View Full Version : South Cerney Camp in Wales

13th May 2012, 10:36
Can anyone remember where exactly we camped in Wales for our Expedition and Leadership Training whilst enduring our IOT at South Cerney circa 1965

13th May 2012, 10:56
Wasn't it The Brecon Beacons? All I remember is that it wasn't much fun.

Cows getting bigger
13th May 2012, 11:45
Capel Curig?

Torque Tonight
13th May 2012, 12:07
Sennybridge training area?

Ministry of Defence | About Defence | What we do | Defence Estate and Environment | Access and Recreation | Wales and West | Sennybridge training area (http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/WhatWeDo/DefenceEstateandEnvironment/AccessRecreation/Wales/SennybridgeTrainingArea.htm)

13th May 2012, 14:53
It was Brecon somewhere. When I went through South Cerney we had to hitch-hike there. It was dead easy then in uniform.
A few years previously part of the course was to be let loose and hitch-hike as far as you could in 24 hours. Some people got as far as Scotland.
They stopped it when somebody went to Brize; talked his way onto a USAF transport and got as far as Denver.

13th May 2012, 16:23
All I can remember of it was that it rained the entire time we were there; the duckboards (laid to keep the staff dry!?) floating away and a b****y great hill that we seemed to have to run up every ten minutes. Oh, and Sonny H****s standing in the rain and mud in a gas cape (what we were issued with for 'rain protection'), fast asleep and holding one of said duckboards when we were packing up to leave!

Brian 48nav
13th May 2012, 17:26
218 course camped in the Black Mountains in the valley west of the main valley through Llanthony, at a place called Mynnyd Du (black mountain). The lane in the valley, which is a dead-end, runs up to Grwyne Fawr reservoir.

I've no idea how to copy the OS map and put it here!

Having been there a couple of times recently the actual campsite appears to be covered with conifers. Rough Grid Ref: SO254281 on OS Explorer Map OL13.

My mate Dave who was on 205 said their site was in the Brecon Beacons near Pen-y-Fan.

13th May 2012, 17:35
I was on 207 course and, yes, we had to climb Pen Y Fan. There must have been road access to get all the tents up to the camp site, and there was a (cold) stream nearby. My best guess would go for the valley 345 degrees, 1.2 nm from the Pen Y Fan marker on Google Earth, with "Stricker's Hill" directly to the north-east. Makes me cold and tired to even think about it.

13th May 2012, 18:36
TENTS?!?!?!?!? By God you had it easy. We had to meet up at a grid ref on a road and were then told to look after ourselves until the morning.
We found a friendly Welsh farmer who plied us with Scrumpie so we didn't notice the discomfort of his barn.
IIRC was about the third night we got a tent.

13th May 2012, 20:35
Ah yes, but.... A night exercise, lots of walking and finally crossing the (almost frozen) stream; everybody had sodden boots and trousers. Then the message came that the camp had been "destroyed", and the only shelter was a single-skin parateepee. When you have to scrape the ice off your boots in the morning.... And up until a year before I'd been growing up in Oz.

Lightning Mate
14th May 2012, 09:39
I was on 216 course and can't remember anything! :\

14th May 2012, 10:09
203 Course, and Pen Y Fan definitely rings a bell for a week spent in or above cloud in late October or early November. Fortunately, memory seems to have erased the gorier detail, and it's not a place I've sought out since.

Edited to add that there was a stream running through the site and, on arrival, the Flt Cdrs assured our Borders lad, brought up on tickling trout etc, that there were no fish in it. With the aid of a Tilley lamp, he proved them wrong during the final night and, as the kitchen detail, we served his catch for their breakfast in the morning.

14th May 2012, 12:20
I remember a stream/river in a deep ravine adjacent to the camp site that we had to cross by constructing a rope-bridge or "death" slide. In addition, there was a large tree on the site that we had to haul a heavy log up into the upper branches. On Sunday we marched to a church/chapel that had ancient wall paintings as decoration. The it all becomes a blur!!

14th May 2012, 13:10
205 Cse. I remember a place called something like 'Pen-Gloch-y-Pbr'*, it was all b****y grim. Carting 12' ash poles for miles over snow/ice/bog to put up parateepees - Oh Frabjious Joy! The Hydra-burners(?) that had willful minds of their own and would become incandescant at the drop of a gnats f**t!

Middle of winter and they had the b****y nerve to call it "A Safari" :rolleyes:

14th May 2012, 14:36
I'll bet there wasn't a hosepipe ban!

