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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 5th Dec 2013, 23:37
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Toe in the water...

Following the encouragement above, I'll give it a go. If any of you gentlemen consider my 'contributions' to be of little merit, or even irrelevant, please be so bold as to say so, and I shall desist without complaint. And if the fine team of Moderators allow me to step foot into this 'all-ranks crewroom' and sip my cuppa with you, I will consider myself privileged.

The young camlobe steps off the train in, I think, Newark. There are many others of a similar age doing the same. Most, like myself, have short hair. Some have even less, probably a #2 crew cut. We all stand out as being similar to each other, but different from the masses. It is February 1978, and long hair was the popular norm.

The 'welcoming committee' are anything but. Discip Corporals and Sergeants make us feel at home at once...but not the homes we know. For the next few minutes, we rapidly find out who is boss, and it is not us. We are escorted onto those wonderful, old Bedford buses the RAF had, distinctive due to the lack of any comfort, and the deafening suck of the Zenith carburettor feeding the asthmatic six-cylinder petrol engine and crash gearbox. Before leaving the train station, the Sergeant on 'my' transport introduces himself, and then turns into a complete physco. Profanity in an unbelievably loud, non-stop stream intermingled with racist comments towards the one or two chaps who were of an ethnic origin. A couple of red-heads aren't left out either. I am sat stunned by this.

To try and put things into a perspective, this was at a time before films such as 'Full Metal Jacket' with the US Marine Gunnery Sergeant (Gunny) R. Lee Almey doing his number. For those of us who had led a pleasant and somewhat sheltered life up to this point, this was our first real culture shock.

Quickly, we all realise this is the most effective way to harden those who may be 'soft', or weed out those who will react either in a reclusive defense, or hostile offense.

Then, I become the next target of opportunity. Not because of the tone of my skin, the colour of my hair, my height, or any other visible feature. No, it is my name. "WHICH ONE OF YOU #%+$€\s is XXXXXX?" Not knowing any better, I answer in a firm and confident squeak "me, Sir". Camlobe's first lesson. Never insult the Sergeant. "DON'T CALL ME Sir. I (+¥}$#*€ WORK FOR A LIVING" from somewhere near the floor, I hear a meek "yes Sergeant". Strangely, it sounded awfully like my voice. "DO YOU HAVE ANY FRIENDS IN THE RAF?" "I don't think so Sergeant". "WELL, YOU #%^€¥>+ DON'T NOW". My throat went dry while I tried and failed to blend into the bland interior of our Charabang.

Shouldn't have joined if you can't take a joke!

Camlobe
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Old 6th Dec 2013, 00:01
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Cam, sounds very much like when I stepped off the train at Newark in '74! My father was ex RAF so gave me an inkling as to what to expect and he wasn't wrong. I made the mistake of calling NCO's sir as well.

I still live near Swinderby and indeed it's one of the prefered 'exit and entry' points when flying into Waddington so I spend many a minute orbiting the site of my virgin six weeks in the RAF. The runways are still there although there's little left of anything else. The old OMQ's still exist although obviously in private hands now and the rest of the what was the domestic site is now the quaintly named Witham St Hughs; another offshoot of Lincoln.
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Old 6th Dec 2013, 16:32
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Toes in Water.

Camlobe,

What can I say ? For seven years we've had this "mute inglorious Milton" among us, and he's hardly uttered a cheep ! You, Sir, I make bold to guess, must be of Irish ancestry to some extent, for you've the "gift of the gab" - you or an ancestor has "kissed the Blarney Stone" - and no mistake !

"Toe in the water" ? You've dived in from the 5-metre board ! Now swim on, we're all going to enjoy this (and I can perhaps "rest on my oar" for a while) ....D.

Dave Wilson,

Welcome aboard ! Yes, the first few days of military service are burned into the lifelong memory of anyone who ever took "the King's Shilling". All the same characters turn up, generation after generation, the Sergeant with his lurid vocabulary which was never equalled - is, I'm sure, at one with a Centurion of Caesar's day. I find abandoned wartime airfields rather sad, there are too many ghosts hanging about...D

With a renewed welcome to you both,

Danny.
 
