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Old 15th Dec 2018, 20:59
  #24 (permalink)  
Tengah Type
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: S W France
Age: 75
Posts: 189
Happy Hour in the 60's
The concept of Happy Hour in the 60's was to encourage all the officers to mingle and not just stay in their own specialist groups, Aircrew, Engineers etc, with the use of "Twofers"(Two for the price of One). This meant half price drinks for an hour on Friday night, usually between 1700 and 1800. In most messes a coloured bar chit ( Green?) was used for orders placed within that hour, with a scramble to get a Green chit before the bar staff removed them. Then back to the normal full priced white chits. If the mess used Bar Books as their normal control measure, then the chits would be transferred to the Bar Books on Monday. You could then find out that you had bought 100 cigarettes, despite not being a smoker. The Mess Admin always sorted this out as they well knew any persistent culprits.

Normal Mess Dress Rules were that Mon, Tues and Thurs nights, after 1900, the dress was either No 1 Uniform or lounge suits ties etc. On Weds, Fri and weekends you were allowed to wear Sports Jackets or Blazers. Ladies were not permitted in the mess on Mon, Tues or Thurs evenings, but were permitted (if appropriately dressed) on other evenings or for Sunday Lunch. Saturday Evenings the dress could also be DJ/Cocktail Dress or Fancy Dress as the occasion required. Friday nights Ladies were allowed in the mess, but it was not encouraged (and at risk). Messes had their own rules as decreed by the Stn Cdr/PMC so others may have different experiences.

At Tengah in 63-64, on my squadron, it was not unusual to have an all-ranks "Barrell" at 1600 after which some of the Junior Officers would be invited to the Sgts And WOs mess by the SNCOs. On arrival at the mess, you sought the PMCs permission to accept the invitation to enjoy their hospitality ( this was, of course, at our expense). After a couple (or 8) Tigers, you left to join the festivities in the Offs Mess. This changed with the arrival of a new Stn Cdr. Happy Hour, by then, was a major event following the arrival of several squadrons from UK, Cyprus and NZ to reinforce for the Confrontasi. A major feature of Happy Hour was the singing of Rugby Songs. On one famous occasion a choir of at least 200 was conducted by the late Manx Kelly in a rendition of " One Black One, One White One and One etc" which elucidated a noise complaint from the Javelin squadron situated a mile away across the airfield, and all the quarters kids humming the tune at school on the Monday. The main bar also frequently contained the Stn Cdrs, and OC Admins Staff Cars as well as the 2 Japanese WW2 cannon that were normally placed outside the mess. The later charged with strings of Chinese Crackers. Dress Regulations were not always applied!

At Marham, from the mid 60s, the Dress Regs were as I have described earlier, but even though flying suits were not worn away from the squadron, some working dress might have been evident later in the evening. It was also a time when a certain degree of relaxation of the normal rank structure was permitted and one could "Tease" ones Flt Cdr, Sqn Cdr,or even Stn Cdr. If overdone it was required to present yourself on Monday morning to be told (with undertones!) that you were "Forgiven". Or so I am told.
Of course, in those days, the majority of officers lived on base. In 68, on 214 Squadron, we had 53 officers, 3 married lived off-base as they were under 25yo and were not entitled to apply for a MQ, one had a family locally and the rest were in the mess or MQ.

The introduction of the Breathalyser (in 69?) changed things for the livers-out, and as more people moved to live out in the 70s Happy Hour has declined.

The tradition of drinking on a dead man's Bar Bill did occur, but my only experience of losing Sqn members was the Victor/Canberra accident in 68 which happened at night. After landing we were met in Ops by Stn Cdr, Sqn Cdr and OC Ops who told us to go straight home and not to talk to anybody. But the officers Mess Bills were cancelled.
The other(previous occasion ) was when I was at Hullavington in 62 when a Valetta crashed. IIRC the bar was open in the evening on "Mess Guests"( ie free) for the wake for the departed. I assume the Sgts and WOs Mess did the same for their own.
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