Eye Witness 1946-1959.

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Gerald Parsons on his Passing Out day in October 1947 - he is on the end of the 4th row down.

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Gerald Parsons in 1947.

Below is a first hand account from Mr Gerald Parsons who signed up to serve for five years with the RAF back in 1947. At that time all new recruits were sent through RAF Cardington to be assessed and I am so grateful to Mr Parsons who took the time to describe what life was like on the site at this time for new recruits. He along with thousands of other young men went through the 8 week programme  - his time from late August to early October 1947.

"I arrived on the 28th August 1947. I had volunteered to serve for 5 years as opposed to conscription. I was just 17 1/2 , born on 5th Feb 1930. This was a training station for regulars. I understand that some conscripts were sent there to be kitted out. We were 125 different characters almost all my age although some conscripts just turned 18 if prepared to sign on for a set term joined us regulars.

My time there was pleasant although it being my first taste of discipline. My parents were Salvation Army Officers so I and my sisters never even smoked or took a drink. I was used to obeying orders within the constraints of school and home life. We were 25 to a hut, one double bunk at one end of the hut and the rest were single beds. I grabbed the top bunk to avoid the inevitable horseplay until after a few days our 'Billet' corporal sorted us all out. The food was quite good, 3 good meals a day. In the evenings in the NAAFI (a canteen, some snooker, table tennis and general relaxation area) we were not allowed to buy a meal, only a cake or a wad as cakes were known. This was to hopefully stop us complaining in letters back home that we needed extra rations. The whole menu was based on sufficient calories to help us get really fit. I suppose we could all have devoured another meal but we all had to wear a coloured disc behind our cap badge so that the wise mostly female staff could recognise us as recruits. Permanent staff were not subject to this rule.

The 28th of August was a Thursday, the staff started issuing uniform and bits of kit. The next day was a series of quite significant tests. I had set my heart on being an R A F policeman mainly due to a challenge of a friend of my dads who had been an RAF policeman during the war. After these tests I must have shown a potential for a more technical trade. I remember being asked to reconsider my choice of trade, a five year stint, to make it a seven year engagement as the training they had in mind was almost certainly a longer training period, police training was a 12 week course. About 3 years ago I wrote to RAF Insworth for my personal record  - one entry says that I refused technical training. I believe they had a career in Radar for me.

As a Salvation Army bandsman I took the opportunity to join the station band. A mixture of permanent staff and any recruits. One chap on my course was going to the RAF School of Music after our basic training. I have no regrets not joining the Music Services. I wanted some excitement.  

The 'ablutions' for toilets were in another hut. No hot water to shave, a rule still applied in the prison service for prisoners today. Reveille was 6.30am. Breakfast finished at 7.30 am. if you missed breakfast and then fainted on parade you were put on a charge of self inflicted injury which meant parading about 6 times a day in full kit. We were told that if we came up to scratch in drill, marching, saluting and weapon firing etc, we would be allowed a 36 hour pass after 4 weeks of training. Until then leaving camp was totally forbidden. We were not to be seen in public until we could look smart in uniform. All our civilian clothes had to be sent home. I was paid 4 shillings per day but received £1 weekly the rest was credited for any barrack damages caused by us (???)

On Sunday the 31st of August 3 days after joining we had a church parade. COMPULSORY!!  125 of us on parade 8.30am straight after breakfast. We formed up in 3 ranks there were 3 padres. We were called to attention. One padre called "Fall out the Roman Catholics". A fair number went off with him. Then "Fall out the C of E's" (Church of England). Off they went leaving a dozen or so with the remaining padre. All padres were Commissioned Officers. He called out " You are the Other Denominations" I gathered that this meant Baptists, Methodists, Congregationists etc . I raised my hand and said "Excuse me sir, I am Salvation Army". He said show me your pay book a small hard backed book about the size of a small wallet. I still have mine.

He then said "If you come to my service I will give you a pass to attend the Salvation Army in Bedford." Great news, some of the other lads swiftly decided they were SA but the padre was having none of it. They were envious of my promised pass. His service finished by 9.30 so I legged it down to the Bedford Congress Hall Corps. The guardroom staff were hesitant but my pass got me out. When I arrived at the Army Hall there were two Salvation Army Officers who had been at the Army's Training College at the same time as mum and dad. I was home and dry for meals every Sunday!