Old 7th Dec 2013, 00:41
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Dropping like flies, and unity

Dave Wilson,
No doubt, you and I weren't the first to arouse an NCO's better nature, and we will not be the last. My father, and his father before him, were infantry, but both were of commissioned rank, so I didn't get the pre-joviality briefing. My father did, however, give me a couple of bits of advice on the eve of my fateful train journey: firstly, get to know the cooks, the MT drivers, and the MP's. A friendly cook will look after your stomach; you never know when you need a lift; and never trust an MP even in civvies. Secondly, volunteer for everything; sometimes it works against you, but you usually come out on top in the end. My experiences proved my father's advice completely accurate.

Danny,
You extend far too much credit my way, sir. Before this thread, I have never written about my past. Actually, I haven't written a great deal at all. Occasional posts on aviation forums, normally extending advice, but no great literary works. I am merely writing my thoughts as best as I can remember them...

And now is probably the time to put in my disclaimer.

My apologies to any and all if my memories are not the same as yours regarding a common event. And please accept my apologies for inaccuracies, as my memory isn't what it used to be (more of this later). I am in awe of the retention and sharply accurate recollection displayed by our senior crew room members, especially as I am a mere 55 years young.

Apparently, my maternal grandfather had Irish roots.

Swinderby
The Bedford bus wheezed to a halt, it's vitally important task for the day complete. The lambs are led off to..."STAND STILL, I SAID STAND STILL. THAT MEANS YOU!!!" We are then formed up into two (or was it three) ranks with our bags by our feet, and then subjected to another helpful dose of profanity. No 'Welcome to RAF Swinderby, the centre of RAF recruit basic training, and your home for the next six weeks IF you don't mess up or fail". Although I am sure this was what was meant, what we actually heard was "YOU LOT ARE THE WORST PILE OF $#|¥ I HAVE EVER SET EYES ON". Nothing like a nice rousing supportive statement. And this was nothing like a ....
We were introduced to our 18-man rooms, told to leave our bags, and form up outside. Moulding time began, as we were introduced to 'Marching'. Problem was, most of us couldn't. I am sure you all have noticed that Discip NCO's turn a strange and effervescent shade of purple when confronted by a gaggle of uncoordinated all-sorts, especially when dressed in various degrees of 'civviness'. Later, we were introduced to 'Bedpacks', that ever so military method of stacking your bedding. Clothing stores to be measured came a little while later, and the experience was quite comical. Elderly men dressed in brown dustcoats took one quick glance at us as we were rushed passed, and before we had moved two steps, we were in possession of trousers, shirts, jumpers, shoes, socks, tie, gym shorts, gym shirts, plimsoles, and I can't remember what other items. With the exception of the wonderful RAF kitbag, complete with unburstable brass zipper (unlike the later ones with a pathetic plastic zip). More attempts to teach us to march interspersed with lots of physical torture...sorry, my apologies, assault course in the gym, and the RAF's version of cross country???in flat Lincolnshire?

By the end of Week 2, the numbers have thinned out. Some have just left, others have been removed. The RAF reckoned that if people would make it past Week 2, they would probably make it all the way. Apparently. So, one bright and beautiful morning, a PT instructer has us galloping around the 'cross country' course for a mile or two, and then leads us not to the gym, but a back door of the SMC. Strange. Wonder what is going to happen now? We are queuing single file down a narrow corridor and I am near the back of the line. Word is passed down, "hold both arms out, knuckles down and palms up". Ahh, jab parade. For the next couple of minutes, all we have is a bunch of heavy breathing and panting guys trying to get their breath back after the pleasant exertions. But the mood changes. Some from the front of the queue are coming back to bring up the rear. Others, are breaking out in a fresh sweat. Then the fainting starts. Grown young and healthy men are dropping at the thought of a little pin or two stuck into their arms. I steel myself to overcome this feeling I have of wanting to sit down before I fall down. Somehow, I stay upright, get to the action, and subject myself to the hundreds of jabs (well, it seemed like hundreds to me, OK?) for everything from yellow fever to halitosis. Then, just to make sure this cocktail gets to all the parts of our bodies, we are invited to join the PT instructor for a little jog. Felt a little weird for the next couple of days.