14th May 2012, 16:16
Pen Gloch Y Pibwr rings a bell as does the nearby hamlet of Cwmdu not too far from Talgarth

Lightning Mate
14th May 2012, 16:34
The only thing which I can remember about South Cerney was Seyfritz and a gorgeous gull-wing Mercedes, which was only surpassed by the looks of his delightful blonde wife.

.....thread drift.....

14th May 2012, 16:35
All I remember is trying to erect an enormous tree that was laying downslope, with 3 men, 2 ropes and an oil drum

Lightning Mate
14th May 2012, 17:26
So who else here was 216 course?

Ah so RodfjH - I NB you are also an ex-Jag Mate.

Maybe you would wish to PM me (I have 1850 hours on it)

14th May 2012, 18:31
Staggering around the Brecon Beacons when cold, wet, tired and hungry was considered to be character building (or so they said).

Lightning Mate
14th May 2012, 18:35
Now consider the poor barstewards who have come back limbless from Afghanistan.

This is character building!!

15th May 2012, 20:43
I kept a diary at the time (sad, I know), and it says we were dropped at Talybont and walked into camp via Pen Y Fan. Seems to confirm my original place. It also talks of lots of bridge maintenance, and the fact that one of the nights out was registered as the coldest of the century so far: certainly felt like it.

15th May 2012, 20:56

You boys had it easy. We had the SAS and goats after us.

Ron Cake
16th May 2012, 15:48
My only memory of the 1 ITS training camp in the Welsh mountains (early 1961) was a particular Flt Cdr - one Des Melaniphy. At South Cerney he gave the impression of wishing he was somewhere else - preferably, I suspect, back in Aden launching rocket projectiles at the locals from his Hunter. But at Camp he seemed to liven up. Lobbing thunderflashes at cadets struggling to get a tree trunk over a rushing stream seemed to do it for him. Great bloke, though - I wonder what became of him.

Lightning Mate
16th May 2012, 16:22
Prolly blew himself up.

16th May 2012, 16:52
No, the goats got him.

Neptunus Rex
16th May 2012, 17:43
So who else here was 216 course?LM, in the words of the Prophet;

Get Some In!!!

Brian 48nav
17th May 2012, 08:42
Spoke to CJ yesterday and he can't remember where your camp was either! What did they put in your tea?

17th May 2012, 13:43
That stuff they gave us to make us forget about women.... I think it's wearing off. ;)

17th May 2012, 13:46
I've just found this, if anyone fancies Pen Y Fan again. Count me out, I'm a low-level, flat course runner.

GORE-TEX® Fan Dance: Can You Conquer It? - News - Runner's World (http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/news/gore-tex-fan-dance-can-you-conquer-it/8358.html)

17th May 2012, 14:43
In 1965 we of the 105th Entry of Aircraft Apprenti, RAF Halton, spent two weeks camped out by the river in Llangurig and did much tramping up one hill, down the hill, up the other side, down again, ad infinitum. I believe we overnighted in pup tents and puddles at Cwmystwyth and Marteg Halt. Squelching ankle deep through peat bog for three days isn't my idea of fun or survival. Emptying the dunnies was another chore that I'd rather wasn't necessary. I prefer a military camp that comes with brick walls, tiled roofs, central heating, hot and cold running water and proper kitchens with real food. :rolleyes:

Brian 48nav
17th May 2012, 15:31
I think my course, 218, must have been treated very kindly. Maybe it was the genteel Flt Cdrs we had (Moose David, Mike Smith, Stu Chapman,Idle Glidle are names that spring to mind).The lorries with the tents and gear were able to drive across a bridge straight on to the camping ground and all we had to do was unload and erect - so to speak.

IIRC the weather was very kind for the first week in March and the only time I got wet was when I fell from a rope into the river - 'cos some barsteward untied it from the tree it was tied around.

It must have made a good impression on me, for only a few years later I took the kids there for a picnic on at least two occasions, and in '80 gave No 1 off-spring and future Jag Mate his first romp around the mountains there, and 6 weeks ago he did the same thing with his No1 son.

17th May 2012, 15:46
"It must have made a good impression on me, for only a few years later I took the kids there for a picnic on at least two occasions, and in '80 gave No 1 off-spring and future Jag Mate his first romp around the mountains there, and 6 weeks ago he did the same thing with his No1 son."

So where exactly was it Brian48Nav?

Lightning Mate
17th May 2012, 17:56
That stuff they gave us to make us forget about women....