I remember the station band played music at a rememberance ceremony about the loss of the Airship R101, that was in October. I believe that ceremony still goes on.

Passing Out Day - as a member of the band I was in my "Best Blue" walking out uniform , tunic with brass buttons etc. We did three passing out parades that day. We played lots of music. The last parade about 4pm was my squad . They were in Battle dress, working uniform. When we were dismissed I went back to the billet with my billet mates, only to find that all the other lads who had hung up their walking out uniforms had had the tunic buttons cut off, all of them, all buttons. A trick played on them by the billet corporal. There was a scramble for each man to retrieve his "housewife" from his kit bag to sew the buttons back on. Apparently the other lads had made a French bed for the corporal (folding the sheet like an envelope to stop you stretching full length.)."

My thanks must go to Mr Parsons for this fascinating glimpse of life back in 1947 - his experience would have been typical of the thousands of young men who passed through the camp all those years ago - yet looking at the site today we would never know this. For this reason the memories of Mr Parson are very precious as little seems to be recorded locally of these years. Thanks must also go to the RAF Music Services Association who kindly put me in touch with Mr Parsons

Below is a first hand account from Mr Gerald Parsons who signed up to serve for five years with the RAF back in 1947. At that time all new recruits were sent through RAF Cardington to be assessed and I am so grateful to Mr Parsons who took the time to describe what life was like on the site at this time for new recruits. He along with thousands of other young men went through the 8 week programme  - his time from late August to early October 1947.

"I arrived on the 28th August 1947. I had volunteered to serve for 5 years as opposed to conscription. I was just 17 1/2 , born on 5th Feb 1930. This was a training station for regulars. I understand that some conscripts were sent there to be kitted out. We were 125 different characters almost all my age although some conscripts just turned 18 if prepared to sign on for a set term joined us regulars.

My time there was pleasant although it being my first taste of discipline. My parents were Salvation Army Officers so I and my sisters never even smoked or took a drink. I was used to obeying orders within the constraints of school and home life. We were 25 to a hut, one double bunk at one end of the hut and the rest were single beds. I grabbed the top bunk to avoid the inevitable horseplay until after a few days our 'Billet' corporal sorted us all out. The food was quite good, 3 good meals a day. In the evenings in the NAAFI (a canteen, some snooker, table tennis and general relaxation area) we were not allowed to buy a meal, only a cake or a wad as cakes were known. This was to hopefully stop us complaining in letters back home that we needed extra rations. The whole menu was based on sufficient calories to help us get really fit. I suppose we could all have devoured another meal but we all had to wear a coloured disc behind our cap badge so that the wise mostly female staff could recognise us as recruits. Permanent staff were not subject to this rule.

The 28th of August was a Thursday, the staff started issuing uniform and bits of kit. The next day was a series of quite significant tests. I had set my heart on being an R A F policeman mainly due to a challenge of a friend of my dads who had been an RAF policeman during the war. After these tests I must have shown a potential for a more technical trade. I remember being asked to reconsider my choice of trade, a five year stint, to make it a seven year engagement as the training they had in mind was almost certainly a longer training period, police training was a 12 week course. About 3 years ago I wrote to RAF Insworth for my personal record  - one entry says that I refused technical training. I believe they had a career in Radar for me.

As a Salvation Army bandsman I took the opportunity to join the station band. A mixture of permanent staff and any recruits. One chap on my course was going to the RAF School of Music after our basic training. I have no regrets not joining the Music Services. I wanted some excitement.  

The 'ablutions' for toilets were in another hut. No hot water to shave, a rule still applied in the prison service for prisoners today. Reveille was 6.30am. Breakfast finished at 7.30 am. if you missed breakfast and then fainted on parade you were put on a charge of self inflicted injury which meant parading about 6 times a day in full kit. We were told that if we came up to scratch in drill, marching, saluting and weapon firing etc, we would be allowed a 36 hour pass after 4 weeks of training. Until then leaving camp was totally forbidden. We were not to be seen in public until we could look smart in uniform. All our civilian clothes had to be sent home. I was paid 4 shillings per day but received £1 weekly the rest was credited for any barrack damages caused by us (???)