Now, all dressed the same in our splendid new uniforms, we form up, ready to offend and upset out Discip Corporal once again. Only, it didn't actually happen that way. As one, we all moved off together...and in step. I don't know about the Corporal, but we couldn't believe it. Smiles started to spread as our arms came up just that bit sharper. Our heels dug in with just a little bit more firmness. Our backs straightened as we collectively took pride in OUR accomplishment.

Camlobe

It's a case of mind over matter...I don't mind and you don't matter.
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Old 7th Dec 2013, 13:18
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Excellent start to what I hope will be yet another long lasting journey, Camlobe. As others have said, it starts as all the others start, whether in WW2, or no doubt today. In other words a friendly and reassuring reception together with some bespoke tailored outfitting;-)


I must say though that the very personal and even racial abuse that your official welcome encompassed came as a surprise. My recollections of the routine (albeit at Sleaford Tech in 1959) were certainly personal but not abusive in the way you describe.


However, the correct way of addressing DIs and even WO's were usually the subject of a one sided conversation. The Cadet Wing Warrant Officer had a little routine for dealing with such matters when Cadet Wing was paraded. Having received a "No, Flight Sergeant" or some such from some unfortunate wretch two Squadrons down the line he responded with a volume and enunciation clearly heard from one end of the parade to the other. "SIR! You call me SIR! I call you Sir and you call me Sir, the only difference is you mean it!". All delivered without drawing breath and at an ever increasing pitch.


In other words there was humour in the process so that even when being charged, there was usually something to smile at. As in society as a whole it seems that humour has become the missing ingredient...or has it?
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Old 7th Dec 2013, 18:32
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Ahh Camlobe,

I was fortunate enough to have struggled through a similar experience as yours when joining as an apprentice in January 1969. Arriving from a farming community in the midlands (not much TV, and my only knowledge of the RAF was rumour that some of them had bombed some dams, and the belief that Crossroads was a real Hotel !!!!), from my point of view, I was a blank canvas and amenable to the "suggestions" of our drill instructors. As a result, I suspect for me at least, the drill etc was not particularly oppressive. I believe that your story, is relevant to this thread because it shows how, even separated from Danny, Cliff, Reg and all of the other contributors, by the years, we can all see a bit of what we all "enjoyed" as our welcoming committee on arriving at our various training establishments. I have a sneaky feeling that when Cliff set this thread running he "had an inkling" that it might lead to a "generational" thing. I'm sure the moderators are compliant with that principle. Lets have some more young fellah, I'm sure there's loads of mischief forthcoming.

Smudge
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Old 7th Dec 2013, 22:52
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...You might've broken your Mother's heart - you won't break mine !"

Chugalug,

I fear that the privilege of being addressed in a polite and gentlemany manner was resticted to the "Lord's Anointed" who entered via the impressive portals of the RAF College, Cranwell.

We "brutal and licentious soldiery", on the other hand, had to be addressed in the manner in which (it was assumed) we had been accustomed. It was par for the course: we let it go over our heads.

As for Warrant Officers, it was amazing the amount of venom and pure contempt that they could pack into a simple "Sir". We tried to return it with interest as Mister Smith, but it was a feeble rejoinder in most cases. (As a matter of interest, we, when we were training in the U.S. Arnold Scheme, although only LACs, were addressed by all U.S.Enlisted Men as "Mister" in view of our pretended status of "Aviation Cadet". The Master Sergeant was, however, every bit as skilled in conveying the maximum of derision into the words).

But, as you say, there was always an undercurrent of humour in the RAF - may it ever remain so....D.

Smudge,

I think we're all expecting "loads of mischief forthcoming" from camlobe. Like you, I was, after nine years at boarding school, "amenable to discipline" from our Drill Instructors (I still tremble at the memory of our "Good Shepherd" at Newquay)....D.

camlobe,

I knew it ! - you have Hibernian blood in your veins. Now let me ask (if it's not intrusive) a further question: from your #4649 I note: "train station", "offense" and "defense". Could there possibly be a transatlantic influence ? Now off you go back to your keyboard - (I'm glad to see the way in which you're carrying on the good old tradition (started by Cliff) of the "tag-line" at the end)....D.

