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Page 1 - Stories and memories of your time at RAF Bridgnorth.
Write and submit your memories here.
John Holloway 4158122 from 1954 says "One particular memory I have is the day we were doing drill and in particular in line marching; we kept the three lines dead straight and our Sgt a little blue eyed Irishman was so chuffed with us that he brought the Sqdn Commander out to watch us do it. Of course we made a complete balls-up of it and were all over the place and needless to say he wasn't very happy with us. When it came meal time he marched us to the mess and when we got just a few yards away from it he shouted ABOUT TURN and kept doing it for ages making us march back and forwards until he obviously thought he'd got his revenge on us for the embarrasment we had caused him. Happy Days.
Reading Peter Sandilands write-up reminded me that we also had a chap on our flight who used to march with left leg going forward at the same time as left arm. I've read quite a few different memoirs containing the description of these poor chaps who couldn't co-ordinate marching correctly; they were known as 'Tick Tock Men'. I think most squads had one."
Terry Kinglake Y4274431 from 1962 says that he "came to Bridgnorth from Preston in 62 and joined 17 flight under DIs "Timber" Wood, Sgt Bigham. Asked why the hair had not been shaved off my face. I replied, "I dont shave yet!" I did from that minute on! Timber also found "Real gold buttons " on my greatcoat at the first inspection. It ended up going through the billet window! The same old devil put me forward for best recruit though. Lived with a great bunch of guys and have some great memories"
John Holmes 4171837 from 1955 "remembers arriving at Bridgnorth from Cardington as a very "raw" 18 year old, on the first breakfast call couldn't get the collar stud in them bloody stiff collars and was marched to the cookhouse with the rest of the lads with no collar and tie, lucky me no DI's noticed, got back to the hut and one of the lads gave me a hand!"
Bev Steed 4259371 from 1960 says that "our flight caught impetigo after doing the R & I test, we had to be back flighted a week. We were painted purple, at least we had our own spot in the mess, nobody was allowed within 2 tables of us. Do you remember the jab we had on a Friday morning, laid us up all weekend. Thought we were going to die, talk about ache. Still I would not have missed it."
The photographs that Bev sent are listed as '1960 - Hut 153' and '1960 - 14 Flt? in Aug'.
Dave Lascelles 4254295 from 1959 says "It's a long time ago now, but some of the memories are still quite vivid. Like the bods who slept in their denims under the bed, to save disturbing their kit layout for the morning's inspection! Trying to prevent the back stud from jumping out of the collar when you tried to bend the damned thing round your tie. Wondering who designed the length of the lace in the squarebashing boot: there always seemed to be a considerate 3/4 of an inch left to tie a knot, when putting your boots on. Remember having to thread that chain through all the rifle trigger-guards in the rack at the end of the billet? And do you remember how infuriating it was, trying to get your standard issue beret to look nice (before it was traditionally 'shrunk') There was always about a square yard of surplus material, which denied you a film star appearance, instead giving you the choice (depending on what you did with the spare cloth) of either looking like a human aircraft carrier!
, or a bloodhound with only one ear!! I remember Eric Delaney's superb drum solo, during a performance held at R.A.F. Bridgnorth, 1959. Going on the 'outing' to live in the wilds for three days (R & I, on Brown Clee Hill) - a sort of endurance test, when we had to defend a trig point, whilst freezing to death. And the 'Wolverhampton Wanderers', The Whittle's Coaches, which took us away for our 48, And the 'One-Pause-Two' sessions, The 'Lights out for all Trainees', usually when you had got just ONE boot polished ready for the drill session the next morning! Blokes, chanting about 'buying themselves out' after the first two days and so on. At the time we joined up (as Regulars) we were mixed in with lads who were called up for National Service, they were issued with 'Itchy Blue' (or 'Hairy Blue') uniforms, with 'frock' jackets instead of the T63 and battledress tops. And they were issued with a duffle bag for their kit:- We had a holdall, cleverly designed to carry kit, providing your fingers were about ten inches long to go round the handles! Then the edge of the bag sawed through your leg when you walked with it. Happy Days. And all preceded by the arrival at that fog-shrouded railway station, with a line of fierce D.I.s, waiting for the next lot of lambs. (Oh for a camcorder in those days!) But I do still have the little blue book which I bought, with all the photos in. Looking back, it wasn't so bad, was it?"
The photographs that Dave sent are listed as 1959 - Hut 77 'A' Sqd, 1959 - 'A Sqd. Sept intake and 1959 - Hut 77 (unofficial)
Al Hooper K3521494 from 1955 says "I spent 28 years in the RAF and enjoyed it all, good and bad. Bridgnorth was a real shock to the system but once you got used to doing everything at double time, then you survived. I was certainly much fitter after my 8 weeks there, and wiser."
The photograph that Al sent is listed as 1955 16 Flt 'B' Sqd.
Mac McGlen 4237472 from 1958 says "DI's Cpl's Ralston and O'Toole 'D' Sqdn... a lot of hard times, but only recall the laughs...."
Brian Goode 4105398 from 1952 says "I remember the day I travelled to Bridgnorth from Cardington, where we were kitted out, it was a very hot day, our kit was thrown onto a garry taken to the camp and thrown out on the road outside our billet, where we sorted it out, we were told to "double" into said billet once there we were told "that is the first and last time you run across the grass" (in so many words) Our D/I Cpl. Mc something looked rather like Errol Flyn. One morning I was ablution orderly and had almost completed my task when I threw a bucket of hot water across the floor of the loo, I see it now in nightmares after 52 years. The "column" of water was in the air when through the door strode Cpl "Flyn" it connected with him waist high, he grabbed me by the lapels of my jacket and screamed "look, look what you've done. At that point I could not look as I was on tip toe and our noses were a couple of inches apart, when he did release his grip I was able to view his boots, now a matt finish, his uniform soaked and his webbing belt once R.A.F. blue now deep Navy. For the rest of the week I had to spend my "spare time" scrapping the toilet seats with a razor blade!! I spent 4 years in the service and look back on it as some of the happiest days of my life. My friend Eric Goodacre was a tailor with the Fifty Shilling Tailors (remember them?) which stood him in good stead when one of the D/Is in our Flight ripped his uniform on the assault couse. Great site. Sincere thanks."
Garth Burgess 4266394 from 1961 says "amongst a host of memories are watching the Ted Heath big band & Johnnie Dankworth and Cleo Laine live....great stuff. Not so good was hearing the words "Airman, what do you think you're doing....? And running 10 miles in your new boots!"
Brian Burke 4131789 from 1953 says "It was tough but good. Our hut decided to 'disappear' all of Cpl Jones, our DI, stuff. His favourite punishment was to make someone run the obstacle course. I was chosen as the sacrificial lamb and set out in the evening. When we returned Jonsey went to turn on his light, of course there was no bulb. His room was also totally bare of all his possessions. He was duly upset and I got to run the course again with the promise that when we returned if his possessions were not replaced the whole hut would run the course all night. Having just run it twice I was glad to see all his stuff back in his room when we returned."
