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Marches in and out tales

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Marches in and out tales

Old 17th Nov 2023, 14:40
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Marches in and out tales

Many threads these days are sad and gloomy. How about a laugh or two? Thus, what were your experiences of Close Encounters with the Barrack Warden?

For starters, Nicosia c. Jan 1964.

We were in a beautiful bungalow on station in Comet Crescent, I was 4 months fromTourex, the Rocks had a Vickers emplaced in our back garden and two doors down had a Bofors. Turk v Greek was in full swing.
Came a knock on the door, and there was my boss's boss's boss, with sad chops. "I fear" said he "all families where the worker has less than six months to serve must be flown back to UK within a fortnight!.The worker will move into the Mess!"

And that is when daddy's little two year-old daughter learned to oath. Starting with SH1T! and working up.

The quarter had a "Maid's Annexe" with bedroom, wash basin and khazi, and the seat was broken broken. Araldite had been invented, so when packing was packed, curtains etc were washed, inventory was sort of sorted, I mended the seat. Mended it so well that the join escaped the march out, even though the bog rim had the white gloves and dental mirror treatment.

If you took over number 8 and cut your ar%e, or were emasculated, my apologies.
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18th Nov 2023, 15:29
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One of the signature blocks on the clearance chits was for the 'Station Bicycle Store'. No-one at a unit where I was serving knew where that was, or even whether there was such a thing on the station...

But some helpful soul had amended the crew room phone directory with 'Station Bike Store.......(extn. no)'.

Except the extension was for someone else..... OC WRAF eventually complained to her boss about people ringing her to ask "Is that the station bike store"?
Old 17th Nov 2023, 18:58
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We lived in 7 MQ and 2 private hirings. The only consistent thing was that on every March-In, there was dirt, grime and damage with an overgrown garden. On every March-Out, despite family Lessons Identified, Lessons Learned, there was always some picky little complaint, sometimes charged and sometimes "You ought to be thankful that I'm in a good mood".

Our first AMQ at RAF Cottesmore in the early '80s stunk of cigarette smoke so badly that the only disguise was to tear out everything and paint the whole place in gloss. That should have been done before we Marched-In but, no. That stuck all the windows shut. The replacement carpet was a brand new Wilton but, because airmen were not allowed to have fitted carpets, they carefully measured so that it wouldn't fit and then paid a King's ransom to bind the edges.

Shortly after March In at an OMQ in Lyneham, we woke to a crash in the night where the weight of my Nimrod painting had torn a big hole in the wall. As nails were not allowed on March Out, even where the obvious symmetrical position was for the next person to hang a picture, the ensuing holes had been filled with toothpaste and other fillers on each March Out and painted over! We did the same.

In our Laarbruch OMQ, a "rapid reaction force" of gardeners had to come with brushcutters to remove all the overgrowth of bushes and weeds so that the removal team could get to the front door with our furniture!

The frustrations continued at Finningley where we had to fight for an empty OMQ with a gas-fire central heating and double glazing rather than the planned MQ with a coal fire, no central heating and metal windows. Once the MQs were all refurbished, they shut the station!

The crassness and pettiness was obviously an Essential character trait and the po-faced double standards was something that must have been practised in the Family Officer's office before stepping out with a clipboard!
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Old 17th Nov 2023, 19:54
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Finningley AMQ, 86. (Apple Grove, I think). An officer* marched in on my behalf. It was filthy. I went round to the Families Flt and saw the WO and uncharacteristically for me went bonkers. He took the first broadside, and said, "No problem, you can have 2 weeks rent free." Emboldened (and leaving in 14 months), I said, "I don't want rent off, I want a f-ing clean house for my wife to arrive to, after leaving our Gutersloh house like a new pin!" I insinuated he had low standards so he pulled rank and issued a neck-winding order. But I had a month rent free. Bit awkward in the mess for a bit.

CG

*an ITC Flt Cdr- go figure.