My regards to all,

Danny.
 
Old 7th Dec 2013, 23:40
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English, all versions, and on a Fizzer.

From the first day at Swinderby, there were linguistic difficulties. Not from the Discip NCO's, as we could clearly understand everything they shouted and screamed at us. No, the issue was amongst ourselves. Of the 18 of us, there were probably 18 different dialects, all supposedly speaking the Queen's English. We had Liverpudlians, Tynesiders, East Enders, Scots, Northern Irish, Devonions, Yorkshiremen, and little me from North Wales. And, of course, I spoke properly, it was the rest of them who couldn't. Eventually, we did what many generations of men before us did. We learned to speak Royal Air Force, that national language that absorbs bits from all corners, mixes it with Light Blue, and is easily understood by anyone who wears the RAF uniform. For those of a particularly broad tongue (not me, of course), it would take a day or so to meld back after a period of leave at home.

The indoctrination continued with films on a number of wide ranging subjects. These included security and the Official Secrets Act, safety near aircraft, as previously mentioned the Plod mushroom plucker, and how to survive a nuclear explosion! We can all remember "Flash, Heat, Blast, Radiation. As soon as you see the flash, drop to the ground with your hands under your body...". "The charcoal impregnated NBC suit would protect you from the heat". "Once the blast wave has passed, get under cover to protect you from radiation". Having seen the various bits of film footage of the effects of nuclear explosions, I'm afraid I wasn't convinced that this suit supplied by the lowest bidding contractor, was going to save me from Armageddon. Then films about chemical weapons. And we all remember "blot, bang, rub" with the worlds most expensive Fullers Earth (I was rapidly becoming a cinic with regard to MOD (PE).). Nerve Agents, atrophine, and NAPS tablets that were the size of desert plates...and you had to swallow all four at the same time. Somehow, I suspect that the attrition rate of Her Majesty's Armed Forces would have been far higher due to chocking than enemy nerve agent poisoning. This training was actually taken very seriously by a number of people I knew in the early '90's.

We are shown the various rank badges for the Army, Royal Navy and RAF, specific attention drawn to those signifying the award of the Queen's Commission. We are taught how to correctly acknowledge that commission "HUP, TWO, THREE, DOWN". Tolerant Officers were seen to smirk slightly when young trainees would approach on their way to the mess/SHQ/SMC etc. At the designated distance (four paces I think) right hands would be brought smartly up, palm open and facing forward...all to the tune of "HUP, two, three, down".

Morning inspection of the room by the Discip Sergeant, so all our bed packs are aligned, the floor gleaming, windows paper thin because they have been polished hard. Boots at the base of the bed, so smooth you could see your eyes in the toe caps. We are ready. Since the Sergeant had first shown me favouritism on the Bedford Bus, I had tried to melt into the background and remain non-conspicuous. So far, it seemed to have worked well.

The Sergeant walks in to the room, stops, in front of me. I am frozen to attention, so frozen he won't recognise or remember me. He picks up one of my immaculately polished boots...and turns it over. Like the slow-motion part of a horror film, I with eyes WIDE open see the spot of mud stuck in the tread, and silently scream. The Sergeant disposes with such niceties. The boot is flung at high speed towards one of my luckless room mates, who follows orders to the letter and doesn't flinch from Attention. We don't hear his pain because the sweet Sergeant is now questioning my hygiene and parentage, all at a volume none of us have heard before. Camlobe is on a charge.

Camlobe

Tomorrow is another day.
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Old 7th Dec 2013, 23:52
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Chugalug,
Having just seen Danny's post after posting my latest drivel, my own thoughts are that Danny has explained it far more eloquently than I could have, and I am sure he is completely correct.

Smudge,
I can relate easily to your comments, having joined from a little village in North Wales, more of which later. And I think you are probably on the right track with your "generational" thought. When the Mods kick me out, then we both know we were wrong.

Danny,
You are indeed a sharp one, sir. It will become clear as mud later. And with regard to the tag lines, they seem most appropriate on this thread, and rank as equally important in my small mind as the main content of the posts.