The photographs that Brian sent are listed as '1953 - Burke's Hut' , '1953 - Burke's Flt' and '1953 - Corporals'
Tony Cunnane 4134035 from 1953 says "I especially remember the final drill test on 19 Oct 53. Our Flt Cdr, who conducted the test, I think his name was Plt Off McCaig, was very new and although we all did our best, between us we made an embarrassing mess of the whole event. Most of use felt more sorry for him than we did for ourselves."
John Richards 2436663 from 1949 says "Hi one & all.
I had the good fortune to be sent to 7 S of RT due to the sickness of someone on the previous day's intake tp Padgate. How I wish I could remember that train ride from down the line from Shrewsbury - now extinct.
Bridgnorth Station and forecourt still survive (and steam) and I just recollect the rude awakening, as we were loaded into the trucks. We were then ensconced in Hut2/5 Flight 12, 2 Wing under a Londoner, Cpr. Frewin, a cockney but very fair, at least to us from the south!
I enjoyed my time at Bridgnorth and indeed the whole two years National Service in the RAF. A lot of bull especially with two Battle of Britain Parade marches through Birmingham within a week followed almost immediately by the Passing Out Parade. I left for RAF Credenhill, Hereford to do a clerks course, finishing up at SHQ RAF Uxbridge with it's BULL, hospital, Central Bands, RADU (Now Queen's Colour Squadron) and the RTIC where they taught the dreaded DIs! Woe betide any RTIC NCO charging any SHQ staff. Really strange how some leave applications went missing at the time of collection.
In the extremely unlikely event of anyone from my lot seeing this, please get in touch via my email address".
[Comment by Webmaster - like others, John's email address is listed in the right hand column of the page titled 'List of people who have left their details']
Roy Lawton 3146287 from 1955 can "remember the parade ground greeting by DIs. What a sadistic shower they were. What on earth did they do in civvy street? I overheard two of them talking to each other in that peculiar grating sound that they used for communication. I don't remember either of them using words of more than two syllables. How can anyone say that they enjoyed that, let alone sign on for more than two years! Sad people? I was glad to get my trade at Kirkham. Now there's a place worth staying at for fourteen weeks of wonderful summer weather in 1955. First class training and very interesting. If I hadn't been doing a similar job in civvy street I might have signed on! (well maybe if I could take that much NAAFI beer!) Posted to Swinderby, 8FTS. Great two years but oh so glad to get out and stop saluting every prat in an officers uniform. Will send a photograph of my flight at Bridgnorth together with some of the names. Great site, keep it going before we all snuff it."
John House 4166692 from 1955 says "I think you only remember the good times and there were a few. The one person I do remember, but not by name, he came from Bradford. The DI was a little short fellow and I can remember looking down at him thinking what a horrible chap you are, but he was only doing his job. But I felt sorry for him when we passed out as he would have to start all over again. The last thing I remember is the last meal when we all dropped our plates in the canteen and they all broke.
Not sure if anybody remembers the man who came to the camp gates selling the meat and meat and potatoe pies as they were great."
Note for John added by Web Master.
Somebody has possibly identified the DI you mention. See the message in the forum titled "Re Memory of John House"
Paul Harrison 4270878 from 1962 says they were "great days with good mates. A time of huge personal development."
Peter Mack 2481987 from 1950 says that he can recall "falling madly in love with the blond supervisor who ran the N.A.F.I. She never ever knew I existed"
Rod Farrant 5056878 from 1958 remembers "on a really misty January day all of our greatcoat buttons were damp with mist. A very nasty Sergeant ordered us back to our hut, cut all of the buttons off, ordered us to polish them, and they had to be laid out at the bottom of the bed for insection twice daily. Our Flt Cdr was Ramon Subba Row, who played cricket for England."
Philip Crook W4275291 from 1962 remembers "7 days jankers for allowing Flt Commanders fire to go out, polishing guardroom floor, but eating in the Permanent Staff Mess, much better food than ours! Operating the curtains when Screaming Lord Sutch came to entertain us. Being excused PT and cross country runs after cracking a rib during first PT lesson."
In Jan 2010 Philip provided this additional information;
"I heard recently that F/O Barry Kirkland oi/c 10 Flt 1962 died a couple of years ago, he was in his late 60s, and had retired as a Sqn Ldr.
Other names have come to light:
Sqn Ldr Sutton Officer I/C A Sqn 1962.
Flt Lt Stephens i/c 7 Flt A Sqn 1962.
Sgt Smith SNCO i/c 7 Flt A Sqn 1962.
Cpl DI Swann 7Flt A Sqn 1962.
Cpl Aitcheson was Cpl DI 7 Flt A Sqn 1962.
Cpl DI Teddy Topping 1961 - 1962."
The photographs Phil sent are listed as '1962 - Hut 158, 7 Flt' and '1962 - Pass Out Parade Invitation' (in the General photographs section)
Michael Smart 2787175 from 1956 says that "February and March 1956 were very cold especially in the wash rooms at 0600 hrs. The eight weeks training was a very good experience though but not appreciated as such at the time by most National Servicemen. What about bringing it back?"
Al Forsyth 3515232 from 1953 wrote this poem of his memories at RAF Bridgnorth.
The Ghosts of Bridgnorth
As I wandered down a tree lined road
just a way from Bridgnorth town
I remembered lads in airforce blue
smartly marching up and down
I can see the concrete patches
where all the wooden huts once stood
and recall the cold dark winter days
out there gathering coke and wood
I can still hear voices shouting
the click of heels upon the ground
the shouts of 'Alt, "Stand Still" "You plonker"
then silence, not a sound
I can still hear the marching feet
as I gaze towards the square
and try to place the naafi
which was somewhere over there
I can hear the airmen laughing
standing in the cookhouse queue
with berets tucked into their tabs
a vibrant sea of blue
A D.I. would come marching by
and shout loudly in your ear
"get yer bleedin air cut lad"
and report to me back ere
I can hear the PTI's
as they put you through your paces
arms stretch, bend your knees
and cross country blinking races
The bullshit as you clean your huts
the bumper on the floor
the pads you walk with on your feet
the job sheet on the door
Inspections by the officer
you saw from time to time
white glove scraping on the lockers
for the slightest hint of grime
The wash house in the morning frost
you shiver as you shave the fluff
and soap your face with erasmus sticks
or some other shaving stuff
"Stand by your beds" somebody shouts
"Corporal present" God is here
the scramble as you panic
all those faces white with fear
I recall the bayonet charges
at sacks of straw hitched to a rack
I remember missing once or twice
and landing on my back
I can hear the crack of 303's
as you lay there on the floor
the aching shoulder from the kickback
you dont want to be there anymore
I recall the tetanus injections
administered with skill
then back up on the square
for another hour of drill
It all came back as I wandered
through a place that I knew well
Bridgnorth Recruitment training
The British airmans hell
Yet all those years ago
I still see them plain as day
as they departed after passing out
and went their separate ways
Smart lads as I recall
when they went to catch the train
The DI's standing smiling
They got it all to do again
I still hear the ghostly voices
shouting orders everywhere
the sound of marching airmen
seems to fill the morning air
From all corners they came flocking
carrying brand new kit
to join a million others
and do their little bit
The above poem is Copyright © 2004
by Albert Forsyth.
Also see Al's other memories here.