PS, for balance, our Odi and Gut houses were really nice homes.
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Old 17th Nov 2023, 20:43
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Rheindahlen had a team of wifeys who, for a fat fee, sorted any quarter before march-out. They were said to be very good and never failed to get a pass mark [were they giving the Warden and President a cut?]. The sad fact is that for 6 years I thought they were called Iron Detail.
Not so: Eye on Detail, with a little vehicle and a lot of gear.
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Old 17th Nov 2023, 21:32
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Marched out of a quarter in Gutersloh with wife expecting our second child in 3 weeks or less, having polished everything including the underside of the open staircase for all 4 floors (Kahlertstrasse), and arrived in Cosford to a dirty quarter, broken window, filthy carpets, 2 rings on cooker not working and entire cooker still covered with the remains of all the meals cooked by workmen renovating the quarters, none of which were "available". Even the bath appeared to have been used for mixing paint. Families officer was not bothered as he has us over a barrel with the furniture on the way from Germany and wife expecting at any time.

It was part of a pattern, every time I got promoted and posted, we got a shitty quarter as a reward.
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Old 17th Nov 2023, 21:37
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There was a weird system at Portadown Way JHQ. It was a circular close, 20 or so OMQ. Mixed Pongoes, RAF, civvies.. Officially [I kid you not} we shared a lawnmower, a wheel barrow and a grass roller. There may even have been a ladder. Thus the farce, notional, of tracing each item on march-in/out for each house, and signing for it. I think this was in our first JHQ tour, and had died the death, deservedly, by the second. Meanwhile everyone had a shiny PX mower.
Mine still does the job.
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Old 17th Nov 2023, 21:39
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Originally Posted by Ninthace
Marched out of a quarter in Gutersloh with wife expecting our second child in 3 weeks or less, having polished everything including the underside of the open staircase for all 4 floors (Kahlertstrasse), and arrived in Cosford to a dirty quarter, broken window, filthy carpets, 2 rings on cooker not working and entire cooker still covered with the remains of all the meals cooked by workmen renovating the quarters, none of which were "available". Even the bath appeared to have been used for mixing paint. Families officer was not bothered as he has us over a barrel with the furniture on the way from Germany and wife expecting at any time.

It was part of a pattern, every time I got promoted and posted, we got a shitty quarter as a reward.
second child in three weeks? You must have been a busy couple!😂
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Old 17th Nov 2023, 21:50
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Ho Ho
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Old 17th Nov 2023, 22:11
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Chortle
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Old 17th Nov 2023, 23:51
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Decided to pop round to a crew members house to see how the March Out had gone. Arrived and March Out still in progress. Following my colleague into the living room to complete the inspection with the Families officer he was met with the vision of his dog, obviously needing anal glands emptied, pulling itself across the carpet to relieve the itching. Families officer scribbling furiously, my colleague wanting to drop kick his pet, and myself offering to open the windows, as if that was going to help.
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Old 17th Nov 2023, 23:55
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Zeppelinstrasse MQ at EDUO had coke boilers in the cellar. The pipework was mostly tarnished copper: tarnished but acceptable at my march in, so there was temptation. Knowing my successor for the MQ, and disliking my successor, out came the Brasso.
At march out the powers that be noted the gleaming boiler room and suggested that the next march out might be rigorous.
My successor never spoke to me again.

As an aside, coke was delivered down a chute into the cole'ole. The old boy had a crude abacus at the back of the cart to tally each sack. It was not unknown to distract the old boy and minus an abacus tally. My children had sooty hands sometimes.