Camlobe
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Old 8th Dec 2013, 08:40
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camlobe,
what a Pandora's Box of memories you have opened ! The one thing we 'plebs' have in common is our initial reception by those master psychologists, the Drill Instructors. My memories on joining the RAF as a B/E u/t Air Radar Mech in 1958 (could not get into the Apps to do radio, but was offered Armament or Admin) at Cosford have flooded back. I came from Sunderland, father a shipyard labourer and I have no idea where my interest in aircraft came from.
Ah yes the confusing Babel of voices of my fellow innocents , and like camlobe I was the only one speaking 'proper'. A very steep learning curve in all respects for us all. But not one I ever regretted.
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Old 8th Dec 2013, 10:45
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I can only join in the general acclaim and approbation that has marked young camlobe's inaugural. It has already triggered that fine tradition of this thread, firing up a civilised discussion. We seem to have unearthed a dichotomy with the treatment of other ranks and officer cadets upon induction into the Royal Air Force. The first is characterised as abusive and malevolent, the latter by implication refined and gentle. My interpretation of course and please take me to task if I have it wrong.


Having only experienced the Officer Cadet training, I would say that it was robust and strict, but not abusive in the nasty sense. That even includes the treatment by the Senior Entry of we 'Crows'. As I said earlier, you needed a sense of humour to see it through as well as a certain amount of stubbornness, both essential qualities for a military life I would suggest.


We were after all volunteers rather than pressed men. The experiences of National Service were no doubt brutal and deeply resented, and I suspect that few here would care to see its reintroduction to cure Society's ills for the very real ills that it would bring to the Services. However, from Cliff through to Camlobe we chose this path, and in return it gave us a life, a career, an experience, that for most if not all would have been unobtainable. That is certainly true for me, raised post war by a one parent family, my father having died in the war (as a Lance Bombardier, not that it should be relevant), I lucked out and passed the eleven plus and so made Grammar School. I thus got the O levels that I knew were required to do what I longed for, to fly in the RAF. I lucked out again by getting a scholarship for an Officer Cadetship in the RAF to stay in the 6th Form and so get the equally necessary A levels. That is why I ended up at Cranwell amidst my Entry colleagues, one of whom by the way was ex Halton. The chop rate was ferocious, and I lucked out yet again by making it through somehow to graduation after three long years, to emerge with those treasured wings and that oh so thin PO's braid.


So what is the point of this rambling post? Merely to say that like many others, the Royal Air Force gave me an opportunity to do what I really wanted to do, without which my life would have been some boring civilian routine. That it was worth being shouted at, charged, made to do endless drill in the frozen wastes of Lincolnshire, scrape the paint off shower stalls with a pen knife to then repaint them, make up bed packs so that they might be pulled to pieces again on inspection, and all the other sundry delights of basic training, I have no doubt, and a small price to pay to gain such an opportunity. I would suggest to a man that all those here would say the same thing.

Last edited by Chugalug2; 8th Dec 2013 at 11:00.
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Old 8th Dec 2013, 11:13
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Putting a slightly different slant on this subject ….

It was a cool grey day in September 1963 when I got off the train at Kingswear. And then boarded the Ferry across the River Dart, to Dartmouth, where we assembled/milled/shambled around until a nice Petty Officer Gunner (i.e. Drill Instructor, of the RN's Gunnery Branch) called us to order. Our luggage was loaded (by us, of course) into the back of a dark blue 3-tonner, and we were directed to stand in straight lines in groups of 3. Sort of organised into three ranks, if you will. I took this process in my stride - I had enjoyed several years in the CCF and ATC, and had indeed attended a weekend Cadets' Drill Course with the Irish Guards at Caterham Barracks. No problem.

The nice PO (who was apparently always called “Chief”, even though he wasn’t a Chief PO), invited us to march in those nice tidy 3 ranks up the steep hill from Dartmouth itself to … Britannia Royal Naval College. “Is this commissioned service?” I asked myself? Are there no cars to convey us up that steep incline, which I would get to know only too well in the coming months? It was a long climb, during which we were generally encouraged to try to keep in straight lines, and in step, before we eventually arrived somewhat breathless on the parade ground in front of the magnificence of BRNC.