Clifford Sweet 4145326 from 1954 remembers that "Max Bygraves give us a show at the camp cinema about March 1954"
Roy Smith 2372952 from 1947 says "like others I have read in these columns, I too believe that the eight weeks training I endured at Bridgnorth, brought me from a youth to a man. Certainly I left there the fittest I had been, and have been in my life. October 1947 and 17 Flight. Cpl. Hollidge, Cpl. Cadwallader were the main drill instructors, whom we hated at first, but gained our appreciation before and after we had our passing out parade."
Alan Cockcroft 5045897 from 1957, says that "after Bridgnorth I was posted to The Firemans Training School at Sutton on Hull. From there I was posted to RAF Topcliffe (North Yorkshire) where I completed my National Service in 1959, returning to civy street. After spending 45 years at Rolls-Royce, I am now retired, living in Spondon near Derby. I have only just found this web site 4 Aug 2004. I will be sending in a photo of hut 65, so if there are any ex dwellers of hut 65, send us a line"
Ron Phillips W4254812 from 1959, says "I can not remember what flight or hut I was billeted in at Bridgnorth, I had reported to Cardington in the latter part of September 1959, so I surmise it would be October when I arrived (with a jolt, that shocked the system) at RAF Bridgnorth. I was looking through the published photo's in the 'People Section' and came across the group supplied by Vernon MacDonald (4254836) --- only 24 digits separating us, it is captioned 'D platoon 1959'. I believe, I may be the erk on the extreme left as published (it looks as though personnel may have been omitted from the left and right hand side of the original photo) anyway, I am on the back row --- well, my wife is convinced it's me!!! I cannot put a name to any of the lads in the photo, but I can recall every minute of my time on the unit. Like Vernon I too remember Cpl. Nimmock the RAF regiment drill instructor (once encountered never forgotten) but I can't remember the Sergeant I.C. the platoon. I can recall the new recruits!
Being asked if anyone played football, or rugby and some of the blokes volunteered that they played for the school, or their local team at home --- no -- we mean teams like Man-United, Chelsea or Newcastle, London Welsh, or the Barbarians. I remember the cross country run, with some of the lads nipping in through the hedgerows when the P.T.I. wasn't looking, laying down in the field until the panting squad returned and then joined on behind the tail enders. But I can remember being taken out one day (I don't know if it was routine or a punishment) we ran out of camp, down the hill towards town, turned right at the bottom and along the road that runs parallel with the river Severn and then right again up the steep incline (what a hill!) Turning right at the top and along the lane back to camp. I drove around this circuit a few weeks ago on my way down South. I just don't know how we survived that course. Near the end of our square bashing I can remember seeing the new recruits on the parade ground, attempting to march, some throwing their left leg and arm forward at the same time (if one attempts to carry out this manoeuvre, you tend to fall over) If Cpl. Nimmock caught you laughing,--- nay,--- or even smiling, you would end up joining them, or running around the parade ground with your rifle over your head or instructed to go and join the WRAF section. In Vernon's memories he states that Cpl. Nimmock could make the rifle crack when doing the drill. The secret was to slightly slacken the mounting screws in the brass butt plate, and not have the magazine fully home and locked into the lower breech, then when you slapped it, --- it really 'cracked'--- but for god sake don't let that magazine fall out, or you were in the crap! I can remember when we had our 36 and 48 hour leave passes, the buses left the parade ground dead on time, Friday evening and Saturday mid-day, to all points of the compass. The N.C.O's would have you on parade until the last minute and then instead of marching you to the billet and dismissing you, he would march the platoon all the way to the cookhouse, and dismiss you there, and the lads would then have to really leg it, to get back to the billet, get changed and then dash back to the parade ground to catch their transport home, those buses did not hang about. Regardless of what physical condition you were in when you arrived at Bridgnorth,--- you departed like a Spartan --- they were hard, but happy days."
The photograph that Ron sent is listed as '1959 - Group - unofficial'
Derek Best 4069287 from 1951, says that "after the first two weeks, I enjoyed the rest of my stay there - one of my best times in the RAF. I went straight from Bridgnorth to Egypt and RAF Abyad and later posted to the RE,s working on filtration plant. Return home on HMT WINDRUSH when it sank in the Med"
John Weir F4202448 from 1961, says that he "would like to hear from Vic Steele, Ambrose Glackin, John Norwood & Ivan Reaney or anyone else in 6 Flt."
Edward Hollinshead 4087964 from 1951, says "we served until the passing out parade but then the King died (George VI) - We were then entrained to Cardington to undertake Funeral Drill for two weeks - we then lined the Funeral Route. Marching to our positions on the route I'm sure like myself we all felt sad but proud of our turn out - after passing out we were red hot. Looking back I enjoyed my time at Bridgnorth - at least I can still press my own trousers - seriously though National Service did make me more capable of looking after myself."
Jock Ralph 5041411 from 1957, says "I had a weekend in London with Ray Dickson before returning home. Jim Farrall was a keen footballer in El-Adem & Khormasker."
Brian Lewis 4129070 from 1953, says that "when I came to RAF Bridgnorth, in May 1953 as a lowly AC2 there were many times when I expected to be sent home in disgrace. I think there may have been many members of the Training Staff who thought the same! However, much to everyone's surprise I did 'pass out' with my Flight and went on to become, in time a Chief Technician. I can not, in all honesty say that I particularly enjoyed my stay but I do believe that it changed me from a snivelling waster into a man."
Robert Laird A4273857 from 1962, says that he has "memories of Paul Long and Alfie Stokes plus several good old boys such as Ron Pringle from Cramlington High Pit, Derek Thomas, Taff Davies, Dave Giles. I have certainly missed out a few but remember most! Hope this finds some of you and you can manage to reply - especially if you are only a short drive away. Good luck to all. Have just found this site and will continue to monitor."
Les (Nashy) Nash 4075976 from 1951, says "I was in Hut 251 20 Flight E Sqn 3 Wing in June-July 1951 and would like to know how my other square bashing colleagues fared in their time in the RAF. I went on to Weeton to become a MTD/Mech and enjoyed 5 years service ending up at Abingdon for my last 6 months."
Desmond Anthony Clay 3114413 from 1948, says that "at the end of basic training I had really left my adolescence behind, and was a strong and fit man. I have the R.A.F. to thank for putting me on the right track for the remainder of my life."
Jim Garrod 5039643 from 1957, says that his "main memory is of the cold!"
Paddy Roe 4200068 from 1956, says that he "arrived in Bridgnorth in a fog from Cardington. First meal was in a new cook house and you could have chips with everything, bliss. We heard that West Kirby had been closed because of the cold weather, so we went around with an axe tapping the pipes hoping they would burst and we would be sent home. Ho ho, no such luck. Happy days."
Barry Aldous 5054071 from 1957/58, says "I played clarinet in the band and formed a small traditional jazz group within the band. Gerry Smith also formed a small band with a more modern style. I remember performing a concert at a nearby camp, could have been Cosford!. One of the advantages of playing with the band was not having to do guard duty or rifle practice. The downside was having to learn how to operate and fire a rifle and sten gun in one short lesson in order to complete our passing out procedure."
Barry is on the photograph listed as '1957 - Hut 36' and '1958 - Band in Jan'
Hughie Cooper 2435615 from 1949, says "Our DI was Corporal Gibson whose bed we put up in the rafters on the night he was demobbed."
