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Vets visiting a UK Officer's Mess

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Vets visiting a UK Officer's Mess

Old 22nd Aug 2022, 22:00
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Originally Posted by oxenos View Post
This sounds on a par with what used to be a widely held belief among civilians that serving personnel paid no income tax, and lived free in married quarters.
As opposed to the truth: that civilians overseas lived virtually free in MQs, and, if a spouse worked in, say JHQ, the spouse "avoided" any income tax, be it UK tax or German.
This latter was so widespread and ran so high in "rank"/ grade that nobody dared stop it.
Understand that a friend told me this.
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Old 22nd Aug 2022, 22:23
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Originally Posted by oxenos View Post
This sounds on a par with what used to be a widely held belief among civilians that serving personnel paid no income tax, and lived free in married quarters.
And free coal.
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Old 22nd Aug 2022, 22:43
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Originally Posted by langleybaston View Post
As opposed to the truth: that civilians overseas lived virtually free in MQs, and, if a spouse worked in, say JHQ, the spouse "avoided" any income tax, be it UK tax or German.
This latter was so widespread and ran so high in "rank"/ grade that nobody dared stop it.
Understand that a friend told me this.
No different to other NATO inter country agreements like our cheap booze, fags and petrol coupons. I did fall foul of French customs, jerry cans and BFG plates once. Mistake never made again.
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Old 23rd Aug 2022, 04:15
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Anniversary dinner

8 squadron ,100th anniversary.Remember a group of us(from1960s 8 sqdn)all waiting in the entrance hall of Waddington officers mess all in penguin suits some with medals and getting curious glances from officers passing by!!
As for security the party was held in a hangar along with a "sentry"and a Hunter!No one questioned us and a grand evening was had by all!
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Old 26th Aug 2022, 19:13
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As a UAS cadet, there was always something special about the officers mess.
Even when my subsequent career gave me access to some of the finest eateries/ hotels in the world, I looked back on those days with fondness.
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Old 27th Aug 2022, 12:20
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Originally Posted by rolling20 View Post
As a UAS cadet, there was always something special about the officers mess.
Even when my subsequent career gave me access to some of the finest eateries/ hotels in the world, I looked back on those days with fondness.
I know what you mean. I gave a talk on AAR to the local branch of Air Britain at St Mawgan a few years ago. I was met at the guardroom by my host, a serving officer, who signed me in and got me a temporary pass. He then stood me dinner in the combined officers/SNCO 's mess on the base, the first time I had come across such a thing. RAF St Mawgan was a shadow of its former self in the days of Shacks and later Nimrods and as a major diversion airfield and by then was little more than a lodger unit of Newquay airport, and consequently had none of the atmosphere of an operational RAF station mess. Dinner was paid for with cash (do mess bills still exist?) , and was ok-ish, but nothing special. When we had a swift one in the bar before my talk I think we were the only two in.

What a contrast to my first experience of an officers mess as an awe struck 18 year old APO. Polished tables and waiter service at all meals in the dining room, dining nights with all the silver out and dinner announced by the band playing "The Roast Beef of Old England", nervousness at being the most junior mess member and having to be "Mr Vice" and standing to propose the loyal toast to a room full of officers, many of whom wearing WW2 miniatures. No cash involved, everything on your mess bill, lounge suits during the week and sports jackets and "flannels" at weekends only. Not to mention having the services of a shared batman, and sending clothes to the laundry, your mess dress stiff shirt coming back so starched you could stand it up! Pay was pretty poor in those days, my carpenter brother was astonished to find that I was earning about half his salary, but I felt I was definitely living the high life in the mess.

Yes I know, yet another post from an old fart of a cold war warrior. I do admire the young men and women of today's depleted RAF who have had a much tougher time on ops than I ever had, but I feel sorry for them as they are missing many of the things which made life as an RAF officer special and made a rather ordinary product of a Northern grammar school feel he had entered a different world.