Don't be so silly!!

NOTHING does that.................:E:E

Brian 48nav
17th May 2012, 21:01
My post, #7, explains all, but only for those courses that had their camp in the Black Mountains.

Which course were you on?


18th May 2012, 21:29
Sorry Brian, missed that!! I was 198 Cse April 1964

28th May 2012, 10:32
I trump the lot of you!
I did both 216 AND 218.
Yes, they said that they could see how much I enjoyed it and was so good at it that they'd let me do it again :O

Aubrey C. liked me so much that he gave me time off to take a scenic stroll up that hill.

Edited to say that I may have started on 217 and not 216 :O

28th May 2012, 11:40

Aah, Made me proud as I staggered from my tent ;)
216 camp
Edited to say that I may have started on 217 and not 216 :O


Devil, net, cast :)

Pete Adhemar - John MacDonald - Tony Fawcus - ???? - Nigel Corbishley - Graham Camier - Ian Haldane - Pete Norton - ????

I do apologise to the ????. All excellent guys but age and the ale are taking their toll. If anyone can help, I'll add them.

NC: No longer with us.
GC: Last seen in CX
TF: Runs a beautiful B&B in Port Elliot, South Australia about 400mls NW of Melbourne. PM for contact details for anyone thinking of going.


Back at The Ranch

and, ahem, moving on:


218 camp circus selection


WTF?! :}
Dick Clark getting a boost from Al Francey


'Relaxed' drinks with the chaps :rolleyes:
Ian Haldane - Stu Ross - Pete Hood - Dick Nicolau - Flt Cdr Flt Lt M.H. Smith - Bob Duncan? - Don Boyes - Rick Willey - Bill Bailey - Brian Wildey - Barman - Flt Cdr ????

I think the names are correct. To those ????, my apologies and I'd be grateful if they can be filled in (in the lexicography sense rather than the Scouse :) )

Lightning Mate
28th May 2012, 11:48
That must be 218 then.

Any pics of 216 ?

28th May 2012, 11:59
I've done some re-arranging. The first three are 216 or could be 217.

Barksdale Boy
28th May 2012, 13:59
Is that the good officer Reddyhoff on the extreme right?

Brian 48nav
28th May 2012, 14:42
217 with 'blonde'

The blonde is Dick Clarke, chopped from my nav course (88) left RAF and went into banking, I think. On the right as we look, Al Francey (?) went onto Hercs.

217 Left to right,

Pete Adhemar , mate of mine from Camberley GS, his sister married my brother, poor girl!! He went Vulcans, ground tour, Canberras, PVR '76 then Airwork/Fradu to '79 then Britannia. Now in Bermuda (can be googled!).
Tony Fawcus, 87 & 88 nav course, Hercs, 38 point, lives in Oz near Adelaide.
Graham Camier, Hercs eventually Cathay
Ian Haldane

John MacDonald, Hercs, PVR retired from Monarch - I'm in touch
Nigel Corbishley, Hercs, RIP

218 course, L to R

Ian Haldane
Stu Ross, Victors then maybe Britannia
Pete Hood, IIRC from Eats Africa ,no further info'
Dick Nicolau, Whirlwinds in Singapore, "
Flt Cdr Mike Smith, I believe first Vulcan driver to safely evacuate rear crew before ejecting
Bob Duncan?, no further info'
Don Boyes, Hercs, scraper by '73, lost touch years ago
Rick Willey, I think ended up on F4s, could be retired in Cyprus
Bill Bailey, Hercs, PVRed '75, Aurigny
and lastly the very good looking B48Nav, Brian Wildey - first baby nav' posted onto Hercs, took 8yr option(???),civil ATC - LHR '86 to 2000. My hair is about 4 times longer now! And still brown!!!

Great pictures Ian, and as I look up from the study window I can see the eastern side of the Black Mountains,
Happy Days

28th May 2012, 15:06
Thanks, Brian. You've outed me now! :)
Now re-re-arranged and annotated.
The one of Dick getting an 'uplift' from Al must be 218cse so the first three are 216 and the rest 218.

as I look up from the study window I can see the eastern side of the Black Mountains
I can see my wife gardening :ok:

My hair is about 4 times longer now! And still brown!!!
It's the requirement to do it every week that would put me off :}

p.s. I heard that John Silvertand, 218cse, went to Bermuda.
Seem to recollect hearing that they're now kicking out expats who don't have right of abode.