John Peter Williams 5028698 from 1956, says "Calling Messrs Vogelsang, Twyford, Reeves, Ward, Waller, Wood, White, Taggart, Williams, Johnson, Wright, Riley, Cpl Crampin, Thornton, Thorpe, Reed, Roberts, Sarson, Wood, whose names appear on the back of a photograph taken at Bridgnorth Oct 1956. I am also a member of 10 Flt 'A' Sqdn Hut 35 who won the drill cup. Any photos occasion or passing-out parade? I experienced the same indignities as others as soon as we arrived at Bridgnorth Railway Station, whilst overhead an RAF trainer droned and looped to add a sense of drama to the occasion. We had three Corporals, Messrs Flynn, Crampin and Coward. They treated us in the usual ways that D.I's have until you could feel resentment growing at every "ger outside" parade. Then suddenly things changed and we were paraded in front of a Corporal of mature years, who explained that he was eager to recover, either third stripe or his crown. Our part in this was to win the drill cup on his behalf. We were now being treated more kindly and encouragingly until once again our mood changed. Now we were co-operating and enjoying the drill routine. I remember returning from a family funeral and since no one was around, I crept into the Hut for a quiet moment. Soon I heard the familiar sound of hobnails on tarmac and went to the window where I saw this squad wheeling and manoeuvring so effortlessly. I suddenly realised that it was my flight rehearsing and I was filled with pride. We won the drill cup, but where is it now? The passing out parade came with No.5 Regional Band in attendance playing 'The Standard of St. George' Relatives were invited to attend the parade but being a widow, my mother couldn't afford to attend. The Station motto 'This is the Gate, the Walls are Men' are words that will never fade, neither will the name of Grp Cpn Trumble the Station Commander whose name was written up boldly near the Guardroom. His obituary appeared a few weeks ago in the Daily Telegraph. His Service life had been chequered to say the least and after reading it, I asked myself why his experiences of privation as a POW after the fall of Crete had never been divulged. What effect would it have had on impressionable minds like ours. Sometime I must write of my sojourn at Bridgnorth, there are a number of things I learned about myself and whole batch of unanswered questions about life there."
Also see Peter's other memories here
Maurice Dobson 2471366 from 1950, says "the Sergeant in charge of the Flight was Sgt. Welch and the Drill Corporal in charge of our hut was a Cpl. Leeming. We always thought the former was of 'doubtful parentage' but the drill corporal was almost human - he certainly did less shouting than most of the others. After the first week of 'square bashing' we were told that 500 of us would be selected to form part of a mass physical exercise display team to perform with 500 from another training camp at the 1950 Farnborough Air Show. Having experienced the 'square bashing' I decided that anything must be better than that! I worked extremely hard to get into the selected 500 and was lucky enough to be picked. The week at Farnborough was a great experience where we saw many of the new aircraft being demonstrated, often for the first time, to the general public. The Canberra bomber was one aircraft that remains in my mind. We were told before going to Farnborough that on our return to Bridgnorth we would be excused having a 'passing out' parade and would be sent home on leave. With the usual RAF efficiency we were informed on our return that we had to 'bull up' all our uniform and kit and be ready for a passing out parade the following day. You can imagine the reaction but nevertheless the parade took place and it was without doubt the biggest shambles which ever took place on a parade ground as we had only one weeks drill training as all our other time had been spent on learning the complicated PT exercises to be performed at Farnborough."
Tom Feeley X4157994 from 1954 & 1957-58, says that he "served with John Holloway Sept-Dec 1954 good times & we always remember those (D.i's or 818 Commando's) who upset us, ours was Cpl Stockwell. It must have been good training for us to remember them!! It was better still when I went back in 1957-58 as a Regiment Instructor!!"
George Chastney 5019511 from 1956, says that he "Remembers going with two friends to a dance in Stourbridge, thinking (rightly) Servicemen in uniform would be something of a novelty to the local girls. Whereas Bridgnorth dances would be full of us chaps. Unfortunately we missed bus back to camp. Faced with 12 mile walk along country roads. One of the few cars using the road that night stopped to give us a lift. We could not believe our luck, and loudly made plans to get into the camp over the fence because we had passed the midnight deadline. Then - horror upon horror - the driver, a man slightly younger than ourselves - ignored our request to stop before the main gate. Instead, he turned his car into the gateway and surrendered his passengers to the guards. It turned out he was an officer at the camp. Our punishment was to clean out the company headquarters next morning. I never trusted an officer again, but so concerned was I not to black my copy book any more that I saluted just about anyone I thought was an officer. I am embarrassed to report that a uniformed bus inspector in Wolverhampton was surprised to find he was among those to receive one of my smart salutations!"
Kevin McDermott 4200003 from 1955, has sent this excerpt from his book;
"Following our first meal the rest of the evening was our own, so Big Billy and myself decided to do some exploring. That was when we made our first mistake. As we wandered around looking at one thing and another, we were aware of a voice in the distant screaming,
'Stand still that man.'
Paying no attention to the voice, we kept walking and puffing away on our fags. It was only when the scream was repeated again that we realised to our horror that it was being directed at us.
The Station Warrant Officer was nearly foaming at the mouth when he came marching smartly out of the gathering darkness to where we waited.
'You horrible people,' he screamed, 'who the hell do you think you are? How dare you walk across my drill square, and don't you know it is forbidden to smoke on any of the roads within the camp?
We stammered out the fact that as we had only just arrived in the camp we hadn't realised where we were. On hearing our explanation, he simmered down a bit but still took our names and numbers. Then with a final high-pitched scream, he doubled us away towards our billets.
We later found out that the drill square on a training camp is 'hallowed ground' and recruits were not allowed to walk across it. We considered ourselves lucky that we didn't hear anymore about the incident with the Station Warrant Officer. The rest of the evening was spent discussing the day's events with our roommates. Every so often our hut was visited by lads from senior squads. They would enter and shout out,
'Where are you all from lads?'
'Anyone here from London, or anyone here from Wales, etc?
We also took the opportunity to pick their brains about the training, and they gave us lots of information of what to expect and what 'drill pigs' to avoid. At about 23.30.hours the duty sergeant came around the huts shouting,
'Put those bloody lights out.'
I dressed in my blue striped air force pyjamas, the first pair of pyjamas I ever owned, and slipped in between the cold starched sheets on my bed. I lay awake for a long time puffing on a fag and chatting to my fellow roommates. Eventually silence descended on the billet, and as I lay there staring at the ceiling I felt a bit more at ease with myself. Before I drifted off to sleep I couldn't help but overhear the sobs of some of the National Servicemen who were there under duress. Some of them were probably sleeping away from home for the first time, and I felt sorry for them."
The above is from Kevins book - The Time of the Corncrake An Irishman's memories of his life in the 1940s and 1950s.
