wing dipped slightly, or the nose rose or fell from level flight, the target appeared to move away from the sighting lines. The new bombsight incorporated gyroscopes in a large box that negated the effect of minor aircraft movement and made the sighting operation much more accurate. Although new to us, the Mark 13 had been with Bomber Command for quite a while, no doubt expensive, and probably no surplus to send to Canada.

Day flights were from 1 to 3 hours, night ones 3 hours or more, and occasionally there would be two flights in one night. Day targets, for some reason, are rather forgotten, but were in the Lake District, Wales, and the Forest of Dean/Severn area. Night targets were often cathedrals, where a light was set on a tower. In many cases the targets would be en route to further turning points before returning to base, and a trip covered 200 to 450 miles.

Generally things went well. Lincoln and Gloucester cathedrals were often targets, and one long night included Romsey Abbey and railway sidings at Goole, on the Humber. On that trip a warning was given not to overshoot the Romsey Abbey area since anti-aircraft batteries around Southampton and Portsmouth were somewhat trigger happy. One day flight was abandoned because of engine problems. Looking at the old flying maps lots of trips are traceable by the pencilled lines, and show that Minsterley, 30 miles W of Halfpenny Green (HG), was regularly used as the last turning point before landing at base.
     Some examples of round trips:-
     HG - March (Cambs) - Romsey - Minsterley -HG.
     HG - Romsey - Grantham (Lincs) - Minsterley - HG.
     HG - Nottingham - Catterick (Yorks) - Cambridge - HG.

I recall a notable instance on one of the flights that went from HG to Camelford (Cornwall), by way of targets in the Black Mountains and across the Bristol Channel. After Camelford came Langport (Somerset), then Minsterley and base. It was recorded that over the Black Mountains the bombs missed the target. Very true, through complete stupidity! The air bomber's seat was to the right of the pilot, against the starboard side of the plane where there was a lever to open the bomb doors. A few miles before reaching the target he opened the doors and then lay down in the nose by the bombsight, directing the pilot on the final seconds of the approach.

When the target moved into the correct position in the bombsight the aimer pressed a button and the bombs dropped. By the time the bombs reached the ground the plane was well beyond the target area, so you didn't see where the bombs had landed, and relied on those manning the range to forward the results. On this occasion it was not until I had released the bombs and gone back to my seat that I realised the bomb doors had not been opened, and the bombs might well be lying inside the bay.  To avoid censure and embarrassment, since we were now over the Bristol Channel with no obvious shipping, the best thing was to surreptitiously open the doors for a moment and jettison them into the water, and this was duly accomplished. I should add that practice bombs were quite small, weighing about 6 pounds, and exploded on impact with a hard surface, allowing those in a target shelter to plot the position. Anyway, no one ever knew what happened on that occasion.
I had Polish pilots on two day flights, both memorable for specific incidents. As said previously, I sat next to the pilot so had a good view through the windscreen (a navigator sat behind the pilot). On the first, the route took us across Birmingham, and our pilot casually said he was going to greet his girl friend. He knew exactly where she lived, and what the road was like. With a temporary diversion he came down and flew at roof level between the two rows of houses. Quite mad, but exciting for us, as well as the girl, though horrendous for the neighbours. Fortunately the wingspan of an Anson was relatively small, and fitted into a wide street, but the noise of its engines must have been deafening.

The second, around a fortnight later, was on the return leg from somewhere in the southeast, which brought us over Buckingham and to Stowe School. The Park rises gradually, perhaps 150 feet or more, from a lake to the massive school mansion with its temple and monuments. This, Sgt. Koscuik decided, could be negotiated at low level by hedgehopping and going between plantations in a direct line to the house. I can still visualise that final leap to get over the mansion. No doubt he, and Sgt. Szymanski, would have been disciplined, or even grounded, had such incidents been reported to high authority, though almost everyone, including the other pilots, knew of these sort of exploits. And we never got to know any of the pilots well because, though of the same rank, our Sergeants Mess was separated from Staff, who had their own Mess and facilities.