Last edited by Tankertrashnav; 27th Aug 2022 at 12:36.
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Old 27th Aug 2022, 12:34
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Tankertrashnav,

I often wonder what percentage of RAF (aircrew?) officers from the 60s and 70s were grammar school boys (so speaks an ex grammar school pupil).
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Old 27th Aug 2022, 12:56
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Originally Posted by Biggus View Post
Tankertrashnav,

I often wonder what percentage of RAF (aircrew?) officers from the 60s and 70s were grammar school boys (so speaks an ex grammar school pupil).
I remember we did a quick survey on out squadron (Victor tankers) in the early 70s. Out of 50 aircrew we could only count about three or four ex-public schoolboys and the remainder were almost all the products of the grammar school system (no comprehensives then of course). We had a fair number of ex NCO aircrew as well, and some of them had come from whatever secondary modern schools were called in their youth. These were all very proficient aircrew, mainly ex signaller AEOs. I remember one of them telling me he had only missed out on a grammar school place because his parents couldn't afford to buy the school uniform.
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Old 27th Aug 2022, 13:26
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Tankertrashnav, I myself was the product of the grammar school system.
I was presented with a prize in my last year by an Ex pupil, who then was a serving Group Captain or possibly an Air Commodore, I believe he reached Air Vice Marshal, as did another Ex pupil in the early 00's.
As you say, as an 18 year old being woken up with a morning cup of tea in the mess, did make one feel rather special.
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Old 27th Aug 2022, 13:29
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Originally Posted by Tankertrashnav View Post
I remember we did a quick survey on out squadron (Victor tankers) in the early 70s. Out of 50 aircrew we could only count about three or four ex-public schoolboys and the remainder were almost all the products of the grammar school system (no comprehensives then of course). We had a fair number of ex NCO aircrew as well, and some of them had come from whatever secondary modern schools were called in their youth. These were all very proficient aircrew, mainly ex signaller AEOs. I remember one of them telling me he had only missed out on a grammar school place because his parents couldn't afford to buy the school uniform.
Some of us ex-public school boys were only so.because we had been too clever to be sent to the local grammar school 🤓
I think I reached my intellectual zenith around the 11 plus, though I was only 10 at the time. The council and the public school paid for those of us that made the grade. The council also paid for all my books, which was just as well as the uniforms alone nearly broke Mum & Dad.
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Old 27th Aug 2022, 13:49
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I sometimes think we grammar school school boys had something of a chip on our shoulders about public schoolboys. In my brief teaching career I spent a short time teaching at Marlborough and was surprised to to discover that the pupils were generally polite and pleasant and not the arrogant self entitled brats they are sometimes portrayed as. I only once came across an Old Etonian in the RAF, he was flying Whirlwinds at Kai Tak in 1968-69 - nice chap. I met my future wife in Hong Kong. She was a QARANC nursing sister and up to the time I met her she had mainly socialised with army officers who for the main part were ex public school boys who all spoke with that standard Sandhurst accent. She was a working class girl from Nottingham and was relieved to discover when I took her to our mess that lots of RAF officers actually spoke with regional accents !
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Old 27th Aug 2022, 15:10
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Originally Posted by Tankertrashnav View Post
I sometimes think we grammar school school boys had something of a chip on our shoulders about public schoolboys. In my brief teaching career I spent a short time teaching at Marlborough and was surprised to to discover that the pupils were generally polite and pleasant and not the arrogant self entitled brats they are sometimes portrayed as. I only once came across an Old Etonian in the RAF, he was flying Whirlwinds at Kai Tak in 1968-69 - nice chap. I met my future wife in Hong Kong. She was a QARANC nursing sister and up to the time I met her she had mainly socialised with army officers who for the main part were ex public school boys who all spoke with that standard Sandhurst accent. She was a working class girl from Nottingham and was relieved to discover when I took her to our mess that lots of RAF officers actually spoke with regional accents !
In my subsequent career, l came across a number of ex public school army officers, who having done their 3 years, then went to work for the 'family firm'.
Some decent, some not. One in particular used to explode at the slightest incident, no matter how minor.
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Old 27th Aug 2022, 15:47
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TTN :-
Polished tables and waiter service at all meals in the dining room, dining nights with all the silver out and dinner announced by the band playing "The Roast Beef of Old England"
Thanks for that info TTN. Been played into dinner to that ditty more times than I care to remember, but never curious enough to know its title. Same with the slow march dirge that we marched past the dais at Sleaford Tech. Turns out it was 'Coburg'. Isn't t'internet a wondrous thing indeed?