On Sunday the 31st of August 3 days after joining we had a church parade. COMPULSORY!!  125 of us on parade 8.30am straight after breakfast. We formed up in 3 ranks there were 3 padres. We were called to attention. One padre called "Fall out the Roman Catholics". A fair number went off with him. Then "Fall out the C of E's" (Church of England). Off they went leaving a dozen or so with the remaining padre. All padres were Commissioned Officers. He called out " You are the Other Denominations" I gathered that this meant Baptists, Methodists, Congregationists etc . I raised my hand and said "Excuse me sir, I am Salvation Army". He said show me your pay book a small hard backed book about the size of a small wallet. I still have mine.

He then said "If you come to my service I will give you a pass to attend the Salvation Army in Bedford." Great news, some of the other lads swiftly decided they were SA but the padre was having none of it. They were envious of my promised pass. His service finished by 9.30 so I legged it down to the Bedford Congress Hall Corps. The guardroom staff were hesitant but my pass got me out. When I arrived at the Army Hall there were two Salvation Army Officers who had been at the Army's Training College at the same time as mum and dad. I was home and dry for meals every Sunday!

I remember the station band played music at a rememberance ceremony about the loss of the Airship R101, that was in October. I believe that ceremony still goes on.

Passing Out Day - as a member of the band I was in my "Best Blue" walking out uniform , tunic with brass buttons etc. We did three passing out parades that day. We played lots of music. The last parade about 4pm was my squad . They were in Battle dress, working uniform. When we were dismissed I went back to the billet with my billet mates, only to find that all the other lads who had hung up their walking out uniforms had had the tunic buttons cut off, all of them, all buttons. A trick played on them by the billet corporal. There was a scramble for each man to retrieve his "housewife" from his kit bag to sew the buttons back on. Apparently the other lads had made a French bed for the corporal (folding the sheet like an envelope to stop you stretching full length.)."

My thanks must go to Mr Parsons for this fascinating glimpse of life back in 1947 - his experience would have been typical of the thousands of young men who passed through the camp all those years ago - yet looking at the site today we would never know this. For this reason the memories of Mr Parson are very precious as little seems to be recorded locally of these years. Thanks must also go to the RAF Music Services Association who kindly put me in touch with Mr Parsons.

Les Nichol (left) signed up at the age of 18 back in 1949. Before this he had been working at Vickers making guns. He remembers receiving a buff coloured envelope containing his call up papers and duly went along to be interviewed by a Warrant Officer in Newcastle. He recalls the officer had his feet up on the table whilst the interview took place and he also remembers being served a drink of coffee by a WAAF who he thought was as beautiful as Miss World! He signed up for 5 years and was duly sent off to Cardington for eight weeks training.

His particular flight was 22b and he was billeted in a hut on the camp near the square where drill practice took place. His corporal in charge was a man called Blakeman who made a small fortune by selling all the new recruits buttons for their uniforms. The recruits also had to pay for the hire of a radio if they wanted to have music in their billetts - which often led to discord when their corporal wanted to listen to classical music and the younger men wanted the more modern light entertainment programmes. Les also remembers PT training and the instructions given to his Flight to sing loudly when running through the village of Cardington to show how strong morale was and to stop singing immediately on leaving the village!

The Warrant Officer in overall charge of his flight was WO Driver who used to say to new recruits “I’m Driver the b*****d!”  On one occasion when on sick parade with a foot problem Les was ordered to clean WO Drivers bunk which had to be spotless.  He noticed that there was a half crown by a wooden table lamp next to the bunk bed but wasn’t tempted to take it and found out later that it was stuck down and wired to electricity! He also remembers an older recruit called Bill East who had lots of medals and had joined up to escape his wife who turned up at the camp one day in an effort to speak to him – which he refused to do.

Les went on to be a Wireless Mechanic with the RAF.

Thanks to Les Nichol for these memories - his photo of Flight 22b is shown on the RAF Servicemen 1945 - 1960 page.