The war in Europe had finished by the time the course ended on the 1st. June, though we continued with some flying until the 19th. In the 5 or 6 weeks I had done 40 hours of day and 23 hours of night flying.

During the period Rosemary came and stayed in digs for three days over the VE celebrations, but I think they weren't spectacular locally, and much later I had my 20th birthday - which would seem to have been even less memorable!

The European war was over, but not that in the Far East. Meanwhile there were thousands of operational, and trained but non operational aircrew like me, all over the UK. 

There were severe limitations to the numbers that could be sent to, say, India, for local operations, and the USAF had adequate control of the air war against Japan. No demobilisation could take place until Japan was defeated, and then only in a well planned manner of first in first out, which might take years, and essential personnel would have to be replaced throughout the period. Training for new posts would be undertaken in due course; until then holding unitswould be created wherever adequate facilities existed on underused or redundant airfields, etc.

THE LONG WAIT - It is difficult to give anything other than general account of life at the various stations during the ensuing months. The barest details, date of posting and the unit code letters and numbers, are all that occur on my Service Record Sheet, and a few are indecipherable. Redundant aircrew were sent, in groups of 5 to 50, from one place to another at a couple of days notice. Usually the next posting happened once we had happily settled in, so perhaps it was to avoid boredom, but there was never any detectable difference or reason and invariably groups were split up at each posting, so you lost touch with people.

North Weald - About the 21st June a handful of us left Halfpenny Green for, of all places, the fighter station of North Weald, near Epping, Essex. It was then not large, with a squadron of, I think, nightfighters. It was commanded by the well known (but not so well liked) Douglas Bader. He was probably a Group Captain by then, with his personal highly polished Spitfire, emblazoned with the initials D B. Having arrived, we were asked why we had been sent, and, replying truthfully that we had no idea were allotted beds with the understanding that something would be sorted out. In the meantime we were left to our own devices, but had to get permission to leave camp during the day. My father, while working at Ongar wireless station, had lodgings in Epping, little more than a mile from North Weald. So, on one afternoon when he was off duty, we met up, and walked along footpaths through fields for an hour or two, a sort of nature ramble for he was very much a countryman. I was surprised at the lack of development behind the main road. Also, I joined him in a local well renowned pub, called The Cock, on a couple of evenings. Very good, since I had not seen him for two years or more. But the stay was short. In less than a week we were sorted out.
Meanwhile, and the date is not clear to me now, Rosemary had been dispatched from Mere, before her condition became obvious, to a special place run by nuns at Haslemere on the Surrey/Sussex border. It was a measure of the determination and forcefulness of her mother to abide by the marriage agreement of adoption and secrecy that neither of us considered rebellion. I don't know the Order the Sisters belonged to, but if not the Magdalene it was pretty similar, severe in the extreme.

It was on July 9th that Rosemary gave birth to a girl, later christened Madeleine. I was allowed to see her, and could have seen both, a few days later, in advance of the adoption procedures, so must have gone from the undermentioned Yatesbury on a weekend.

By 26th June we arrived at No.2 Radio School near Calne, Wilts. This, beside the A4 and below Oldbury prehistoric hill fort, had until recently been a very large training camp but now had numerous empty hutments and basic facilities for several hundred personnel. Known as RAF Yatesbury, from the local village, it was 3 miles to Calne and quite walkable, although there were some buses.

With 400 or more to deal with there was some difficulty in devising occupation, and there were constant arrivals and departures. People were grouped into 30's or 40's, sent to lectures on the usual subjects and encouraged to do sports, but there was a lot of free time. One character called Jacks went home and returned with his SS100 sports car, the Jaguar of the time, and got permission to keep it on camp. Where the petrol came from was a mystery, and since it was a two-seater few had the privilege of trips to Chippenham or Marlborough; I wasn't one.

