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Page 12 - Stories and memories of your time at RAF Bridgnorth.
Write and submit your memories here.
Bernard Rumbold 4264691 from 1961, says "I joined the Voluntary Band when I joined having been in my ATC Sqn band - best thing I ever did. We went to the band room after morning parade and stayed there until lunch, occasionally doing vaguely musical things, but mostly playing cards and 'hanging out' as the kids call it now. I only did one period of PT during the whole of my 8 (?) weeks basic training.
After being thrown out of Clerk accounts trg at Kirton in Lindsey, I returned to Bridgnorth and remustered to Ops Clerk. I was in the Holding Flight for several weeks working for the SWO - he was a Polish Master Pilot, brilliant bloke who fed us hot chocolate and told us war stories when we weren't shifting leaves from one place to another."
James Robb E4249616 from 1959, says "As a sprinter, ran round the billets faster than anyone, was told I had cheated by PTI Staff and had taken a short cut, made to do it again under scrutiny and timed, then they believed me."
Albert Rowland K4239247 from 1958, says "I enjoyed every minute of my time there, so much so I was easily coerced into extending my enlistment from 3 years to 9 years."
Alan Smith 2778595 from 1956, recalls that "my best friend whilst serving at Bridgnorth was Don Yule of D squadron. Don was from Folkestone and travelled all the way North to Barnsley to be my Best Man at my wedding in 1958."
Paul Armstrong E4272935 from 1962, remembers that the "Cpl in charge of the recieving Flight stated he hated Irishmen, he asked the lined up flight how many spudbashers was present. He was destroyed when nearly all the flight raised their hands..... He asked for a transfer, but was refused...."
John Muir 5048248 from 1957, says that "the special time was being chosen as Best Recriuit and winning the white belt and leading the Regiment out on the final day of training."
Brian Arnott X4265198 from 1961, remembers that "either Cpl Freeman or Cpl Floyd borrowed my guitar for a Corporals club do and gave me a "Get out of jail free" card as payment. Never did get to use it."
The photograph Brian sent is listed as '1961 - Hut 186, 'A' Sqd'
Lawrence Jubb 4254667 from 1959, says "I was in hut 213 and we formed a bucket line to nick coke from the fuel compound."
Roger Bellamy N4269687 from 1962, says he "can remember a Maltese guy, ?Camille and a chap from Jamaica....Desmond McGowan - all a bit fuzzy now."
Anthony Campling 4247336 from 1958, says he can "remember the snow. When I left for trade training, the camp closed due to flue epidemic. At that time, we had to report to RAF Cardington, where we spent two days being kitted out. We then went direct from Cardington to Bridgnorth by steam train."
Roger Jenkinson 5067820 from 1959, says that "unfortunately my sharpest memory was not good. I was ironing my uniform one evening, when a colleague returned from a heavy session in one or two of the local hostilleries, somewhat the worse for wear and he nearly knocked my ironing board and pressed gear over. I shouted at him and he leapt on me and punched me as hard and often as he could, but having the advantage of sobriety and strong legs, I wrapped my legs around him and held his arms. Unfortunately his hand was near the hot iron and he was able to push this into my face! At this point my brother and others jumped on him. Unfortunately it was at the time we were allowed our only week-end off and I had to go with this bloody great plaster across my face! The chap who did this was Malpus from Glasgow who was a very pleasant bloke when sober!"
Bruce Evans U3517797 from 1954, remembers that he "had ear ache on Bullnight. Rushed to Cosford Hospital, there for a week. Back flighted twice. In Pool Flt for a month - great time."
Malcolm Crowe 4238345 from 1958, remembers a "very cold winter. D Squadron with Cpl Widdowson and his stiff leg running the flight on his own, the Sgt having left. Went on to Hereford, Bassingbourn, Borgentreich and Bruggen."
Gerard Wallwork 4123062 from 1953, says "I has a great time at RAF Bridgnorth and it disciplined me for later life. Passed out and became SAC above the line."
Tony Mullord 2775176 from 1955 - 1956, remembers "square bashing here during the very cold winter over the New Year period. I remember that the Passing Out parade was ruined by the band playing out of tune!"
Raymond Parkinson 5041371 from 1957, says it was a "Reality check, getting off the troop train from Paddington Station at Bridgnorth and being greeted by yelling and screaming NCO's. Then being herded into trucks and taken to our new home for 6 weeks. It did not take long to settle in and get to know the rest of the gang. The days were busy and short. The food was ok. and there was plenty."