Les Nichol July 1949

Les Nichol (left) signed up at the age of 18 back in 1949. Before this he had been working at Vickers making guns. He remembers receiving a buff coloured envelope containing his call up papers and duly went along to be interviewed by a Warrant Officer in Newcastle. He recalls the officer had his feet up on the table whilst the interview took place and he also remembers being served a drink of coffee by a WAAF who he thought was as beautiful as Miss World! He signed up for 5 years and was duly sent off to Cardington for eight weeks training.

His particular flight was 22b and he was billeted in a hut on the camp near the square where drill practice took place. His corporal in charge was a man called Blakeman who made a small fortune by selling all the new recruits buttons for their uniforms. The recruits also had to pay for the hire of a radio if they wanted to have music in their billetts - which often led to discord when their corporal wanted to listen to classical music and the younger men wanted the more modern light entertainment programmes. Les also remembers PT training and the instructions given to his Flight to sing loudly when running through the village of Cardington to show how strong morale was and to stop singing immediately on leaving the village!

The Warrant Officer in overall charge of his flight was WO Driver who used to say to new recruits “I’m Driver the b*****d!”  On one occasion when on sick parade with a foot problem Les was ordered to clean WO Drivers bunk which had to be spotless.  He noticed that there was a half crown by a wooden table lamp next to the bunk bed but wasn’t tempted to take it and found out later that it was stuck down and wired to electricity! He also remembers an older recruit called Bill East who had lots of medals and had joined up to escape his wife who turned up at the camp one day in an effort to speak to him – which he refused to do.

Les went on to be a Wireless Mechanic with the RAF.

Thanks to Les Nichol for these memories - his photo of Flight 22b is shown on the RAF Servicemen 1945 - 1960 page.

Above pic = Tough man W O Driver 

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Frank Moreton RAF Cardington 1950.


Mary Moreton has kindly sent in the photo(left) showing her husband Frank with his Flight outside one of the sheds back in 1950. She explains:


" Here is a shot of Frank by one of the hangers at Cardington; he was doing his basic training in March 1950 as part of Flight 16b. He is the smiley one in the cap fifth from the left in the back row. There was a little episode with a Mosquito aeroplane, where he was looking around it and saw a button. Wondering what it was for (as you do!) he pressed it and the emergency exit door fell out!! He was downgraded to the cookhouse for a fortnight - but enjoyed it so much he re-mustered as a cook. I have reaped the benefit as he now does almost all of the cooking so many thanks RAF!"

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Frank Moreton " the smiley one in the cap fifth from the left in the back row".

Frank Moreton RAF Cardington 1950.

 

Mary Moreton has kindly sent in the photo  showing her husband Frank with his Flight outside one of the sheds back in 1950. She explains:

 

" Here is a shot of Frank by one of the hangers at Cardington; he was doing his basic training in March 1950 as part of Flight 16b. He is the smiley one in the cap fifth from the left in the back row. There was a little episode with a Mosquito aeroplane, where he was looking around it and saw a button. Wondering what it was for (as you do!) he pressed it and the emergency exit door fell out!! He was downgraded to the cookhouse for a fortnight - but enjoyed it so much he re-mustered as a cook. I have reaped the benefit as he now does almost all of the cooking so many thanks RAF!"

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Phil in uniform shown here with his mother.

Phil Collins - Cardington 1958

"I received my call up papers some time in 1958 and I had always been very interested in aircraft from being a very small boy. I was born just before WW2 and was 6 when the war ended and so I remember all the war time aircraft passing over my home. This spiked up a strong interest in aircraft for me. All through my school days this interest never left me and I was always reading about aircraft and making models to fly and hang in my bedroom. When I received my papers the call up was being slowly phased out and I was 19 when I received them. It came to my knowledge that the number of National Service men was being reduced and I was determined to join, so I volunteered to be a regular serviceman in the RAF and in due course I was waived off at Birmingham railway station by my parents. I was joined on the train by another lad from my local town and we travelled together and arrived eventually at Bedford railway station.