Obviously there was a big canteen and bar on site, yet we regularly trekked into Calne for an evening in a hotel bar. Once, as soon as timehad been called, a policeman burst in and picked upon me, one of a number with half full glasses, and dared me to drink any, upon pain of being booked. It was then an offence to finish a drink so I sat there, while behind him companions consumed the remains of theirs.

Penrhos - Mid July, and a handful were whisked to RAF Penrhos, an airfield near Abersoch, on the Lleyn Peninsula. All these journeys were made by rail and took ages, but no one bothered about the time and, like North Weald, Penrhos found us accommodation but had no ideas as to what we should do and we were free to wander to Abersoch quay and beach. Small sailing boats, dinghies I guess, 10 to 12 feet long, were available for hire, so I and another fellow decided to go for a sail. On a sunny afternoon, with calm water and little breeze, we paid a fee for two hours and clambered into our boat.

Neither of us had been in a dinghy before and knew nothing about sailing, but it was obvious we should use the oars to row the boat from the small jetty, and perhaps 200 yards beyond, where there was a breeze and slightly choppy water. This took a while, and some labour, and once accomplished it seemed a simple matter raising the sail. Yet each time we got it up the boat went over at an alarming angle and it had to be let down again. After a few attempts we became aware of two things; the boat was drifting a bit along the coast, and someone on the jetty was waving furiously for our return.

Forgetting the sail we took to the oars, and, by now rowing in concert, got to the jetty in under half an hour. The man in charge of hiring was rather perturbed about the boat's behaviour. What was wrong with the centreboard? .What centerboard? We hadn't recognised it, let alone known what to do with it. All rather embarrassing, so sailing was deleted from possible pursuits. Not that there was time to conjure others; a fortnight at Penrhos was deemed sufficient; off to another part of Wales!

Pembrey - The end of July and I was in Carmarthenshire, at RAF Pembrey, on the coast between Llanelli and Kidwelly, and 5 miles from each. A large airfield with a long E/W runway, it had been a Bomber or a Coastal Command station, but all had gone and now only casual visits were made by communications aircraft and small planes bringing special visitors.
It had been cut into an area of conifer forest planted on coastal flats, a superb situation with miles of beach at the Western end of the runway (though covered with anti-invasion stuff), and a railway halt at the East end of the camp.  By the time I arrived the place had been a holding unit for some months, with 400 or more redundant aircrew, half from frontline squadrons who were now diminishing in size.

Swimming baths were not among the facilities, but it did have a cinema, a library, I think, and had some voluntary education classes on such school type subjects that they could find tutors for. Late on I started Spanish. I believe a small fee was payable. There were duty rosters for various camp tasks, guard duties, cleaning up rubbish, minor admin. jobs, etc. and there were still parades and roll calls, but a lot of spare time. Very popular were the organised visits to two places. Firstly, a group of 6 to 8 would go each week to the brewery at Llanelli to get the camp supplies, and were shown around. Second was the fairly small steel works in the town, whose primary function was the manufacture of drums. To this end great bars of white hot steel were shunted back and forth between rollers until it was thin enough for further machines to do the cutting and bending. The noise and heat was awful, the danger treated with nonchalance by the workers. Each was stripped to the waist, but with a towel draped over one shoulder which, every few minutes he'd dip into one of the numerous buckets of water nearby and again throw it over his shoulder. During a break they would stand or sit outside on the pavement still half naked, irrespective of the weather.

For entertainment, the usual darts, cards and so on at the NAAFI club building, and the cinema. One day a Lancaster landed with stuff for the Officers mess and films for everyone else, to be shown as a late programme. Rumours ensured attendance to view some pornographic films, mostly pre-war French ones and quite hilarious. Only males had been told, but some WAAF's heard of it on the second night and demanded a show for themselves. This was arranged by the projectionist, but after it was over one of them went to the CO and reported it. An almighty row took place, with the projectionist being hauled over the coals.

