Copyright Tony Mooney and others.
If you are an ex-apprentice you are free to copy any material for your own use. For commercial use please contact the webmaster
Last updated on 28 September, 2018 at 5:20 PM
Adrian Kyte told us in a number of emails:
Hope this stirs a few memories (or provoke corrections to my version).
A227426. This was the S/N of my first 1250 that I received upon initiation at Locking. It was impressed upon me that I should never forget it. If my memory had been as good in remembering radar details I might have made a career of the RAF.
252’s. I was no where near the entry ‘Jankers Leader’, but each indiscretion as I recall was due to some balmpot idea while trying to make an impression.
I must have learned something from the more senior entry miscreants as I then successfully avoided parades for something like 18 months. I had been getting treatment at SSQ for a bad break-out of acne but could not account adequately for about 5 minutes of time for not being on parade. I remember getting over radiated during that UV treatment for acne, such that the left side of my face was blistered. The MO gave me a chit stating I was not to shave the left side of my face for 7 days. The right side was not excused.
Do you remember our having to polish the paint off our unused Brasso, and Boot-polish tins? Also trying to smooth the King’s Crown and Air Force Wings on all our buttons? As for melting boot polish on our boots to get that parade shine; well I never truly got the hang of it. In fact throughout my service life I would have been described as a scruffy sod. Strangely enough 45 years later during my 5 years in the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, I took great care with my appearance. Must be the shoe leather was easier to Bull.
I recall Jack Hobbs and I cycling to Dursley in Gloucestershire one hot Saturday. Jack (Brian?) had an ancient Tandem bicycle and we made good headway until we tried to navigate the second turn of an s-bend down some hill at too high a speed. We slid into a ditch and the bike stopped at the end of the ditch but we did not. Apart from minor scratches we were OK, but the tandem lost a pedal. The bike was fixed at a local garage. The return trip to Locking was even more nerve wracking. This was because the steerer, Jack, would lean over to one side when negotiating a bend in the road, and I would lean the other way being scared of sliding into a ditch. This caused Jack to lean further……It’s a wonder we got back alive.
Among other 84th entry antics I remember the brief outbreak of spooning. In North America ‘spooning’ means courting your girl friend. In the 84th ‘spooning’ was associated with “The Syndicate” tapping on your collar bone with a mess spoon. This not very painful process resulted in some spectacular bruising. This activity was brought to a halt when some of our entry was charged with assault by, I think it was, the A Squadron DI Sgt when he happened to see one of his judo teams collar bone. I think that when the reviewing officer saw that everyone had the same treatment, the charges were stayed. Now Roy O’Connell may be able to elucidate on the formation of “The Syndicate”. They were a fun bunch. Just the tonic for the 84th entry spirit. Who amongst us can forget marching to 3 T Block with bayonets fixed, stacking our rifles outside, and then entering the hall to have our souls administered to?
I have to mention the most memorable event that occurred during one Pay Parade in 4 T Block. The Senior NCO at our desk was Flt Sgt Bettel. That’s him! The Beetle! A 79th entry bloke (Goldie Harrap) had his pay being docked for some misdemeanour. When it was his turn to shout “Sir, and his last 3 numbers”, he slouched to the desk and held out his hand. The Beetle roared, ”Harrap, salute the officer!” to which Goldie replied, “What do you want for 2s 6d, an 'effing' march past!”
I believe no-one has yet responded to a query as to Stringy Corde’s favourite saying. This is probably because it was so lewd as to make a Gorbals priest blush.
I remember hearing our drill sergeant mouthing it for the first time. To my shame it is indelibly saved in my memory of horrors. Something about taking a private part of ones anatomy and pulling over it ones head so one could whistle down it.