We wondered how we were going to get to Cardington, but we need not have bothered because at the station an RAF Sergeant was waiting on the platform for us and we were gathered up with our luggage and marched out to an RAF truck waiting outside the station. This was a bit of a jolt for me because I had led a rather sheltered life at home and having to climb into the back of a truck was a new experience for me and the others who were waiting at the station. We soon arrived at Cardington camp and were found a billet for the night in one of the huts.

Next morning we were fed and everybody was very nice to us even the corporal who was looking after us. On this first day at Cardington everything went at a slow pace and I think we all thought life in the RAF was wonderful. The corporal in charge of us came into our billet and asked for volunteers to move some furniture with him and myself and two or three others moved to do this. This was met with scorn by some of the others in the billet who said we could not be made to do anything at this time if we did not want to do so. I realised later that as I was not officially in the airforce at that time I needed not to take any notice of this corporal, you live and learn I suppose.

Next day after breakfast we learned that we were to have a medical, we all had already had a medical before we joined Cardington, mine been done at Wednesfield hospital near Woverhampton. I presumed that it must be a preliminary screening medical to make it unnecessary for people to be sent to Cardington whom would obviously not pass a more stringent  medical test. This was done in another of the wooden huts that seemed to be in every direction you looked at Cardington. I and most of the others passed this medical but my new friend who I had travelled down with did not and was sent home; he was very happy with the result because he did not want to be in the RAF anyway, he said he had a job waiting at home that he really wanted to do. He was sent on his way with a big smile on his face. After this the day passed as before with nothing much to do but loll about the billet waiting for the next thing to happen.

I remember on one occasion going to the NAAFI for food and standing at the counter when the Station Commander Group Captain Lousada came and stood by me, I felt somewhat overcome to be standing next to someone of such high ranking. I believe he was Jewish because there was a Jewish club at that time on the camp.

Next day we were told that we would be taking our oath of allegience to the queen and to the crown and after that we would be officially RAF. I remember going into yet another hut and standing in a line with all the other intake and taking the oath, after which we were told that from now on we would have to obey all orders given to us by anyone of N.C.O and above.

Our now very friendly corporal's attitude changed and instead of asking us nicely if we would do something, orders were barked at us with the expectation that they would be obeyed immediately. We were given our service numbers and told to repeat them to the corporal when asked, with the threat of being put on charge if we forgot them. Needless to say somebody forgot their number when asked the next day and got the runaround for forgetting. My number is burned in my mind as is everybody's that ever served in the armed forces. We were photographed and given our 1250 id cards with dire threats if we lost them.

We went to the clothing stores and were given a seeming endless supply of clothes and uniforms and boots including a blue kit bag. We looked at each other in wonder when we first put our working blues on for the first time. After wearing the no2 working blue for a day or two, because it was made of rough material our legs soon became sore where the material had rubbed our skin and alos all the hair soon rubbed off our skin, it was just like sandpaper. We had an inspection with our uniforms on and several of us myself included had to have alterations made because of the fit being bad.

I remember one job which several of us were given to do probably the day before we were moved out to square bashing camp was to go out and push in off the sports field the cricket sight screens. They were to be put inside one of the large balloon sheds, which even now to me are an amazing size and sight. We got the screens to the doors of one of the two hangers and we wondered how on earth the doors could be opened? We soon found out when an N.C.O. turned a handle on a machine attached to one of the two doors to the shed and pressed a switch and with a groaning and rumbling noise this massive door moved on what seemed like railway lines several feet, just enough to push the screens inside. The view inside was amazing, I had never seen such massive indoor space in my life before, it still even now seems marvellous. It appeared that the whole M.T. section was parked inside, they looked like a set of dinky toys such was the size of the building.

On the last day but one of my time there we were given our destination for our 8 weeks square bashing. We were told that we were going to No 2 School of Recruit Training at RAF Wilmslow just south of Manchester. On the morning of our departure we went to the mess and were given food parcels for the journey including some very sad looking fruit including an apple and orange. I believe at that time Cardington had its own railway spur to the main line because we were marched to a train nearby the camp and entrained  with our kit and I believe we had all been given a Lee Enfield rifle to take to Wilmslow for our square bashing training. We left Cardington some time in the morning and spent all day on this train slowly going north via all the back routes to Wilmslow. I believe that they did not want to hold up the traffic on a main line in any way; we seemed to spend long periods in sidings on the way to Wilmslow. A few weeks later half way through my training I found myself picked and on route lining opposite the Cenotaph in London for the state visit of President Heiss of Germany who passed by in a coach and horses with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. But that's another story..........