Another venue was the village hall at Trimsarren, a straggling place about 4 miles inland, which held a Saturday night dance. To get there and back was a matter of a taxi or walking. It was attended regularly, though I only went twice, since I was a hopeless dancer. Doubtless, parents took a poor view of this weekly invasion whereas the girls found it delightful. Few would drink alcohol but, like today's girls, many used to slink off with partners into the darkness during intervals or later. Great fun, and taxis did a splendid trade.

Tucked away by the woodland adjacent to the camp was a tiny cottage, inhabited by three Land Army girls, all probably in their twenties. I would never have known the place existed save for a chance conversation in the Mess with a fellow a few years older than me, who knew the occupants and invited to go there with him. Weird, it seemed to be a sort of drinking den, stocked with beer and spirits, and possibly from the Sergeants Mess.

A small downstairs room was stuffed with chairs and soft  furnishings on which everyone sprawled, smoked and drank, and it later became clear that those were not the limitations. When we got there a Flt/Sergeant, clearly a friend of my introducer, was already in residence, disentangling from a cuddle with one girl. An older, tall girl greeted my companion and took his side-pack and its bottles into another room,  presumably a store room, returned to distribute glasses of beer, and settled herself beside him.

After an hour of noisy crosstalk, snogging developed. Quite minor so far as I was concerned, and she announced that she was indisposed. But the unabashed actions of the others quite shocked me, for although they didn't entirely strip, they had no inhibitions about completion under public gaze, and was evidently a common practice. Back in my billet by 11pm. I decided to say nothing about the place, and thought it quite dangerous, particularly since the liquor appeared to be smuggled or stolen. Not a Land Army brothel but a sort of harem!

During the period at Pembrey I must have had a day or two of special leave to see Rosemary at Mere. It was impossible to get there in under a day. I don't remember doing so and leave was granted grudgingly, and apart from Christmas and perhaps Easter, only in advance of long postings, so it may not have happened.
However, I had become friendly with another Sgt air bomber a short while after arrival at Pembrey. Maurice Smith was similar in age, and we would be in contact for the next 5 or 6 years. He may have come from Hampshire but, importantly, his girlfriend, later his wife, lived in London, easily reached from Pembrey. He would obtain a pass, go on Friday evening and return Sunday night.

I was invited one weekend, if I didn't mind sleeping on a sort of sofa. I already knew his future in-laws were real Eastenders, and the family of five lived in a terraced house off Walworth Road, near the Elephant and Castle. I, too, got a pass, and off we went to an area that, for me, was something like a foreign land. There was no difficulty in getting to London by rail, since all main line trains stopped at Pembrey, but it was a little expensive.

I wish I could remember the names in the family. There were the parents in their mid to late 40's, Maurice's fiancee Joyce (?), and an older sister and brother, Wally. He worked in a factory in some reserved occupation, and was the family raconteur. The girls had clerical jobs, but I don't know what the father did. One was immediately accepted and integrated into this bubbling household. On the Saturday morning, while the others were at work, Maurice and I did some shopping and toured the local bombed areas. The main meal was early afternoon and the evening's entertainment provided in a nearby side street pub. The place was amazing, and as the drinking progressed the local Pearly King and Queen arrived and instigated an hour or two of singing, not just current songs but music hall favourites of years back. This, apparently, was a weekly occurrence.

I made two trips to Walworth, and for the first time saw a close-knit community in action as it were. One the second journey Maurice thought I should see a bit of the West End at night so, with Wally as guide, we made a late evening exploration.

Mostly it consisted of quick visits to so-called nightclubs, dingy one or two room basements. There was no entry charge but drinks cost twice as much as a pub drink and the entertainment was pretty much home made. Occasionally in the gloom a spotlight might pick out a singer and a three-piece band, but the most interesting part was the clientele. A melting pot of Allied forces, all lower ranks of course, with a very few civilians. One I talked to was probably a deserter, but claimed to be a Canadian on leave from the army and to have bought his civilian clothes secondhand. Meanwhile he helped out in various clubs. The females were, of course, all on the make in one way or another.
With so many virtually abandoned properties, a basement could be rented and furnished for very little and no doubt fortunes were being made. Nevertheless I could not understand how these places obtained licences, or subsequently held onto them.