Barry Lafbery 5063766 from 1958, says "I remember DI Barber who was posted as he was too soft, can't remember the other DI but he turned out to be the best in the end and as others have said, they were human after all. I remember the Sally Ann well. I ended up at RAF Oakington after remustering from cooks ass. to MTD. I was known as Chuff, for being so chuffed about being remustered. Demobed in Oct 1960 have wished many times that I had stayed in. My time in the RAF was most certainly one of the best times in my life"
Peter Maskrey F4254756 from 1959, says "I went to a Public School and was a boarder. It was a tough regime and prepared me very well for the privations, bullying and appalling leadership displayed by my hut NCO. Many years later, I encountered him again but our roles were reversed! However, we had other NCO's at Bridgnorth who were very decent and especially so, Cpl Wood (tough but fair) and RAF Regiment Cpl Metcalf (also tough but fair). Both these two NCO's were excellent and a credit to the Service. My hut corporal was something else!"
Also see Peter's other memories here
Barry Benns 2783658 from 1956, remembers that it was "very cold especially on the camping out exercise and Sabrina's cafe in the town."
David Richardson 2783713 from 1956, remembers that "A buff OHMS envelope dropped on the mat at Victoria Parade during late 1955. It was always inevitable that the Queen would be requiring my presence at the age of 18 and, after presenting myself at Bromyard Avenue, Acton for a medical, I was pronounced fit with A2 vision (a long-standing weakness in my left eye).
Conscription was inevitable unless excused by ill-health. Deferment could be granted on the basis of interruption to an apprenticeship or University course or similar. I could claim none of these and awaited my joining instructions. My feelings were a mixture of relief that I was embarking on something different, and trepidation because I didn't know how different. There were plenty of people who had terrible tales to tell of bellowing NCO's who imposed discipline in a way that sounded totally unpalatable to a suburban boy and I had heard the stories of leaves being swept up, washed and ironed and put back exactly where they came from and of coal being painted white as allegedly would anything else that was not moving.
On the 16th January, 1956 I reported to RAF Cardington in Bedfordshire with a few hundred others. I was actually a member of the Air Training Corps but had never crossed the threshold of the headquarters in Richmond. My membership had originated as a fiendish device to make me eligible for the football team, a ploy that turned out to have no positive effect on the team at all. It will be obvious that I was in no position to advertise my membership to the R.A.F. who would have discovered my all-embracing lack of knowledge very rapidly.
Cardington was a place of massive hangars and large balloons. The hangars still survive today but the camp as I knew it has gone. I was only there for something like a week getting uniform collected, myself injected, my undercarriage inspected (FFI - free from infection!!!) and being provided with a 'housewife', a package which provided for all my sewing needs. Bearing in mind that Mum (who was being missed more by the minute) had always attended to such things I found myself playing 'catch-up' very quickly in order to progress and survive. RAF shirts did not have collars attached (an obvious throw-back to the War years) and I was to master collar-studs and the use of a button-stick, a split piece of solid card (probably celluloid) which protected clothing when brass badges, buttons and buckles were polished, as they so frequently were. I also became the unwilling owner of the sort of boots I had coveted as an evacuee in the Welsh valleys and a beret which stuck out over my right ear also a dress hat which would be precariously balanced when you didn't want it to be. The whole ensemble was topped off by voluminous, khaki neck to ankle working denims that had seen quite a few owners before passing into my possession. I had become 2783713 AC2 Richardson, D. and was shortly to meet Corporals Spencer and Pritchard at RAF Bridgnorth, Salop (Shropshire) with my new kit-bag.
Decorum became a thing of the past and the urge to survive was paramount. A lot of very uneasy young men were herded on to a special train bound for Wolverhampton and pondered the immediate future. What if all the tall stories were actually true..? We had really thought that Cardington was the way it was supposed to be until the train stopped and the shouting started. My days in the furniture van going to Scout camps had not been wasted, we were piled into canvas-covered RAF trucks (it was a very cold winter) and it was made very plain that we didn't talk, we listened and we moved very fast or else. Mother, where were you?
Corporals Spencer and Pritchard hadn't made their appearance yet. They didn't need to, their mates were making so much noise they weren't yet required on stage. But when they did they were in a class of their own and they had a special talent for promoting misery in young men and making them want their Mums. It goes without saying that I became a target early on. Simple really I was allocated a 'room job' consistent with my clerical and administrative background and was thus selected to keep the two stoves in the billet in tip-top order. These required 'blacking' when they were still alight. OK so far, until the order came to 'fall in outside'. I looked very much like the sticker on the outside of a Robertson's jam jar. Older readers will understand this. There was no time to wash, it was 6 o'clock in the morning and I was a much marked man. My name was firmly on the tongues of Corporals Spencer and Pritchard right from the 'off' and it stayed there for about 8 weeks.
This was the time for the naive to curry favour with the instructors. A volunteer answering a request for someone who knew about agriculture would find himself peeling the spuds. A glass/china expert would end up cleaning the cook-house windows or operating the production-line plate washer which took in dirty plates at one end and disgorged them at a rate of knots in the manner of a Laurel and Hardy film.
The weather was freezing, but the square-bashing pushed up the body temperature and the Corporals screamed and shouted, often from a nose-length away. Our kit was inspected and the absence of eating irons dropped in the scalding water outside the cookhouse and thereby irretrievable was duly noted. Our billet and personal bed-space were inspected, our private parts were also surveyed and we were marched to see rude films which indicated clearly what would happen to us if we consorted with dubious women. Although this subject matter was about the best entertainment we could expect on a cold afternoon, the dangers of falling asleep in a warm lecture room were ever-present and difficult to resist. The presence of the two Corporals made sure this didn't happen.
Slowly but surely we were turning into Servicemen but there were still those whose arms moved in total co-ordination with matching legs. So the screaming got louder and the insults rained down. We had spent a lot of time learning how to remove the pimples from the toe-caps and heels of the boots, shaping the beret (soaking the fabric but not the leather surround) and making the dress hat a little less like those worn by Station Masters on the Great Western Railway.
Our drill had been basic until we were considered ready to be given guns (actually .303 rifles), heavy objects, nasty little edges, and very awkward for the bloke behind if your arm got tired with a bayonet fixed. When you sloped arms you could expect it to thud into your upper left chest and soon began to realise that you needed to be precise or end up black and blue. In the end we could have performed at State Funerals but never got the call. And all by numbers one one two etc.
At some stage we were introduced to orienteering and were dumped in a forest for the night with only our capes to keep us company. This involved rigging up a make-shift tent by buttoning the capes together and we celebrated our inventiveness by searching for the local pub that was set somewhere in the adjacent wilderness. It rained heavily overnight, we got virtually drowned and received a very poor rating the following day after our hang-overs had subsided. Our report (written by myself) was largely fiction but for some reason we enjoyed the event but didn't particularly want to repeat the experience.
By now, we had some idea of what we were up to, we'd been in the RAF for a month and could indulge in the luxury of telling new recruits to 'get some service in'. The corporals were still bawling, shouting and regularly questioning our ancestry but life was getting better, although we could never relax. It didn't take much to realise that we were being taught to react instantly to commands. There was no room for debate and we did what we were told without hesitation. Which is, of course, what the Services are all about.
At the end of 8 weeks we were fitter than we would ever be again, and had only been off the camp to Bridgnorth once during that time. Our Passing Out parade went off without a hitch and we duly celebrated. The Corporals displayed a human side we never dreamt they possessed and even bought beer although none came the way of AC2 Richardson. It was even said that they were decent blokes but judgement was inevitably coloured by the fact that we knew we wouldn't have to see them again and it was now someone else's turn.