Ron Wem 3126207 from 1950, says he "took part in the Freedom of Bridgnorth festivities, parading through the streets with bayonet fixed. Went for trade training, Cartagraphical tracer, at RAF Nuneham Park after."
The photographs Ron sent are listed as '1950 - Hut 251 in May' and '1950 - 20 Flt in May'
Peter Thurgill 5080934 from 1960, says "I remember going on our first 24 hour pass, getting a coach to take us to London which broke down and then the spare coach caught fire. By the time I got home, I had about two hours before doing the return journey."
The photographs Peter sent are listed as '1960 - Hut 130, 15 Flt' and '1960 - 15 Flt, B Sqd'
John Blackwood 5017997 from 1956, says his "DI was Cpl Bill Penman. Like everyone else, I hated it at first but come the end of the twelve weeks, I enjoyed the Passing out Parade and look back with to happy memories of all those years ago."
David Hawkins 4198409 from 1957, says he can "remember Cpl Belfour and Cpl Wilson our DI's. I was in D Squadron and allocated Hut 499. Messed up the Drill Test (we all failed - so foggy we couldn't see anything) "
Robin Rumbelow 4178490 from 1956, says "I remember that some poor soul had committed suicide..... they put bromide in our tea..... the town of Bridgnorth was quite alright, went to local dances and met some local girls."
Peter Crewe 4143369 from 1954, says "our hut spent Christmas there and were told if the toilet system froze then we would be sent home. Every time the pickets came round and lit the parafin lamps to stop the freezing, we crept out and extinguished them. But in spite of this, the toilets remained working and so no home leave!"
Michael Alexander 5040522 from 1957, remembers that we "went to watch Wolverhampton Wanderers as a special treat out, we all got on well together."
Dennis Weatherley 3151993 from 1957, says that "most is best forgotten. Had one great day out with Howard Ledger. We were given a slip of paper and told to get the signature of a principal of an Outward Bound Centre and be back by 5 o'clock. We hitchhiked into North Wales on a glorious July day, did that and got back.
It was disappointing not being allowed out of the camp except for this until the last weekend we were there when we were allowed into the town. When I saw the town I was amazed. I thought it was a beautiful place, no doubt enhanced by being locked up for the last 2 months. The wife and I have been back several times and it has remained one of my favorite places."
John Webster 2745905 from 1955, remembers "going into Wolverhampton to see the Wolves play."
Lawrence McGowan 3529255 from 1960, says he "signed on as a Regular (5 years) at Cardington in November 1960 and went immediately to Bridgnorth (Hut 126, 14 Flt, B Sqd). Having been in the ATC I, unlike some recruits, had no problem with square-bashing. One of the guys in our billet never got the hang of moving his arms forward at the same time as the opposing leg. Our drill corporal, whose standard response to errors was "I'll rip your arm off and hit you over the head with the soggy end" was correct when he told us that our morale during basic training would never be as high again.
Fires, the coke ratio for which was never enough, were only allowed in billets between November and March. In retrospect think our corporal was giving us the nod-and-the wink when he took us to the coke compound and, locking us inside with a length of rope and three lengths of wood, instructed us to escape. As this equipment was stored in the open outside the compound we were able to use the 'escape' system to break into the coke yard when our supply of fuel ran out.
Part of our training included instruction on using a fire hose. Square-bashing completed, my colleagues went off to trade training, but for some reason I was held in Pool Flt for several weeks. During that time I did a spell of night-time guard duty. My guard colleague and I messed up by mistaking our next patrol duty (00.01 hours) as a 1am start. Daytime duties in Pool Flt included evening office cleaning and morning fire lighting. One morning I ran out of paper attempting to light a stove. My solution was to take a toilet roll from the office store. Unfortunately the corporal was passing the window and saw my action. When I gave my reasons for the 'theft' he told me "its not what you do but what you get caught doing that gets you into trouble." He grinned and walked off, leaving me to dispose of the toilet roll in the way I planned. Finally, after telling the Flt Commander I planned to buy myself out for £15 if a suitable course was not forthcoming, I was posted to Creden Hill, Herefordshire.
During trade training I was billeted with some National Servicemen who had been deferred while completing degree courses. Their name for the rest of us was 'thick regulars'. I was posted to Records Office, Gloucester, and promptly assigned to the Records Office Detachment at Bridgnorth. Cardington had, by that time, ceased to deal with the documentation of new recruits. I guess the highlight for me was documenting Tongan boxer Kitone Lave.