There would have been a third visit save that it was waylaid by misfortune.

Maurice had gone to London, and for some reason I thought I could hitchhike there and stay overnight in the RAF Club, or a similar provider of very cheap accommodation. At the camp office I collected a pass form only to find that the Officer I assumed to be on signing duty had packed up for the day, so I simply forged his signature, which I had on previous passes. There was little or no thought behind the enterprise; I may have collected a razor and must have had money, but instead of wearing walking out uniform kept to my  normal everyday working battledress.

Through the camp gate and onto the road where a military vehicle took me to the far side of Cardiff; early evening and good progress!  The normal procedure was to walk along the road with one's thumb held up, not to stand and look at the traffic, which was usually a bit sparse. But I was really surprised when a fire engine stopped, with an offer to take me to Gloucester. It had been on some special trip to Swansea and was returning to base with a minimal crew.  There was, however, not enough room for me in the cab but I could use one of the sort of inboard seats along the side of the vehicle. Having established I was London bound, they would drop me at a place at Gloucester suitable for London traffic. It was one of the most unusual journeys I ever made, and dark by the time we reached Gloucester. By one or two lorries I reached London, and, I think, found a station in which to doze until daybreak.
In the morning I attempted to get a bed for the Saturday night in one of the Forces Clubs without success, and was walking along a popular thoroughfare (was it Long Acre?) when I was stopped by two military police. They wanted to know name, RAF number, where stationed, why I was in London, and could I produce a pass? Showed them the pass but, not completely happy, we all walked a short distance to the office they worked from. (It was in a street famous for court connections - perhaps Bow  Street. Only in the last few years has its name escaped me). We went through the rigmarole again, and while they phoned Pembrey I was able to observe myself in a mirror.

The effects of travelling, lack of sleep, and the rather scruffy working uniform, together tended to give the impression of someone on the run. No wonder I'd been stopped. The call to Pembrey to the Officer on duty confirmed that I was from there, and that if his name was that on the pass he had not been on duty on Friday and the signature was a forgery. I was to be kept in custody until guards could be sent to escort me back to camp under close arrest. So, Saturday and Sunday nights were spent in one of the single cells attached to the station. It was comfortable, the food good, and the RAF police friendly in their way.

About midday on Monday two Sergeants from the permanent staff at Pembrey arrived, with handcuffs, to take me back on the train. The rules said I should be handcuffed to one of them, but once we were out of sight of the police station, and I agreed not to run away, they were removed, and we all had a pleasant and chatty trip back to camp, and I was temporarily put into an overnight cell in its HQ block.

In the morning I was formally charged with being absent without leave or similar and forging an Officer's signature. The case would come before the CO in a week's time. Meanwhile, my occupation of a cell was not welcome, so I would be under a form of open custody provided someone accompanied me and accepted responsibility. I suggested Sgt. Maurice Smith, who responded with delight, since we slept in the same billet and in adjacent beds.

Maurice would, of course, be confined to the camp area for the period. This, however, would not be an inconvenience because he had injured his left foot, and was hobbling around with a crutch. It was of no concern that the prisoner had, upon occasions, to assist his guard, and the whole affair was treated somewhat lightly, while conforming to the rules in a rather broad fashion. I/we had to report to the camp guardroom near the entrance at 9am, 1pm and 6pm each day; otherwise we were free to go about on our normal routines of meals at the mess, visits to the NAAFI, library etc.

The day before the charges were heard I had to contact an Officer who would be present to see matters were dealt with fairly on my behalf. He let me know that the Flt/Lt. whom I'd assumed had signed passes on the fateful day, wanted to keep things on a low key. (Wish I could recall his name, for we'd had a number of friendly conversations in the past). On the day, probably at 11am, and with Maurice in attendance, I reported at the HQ block, where I was separated from my limping guard and taken to the CO's office. I'm not sure, he was either a Group Captain (4 stripes on sleeve), or a Wing Commander {3 stripes), but accompanying him was the Flt/Lt, my F/O friend/advisor, and a WAAF clerical typist.