During the mayhem we had been categorised, our capabilities had been noted (mine in the first couple of days) and our civilian work records had been perused to ensure that we ended up with jobs to fit our talents, or lack of them. Thus we became cooks, batmen, aircraft armourers, technicians, mechanics, Motor Transport wallahs etc. My prowess as a Junior Clerk with Middlesex County Council led me towards a future with the RAF as a clerk/typist and, after a leave, I found myself bound for RAF Credenhill, Hereford for trade training.
The photographs David sent are listed as '1956 - 'C' Flt in March' and '1956 - Feb'
Bob Newell V4272390 from 1962, says "We had to do a route lining for the Queen and President Tubman in London. It rained all day and after, we had to go back to West Drayton and dry our uniforms out and try to get the white blanco out that had run down from our webbing. This had to be done before we could go to bed to be up again at 6 a.m. to do it all again when he went back and yes, it rained again. The memory of the Drill Flt Sgt ordering slope arms because the crowd were holding umbrellas over us and by doing this the MK9 bayonet went through the umbrellas. What a swine he was, he could spot you moving a finger from 50 yards. From Day one we had to polish and keep our RAF pattern boots for this parade. The only trouble was A flight were told to polish their Army pattern boots but luckily we won the toss and they had to prepare their RAF boots for the occasion. Funny how these things stick in your memories. And our Block inspection when A and B flights competed for the 48 hr pass by having best billets. As it happened the blocks next to ours had just passed out and had scraped and polished all their fire extinguishers so we changed them and had a sparkling billet and won."
For those people like me, who didn't know what Bull night was, Bob offers this description;
"Bull night was once a week. The whole billet, ablutions were cleaned and polished from top to toe and inspected by the officer I/C. The men were split into work parties i.e. ablutions, furniture, floor, windows, etc. All the beds were put to one side and lockers and furniture outside, then the whole of the floor was polished by getting on hands and knees and applying this thick yellow wax by hand, which then had to be taken off with Bumper which consisted of a fine brush pad with a very heavy cast iron weight on top attached to a handle. After the polish had been rubbed in like this a piece of blanket was placed under the Bumper and the Lino was brought to a deep glass like shine. When it was done and all the windows were polished, stove blackened and polished, steps painted, fire extinguishers polished, etc, etc. The detail that had taken the furniture outside had them all cleaned and polished and were ready to bring back in. The beds, lockers and tables were then lined up in exact lines and spaces between beds, etc. were measured out. This done, we all walked around on bits of blanket to keep the floor shiny. It was then time to spit and polish boots, clean brasses and press uniforms. In the morning the DI Sergeant would come in wearing his Army Pattern boots with all the studs in and Pre-inspect the hut ready for the Officer I/C to come round with his white gloves to check for dust. That DI Sgt could walk through that hut and never make a mark on that floor. Everything that was not right went through the window except for some who had forgotten to open their window then it went literally through the window and you had to pay for any broken glass or equipment that went through it."
Bob also recalls "The DI one night said that when you do Station fatigues next, ask to be put in the kitchen in the Tin room which was where they cleaned all the cooking tins. He said that it was easy because there were civilians there who did all the cleaning and all you had to do was take them back and put them ready for the cook to use. It would be good as you could get as much as you liked to eat and drink. Well we took his advise and was standing in the tin room when the cook came in and gave us this little tin of carbolic liquid and said get on with it. I said where are the civilians and he said "Not today mate they are on leave" so we spent from 6am till 7pm scrubbing greasy horrible cooking tins. By the time we had cleaned all the breakfast stuff it was time to do the dinner stuff then the teatime stuff. I will never be squeamish again. I don't think the DI stopped laughing for days."
Frank Woolhouse 4128214 from 1953, says that "I must admit. looking back, I enjoyed it at Bridgnorth. I went back there on Wed 14 April 2004. It jogged a few memories. I would like to make contact with anyone who was involved with route lining for the Queen at Caernarfon"
Vernon MacDonald 4254836 who joined on 14th Oct 1959 says "Remember the very cold starts on that Parade ground and having to HIT that Rifle till it made a cracking noise, Cpl Nimmock did that really well. A very hard taskmaster was he, as were I suppose many others, but he got the job done and won us the Trophy for that hut, boy were we proud. He took the whole hut out to celebrate. "You orrible little man, what are you?" remember that saying?? Reply: I am a horrible little man Cpl. haha!! The very best years of my life, wish we could do it all over again. As I recall it was "D" Platoon ??? From there we went to Compton Bassett for our Wireless Operator Course. Anyone who recalls any of this PLEASE feel free to contact me. Also hope that my pic I submitted will appear so as you can look at it" Comment by Web master - You will find it in the Photographs of people section. 1959 D Platoon.
Colin Greensides 4144294 from 1954 says "It was hard work at first getting use to the drilling and the different way of living but we made it in the end. Looking back I had a good time at Bridgnorth."
John Sherwood 5071148 from 1959, says "I started my National Service in the hot, late summer of 1959. I was bored silly at Cardington, strolling around picking up bits of kit and filling in forms but when I arrived at Bridgnorth with the NCOs screaming at us I thought "That's more like it." I 'phone my boss to say that I wouldn't be going back to work for him as I was going to sign on but he eventually talk me out of it. I was in C Flight, hut 223. Our corporal's name was Steve ( I can't remember his surname ) When he came to join us in the NAAFI on our last day everyone wanted to buy him a drink. How popular can you get? We didn't see much of our sergeant. His name was Sunnox. Whenever he came into view we would sing Here Comes Sunnox to the tune of Cliff Richard's Here Comes Summer which was on the NAAFI juke box at that time, but if he was within earshot we just whistled it. I spent only one weekend on camp. I lost one pass because of a misdemeanour but regained it when I became a Marksman with the Bren and I lost another because I had a stained mug. But who didn't? When I spent the day in the mess I saw the sergeant pour a huge box of tea into a boiler and it stewed there for three hours. It could stain a mug at ten paces. But that didn't stop me. We didn't need a pass to get out, only to get back in. The previous week the PT instructors took us through a gap in the fence at the back of the camp on a cross country run so we got back in through there. Cross country run? Two corporals took us out. One to look after those who wanted to run, the other for those who didn't. I didn't. We walked to the nearest field, sat on the grass and waited for the runners to return then tagged on the end. What hard life! Honestly, the hardest part of basic training was trying to stay awake during lectures. I skipped trade training and went straight to Air Traffic Control at South Cerney I enjoyed it so much that I didn't want any leave in my second year but I had to take it with my terminal leave. I have many memories, all good, of my two years in the RAF and no, time hasn't clouded my memory, there just weren't any bad times. If I could have my life over again I would start with my first day at RAF Bridgnorth."
Eric Holding 4195643 from 1957, says "I’d really enjoy making contact with any of the members who shared the time I spent in training at RAF Bridgnorth especially any of the inhabitants of Hut 55. If you can name any of the rest of the hut or the flight members or were one of the lucky few who were posted from Bridgnorth to RAF Locking - Weston Super Mare - don’t hesitate, get in touch. It’s 47 years ago and time’s getting shorter !!"