As a civvy who allegedly did not pay for fuel on the mysterious XY scheme, I was always the incumbent when lecky was needed for street lights or Christmas.
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Old 18th Nov 2023, 00:02
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Having done a few proxy march ins and lived in a surplus quarter overseas, it was the best incentive to purchase my own place due to the absolute nause the whole process is. Reading some of these posts has confirmed the process/BS never got any better over the years!
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Old 18th Nov 2023, 00:08
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Did not everybody use toothpaste to hide holes in walls?<br />Magnolia flavored toothpaste? Set like concrete.<br /><br />Different for one-stars WHO HAD WALLPAPER. We once went to a reception in such a home. Wallpaper, wallpaper, wallpaper was all SWMBO could remember.
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Old 18th Nov 2023, 00:46
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During a brief period as a 'holding officer', I was required to be Oi/c a few 'march outs' because the Families Officer who normally did such things was on leave. No problem, I declared anything and everything to be 'fair wear and tear' and also demanded to know from the blunt civvy idiot who accompanied me why various faults hadn't been rectified, despite having been correctly reported months earlier! When Her Ladyship the Pilot Officer returned from leave, she was aghast at the way I'd behaved. But she lived in the OM and had no real understanding. She wasn't too keen that I was in the habit of addressing her SAC by his first name, rather than as 'SAC Jones'..... or that I took it in turns to make the tea for the office. OC GD thought it was hilarious when he saw how she huffed and puffed!

A mate on 56(F) had been billed £lots by the system when he'd been marched out of his quarter at Leuchars and hadn't been able to cut the grass due to having been on detachment and his wife having to look after a young child. But when another chap had taken over the quarter, the garden was a jungle and it had cost him a fair penny to put right.... Fortunately the two of them knew each other as both were F-4 aircrew. So one day the chap on 56(F) popped up to Leuchars, met up with his chum and had a showdown with OC Admin. He agreed and had the offending person brought to his office for an explanation. Costs were reimbursed immediately!
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Old 18th Nov 2023, 02:38
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Same in blocks, I refused to accept a stained Mattress knowing the poor bugger before me had to pay to have it cleaned, but the so called cleaning appeared to be to circle the said stain with a biro and initial it. Hence I refused it stating it had not been cleaned, something I seriously doubted they ever did or indeed could.

Same as mentioned about brass, I was asked why I hadn’t polished the window brasses, noticing in my mates room his were aluminium, a quick visit to Halfords and a rattle can of aluminium paint later, mine were too and the can subsequently visited many a room where brass was present.

Also clearing, I used to do the essentials, work, gen office, medical, accommodation, clothing stores and then using a multitude of coloured pens initialled the rest myself.
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Old 18th Nov 2023, 09:42
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A colleague of mine at Lyneham, on March In, immediately removed the cooker and lovingly wrapped it up and stored it in the garage for the whole time he lived in the OMQ. Families Officers always seemed to home in on the cooker; certainly Mrs Drift used to spend more time cleaning the cooker than anything else.

Said colleague smugly unwrapped his cooker on the morning of the March Out ... and still got charged for unacceptable standard of cleanliness! All protests fell on deaf ears
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Old 18th Nov 2023, 10:41
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First married quarter was a caravan on Findhorn caravan site during winter, I was at that time on the NMSU night shift working fuel tanks and when I got home had to stay cold until all my clothes had been washed and the fuel smell gone before turning on gas appliances for eating and heating.

Second wile at RAF Kinloss was an Army married quarter that was temporary used by the ARF as the army had deployed, learnt the difference between gloss white paint and eggshell after repairing the damage our dog had done and ended up painting all the white woodwork so it matched.

RAF Luqa quarters were quite nice flats, but the problem there was they kept charging each occupant the same amount for the same issues as if it had been their fault, one guy came up with an answer on march out by throwing carpets, mattresses and a fridge into the flat lobby, did not go down to well with the management.