Highlight of the week as a member of permanent staff was Saturday night when a coach full of women (mums, daughters and grandmothers) traveled from nearby Wolverhampton to the Bandon Arms. Lowlight was using brillo pads to take the scuff marks out of the office lino for the AOC's inspection. In February 1962 I married my girlfriend and we occupied a hiring at Severn Brow, Oldbury, Bridgnorth. Our nesting was disturbed by a week as Duty Clerk, which entailed sleeping in COD overnight. One of my duties was to secure the main entrance to the HQ by locking the double doors and engaging the single bolt at the top of the right-hand door. I forgot the bolt one night and was awakened in the early hours by the noise of boots tramping the corridors. The Pool Flt patrol had pushed at the doors and they had swung open. Fearing a 252 after the patrol had made its report, I quickly penned a memo to the CO claiming that, due to repeated vigorous shaking by the hourly patrols, the bolt had bounced out of position and eventually disengaged. The result was the addition of a bolt to the other door. I've got to say that service in the RAF was an important time in my life in terms of character building. Additionally, I got to say, the quantity and quality of RAF food was one of the perks. Charles Atlas would have been proud my advance from seven to twelve stone."
Tommy Lynes 5022165 from 1956, says "I was in 30 Flt, we won the tug of war and I still have the medal"
Brian Kelly X4186998 from 1956, remembers that he "travelled to Bridgnorth from Cardington. On the way noticed the M1 under construction. Detrained at Bridgnorth and lined up, with nice white kit bags, outside. A dog moved along the line and cocked its leg up by a kit bag further down. A boot appeared very quickly followed by a DI bawling "Stand still you horrible man". I remember a tall DI, Cpl Hoath, who often referred to me during drill, on occasions I erred, as "Kelly you are an effing little earywig". Met him again in Aden and became friends. Pleased to notice he made it to WO."
Brian is on the '1956 - Holliman Flt' photograph.
Christopher Tinley N4274522 from 1962, says "So sad men crying, always cleaning the toilets, so cold."
Roger Roskruge 3522574 from 1956, says he "liked that part of the country. Was very charmning. The River Severn Valley, Bridgnorth High Town and Low Town via the mountain railway. Thumbing my way over to Staffordshire on the week-ends."
Alan Blackmore C4262606 from 1961, says "Any ex-Joiners/Carpenters? ..... Right, get that axe and chop that wood up ..... never volunteer .... quick learner !!"
Ken Black 4237275 from 1958, remembers that "I and another, I think he was from Keighley, painted the inside of the Squadron Hedquarters hut. The CO gave us a 48hr pass and we got off the pass out parade. I did have the hut picture but sadly no longer have it."
Elvyn Oakes 2733998 from 1954, says "I did my National Service basic training at RAF Bridgnorth from September to November 1954. The grounds of RAF Bridgnorth were well manicured and maintained; the word immaculate comes to mind. We were restricted to camp for the first week, being drilled, bullied and generally brow beaten. It was a very rude awakening for everyone. We soon began to bond, make friends and function as a team; one of the core military ideals.
On the first Sunday evening I attended the Anglican Church on the camp and some normality began to appear. Many of us who had not travelled far away from home and loved ones were no doubt homesick; I certainly was.
The following Sunday I walked with two friends into the interesting market town of Bridgnorth; divided into High and Low Town by the lovely River Severn. We walked through the streets peering enviously into windows at the residents basking in the comfort and warmth of roaring fires. After attending evensong at St Leonard's Anglican Church, Hightown, we were invited by the Vicar to join him and the congregation for a cup of tea afterwards. They were all very kind and friendly in the tradition of Christian Fellowship. Later that evening an older couple took us by car to their large house on the outskirts of Bridgnorth, for supper. We met their daughter and her Army Officer husband who were visiting from Catterick Camp. Afterwards they drove us back to camp before lights out. We followed the same routine during the rest of our stay at Bridgnorth, they were a such a wonderful family. I corresponded with them for many years afterwards.
The area around Bridgnorth was well wooded and showed off the beautiful autumn colours to perfection. We were kept busy drilling, being instilled with discipline, self- reliance and all the necessary attributes of a good aircraftsman. Even running around the massive hangers with rifles over our heads (as punishment for some minor indiscretion) did not spoil our appreciation of the beautiful Shropshire countryside. I particularly enjoyed the assault course day, even though it was done on the day before 'bull night'; this was problem for next days parade (boot cleaning). I hated the tunnel we had to crawl through, it was filled with rotting straw which smelled terrible.