I had to explain my actions, and why I hadn't searched for the Duty Officer elsewhere in the camp (he'd have been furious if I'd burst into the Officers Mess, even if he'd been there, and it seemed simpler to just write a signature). The Flt/Lt, and owner of the name then complimented me on the forgery, which, he said, he could not distinguish from his own. I apologised for my obvious stupidity, and my Flying Officer friend vouched for my sincerity and hitherto unblemished record. The CO evidently wished to end the whole matter and, after issuing a very strong warning about future conduct, I was to be confined to camp for 14 days and lose privileges such as the Llanelli visits, and also to have 7 day's pay deducted. The latter was my personal allowance, not Rosemary's marriage one.

It must have been around this time I started my short-lived lessons in Spanish. The tutor was a young WAAF. I don't recall her having any rank (she would have been a Sergeant at least if brought in from an Educational Corps) so I think she had volunteered to teach a couple of hours a week if released from her normal job in camp.
At the same time, mid to late September, came the call to re-muster for training in a new trade. The choice was fairly wide, if perhaps a little weird, and in some cases, such as clerical classes and lorry driving, pointed to skills useful upon demobilisation. What happened afterwards to those whose demob times were months hence was unclear. Maybe they would be temporary replacements for those who had gone.

There were limited places for a few occupations within the RAF. One was Air Traffic Control, and new ones were Air Stewards and Air Movements Assistants. All might involve service overseas. While getting a driving licence would be a future asset, the Air Movements Course seemed more interesting, with an involvement in air transport, so I applied for that. Maurice decided he would like to be an Air Steward. No matter what course one took it made no difference to rank or pay, and I would automatically rise to Flight Sergeant in late December, with an increase in pay from 13s 6d to 16s a day, similar to that of an Army Sub Lieutenant.

After all the months of hanging around I didn't have long to wait. By the beginning of October I knew I would shortly be going to Cornwall for the Course, which would only take about a fortnight to complete. There would be a farewell party with Maurice and others.


Thus, on the 7th of October I spent the day travelling to Newquay, Cornwall, and from there a couple of miles to Trebulzue, where a few huts represented an offshoot of St. Mawgan airfield. I was accompanied by 3 or 4 others from Pembrey and, on arrival, we were greeted with the usual cry that it was unexpected, because a course was underway, and the next would start on the 14th. Once accommodated, there was nothing to do but amuse ourselves and wait for others, to make up the 12 or 15 required for the course.

The best way of filling the days was to go to Newquay, a place I was fairly familiar with from childhood, and later, when I'd cycle from home to the beaches. The road walk was easy, so we found a different route along the shore. If we got onto Watergate beach a good half hour before low water it was possible to walk along the bottom of the cliffs to St. Columb Porth and into Newquay. Wrongly judged and youd be stuck on the highest rocks available, for hours, until the tide retreated once more. That never happened; the nearest was some knee high paddling. Autumnal Newquay was not particularly scintillating but, at the right times, there was a special rendezvous. At the East end there was (perhaps still is) a hotel/pub called The Great Western. Its beers were normal, but it did snacks that included items generally unobtainable in shops or on rations. Tinned fruits of various kinds, cream, and other things that seemed to have come from abroad, yet all at affordable prices. Sometimes it was out of stock. Now I wonder if it wasn't flown in by crews of the USAF, since local airfields were used by aircraft coming from the States.

There was still a system of signing out and in each day; otherwise one was free. I took advantage of this to visit Mother at Beam Villas, Lanivet, on one day, when I possibly saw Alastair and Muriel also, though they would have been at school. I do remember that, although it was less than 20 miles, the hitching part was not easy.