Stanton married quarters, which served RAF Honington/Marham had squares of carpet and underlay that left a band of lino around the edge of the bedrooms, I was told on march in that the carpet and underlay were to be cleaned/vacuumed and lino polished when I leave. On march out having done as required said barrack warden lifted carpet and underlay and stated I would be charged for the cleaning of floor etc as there was a very fine dust layer, I had a mop and bucket and vacuum cleaner ready so politely told him that I would prove a point that I would not be paying any charges. Re-did the process and had him check before laying carpet/underlay back down and then proceeded to walk all over it a few times and asked him to check again, and sure enough there was the same dust layer, not happy that they were not going to get money of me like they had with every other occupant, I also mentioned that I would be passing that on to the next occupant and my mates in the other quarters.

RAF Marham had a WO who would put on white gloves and would rub his fingers over door tops and into extractor fan grills and would charge you for any dust/dirt he found.

RAF Gutersloh the families officer thanked my wife and myself for presenting a lovely quarter though he noted that some of the electrical sockets had some dust in them, I asked if he actually thought that my wife and I would stick our fingers in with a cloth to clean them out, or remove the socket to clean it, he agreed that that would probably be a bad idea.

RAF St Athan we turned up for the march in and found our removals wagon sat on the roadside, they did give some excuse as to why they were a day early, anyway the WO was not best pleased. It became apparent that the young lad marching out had not really grasped what was required and the place needed a better clean, especially the cooker, WO was not happy and said that if our removals people were not there he would of cancelled the march out/in until it was sorted, but told me to turn up at the families office the next day. When I turned up he handed me £50 and told me to use it on cleaning materials to get the place sorted and to have a treat with the wife for the inconvenience.

The ringing of mattress stains and initialling them was quite prevalent at a lot of quarters, but one airman thought he was being clever when it came to tables that were marked as he counted all the marks and scratches and got the barrack warden to note the amount, on march out the marks were counted and occupant was charged accordingly for the extra ones, I donít think he would do that again.

I used to think that after handing over a pristine MQ that the next families office were told and we would be given a less than pristine quarter knowing that they would get it sorted by us. These are the most memorable ones but there were others.
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Old 18th Nov 2023, 11:53
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Originally Posted by BEagle
During a brief period as a 'holding officer', I was required to be Oi/c a few 'march outs' because the Families Officer who normally did such things was on leave. No problem, I declared anything and everything to be 'fair wear and tear' and also demanded to know from the blunt civvy idiot who accompanied me why various faults hadn't been rectified, despite having been correctly reported months earlier! When Her Ladyship the Pilot Officer returned from leave, she was aghast at the way I'd behaved. But she lived in the OM and had no real understanding. She wasn't too keen that I was in the habit of addressing her SAC by his first name, rather than as 'SAC Jones'..... or that I took it in turns to make the tea for the office. OC GD thought it was hilarious when he saw how she huffed and puffed!
I had a similar experience, Beags, at Valley. If it is the same P/O (Sue?) she had the ability to point her upturned nose at a cooker, which would immediately disassemble itself and wave dayglo flags pointing to grease etc. along with displaying its own calculation of the required cleaning time. She was also in the habit of charging 10p per weed in the garden until I suggested this was a good way of alienating the entire community. She argued, I pointed out that she lived in the mess (never in MQs) and that this particular Flt Lt, wearing a new set of wings, had lived in them all his life (Dad was serving at the time) and had never met anyone quite so petty. She eventually got straightened out by OC Admin. I made my own tea.
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Old 18th Nov 2023, 12:19
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The Memsahib was an RAF brat. She remembers the families officer donning white gloves on march out, then brushing them over the bedstead springs to check for dust.....

When we marched out of a Leeming OMQ in '79, the WRAF Familiies Officer scraped her nails round the toilet bowl to check for limescale. She was so pre-occupied with this that she missed me standing over a landing carpet stain....

IIRC, an army officer at JHQ kept his horse in the cellar; good luck with that March out....


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Old 18th Nov 2023, 13:18
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Also clearing, I used to do the essentials, work, gen office, medical, accommodation, clothing stores and then using a multitude of coloured pens initialled the rest myself.
Don't tell 'em Pike!

Since my last clearing was at Coltishall in 1969, I think I'm safe now...
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