(Phil Collins August 2012)

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Annual dinner dance RAF Cardinton 7th January 1955. “The names on the back of the photograph are (from left to right): Holmes (chaplain), Millington (on back row), Dyer (wearing glasses), Clarke, White.The names of the guests are not included.”

Peter Dyer has sent in these very interesting photographs.

My father, Dr John Vincent Dyer recently died and I have found a picture taken of a Mess Dinner in January 1955. There are names on the reverse of the picture identifying guests. Dad often spoke about his happy times at RAF Cardington and I am sure he would be pleased if the picture was of interest.

I have also scanned some other documents, which may or may not be of interest. I keep finding pieces of information relating to my Father’s National Service. I know that he was in Hereford for a period of time before being sent to the Air Ministry in Whitehall. He used to tell me that he was sent to the Air Ministry so that they could “keep an eye on him”! He never told me what he was doing there.

My Father described his time in the RAF as one of the happiest in his life. Strangely enough there was apparently a doughnut making machine at RAF Cardington and he never wanted to eat one again in later life. I think he may have lived off them whilst at the base.

One of the pictures shows him wearing some dark glasses. The picture was in the same envelope as the Mess Dinner but was untitled.” Thank you so much Peter – Jane. Feb 2021.

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Letter of congratulations dated 21st October 1955 to John Dyer on his promotion from Flying Officer to Flight Lieutenant

Phil with friend Dave Pettite at RAF Boulmer in 1960.

Phil Collins - Cardington 1958

"I received my call up papers some time in 1958 and I had always been very interested in aircraft from being a very small boy. I was born just before WW2 and was 6 when the war ended and so I remember all the war time aircraft passing over my home. This spiked up a strong interest in aircraft for me. All through my school days this interest never left me and I was always reading about aircraft and making models to fly and hang in my bedroom. When I received my papers the call up was being slowly phased out and I was 19 when I received them. It came to my knowledge that the number of National Service men was being reduced and I was determined to join, so I volunteered to be a regular serviceman

RAF and in due course I was waived off at Birmingham railway station by my parents. I was joined on the train by another lad from my local town and we travelled together and arrived eventually at Bedford railway station.

We wondered how we were going to get to Cardington, but we need not have bothered because at the station an RAF Sergeant was waiting on the platform for us and we were gathered up with our luggage and marched out to an RAF truck waiting outside the station. This was a bit of a jolt for me because I had led a rather sheltered life at home and having to climb into the back of a truck was a new experience for me and the others who were waiting at the station. We soon arrived at Cardington camp and were found a billet for the night in one of the huts.

Next morning we were fed and everybody was very nice to us even the corporal who was looking after us. On this first day at Cardington everything went at a slow pace and I think we all thought life in the RAF was wonderful. The corporal in charge of us came into our billet and asked for volunteers to move some furniture with him and myself and two or three others moved to do this. This was met with scorn by some of the others in the billet who said we could not be made to do anything at this time if we did not want to do so. I realised later that as I was not officially in the airforce at that time I needed not to take any notice of this corporal, you live and learn I suppose.

Next day after breakfast we learned that we were to have a medical, we all had already had a medical before we joined Cardington, mine been done at Wednesfield hospital near Woverhampton. I presumed that it must be a preliminary screening medical to make it unnecessary for people to be sent to Cardington whom would obviously not pass a more stringent  medical test. This was done in another of the wooden huts that seemed to be in every direction you looked at Cardington. I and most of the others passed this medical but my new friend who I had travelled down with did not and was sent home; he was very happy with the result because he did not want to be in the RAF anyway, he said he had a job waiting at home that he really wanted to do. He was sent on his way with a big smile on his face. After this the day passed as before with nothing much to do but loll about the billet waiting for the next thing to happen.

