Demob. No 102 Dispersal Centre.
On display at the station'Demob' suits and footwear available to returning airmen. Phototaken with kind permission of Bedford Archives ref John Day BP Box 2105
Airmen and staff at the station selecting garments. Photo taken 19 June 1945 and shown with permission of Bedford Archives ref John Day BP Box 2105
Airmen and staff at the station selecting footwear. Photo taken 19 June 1945 and shown with permission of Bedford Archives ref John Day BP Box 2105
On their way home ! A group of kitted out men leave the station fully demobbed. Photo taken 19 June 1945 and shown with permission of Bedford Archives ref John Day BP Box 2105
A pamphlet given to returning serviceman on arrival at the station giving details of the station and the facilities
A man in his new 'demob' outfit walking in Bedford. Photo taken 19 June 1945 ref Bedford Archives John Day BP Box 2105
After war in Europe was declared over in May 1945 thousands of servicemen arrived back in the UK to be 'demobbed' and returned to civvie street. Cardington was an obvious choice of a centre to take on the demobbing of RAF personnel given its experience of processing huge numbers of young recruits throughout the war. No 102 Personnel Dispersal Unit was quickly established at the station with well defined areas and functions as the map shows left illustrates.
The whole process took in most cases less than 24 hours. Each serviceman was entitled to a new suit (a 'demob' suit), two shirts, shoes and socks, a tie, a hat and a coat which would equip him for life back home along with a travel warrant and discharge documentation. Interestingly I have been told that some of these returning men chose to remain in Bedford and took up work at the nearby brickworks in Stewertby.
When each man arrived at the station he was given a folder containing a map and information about the camp and the facilities available both on site and in Bedford town centre. There was certainly a great deal of entertainment available on site with the cinema open every weekday evening and dances held twice a week. There was also a gym, a NAAFI base, and a post office.