One of our Pembrey group was Miles Stanning (Stan), a Warrant Officer bombaimer who had been on an active squadron and slightly wounded by shrapnel on one raid. We got no well together, and though we later lost touch, he was great fun - and normal! (At holding units there were always a number, often ex airgunners, who were said to be flackhappy, and having done two tours of ops. were certainly pretty odd and inclined to do crazy things with little warning.) Stan will make a brief appearance later.

The Air Movements Course was short, only a fortnight, but concentrated. With the end of hostilities the RAF found it needed an expanded Transport Command with the capacity to move not only freight but people, military and civilian, on a regular basis to outposts of empire. It was, in effect, becoming a sort of airline, and therefore at airfields along routes - termed Staging Posts- there was a necessity for staff to deal with the complexities of the mass movement of passengers and goods.
The Course dealt with the primary function of getting an aircraft into the air safely, then the methods of dealing with customs, immigration, transfer, and passengers generally. For safe flight an aircraft has to be in balance, and its load distributed accordingly, though obviously different types of planes vary in range and therefore fuel load and capacity. Knowing the weight of fuel required, the weight of the passengers and/or freight, the distribution or positioning can be calculated and effected. Additional factors might have to be taken into account, exceptional weather, and certain routes, that could put restrictions on loads.

The information available, and the results obtained from calculations, were set out on special forms, kept for a period of time. Any problems and the individual concerned was identifiable. There was less about dealing with customs etc. when they existed, and only a little on ticketing and the requirements of passengers. The two or three tutors were quite good, though had no first hand or practical experience of running a Staging Post, but the course was consistently interesting and I think all passed the exam at the end. We were then assigned to particular Staging Posts, and that at Singapore came to me. I have no idea how the distribution worked, whether those who joined later were sent further, if family commitments had any bearing, or if names were randomly ticked on a list, which seemed most likely.

The RAF Transport Command had routes to various Commonwealth countries, and some involved several refuelling or overnight stops, normally in British administered places where the RAF had airfields, or, rarely, the use of an ally's facilities. There were, perhaps, three or four bases in the UK which may have dealt with different routes, and that at Waterbeach, 5 miles NE of Cambridge, served the Far East. From here the route could be Malta, Cyprus, Haifa, Colombo, and Singapore. The latter was then the hub for localtraffic to Malaya, Burma, Hong Kong, Thailand, the Dutch East Indies, and Australia. If there were problems in Palestine, Cairo could be used as a diversionary stopover, or even the ludicrously isolated desert airfield at Shaibah in Iraq.

It was uncertain when the posting would take place, and there would be a week's leave before then. Meanwhile, at the beginning of November, we were sent to the RAF station at Grantham, Lincs. This, as I recall, appeared to be a large pre-war airfield, since it had lots of brick built former married quarters and other buildings. As ever, we were comfortably lodged, but nobody wished to know us, and we were told to report to the HQ building on the day the Tannoy called us. Brilliant! There were a handful whose homes were within an hour or two by train, such as Nottingham, Leicester, Derby, and they promptly went off, leaving us addresses for telegram contact or telephone numbers.

The rest of us took it in turns to stay in camp while others went to Grantham, or Sleaford and Boston by bus. I thought Boston a pleasant small town, but only went there once. I usually took half days in Grantham; quite good, but also used by personnel of the USAF. That did not deter us from going there in the evenings, sometimes with a group of WAAFs. I don't remember why there seemed to be so many on the Station, and they occupied much of the married quarters blocks, but certainly some of them were also awaiting foreign postings. They were a superbly cheerful crowd and always paid their own way. Rarely, one of them drank too much and then the whole group of us had to rally round and cover her condition when getting past the camp guardhouse before the regulation return time expired. Foreign girls in the Forces were almost unknown, but once I came back with a small number which included an inebriated French girl and her two English companions. Nearing camp, for no obvious reason, she burst into uncontrolled sobbing. The last thing we wanted was attention drawn to her, since she would probably be charged with being drunk, and it took the friends a while to calm her enough to get past the military police at the guardroom. Then, a hundred yards beyond, she collapsed in a heap, and I found myself carrying her to their billet, from the gate of which the companions had to manage her themselves.