Brian 48nav
28th May 2012, 15:43
Pete Adhemar etc were definitely on 217. Pete stayed on at S Cerney to do the Chipmunk flying and I remember having to salute him!

He is married to a Bermudan national ( wife No3 ) and works for the Bermudan CAA.He had a heart attack just before Christmas last and has made a good recovery.

John Silvertand was on 30 with me and I remember him resigning. Out of interest I googled his name a short time ago and sadly he is no longer with us. His obit' said he'd been Fleetwood Mac's pilot. Worth reading about him!

In my time with CAA, London Centre in the 70s, Stornoway 80-82,Boscombe 83-6 and LHR. I must have spoken to dozens of old pilot mates from the RAF,mainly exHercs and I always recognised their voices and said hello!I was the happy sounding LHR controller!

Cheers BW

Brian 48nav
28th May 2012, 17:00
Basil,I've hidden your identity :D:D

If you go to tonycunnane.co.uk there is a picture of a Leeming course with loads of guys from 217 and 218, and maybe 216? Amazing how many became civil pilots only a few years later, and some rich b's with Cathay!!:D

When I was at LHR AAIB sent a rep to look at our 'go-around' procedures, and it was Capt Dusty Rhodes, 218 and the Leeming picture. Guess who had to look after him all morning?

I'm 'au natural'! We had a Herc skipper, John 'sexy' Hext AKA 'The prince of darkness', who bought up all the World's supply of Grecian 2000 back in the early 70s. Saw him 4 years ago at a funeral and at age 78 he still looked as if he's using it!:O

28th May 2012, 18:36
Dick Nicklau to Whirlwinds, Puma and then to Bristow in Yarmouth. Went out to Bristow (Aus) early eighties and is now believed to have retired in Malayasia.

28th May 2012, 20:22
Basil, pretty pictures, but the grass and the leaves on the trees make it look like a holiday camp. Here's a picture of the same hill.


Another one, of the conditions en-route. Sorry, no names on the back, and 47 years dulls the memory. ;)


28th May 2012, 21:04
Herod, At least you wouldn't get too warm on the cross country stuff :)

Basil,I've hidden your identity
No prob Brian - just joking anyway.

Just had a very quick look at tonycunnane.co.uk. Interesting stuff and must read in detail tomorrow. I noticed that he mentioned John Rands 'This is your life'. John was my FO on the CX B747 for a couple of sectors. Flying with people like him and other ex Reds and Harrier jocks was, for an old truckie, quite humbling stuff.

They were all excellent and only complained about the inertia of our aircraft which I was once told should be handled like an aged dowager :)
Before anyone reminds me that the 747 can be flung around, I recollect backtracking a B744 at Boeing Field to see the plan view of one at about three miles flown by a Boeing pilot who was hoping that we'd be off the runway before he got to 50ft.

Sorry to hear of John Silvertand - who used to get slightly miffed when one referred to him as 'Silverstand'.

At least Pete made it, but three wives? How very philanthropic of him ;)

28th May 2012, 21:20
Re the courses: I definitely graduated with 218 and I'm sure I joined with 216 - or was it 217?

I remember on 218 a chap was recoursed and, being a bit despondent, was going to resign. Already having the T-shirt, I pointed out that, if they didn't want him, he'd have been fired and not invited back. I was very pleased, a couple of years later, to meet him in Singapore flying an angry palm tree. My only regret was accepting a ride in his Satanic machine when he demonstrated how brave helicopter pilots could manoeuver their collection of moving parts, the failure of any single one spelling instant disaster, into a Malayan clearing actually smaller than the chopper. Honest! I'm sure it was.
On the way back to Changi we heard a Mayday and guess what? It was one of his squadron aircraft with the cyclic jammed over and descending to a few feet above the sea before clearing the problem. I don't think one could be an engineer and statistician and still wish to fly the infernal machine :p

29th May 2012, 08:07
178 Course November 1962.

For those too young that was the beginning of the infamous winter of 1962/63. Didn't finish the week as it snowed to a depth of waist level. The officers decided to abandon everything and we had to walk out. Very difficult in waist deep snow. The final insult was that South Cerney sent unheated coaches for the journey home.

Anyone else out there from that era?


29th May 2012, 09:08
the infamous winter of 1962/63
I believe I spent a substantial proportion of that in the Caribbean and Latin America - didn't snow at all :p

Barksdale Boy
29th May 2012, 09:20
Sorry to hear that Pete Adhemar had a heart attack, but glad that he's made a good recovery. All that bird watching and bridge clearly took it out of him.