At that point, we were subdivided into smaller groups as we were assigned to our different Divisions. As I was a Fleet Air Arm Officer Cadet, I and my aviation-minded compatriots were assigned to Hawke Division. In the past, FAA cadets were randomly distributed amongst the Divisions, but at this point in BRNC’s history it had been decided to keep all the FAA cadets together and separated from the nasty, crude sailors. And thus we formed up again, and marched even further uphill to our new home - Temeraire Block. And there, inevitably, we entered culture shock territory and linguistic challenges. We slept in a Mess Deck (the more senior cadets had cabins), we bathed and performed bodily functions in the heads, we put our rubbish in gash bins and polished the deck. You get the idea, I’m sure - we were now in the Royal Navy.
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Old 8th Dec 2013, 12:35
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Initiation seems to be much of a muchness no matter where the RAF invited us to attend for initial training. In my case, having started at Padgate on 28/11/49 and expressed my wish to be a National Service pilot, having been asked if I had been in the ATC and said "yes" (as far as I know this was never checked) and as a result was given a service number which began with 312****, different from the others who replied "no", we were issued with uniforms, hustled off to Hornchurch for aptitude assessment, back to Padgate for a couple of days, then off to Driffield for a few more days ( our initiation into "skiving") doing nothing but sewing our aircrew cadet laurel wreath insignia on our sleeves, then being sent on Christmas leave where Mums did a proper job of re-attaching our handiwork before reporting to No 1 ITS Wittering on 28/12/49. And then it all began. Learning how to march, make up bedspaces, bumper floors, salute, much to the amusement of warrant officers who suffered the indignity of squads of cadets "eyes righting" as we passed them.

Three things from that period stick in my memory - Wednesday afternoons travelling in an old Fordson bus to Northampton baths for dinghy drill, red polony (!!) sausages for tea in the airmen's mess, and an introduction into the foolish ways of military life. At this time, although we were months away from an aeroplane, we were issued with leather flying helmets with earphones and a long lead. Every Saturday morning there was a Station Parade of which the cadets formed one wing. Some bright spark had remarked that when cadets got to a real aeroplane they were unused to these helmets so it was decreed we would parade wearing them, the long lead being tucked into the greatcoat pocket. The inevitable result was an utter shambles as it was impossible to hear words of command so we all did our own thing. Unbelievably, this fiasco was repeated the following week too. But it was all taken in its stride. Pete Shoen never could march with his arms swinging correctly i.e. his right arm and right leg moved forward at the same time. How was this lack of co-ordination not picked up at Hornchurch?

The next twenty years were fun too and we met great friends.
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Old 8th Dec 2013, 13:57
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we bathed and performed bodily functions in the heads, we put our rubbish in gash bins and polished the deck. You get the idea, I’m sure - we were now in the Royal Navy.
Don't remind me.

I took a Puma up to Lossiemouth in the early seventies when it was an FAA station. One morning I was not required until the afternoon so after breakfast in the 'wardroom' I sat down to read the paper. At 10.00hrs a mess rating came round and opened all the windows.

It was early February; just about freezing, the central heating going full chat with a 30 knot gale blowing outside.

As I hung on to my paper I asked the rating why the hell he had opened the windows.

"Air the Ship,Sir".
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Old 8th Dec 2013, 14:16
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I sat down to read the paper. At 10.00hrs a mess rating came round and opened all the windows.

For a moment I envisaged that you had sat down to read the paper in the heads, which could have explained everything - well, nearly everything .....

Jack
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Old 8th Dec 2013, 14:56
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Fareastdriver ... I never fully adapted, as you may see if I'm inspired to continue nautical dribbling (before I transferred to a nice shade of blue)

I found so much of it both anachronistic and amusing, which possibly did not endear me to the staff. However ... for another day. I have a compare and contrast thought running in my head, and I don't want to spoil it!

However, for now a "Small World" story ... my Divisional Officer, or Flt Cdr in normal speak, was a Lt (RN) with an aviation background. That may have explained his distinctive twitch - clenching and unclenching his hands when speaking. He was of the Sea Vixen persuasion, which may explain much. Anywaaaaay ... almost exactly 20 years later, I was on a small pile of rubble in the South Atlantic when the Stn Execs of RAF Stanley were invited aboard HMS Broadsword for drinky-poos. How nice!