The photograph that Eric sent is listed as '1957 Hut 55 in May'
Ginger Ayliffe 4247343 from 1959, says "I was at Bridgnorth from the beginning of Dec. 1958 - Jan. 1959. I can’t remember my hut number, but it was C Squadron. Quite a shock when you get to the camp and the NCO’s turn into robotic idiots. I must confess to being as fit as a flea by the time my 8 weeks were up. I went to Sutton-On-Hull from there for my Fire training, onto North Luffenham for 6 months, then Marham until 1963. In between doing the driving courses at Weeton and Catterick for the Mark V1 course. Happy days."
Dave Jones 3508637 from 1951, says that he can "remember arriving from Cardington on smoggy winter afternoon and riding from railway station in the back of a truck. We drove past hundreds of airmen all drilling in every corner of the station. P.T. in the snow and my claim to fame apprehending a very intoxicated officer during the night whilst on fire piquet with a fellow recruit named Haywood. Fortunately he was too drunk to remember us in the cold light of day. Must be why I was sent to Pershore for police training. Those of us who thought Bridgnorth was demanding were in for a very rude shock when the discipline of Pershore hit us."
Tony Beaman 4242101 from 1958, says that "Arriving at Bridgnorth railway station after the relative tranquillity of Cardington, came as a huge culture shock. In the words of the song, I was a mere lad of seventeen and not accustomed to the bawling and shouting that awaited us. I was designated to 19 Flight B Squadron together with my chum Jimmy Hayes. Jimmy made one almighty faux pas by barging into the Drill Instructors room to borrow a broom. He discovered that one didn’t address D.I.’s by saying “Can I borrow your brush mate” Jim also alienated a Flight Sergeant during a kit inspection. It was a wonder he ever progressed from square bashing. One happy event came about after watching Wolves playing Newcastle at Molineux. Wolves at this time were a top team, but on this occasion Newcastle came out on top. Whilst leaving the ground we crossed paths with one of our D.I.’s who happened to be from the north-east. “Great win lads” he observed. It was as though God had spoken."
John Roberts 4154035 from 1954 - 1957, says "specially like to hear from Barry Jackson, Bernie McHugh, Ian Boult, Alan Dyer, Don Bayli, Clive Marginson, Derek Ainsworth et al who attended the many demob parties at the King’s Head and walking back to camp over the fields half stoned ? I worked in the Orderly room as a Personnel Clerk, Sgt Noel Daly was in charge and Ft Lt. Jacobs was the Station Adjutant."
Ron Swinson 2455292 from 1950, remembers the "mountain" of kitbags on arrival, the bawling and shouting of the D.I's until they were hoarse, the bull, the spit and polish, the drill, the sayings "Standby your beds" you are a "Shower of -****" You horrible little man, the cold, wet, the P.T. the assault course, the passing out parade. Wouldn't have missed it for the world, 8 weeks of enjoyable "Hell"
Chris Pettman S4261897 from 1960, says "I remember the old white china mugs and the D.I. Cpl smashing them on the stove if they were not spotless. I am sure he was in league with the NAAFI shop where you had to go and buy a new one. We got our own back though by nicking the odd bit of coke from the NAAFI yard when we had run out. Also I remember washing your knife and fork in a hot tank of water outside the mess hall which, if you were not first out, got pretty mucky."
Jet Morgan 2735338 from 1954, says that "We were there for square bashing. D Squadron, 16 Flight. Our C.O. was a F/L Navigator whose name I forget who had severe facial burn scars resulting from his time in WW2. An excellent man. Brian Melia and I were selected to box for D Squadron soon after having our series of jabs. Brian had a very porous skin and every time he got hit he was re-jabbed for smallpox. He ended up in solitary in the station hospital 'cause they didn't know why he was covered in large blisters. When they sorted it all out the case was printed in 'The Lancet'. He was very proud of being in that august medical journal."
Swifty Swift 4264793 from 1961, says that "My memories are being shouted at and getting drunk but how I loved it after I left for my unit."
Dick Giggins 1868628 from 1944, says that "I can remember it being bitterly cold whilst at Bridgnorth and doing P.T. in the snow. Also the march to and from the railway station in full kit"
Smudge Smith 4235440 from 1957/58, says "Very tough training at Bridgnorth but it was all worthwhile for my time spent in the Force. I was toughened up, even though I was a sports mad individual, and has helped me for life in Civvy Street"
Vic Taylor 2760465 from 1955, says "I am in the flight picture of 9th July, fourth from the top right hand as seen. The weather was warm & sunny & I enjoyed square bashing. Never felt fitter. Many good memories of my 8 weeks there."
Jack Storey L4201115 from 1958, says that "Bridgnorth scared the hell out of me. I met a girl in downtown Bridgnorth called Sheila McGauley - often wondered what happened to her! She lived at Willenhall."
Bob Young 4147334 from 1954, says that "We the Elite did not 'Pass out' in the normal manner but were chosen to go to London and line the route for the Queen's return from her Coronation tour. We were opposite the Cenotaph, anyone remember being billeted in Uxbridge and being woken up by the RAF Central Band practising?"
Peter Turner 5054054 from 1957/58, says "Like most others I arrived mid winter November 1957 and given the run around. I managed a transfer to the band and when us new members of the band were told we get a 24 hour pass if we had instruments to collect from home I told the band master I had a pair of drum sticks. He called me a cheeky bugger but I got my pass. The only problem was I hadn’t got any sticks so I spent Saturday morning running round Manchester trying a find a pair. Which fortunately I did.
Another time I was called to the C.O’s office, marched across the square by the drill sergeant into office, threw one up in my best manner. I was then told to relax whilst the C.O. informed me that unfortunately my grandfather had passed away. I looked at him in silence for a few minutes before telling him that I knew my grandfather had passed away many years ago. My feet didn’t touch the ground. I was a marked man from then on."
Willie Willis 5012166 has these memories from 1959. "What can I say, arrived at Cardington Jan 1959, sent for basic training in the snow at Bridgnorth, due to failure to catch flu sent to Fleckleton for basic medic training. On passing the trade training so impressed the Marshall of the Air Force he sent me back to RAF Bridgnorth to practice skills on the shivering bodies of recruits. During my service I met some of the best people in the world and two of the worst. As a recruit we found that team spirit was developed and how it could save you from a certain drill Corporal. I enjoyed myself in the RAF but pleased to return to normality."
Alan Minors R4259147 from 1960, says that he "Had a great time at Bridgnorth, first time away from home (Cornwall) got shouted at and bullied by the DIs but they were softies really! The first thing I remember was being warned about the "Wolverhampton Wanderers" I think every intake had that lecture! We had perfect Summer weather that year. National Service was still in and they were a great bunch of lads. I can’t remember my flight or hut number I think it was 'A' flight. We had a red background to our beret badge and I think our billets were close by married quarters with a piece of grass in between. Being on this website brings all the memories flooding back, it seems so long ago."
Paddy Farrell K4273711 from 1962, says "It was a bit of a shock arriving at Bridgnorth but soon settled in. Guys I remember are Paul Bell, Dave Webb (a rogue). It is so long ago now. Drill instructors were Cpl Swan and Cpl Walsh. I was there June, July, August 1962 and looking back it was great. I loved going to the town but not enough girls around, still we got to meet some. I have some photo’s somewhere stashed away. I will post them when I find them."
