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Last updated on 19 June, 2018 at 1:02 PM
Dave Stewart said in an email dated 1 Jun 09:
Some memories of 18 months as an Apprentice at RAF Locking
Arriving at Weston Super Mare railway station, it may have been Tuesday 8th of September, I`m not completely sure but I remember leaving the train compartment and being amazed at the number of other young lads also alighting from the train. How they had got there I had no idea, because I certainly hadn’t noticed them all getting on board anywhere.
Standing at the platform exit was a strange little round ball of a man, dressed in a well pressed but threadbare RAF uniform with three stripes on his arm who was calling to us all, in a rather loud but friendly Irish brogue, to follow him outside. It turned out to be Sgt. Corde. Out on the roadside, we were met by another smallish fellow in an equally well pressed uniform, this time with two stripes on his arm, who identified himself as a Corporal Butler. We then climbed into a number of RAF covered wagons where we sort of introduced ourselves to each other, in between attempting to remain seated while being flung from side to side during the journey to camp in the time-honoured tradition of RAF Drivers.
I was quite impressed, during the short trip from the camp gate, round the arena, to “C” Squadron accommodation, by the neatness of the white kerbs, the well-tended grass and the trees dotted along the roadside. They were fairly small trees at that time and I was quite taken aback by the great big, mature monsters that greeted me on my next visit in 2000. It only served to underline the lifetime that had passed since that first arrival.
My overriding memory of those first two or three days is of interminable waiting: standing around, seemingly for hours on end and on numerous occasions. For example outside the NAAFI for introductory talks in the television room by “Scotty”, our lovable little Flight Commander; waiting outside the Barber’s shop for that first short back and sides as well as waiting for stores to open for bedding and uniforms to be issued. id we have to queue in the NAAFI to buy our “mug and irons” or were the first ones issued to us? I think we probably had to buy them, along with razors and brushes etc.
Does anyone remember being involved in a security exercise one night? A group of “spies” were to attempt to infiltrate the camp’s defences of which we were a part and I remember hanging about late this particular night, somewhere at the bottom end of the camp, beside a large hedge or copse, where we were well supplied with tea and cocoa from the NAAFI wagon. I don’t know whether the attempted infiltration had been successful or not or if we were ever told of the result of the exercise.
What about the regular bull-night ambushes by the 76th when we were dragooned into doing their cleaning for them. It became an exercise in dreaming up ways and means of bypassing the ambush points or finding excuses why we should be exempt. The favourites were “light duties” and “jankers” but I don’t suppose they were all that successful.’
Along with some others, I remember the cap peak slashing episode. It must have involved at least half the entry; we queued way outside the Squadron office and were arraigned in front of Scotty in fours or fives to receive our three days "jankers". Don’t lads get up to some daft things at 17/18 years of age? I remember another incident which has already been recorded, the search for someone who had gone “awol”. My memory, however, differs in that it was (according to me) not someone from the 84th but a lad from the 81st. In my defence, I’m sure I can see him in my mind’s eye and he’s not on our entry photo. Does anyone else see it this way?
I’m sure I would be able to think of other incidents if I was pushed and no doubt others would too. Here’s to meeting everyone at the reunion where we can perhaps inspire each other.