I recall being at Newton with Stan, Brian Hobbs, Roger Gillott and Dick Cheeseman. So sad to hear he had passed on. I had wondered about him when I did not hear from him after sending a Xmas card. I had put it down to his remembering too much about me and didn't want to make contact. I remember him as being fine good man who drove his car like he was still on his motorbike i.e. leaning into the corners! Now I recall Roger Gillott. At Newton he had Stan Folds, with tiny bit of help from me, polishing the floats from the twin carburettor of his 1934 Singer Le Mans sports car; all this while the rest of our class was digesting the baud rate of the data-link. Then I recall Stan and Roger audibly tuning those same carburettor in a hanger at Newton. I learned not to attempt fixing motorcars while at Newton. Along with digesting the MK1 systems. In 1970 I worked with some of the Aussies who were on that Newton course. I was with AEI in those days and seconded to Seletar with BAC. One of the BAC 'suits' was a bloke called Stewart Allway. He was known to the Aussies as Stewed Always. Those blokes had a colourful turn of phrase. Other than that I briefly met Harvey Rhodes Morton at Akrotiri in 1966? He broke a wing when the Shackleton (100,000 rivets flying in a loose formation) he was catching a lift in hit an air pocket when he wasn't looking! Then Tash Kermode one drunken night in Limassol. Ok, he was 81st and as I didn't have a gun on me at the time, we got drunk. Well I did!
In another email on 28 April he wrote:
I am happy that things have turned out OK at last. Me? Well I have led a charmed life and have been very happy since the RAF and I parted company. I was never even asked by my CO if I wanted to extend my tour. Joined AEI-Marconi and arrived in Singapore with my family (Seletar) 6 days after de-mob. We had 2 1/2 years of relatively hard work, thoroughly enjoyed ourselves working with the RAAF (Aussies mate!) and the Singapore armed forces. Upon my return to UK Marconi had me working on foreign naval ships (Battle-class and Daring-class WWII destroyers) in Birkenhead and Wallsend. Then a brief project working with the RN Fleet Chief on the HMS Sheffield. Has luck would have it I was then sent to Leicester Airport to work on Sea Wolf radar with a dissatisfied chap who introduced me to Univac. From then on life became easier. I was a technician and travelled a bit but when civil war broke out in Lebanon, my wife's family ended up safe but on hard times, in Montreal. It seemed a logical step for us to uproot and help out in Montreal. It took 22 years for me to realise my young family was more Canadian than British, so we all undertook our oath to the Queen (now fancy that!) and became Canadians. Montreal life was a problem from the get-go.
The Parti Quebecois won the election and soon passed a law that French (i.e. their bastardised version of it) would be mandatory at work. There were about 6 English language speaking techies in Montreal and Univac interviewed each of us to asked where else in Canada we work like to work. So they moved us rather than lose us, and we ended up in Toronto. I stayed with the company through several name changes and finally the fateful merger with Burroughs, becoming Unisys. As a result of two bricks tied together being unable to float our numbers in Canada dwindled from 1400 to 238 at which time I was let go. I believe than Unisys's current claim to fame in Canada is that they repair PCs for Dell. My! how the mighty have fallen. I went to school to learn about Microsoft and become a NT product specialist, spent 4 years in a haze. Had some health problems, like us all probably and retired to join the Corps of Commissionaires. Retired last year, to play golf, and live on my savings.
As to meeting fellow 84th members, I met very few. Dick Cheeseman, Stan Folds, ? Hobbs and one other (who drove around in a 1934 Singer Le Mans) spend 6 months in Nottingham after being volunteered to work on Bloodhound Mk1 systems. I remember meeting Harvey Morton in Cyprus (1965 ish) and that is all I can remember. Oops I forgot Lew LLewellyn. He was at Patrington with me in 1959, and we later crossed paths at Scampton, me in GRSF and he in a Vulcan as a Navigator? Then on my last day in uniform as I cleared the station getting signatures from all and sundry bumped into Mike Solis?, who was a PO at that time.
In another email on 13 August he wrote:
What a way to describe life as an Aircraft Apprentice!
“It was the best of times”
“It was the worst of times”
“It was the age of wisdom”
“It was the age of foolishness”
“It was the epoch of belief”
“It was the epoch of credulity”
“It was the season of light”
“It was the season of darkness”
“It was the spring of hope”
“It was the winter of despair”
“We had everything before us”
“We were all going direct to heaven”
“We were all going direct the other way”
Well it was some or all of the above!
My apologies to Charles Dickens (A tale of Two Cities)