After a tugboat ride from the jetty, we embarked. I remembered all about saluting the Quarterdeck. I then descended to the Wardroom Flat (aka some large space with a posh title) to be greeted across the crowd with "Hello MPN11 - long time no see" from the Captain (Captain) - my former DO.

Sadly we had little time to reminisce, as a bit of blow was coming up and, ever conscious of the risks of facing a lee shore in those southern latitudes, the Captain determined it was safest to ride the storm at sea. So, up hook and away ... the party ended prematurely, and I was offered overnight accommodation on the floor of some small compartment full of electrical stuff with a green worm for my creature comforts. After tossing around all night (the ship, not me) we returned to harbour at Post Stanley and disembarked. Never saw Cap'n Bob again, sadly.

"It's a MAN's life in the Royal Navy" ... stuff that, I'll take the creature comforts of an RAF Station any day

Last edited by MPN11; 8th Dec 2013 at 15:55. Reason: Poor proofreading ... double away that man!
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Old 8th Dec 2013, 15:12
  #4677 (permalink)  
 
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MPN11,
ref 'the creature comforts'. One of my first lessons as a B/E was that 'any fool can be uncomfortable' . I spent the next 40 yrs trying not to be a fool.
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Old 8th Dec 2013, 15:27
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Learning how to march, make up bedspaces, bumper floors, salute, ......
As an ATC cadet in the 50's, we used to pay a shilling a day for a week doing that, and maybe a bit of flying as well, if you were lucky.
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Old 8th Dec 2013, 15:51
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More of the same but there is no standard reception.

Eventually an official letter arrives. You are required to report to No 1 Initial Training School, R.A.F. Kirton-in-Lindsay. Enclosed is travel warrant, travel by train to Doncaster and change for a train to Gainsborough which leaves from platform X. At Gainsborough you will be meet by transport. If there is no transport ring Kirton xxx ext xxx. (Where are these places.....look in Dad's RAC book.) The due day arrives and Dad drives me to Ely station and warns me to look out for "Nancy Boys". (What are they?)
Journey completed we are met by a corporal and escorted to a 3/4 tonner?, the truck with three loose gym benches in the back. The truck stops outside a wooden hut and the corporal leads us in. "This is the transit hut, I am Cpl. XXX and in charge of it. Choose a bed, put your gear away and be outside in 10 minutes." Outside all five of us are "Marched"? off on a tour of the camp. Back at the hut instructed how to lay out bedding, there is a picture on the board of how to lay out the rest of your kit when you get it. Now off to tea and report back to me. Report back....You are responsible for cleanliness of this hut and all you will need is in that cupboard. Tell me when you have finished.
Where to start? The place is spotless! After a few experiments with the bumper we decide it's ok. Now the floor is filthy, dust and mould have appeared in places we never knew existed. You will NOT go to bed until I am satisfied this has been cleaned properly. Fifteen minutes before lights out he is satisfied! But by the next evening it will be just as dirty!
The week progresses , our numbers increase, we get kit a bit at a time, practice drill and perform all manner of menial tasks Cpl xxx demands. Come Friday afternoon we get our jabs and advised to not let our arms get stiff. Next morning Cpl xxx has us on our hands and knees scrubbing and polishing for 3 hours to exercise our sore arms and then tells us to stop and to be quiet and not to bother him until Monday morning. Retires into his room and locks it.
Having neither heard or seen Cpl xxx again about Sunday teatime the penny drops, on his door it says Cpl xxx Plymouth Brethren. So although we have been verbally abused with sarcasm never was a profanity used and of course cleanness is next to godliness.

Last edited by Pom Pax; 8th Dec 2013 at 16:31.
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Old 8th Dec 2013, 17:45
  #4680 (permalink)  
 
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MPN11

May I very sadly draw your attention to

Capt Bob McQueen - Telegraph

I believe that you would also be interested in

http://www.pprune.org/military-aircr...-war-book.html

I'm sure he would have forgiven you for turning light blue ....

Jack
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