If you're reading this, W...y, the details of the donkey jacket/ reindeer steak evening in Oslo in November 1969 will never pass my lips.

Lightning Mate
29th May 2012, 10:09
Leeming course with loads of guys from 217 and 218, and maybe 216?

Most of 216 went to Acklington if I remember correctly.

Brian 48nav
29th May 2012, 13:11
Chris Kelly of 216 Course was in the Leeming picture, in fact I've seen it on the wall in his study.


Were you crewed up with Pete Adhemar? Didn't know he played bridge, but he has tried to talk us in to playing scrabble online! Being boring old farts we declined.


Looking at 218 graduation pic' I think we collected about 7 of 217 course at the camp (!) stage - they obviously enjoyed it so much!

Tony Payne was one, he was on my nav course and went to PR Canberras. Under 'Small World' heading, when No1 son did Cranwell Tony was the adj' on the squadron. When No2 son did his CAA ATCO cadetship, Nick Morgan's (217 and 87/88 nav courses) son was also on the course. When I started in the CAA, Glyn Davies (217 and 87/88 nav courses) was on the same course,having also taken his 8yr option, but his name had grown to Morgan-Davies. He had been on the Argosy. ATC wasn't for him and he became an Ops Officer with CAA and did well, picking up a CPL on the way!

John Silvertand was often called 'single strand' by the brave; apparently he only had one testicle having lost one in a harpoon accident IIRC!

Chris Kelly says he remembers flying with you in European- I think Dave Milne (218 and 219) was with them too.

I think one of the Rands was one of NO1 son's instructors at Valley, or was he a Jag Mate with him?

29th May 2012, 14:50

John Silvertand was often called 'single strand' by the brave; apparently he only had one testicle
Ah, I didn't know that, and 'Silverstand' in a Greenock accent may have been misinterpreted as rudely taking the Mick. :O

Just saw Stuart Vittles name on a Facebook comment re the Bomber Command Memorial - can't quite remember where our paths crossed.

Those are a more names from the past; flew with one guy who 'double-barreled' his name and another who generated a French version of his Irish surname.

Kind regards to Chris. Didn't Dave Milne go on to Whirlwinds?

Lightning Mate
29th May 2012, 16:11
Does anyone still have the graduation photogrpah of 216 course ?

Barksdale Boy
30th May 2012, 07:35
Brian 48Nav

No, I was guesting on Phil Leckenby's crew for that trip. My usual captain was Alan Chapman. I later had a very enjoyable stint With Ted Gould, who must have been around your time at Cerney. I was on 215.

friendlypelican 2
1st Jun 2012, 20:03
Got the 216 photo upstairs somewhere. Will dig it out. Whether I can 'hack' getting it onto here is another matter. Will copy it to LM as I know he can!

Brian 48nav
8th Jun 2012, 08:25
LM, Where's the 216 picture then?

Lightning Mate
8th Jun 2012, 08:29
Sorry mate, I missed the post from friendlypelican.

He kindly e-mailed it to my home address and that's where it is.

I'll throw it up early this evening. :ok:

Brian 48nav
8th Jun 2012, 13:15
Sorry for late reply; yes ,Ted Gould was the first person on 218 that I met as we had sat next to one another on the bus from Swindon - double deckers in those days!
We never met up again after S Cerney but I had heard he was on Vulcans.

Did you stay on Vs forever or did you manage to escape?


Lightning Mate
8th Jun 2012, 17:41
As promised, and with many thanks to friendlypelican...


8th Jun 2012, 18:17
Load of JPs!

Barksdale Boy
9th Jun 2012, 04:22
Brian 48Nav

I escaped for five years by doing the long Mandarin Chinese course. But they got me back for one last flying tour on 617 - very enjoyable with Red Flag and Giant Voice. Then went on terminal leave the day Galtieri invaded - strange feeling.

Ted went to CFS, then Tornado, then retired and woked for Aerospace.

2nd Jul 2012, 14:01
Anyone got a graduation pic of 217 to post?

21st Jul 2012, 00:08
217 Course. Do you remember the scrawny chickens on the last day? Since a certain Welshman in our rain-sodden group had managed to acquire a frying pan, eggs and bacon from a nearby farmhouse the evening before, we just weren't hungry enough to wring its neck!

Brian 48nav
21st Jul 2012, 10:14
Hi Tony! Great to see you post here! I assume you saw your ugly mug in the photo.
48 had a reunion last year and I believe the next is planned for 2013.Regards,
Brian Wildey