St Leonard's Church is now a redundant Anglican Church. When I was last there some years ago it was being used as a Community Hall, displaying an exhibition of local art.
Being thrust into National Service was one of the best things that happened to me. I was shown a glimpse of the wider world, taught to stand on my own two feet, live and get along with large numbers of people from all backgrounds, race and religion. The discipline training opened up a completely new career path for me; one from which I took full advantage."
The photograph Elvyn sent is listed as '1954 - Oakes Hut'
Henry Hall 5034722 from 1956 - 1957, asks "were we really there or was it a continuing nightmare? Two completely different D.I. Corporals. One the traditional foul mouthed type and the other never swore. His expletive was Jumping Jehosophat. It certainly made us jump!
I remember one brave soul on 10 Flt getting his Corporal (Cpl Coward) charged for making him clean his bunk. I think he got jankers but I do not know what happened to the complainant.
9 Flt won the Drill cup but the Pass Out Parade was a shambles. As the Reviewing Officer said "well, it is New Years Day!"
James Marsh 5076767 from 1960, says it was "hard graft marching, with very cruel D.I. Corporals who were after promotion, very friendly Sergeants, who would listen and would give you advice on how to survive your two years National Service."
Robert Barnes Y4274728 from 1962, says that "we did not have a passing out parade. We did route lining in Edinburgh for the King of Norway. D.I's were Sgt Jackson and Cpl Mcmurtrie. I can't remember the hut number or Flt number."
Duncan Stuart 3523976 from 1956 - 1957, says that "Cpl Colin Keiser was not the usual run of the mill D.I. but a decent but firm human being, well liked by us all."
Ivor Morrish 4203252 from 1958, remembers "the comradeships formed in Hut 78 from people from different backgrounds being drilled by Cpl Vane. Following the first weekend leave, I had a one day extension to sort out my future in the Service following discovery of my father's terminal illness. On arriving back at camp late at night (walked from Kidderminster!) I found my bed had disappeared from Hut 78 already and I was re-located to Pool Flight."
The photograph Ivor sent is listed as '1958 - Hut 78'
Brian Haywood 4171570 from 1955, has "many happy memories of Bridgnorth. We had a very happy billet and a great set of young men."
Hadyn Brain 4263714 from 1961, remembers "being woken by the sound of Johnny and the Hurricanes - Reveille Rock at 6am, and hearing it being played today, will always remind me of the time I spent at RAF Bridgnorth. Many happy days were had, that went on to set me up for life."
John Conn 5058267 from 1958, remembers that "after completing training, I spent some long extra weeks at Bridgnorth awaiting posting. What a drag!"
Tom Mills 2452833 from 1949, says "I was in No.6 Flt. We came first in the Passing Out Parade. Very proud to have served with all personnel."
The son of Anthony Gaff (deceased) 4190160 from 1956, says "I have a group photograph of him with fellow recruits, but have no information about his time there. I would like to establish contact with anyone who served with him as I know nothing about his time with the RAF, other than that he spent time in Cyprus. Thank you."
Robert Goodwin 5067264 from 1959, says "what strikes me most about basic training at Bridgnorth was the classlessness of the recruit population. Teddy Boy or University graduate, rifle drill was the great equalizer! It was also astonishingly fair: Cpl. Pottinger yelled at everyone with equal authoritarian zeal!"
William Bevan 4237989 from 1958, says he "does not remember my Flight/Squadron number but despite looking at all the 1958 photographs was unable to see one of myself. During my time at Bridgnorth I was transferred to RAF Uxbridge to take part in the 'route-lining' duties for the London State visit of some Italian dignitary. Of course it was all a long time ago and memories fade. I do wonder if in fact my Flight/Squadron photograph was due in that very week so could have missed out on that particular aspect.
Must admit I cannot remember any camping trips during my time but do vividly recall fatigues which I think was the speciality of week 5. My week was spent in the cookhouse among mounds and growing mounds of greasy cooking tins and utensils.
All that and square bashing could not detract from the fact that I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Those eight weeks in 1958 changed my boyhood into manhood."
George Albert Smith from 1958 or 1959, remembers that "a black recruit won the pools and he cound not get permission to collect his winnings so him and me went absent without leave to London to collect his windfall, when we got back, I got 14 days restrictions and he bought himself out."
Robert Hinds Y5065165 from 1958, remembers being "cold, wet and a long way from home."