I remember on one occasion going to the NAAFI for food and standing at the counter when the Station Commander Group Captain Lousada came and stood by me, I felt somewhat overcome to be standing next to someone of such high ranking. I believe he was Jewish because there was a Jewish club at that time on the camp.

Next day we were told that we would be taking our oath of allegience to the queen and to the crown and after that we would be officially RAF. I remember going into yet another hut and standing in a line with all the other intake and taking the oath, after which we were told that from now on we would have to obey all orders given to us by anyone of N.C.O and above.

Our now very friendly corporal's attitude changed and instead of asking us nicely if we would do something, orders were barked at us with the expectation that they would be obeyed immediately. We were given our service numbers and told to repeat them to the corporal when asked, with the threat of being put on charge if we forgot them. Needless to say somebody forgot their number when asked the next day and got the runaround for forgetting. My number is burned in my mind as is everybody's that ever served in the armed forces. We were photographed and given our 1250 id cards with dire threats if we lost them.

We went to the clothing stores and were given a seeming endless supply of clothes and uniforms and boots including a blue kit bag. We looked at each other in wonder when we first put our working blues on for the first time. After wearing the no2 working blue for a day or two, because it was made of rough material our legs soon became sore where the material had rubbed our skin and alos all the hair soon rubbed off our skin, it was just like sandpaper. We had an inspection with our uniforms on and several of us myself included had to have alterations made because of the fit being bad.

I remember one job which several of us were given to do probably the day before we were moved out to square bashing camp was to go out and push in off the sports field the cricket sight screens. They were to be put inside one of the large balloon sheds, which even now to me are an amazing size and sight. We got the screens to the doors of one of the two hangers and we wondered how on earth the doors could be opened? We soon found out when an N.C.O. turned a handle on a machine attached to one of the two doors to the shed and pressed a switch and with a groaning and rumbling noise this massive door moved on what seemed like railway lines several feet, just enough to push the screens inside. The view inside was amazing, I had never seen such massive indoor space in my life before, it still even now seems marvellous. It appeared that the whole M.T. section was parked inside, they looked like a set of dinky toys such was the size of the building.

On the last day but one of my time there we were given our destination for our 8 weeks square bashing. We were told that we were going to No 2 School of Recruit Training at RAF Wilmslow just south of Manchester. On the morning of our departure we went to the mess and were given food parcels for the journey including some very sad looking fruit including an apple and orange. I believe at that time Cardington had its own railway spur to the main line because we were marched to a train nearby the camp and entrained  with our kit and I believe we had all been given a Lee Enfield rifle to take to Wilmslow for our square bashing training. We left Cardington some time in the morning and spent all day on this train slowly going north via all the back routes to Wilmslow. I believe that they did not want to hold up the traffic on a main line in any way; we seemed to spend long periods in sidings on the way to Wilmslow. A few weeks later half way through my training I found myself picked and on route lining opposite the Cenotaph in London for the state visit of President Heiss of Germany who passed by in a coach and horses with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. But that's another story..........

(Phil Collins August 2012)

"One of the pictures shows him wearing some dark glasses. The picture was in the same envelope as the Mess Dinner but was untitled.”

Peter Dyer has sent in these very interesting photographs.

My father, Dr John Vincent Dyer recently died and I have found a picture taken of a Mess Dinner in January 1955. There are names on the reverse of the picture identifying guests. Dad often spoke about his happy times at RAF Cardington and I am sure he would be pleased if the picture was of interest.

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I have also scanned some other documents, which may or may not be of interest. I keep finding pieces of information relating to my Father’s National Service. I know that he was in Hereford for a period of time before being sent to the Air Ministry in Whitehall. He used to tell me that he was sent to the Air Ministry so that they could “keep an eye on him”! He never told me what he was doing there.

My Father described his time in the RAF as one of the happiest in his life. Strangely enough there was apparently a doughnut making machine at RAF Cardington and he never wanted to eat one again in later life. I think he may have lived off them whilst at the base.

One of the pictures shows him wearing some dark glasses. The picture was in the same envelope as the Mess Dinner but was untitled.” Thank you so much Peter – Jane. Feb 2021.