George Chelton 3154249 from 1958/59, says "Arrived at Bridgnorth 2nd week in December 1958. Cold snowing thoroughly miserable. Cpl Oaten welcoming us by telling us how pleased he was to meet us. Remember how cold it always seemed with snow most of the time. Found out at the end of training that Cpl Oaten was quite human after all. He had turned us from boys into men and put us on the right lines to complete our service. Looking back I think I enjoyed my time at Bridgnorth"
The photographs that George sent are listed as '1959 - Hut 44 in Jan' and '1959 - Chelton's Flt'
Gerry Mobbs 3151144 from 1957, says "One of the lasting memories I have is the intense cold when we went on "manoeuvres" in the Shropshire hills. Having spent most of my life in East London it was strange to hear strange accents from far-a-way places such as Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Sussex, etc. This was 1957 and holidays away from home were not the norm. All of them were a great bunch and the DI’s (bless them) soon had us moulded into a team. No regrets!"
Tony Parkin 4191598 has these memories from 1957. "My most vivid memory must be like, I suppose, many others. That terrible shouting and bawling going on upon arrival at Bridgnorth Railway Station. My companion was quite alarmed so I volunteered to see what the commotion was. I opened the carriage door, saw a Corporal and shouted 'I SAY WHAT THE HELLS GOING ON HERE'. I do not remember much after that apart from the whole world blowing up, or so it seemed and I’m sure my innocent question resulted in my being a marked man throughout training"
Brian (Nick) Thomas 2739990 from 1954, says "Arrived at Bridgnorth Station early one frosty November morning after bleak cross country train from Cardington. Taken to No.7 RTC by truck and 'marched' into cookhouse for meal at 3am!!!!! DI’s Cpls Shiner and Wilson both yelling all the time (Eventually they turned out to be a pair of great guys although the front they could put on was terrifying.) Fifth day in I was admitted to Cosford RAF Hosp. with suspected appendix problem. Returned to B’north two weeks later and held back until next entry arrived. Still had Messrs Shiner and Wilson as DIs. Met Maurice Evans a Reading Footballer (later managed Oxford but died aged 41) with whom I’d played in Civvy Street. Got a broken toe in Jan. 1955 playing for Squadron and was kept out of sight in the Sally Ann and Church Army Canteens because I could only wear plimsolls. The Flight passed out on the parade square and I passed out washing up in the Sally Ann Canteen. Shiner said afterwards: " Well S***head you’d best sign on for three years regular after all we’ve done to keep you out of bother!" Naturally I did and eventually served 12 years. Wonderful memories of Bridgnorth and the comradeship. Strangely enough despite my awful medical record I was made senior man of our hut (I’d grown up in Barnardos Homes so was well institutionalised and maybe this was the reason for the dodgy decision) Got decked by Seniorman of next hut over barney one Bullnight. He was Ralph Kite-Powell a very large ex-merchant navy seaman. It was a lesson well learned. Just before I left a National Service guy named Amos from Reading arrived as a new DI - they nicknamed him 'Kito'. Went back to Bridgnorth ten years ago and walked the industrial estate and think I found the site of C Sqn square but after all those years and old age playing tricks with memory - who knows????"
John Hadley 3153293 from 1958, says "I distinctly remember that the weather was so cold in February 1958 that our towels were frozen each morning. Our Drill Instructor was Cpl Bennett who at our pre-Passing Out Parade party showed us that he was, after all, human. I remember on the morning of our first expected 36 hour pass that we had an early morning billet inspection. we had all worked extremely hard to make sure that everything was immaculate but someone had deposited an empty cigarette packet in the stove. Our DI ordered that we all return at 12 noon for a second inspection. Thankfully this time we passed. We never found out who had been the culprit. It was at Bridgnorth that I experienced true comradeship. Being a National serviceman I had very little money but my "regular" pals always ensured that I had a cuppa and a Woodbine at the "Sally Ann" breaks. This all happened almost 46 years ago. Where have all those years gone?"
Keith Barraclough 4255388 from 1959, says he has "Memories of wrapping-up civilian belongings in a brown paper parcel and sending them home. Also being warned about the "Wolverhampton Wanderers" and the quote from a medic "they dont play football"
John Douglass, from 1960, says "Hut 86 12 flight. Photo of inhabitants of hut 86 available"
Paddy Worrall U4265982 from 1961, says "Did my Square Bashing at Bridgnorth August/September 61 then to RAF Kirton in Lindsay for trade training. Drill Sgt at Bridgnorth was Sgt (Bastard)Allen (his term) in reality he was a softie."
John Bartlett 4110165 from 1952, says "One of my very few memories of Bridgnorth is of running cross-country for the Station against a local club. Another is the 'Copper Kettle' cafe in town. I shall send a photo of the guys in my hut in 1952 - don’t we all look young!! I’m glad this site exists. Thanks and best wishes to all." [ Webmasters comment - thanks for the picture John ]
George Spooner 4124338 from 1953, says "My most vivid memory of Bridgnorth is of that incomparable exercise in efficiency, the progress through the medical centre on inoculation/vaccination day. LOL"
Bill Henderson 4255357 from 1959, says "I have had a look at the camp layout but can’t find my billet on it. I don’t remember the number"
Al Forsyth 3515232 has memories, from 1953,
of the first few days being frightened to death at the mercy of the D.I.’s,
but on completion of training in March 1953, the complete change
in D.I. attitude. Great lads.
Al says "I was stationed at Bridgnorth in 1953 and was seconded to the station band for the time I was there. The Bandmaster at the time was a Warrant Officer and must have been nearing retirement when I was there. He was affectionately known as "Bandy" and I wonder if anyone knows his name? He was a very kind man and very popular with the members of the band. He really was a dear old guy who had been there a number of years and I don’t really know when he did retire"
Comment by the Webmaster - a feature in the Bridgnorth Journal newspaper dated 27 November 1953 had an article and photograph about Warrant Officer Norman McKay Fairgrieve, bandmaster since 1941. He was being presented with a medal. He had joined up in 1907 aged approx. 16.
Other sources reveal that he retired in 1957, suffered a massive stroke in 1959 and died in South Wales 3 April 1962 aged 70.
Also please see Al's poem The Ghosts of Bridgnorth
Alan Maddocks 3155594 has memories, from 1960, of square bashing at Bridgnorth cut short to do route lining in London for de Gaulle visit. Trade training at RAF Yatesbury then posted to RAF Finningley Yorks for rest of service.
Mike Shermer A4269759 has memories, from 1962, of the weather and coke stoves which did their best to finish off what the Drill Cpl’s had started.
Malcolm Parr 2782096 has memories from 1956, I did my eight weeks squarebashing at Bridgnorth, Jan-March 1956, during one of the coldest winters for some years - snowdrifts, everything frozen up, and talk of closing down temporarily. From memory I think that our Drill Instructors were Cpls Clark and Lucas, the Flight Commander was PO Newton.
The views expressed on this page are those of the contributor and the opinions
expressed are not necessarily those of the web site and / or Mr Gwynne Chadwick.
Page 2 of memories
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