Christmas Celebrations at Cardington.
Shown left these photos are from a Christmas party held at the camp in December 1948.
(Images Beds & Luton Archive Services Beds Times & Citizen Collection BP Box 3453. Photography courtesy of John Day Ampthill Images)
I came across this newspaper article from The Bedford Record & Circular dated 9th Jan 1945 which describes a Christmas party for children held at RAF Cardington in the previous week . The article captures the spirit of the time perfectly:
"Whether they're dropping bombs on the enemy or giving parties the RAF like things to "go down big," and one of the best childrens parties that could be given took place at Cardington RAF station on Wednesday when over 140 children from Bedford and district, who had lost their fathers in the war, or whose fathers were prisoners were entertained at the Station. £100 for the party was collected in the Sergeants Mess No 89 Air Stores Park, RAF Ceylon,
The Mayor & Mayoress Mr & Mrs Canvin were present with several RAF and WAAF officers and staff, and another very welcome guest was Mrs Harte, wife of Wing Commander C S W Harte of the RAF station in Ceylon where the idea of the party originated. Sergt Barnett from this Mess, who is on his way home had hoped to make an appearance but unfortunately did not arrive home in time.
Invitations were sent out by the Mayor and the entertainment and catering was done by Flt Lieut T C G Rosby. The delicious cakes and pastries for which all the Cardington personnel had given up a portion of their rations were made on the Station.
The programme consisted of an hour's cinema show, in which several most enjoyable films of the Walt Disney variety were shown. A tea of pre-war dimensions was given in a large hall delightfully decorated with Christmas trees and evergreens and lit by fairy lights. RAF and WAAF officers and personnel waited at table, and the soft lights of the hall were enhanced by the sweet music which was played by a full dance band belonging to the Station.
After tea there were games and a conjuring show by Blew Jones and dancing by June Butler and Bronwen Jones who also gave a show of ventriloquism. Father Christmas (Sergt Duff) arrived at the end of the party and presented each child with a really good present, many of the toys having been made in the Cardington workshops.The MC was W/O Tilbury, RAF.
A short speech was made by the Mayor who led cheers for the Sergeants Mess in Ceylon (represented by Mrs Harte), for Group Captain A R Arnold and his staff at Cardington, for the MC and Flgt Sgt Rosby and his staff for the splendid tea and show, and for the school teachers who brought the children to the tea. The National Anthem was then played and sung and the tired but happy children were transported home by the RAF."
What a lovely party!
Christmas Menu RAF Cardington 1948.
Sent in by Barbara Martin this photograph shows Father Christmas arriving at Cardington. Barbara explains: "I moved in with my parents to Whitley Road, Shortstown, in 1948. The house had just been built. I have a couple of photographs of Cardington, one showing a veterans race* and the other of Father Christmas arriving in a plane to the sound of my father playing the bagpipes. I also have two photographs of a balloon and basket which I think were taken at Cardington but can't be sure.
Barbara continues: "If you look on the Barrage Balloon Reunion Club website (www.bbrclub.org/354025 WO1 Francis Frew Dunlop MBE.htm) you will find details of my father and his career. There is another photograph there of a balloon and what look like loudspeakers. This may have been at Cardington but again I couldn’t prove it. Perhaps someone else may know. I remember my mother being somewhat surprised when a parcel of toilet rolls was delivered by the RAF as part of the moving in system. I imagine things are much different now in the layout of the houses, but when we moved in there was a partition upstairs which could be moved so that, instead of the house having one double bedroom and one single, it could either lose or gain a single. As the partition was relatively thin, voices carried easily upstairs from one house to the other! (I hope this makes sense!)
As my mother and I were only there for two years, until my father left the RAF, I haven’t many memories of the camp itself. My main memories, as a young teenager, were the cinema (excellent), the Christmas party (in one of the hangars) and finally, walking down to the centre of the camp to the NAAFI when a squad of young recruits came marching by. The sergeant shouted ‘eyes left’ towards me, and I tried to look as though I hadn’t noticed......" Thank you so much Barbara - Jane.
*This photograph of a veterans race can be found on the Sports page.
Sent in from Tom McCallum is this signed menu from Christmas celebrations in December 1963. There are very clear signatures on the back – please take a look. A very long shot but wouldn’t it be lovely if someone recognised one of the names! Thank you Tom. – Jane. May 2020
Station Christmas Menu 1964.
Sent in from Alan Thomas: "I have some fond memories of Christmas at RAF Cardington during the years 1963/1964. As the Station Postal Clerk I was kept busy with the endless sacks of Christmas mail arriving for sorting and distribution. In those days there were Xmas day mail deliveries and I was quite happy to remain on duty over the Christmas period and have some time off in lieu in the New Year.
The pre Xmas dinner was a special occasion; all single Corporals and Airmen would done their best uniform and be treated to a first class Xmas dinner in the Airmen’s Mess. The meal would be served by the Officers and Senior NCO’S. This was the only occasion on which such an event would take place. The menu would include beer and cigarettes and smoking was allowed at the dinner tables. The menu cards were signed by the serving officers, I believe my card was signed by the then OC of the Balloon Squadron, Sqn Ldr Brookman Moore and a small compliment of duty personnel remained on all. During Christmas and the New Year an eerie silence descended on the camp. The RAF Guardroom was manned 24/7 by the Orderly Corporal and a Duty Airman. A few single airmen remained on camp over the Xmas period; most like myself had girl friends in Bedford and were able to enjoy some home cooking.”