For some reason there was a link with St. Mawgan and a communications aircraft made a daily flight there from Grantham, using the latest technological advance, a jet engined plane made by the Gloucester Aircraft Company. It was a twin seater Meteor, I think, and I had a wish, unattempted, to get permission for a day return to Cornwall. It would fill up a day very happily!
To be continued...
While at Grantham there was an invitation to Rosemary and me to spend a weekend in Scarborough at a house belonging to Miles Stanning's fiancee, where a party was going to be held - perhaps it was the engagement party. It was at a weekend and Rosemary may have gone a day earlier. All I can visualise is a Victorian terrace house, comfortable but chaotic, and six or seven of us rather noisy people having a somewhat inebriated time. I'm sure we all enjoyed it for Stan and his girl were superb hosts. I didn't see him again, but in late 1947 an article in the Daily Express on entrepreneurs mentioned Miles Stanning and his wife who had started a nappy laundry in Scarborough. Should have sent congratulations. Unlikely that they had children because his shrapnel wound had made him impotent.   

Just after mid December every one was granted Christmas and embarkation leave, about 12 days, though it didn't include New Year, which was not then a holiday. I went back to Mere where we had our first Christmas together, although I suppose her mother was there as well. It was the last time all of us would see The Shoe for a while.

In January Rosemary was starting a job in London, as live-in nanny, with her own off duty rooms. There was one small boy; the mother, name forgotten, was a sister of the recently killed W/Cdr Guy Gibson of Dambusters fame and had a Georgian house in Maunsell Street, Westminster. (I saw it in later years).

Mrs Glencross had decided to take up a post as companion to a lady in Fordingbridge, Hants, and to let The Shoe fully furnished.

I returned to Grantham and before the end of December the Tannoyannounced a muster for a long list of medical injections prior to being flown abroad about the 3rd of January. I am puzzled as to when I was issued with tropical kit. Whenever and wherever, the old blues were not fully handed in, for I certainly went out wearing the battle dress outfit, initially anyway. (Somehow stuff must have been kept; I still had a battledress top in the 1970's). I can only assume that at least one set of tropical uniform was issued before departure and more collected later - every station had a stores.

All the injections and vaccination were done in two mornings - smallpox, malaria, typhus, and a few others. The punctured arms were really uncomfortable, and one or two people suffered temporary reactions, fortunately not me. Generally there was a feeling of relief that waiting was over, and anticipation concerning the new jobs. People were being posted to various places as a continuous process, and they were of different trades or professions, from cooks to consultants, male and female. Before leaving it was a rule that everyone's Pay Book was up to date, and all vaccinations with their dates were listed in it.
From: Sarah Tunstall, Malmesbury, Wiltshire
Subject: Re: Jan Newsletter - birthday announcement for my Dad.
From: Ian Berry
Subject: SMVC flyer

Hi Tony,

Any chance of including a copy of the attached "flyer" in your next issue?

There is an address to obtain tickets, however, if anyone wants to obtain tickets through me, then they would have to add an extra 0.65p postage.

From: Rob Davies, Woodchurch, Kent
Subject: Italy

Hi Tony,

I just delivered this SF260 military trainer to Its new owner in Italy.  It was a very interesting Winter flight through and over the Alps.

Best regards

From: Ian Envis, Crowborough, East Sussex 
Subject: Holiday in 2018 on the Former RAF GAN

For those movers who served on the famous RAF GAN - you can now pay and go on an expensive holiday (see below) - to think I received 10p/day LOA (which was the cost of a dumpy beer) during my stint from Dec '73 thro ' Sep74 having taken over from Don Hunter.

Cheers Ian

More Relevant Stuff
Tony Gale

If you wish to send a donation to the OBA
drop me an e-mail and I'll tell you how to do it.
This Newsletter is Dedicated
to the Memories of
Reg Tudor (RAF)
Byron "Bob" Barker (RCAF)