Chug (another ex Grammar Grub and ever grateful to Bournemouth Borough Council for it)
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Old 27th Aug 2022, 16:25
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I often wonder what percentage of RAF (aircrew?) officers from the 60s and 70s were grammar school boys (so speaks an ex grammar school pupil).
Can't help you there but when I was working at the Inspectorate of Recruiting in the early 90s I came across some statistics that showed that the majority of youngsters applying to OASC (perhaps even the whole RAF intake) had some family connection to the armed forces (Mum or Dad, Auntie, Uncle, Grandparent).

If this is still so then persuading modern youngsters from second or third generation immigrant families will be an uphill struggle. Come to think of it with the forces the size they are any modern youngster will be lucky to have any forces connection.
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Old 27th Aug 2022, 16:27
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I was a grammar school educated, direct entrant officer. I had no chip on my shoulder and no problem at all mixing it with public school, Cranwellians at BFTS, or later. Not all of them made the grade anyway.

I was more than a little disheartened at my salary, which on joining was far less than I'd previously earned as a builder's labourer.... and mainly due to Mess charges, over which I had little control and which put my bank balance into the red most of the time!

I was the junior pilot on my first squadron for almost a year before the next first tourist was posted in, to take up the baton of some of the more menial jobs a junior officer had to do. However, his wife declared that her husband could never be considered a junior pilot because he had a degree and had trained at Cranwell.

Obviously, we all took that very seriously
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Old 27th Aug 2022, 18:44
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TTN. Similar age, similar experiences. However, educated (??) in Australia, but I had to self-study for English GCE subjects, since the RAF wouldn't accept Aussie ones.

A few years ago I happened to be near Syerston. The Mess is fenced off, all windows broken, the roof almost falling in. I remember it on the evening of "wings" graduation. As you say, polished everything, band, our ladies in their finest. Times have changed I'm afraid. Mind you, so have I !!
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Old 27th Aug 2022, 19:23
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Grammar brat on a Scholarship here. 11+ at 10, then completely wasted the following years (CCF, Girls and Motorcycles intervened). Mercifully scraped 6 O-levels after 2 attempts, and the RAF only needed 5. Yay! Game on! Wg Cdr pension isn't bad either.

BTW, I'se a whitey, even though part of my education was in Jamaica!
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Old 27th Aug 2022, 19:37
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Originally Posted by rolling20 View Post
As a UAS cadet, there was always something special about the officers mess.
Even when my subsequent career gave me access to some of the finest eateries/ hotels in the world, I looked back on those days with fondness.
I'd agree that the classical 1930s Expansion Scheme messes were (and still sometimes are) rather fine. However, some of the modern ones are fairly dire.

When I was on UWAS in 1973 the mess at St Athan felt like the height of luxury. On 633 VGS in 2013 the mess at Cosford...er...didn't.
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Old 27th Aug 2022, 20:44
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The few Army Messes I stayed in re-defined dull and lifeless. But then I was lucky being mainly on vibrant RAF Stations (exempt Uxbridge, the Bean-Stealers' Mon-Fri Dormitory)
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Old 27th Aug 2022, 21:04
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MPN11, how right you are! However, if you had moved down the road from Uxbridge to West Drayton (agreed still bean-stealer territory, but I was not!) you would have found very different atmosphere!
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