Other Units.

Catering

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The caption reads "Dining Room and Cooking Staff 2.R.C Christmas 1941." I am assuming that "2.R.C." refers to No 2 Recruits Centre which was of course based at Cardington at this time. However looking closely at these individuals I don't think these are actual recruits as they appear older than the average recruit passing through the station.


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Ron had sent in two versions of the photo above - the one shown here listing names of staff shown and another without the names but with a caption which reads " Royal Air Force Catering Staff Cardington." Date unknown.

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Military Police

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The photograph (left) sent in by Chris Chandler shows a group of military police at Cardington. Nothing is known about these men or what year the photo was taken. Is it possible they were young National Service recruits?

Sent in from Ron Adams these fantastic photos were passed to him from a neighbour. The photos show members of catering staff on the camp in 1941 and 1944. These are absolute gems.

Although Ron’s neighbour couldn’t shed any light on them one of the photos carries names of the individuals shown.

The photos are quite a puzzle. I am not sure if these individuals were staff that catered for all RAF personnel on the camp on a daily basis or were part of a satellite unit who were there to train others. I am fortunate enough to hold some of the daily camp records during WW11 and there are frequent entries referring to cookery courses held for recruits from other bases so maybe the group of people in these photos were there to train others? Or maybe the staff formed both roles?

And thank you once again to Ron – these photos are priceless!

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No 25 Maintenance Unit

No 25 MU was a sub-unit of No 25 Maintenance Unit based at Hartlebury. The unit arrived at Cardington around March 1939 and remained at the station until August 1956. It has proved extremely difficult to find any specific information about the function of this unit or the staff who served within it.

My only option was to investigate the HQ at Hartlebury (near Kidderminster) to ascertain just exactly what it did. Again not an easy task. It would appear that RAF Hartlebury was quite a large station and held equipment in readiness to supply to all other RAF stations both home and overseas. It can be compared to a warehouse and held items such as medical supplies and engine parts.


The unit was very much functional and less glamorous than others and this is probably why it has been hard to find information about it. Apparently most of the personnel were civilians which was probably the case at Cardington. However the unit would have ensured that the station operated smoothly on a day to day basis.

Badge of No 25 Maintenance Unit

No 26 Maintenance Unit.

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Holder of the D.F.C Arthur Gowers.

I stumbled on this unit whilst browsing the internet and have found very little information about it. It is listed as No 26 Maintenance Unit at Cardington from Feb 1938 - Feb 1939 and from July 1940 - April 1947.


A reference to this unit was made in an obituary of Acting Squadron Leader Gus Gowers who was killed in an attack on Cherbourg on October 24th 1943. There is an entry on his service record for this unit dated June 4th 1937, the next entry is Aug 10th 1938 No 5 Flying School. I have been unable to find out what he did at Cardington.


Arthur Gowers began his career in the army in 1932 but by 1938 was awarded his flying badge at No 5 Flying Training School RAF. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for "gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations" on July 1st 1941. He is credited with three Messerschmidt hits and one probable and one damaged. Below is his full service record:


1923 - 1928:   Royal Grammar School, Colchester; Marconi Wireless and Telegraph Works, Chelmsford;

June 1932 - June 1933: Private, HAC;

June 1933 - March 1936: Royal Army Service Corps (TA);

July 5th, 1936: Airman u.t Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves;

August 1937: No. 13 Elementary & Reserve Flying Training School;

November 6th, 1937: No. 5 Flying Training School;

June 4th, 1937: No 26 Maintenance Unit, Cardington;

August 10th, 1938: No. 85 Squadron;

March 1941: Blind Approach Course, Watchfield;

July 26th, 1941 - October 21st, 1941: Control Room Duties, RAF Kenley;

October 1941: Refresher Course No. 56 Operational Training Unit, Sutton Bridge;

November 14th, 1941: Flight Commander No. 504 Squadron, Ballyhalbert;

February 16th, 1942: Air Headquarters Far East;

May 7th, 1942: Conversion Typhoon, No. 53 Operational Training Unit, Llandow;

August 8th, 1942: No. 56 Squadron, Snailwell;

August 29th, 1942: Station Sick Quarters Coltishall;

November 20th, 1942: Commanding Officer No. 183 Squadron, Church Fenton.


Victories:

August 18th, 1940: Junkers Ju 78 (probably);

August 28th, 1940: Messerschmitt Bf 110 (damaged);

August 30th, 1940: Messerschmitt Bf 110;

August 31st, 1940: Messerschmitt Bf 109;

August 31st, 1940: Messerschmitt Bf 109.


March 2020 - a further update. I have managed to find a little more information about this unit which does shed a light as to its function - Jane.


Notes from the daily ORBS throw up the following:

1938: 10th February No 2 Aircraft Storage Unit renamed No 26 Maintenance Unit.

1939: 2nd March No 26 Maintenance Unit disbanded.

1940: 1st January No 1 Balloon Repair Depot formed at Cardington.

1940: 1st July No 1 Balloon Repair Depot renamed No 26 Maintenance Unit

1947: 15th April No 26 Maintenance Unit disbanded.

So it would appear that balloon repairs were undertaken by No 26 MU. This was an important and large operation as a steady stream of damaged barrage balloons were sent to Cardington to be hastily repaired and sent out again.

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Parachute Collection and Delivery Unit.

Derek in Cyprus 1964

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My unit was in the left shed" (picture taken in 1966)

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"I climbed to the top of the inside staircase of the Shed to take this photo. My room was in 523 block." (marked by the arrow)

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"My little Morris 100 outside my block."

I have been very fortunate to hear from Derek Beever who was an airman at RAF Cardington and worked in the Parachute Collection & Delivery Unit (PC & DU) in 1965. Derek has sent in some fabulous photographs (one taken from the top of Shed No 1 clearly shows he had no problem with heights!) Below is his story.

"I joined the RAF in February 1962 aged 19 yrs. I guess I joined as a despatch rider because of my love of the RAF and motorbikes. After my basic training at Bridgenorth in Shropshire I was stationed at RAF Kidbrooke in London. From there I worked for the Air Ministry in Whitehall and spent time whizzing around London on my motorbike. I was in my element, I was then posted to RAF Nicosia in Cyprus in October 1962. I was looking forward to it, I worked for the Signals Unit on the camp. My work shift along with 3 other despatch riders was 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off. After a while a rider was needed at RAF Episkopi NEAF HQ in Southern Cyprus where one was leaving to come back to the UK. I was moved there for the rest of my tour in Cyprus. Later in March 1964 the trade of Despatch Riding was closed so I became a driver in the Mechanical Transport (MT) section.

When my two and a half years tour of Cyprus finished in April 1965 I was posted to the Parachute Collection & Delivery Unit (PC & DU) at RAF Cardington near Bedford. We would travel all over the UK along with other drivers and our trucks delivering and collecting the parachutes to where paratroopers were taking off, and another truck would go to the drop zone to collect the parachutes after the paratroopers had landed. The parachutes were then taken to RAF Upper Heyford to get re-packed. We sometimes worked with the Balloon Unit. After I had been at Cardington a while the whole unit was moved from there to RAF Hullavington in Wiltshire still doing the same job. It was here I spent the remainder of my 5 years service. I enjoyed it who wouldn’t enjoy all that time in Cyprus."


My thanks to Derek for sharing his wonderful memories and photos.