Terry Dooley 5077966 from 1960, says he "did not have a Passing Out parade at Bridgnorth but route lined for the King of Siam, I can't remember having any group photo's taken."
Pete Kirwan 5082092 from 1960 - 1961, says "I remember about five of us went to see Wolves play Chelsea on New Years day 1961. I think the score was 5 - 1 to Chelsea. A young Jimmy Greaves was playing for Chelsea. Nice to get away from Cpl Nimmock for a couple of hours."
Brian Boulton 4249314 from 1959, says that although he "appears in the photo titled '1959 - 21 Flight 'C' Sqd' that due to sickness and time at RAF hospital Cosford, I completed my basic training with number 7 Flight 'A' Sqdn - Hut 80."
William Corsar L4272448 from 1962, remembers that he "became top recruit on my flight because of my height. The pass out parade was the annual AOC's parade and the AOC was Chacksfield who was 6 feet 7 inches. The previous year he had commented about the top recruit being a midget at about 5ft 6ins. The CO decided that the tallest man in the flight would be top recruit in 1962. I am 6ft 5ins and one other was about 6ft 4ins. We were both interviewed by a Flight Commander who could not decide so he tossed a coin. The other fellow lost. Luck became quite a part of my subsequent service life. I remember nothing of my flight or hut number."
Michael Sargent 5045820 from 1957, remembers "cutting the grass outside our hut 22."
James Nairn 4192013 from 1957, remembers "won I & R camp, Pass Out parade marker. Saturday nights in Bridgnorth, heavy snow on Guard duty, very cold, 2 on 4 off, loved my square bashing ."
Les Hartfield 3148468 from 1956, has "memories of arriving RAF Bridgnorth from Cardington in deep snow that stayed that way thru February. I and Bob Lowe? were selected for DI training but I didn't make it due to my medical being downgraded. Often wonder if Bob enjoyed his square bashing career. "
The photograph Les sent is listed as '1956 - 'C' Flt in Feb'
Ian Gannie 4274140 from 1962, says "I remember with fondness one of our intake Drill Instructors, the vociferous and articulate Cpl Brown (known to us as Short A...) who took great delight at every opportunity to belittle us, informing us of our worth to serve in H. M. forces. Looking back, I think we all had a good time, especially the time spent on the "Reliability and Initiative" weekend, with me on "Jankers" in the cookhouse = FREE egg's, loaves of bread, tins of butter, jam."
John Pemberton 4248828 from 1959, says that "in all the time we were training, I don't remember any rain, it was very dry. We were lucky to have a good Corporal and a top class Sergeant who looked after us very well. Previous to this, I worked in a coal mine and one year in the 4th Battalion (TA) Royal Welch Fusiliers. I therefore found the training easy."
Allan Thompson C4264948 from 1961, remembers that "our Drill Instructor was Sergeant 'Pop' Allen who could snarl with the worst of them but had a heart of gold and nurtured us in 6 Flt, A Sqd and led us through basic training with flying colours.
To give us extra confidence, he conveniently 'mislaid' the red plastic discs which should have been worn behind our brass beret badges, so that we looked like Regulars rather than recruits. We won the Drill Cup, the Sports Cup, and the Efficiency Cup that summer.
A favourite destination for recruits was West Park in Wolverhampton where we hired rowing boats on the lake and made contact with local young ladies by 'accidentally' bumping into their boats. It was a fine summer for romance!"
Gordon Howden 4265942 from 1961, says he "had a great time at Bridgnorth after the first couple of days. Hut number 297 and DI Cpl Crewe. I'm afraid the rest of the names I can't bring to mind as a lot of water gone under the bridge since I was there. One more name that comes to mind is Bryan Hollis."
Comment by the Webmaster - Bryan Hollis F4265901 registered on this site in 2013. He kindly sent two photographs listed as '1961 - Hut 297 in Aug' and '1961 - Aug Intake'
Ray Downing 4237898 from 1958, remembers that he "arrived at Bridgnorth, from Cardington Camp, (originally from Oldham), in March 1958 to commence the 'square bashing' period. Whilst there, the flight was called upon to be in the route lining contingent, in London, for the Italian State visit. Billited at RAF Uxbridge. Still have a photograph of the flight outside the hut at Bridgnorth."
The photographs Ray sent are listed as '1958 - Hut 211, 16 Flt' and '1958 - 16 Flt'
Terry Mills 4185293 from 1956, still remembers having a "fantastic time with Cpl Coates and Cpl Cain."
The photograph Terry sent is listed as '1956 - Hut 153'.
Derek Jones 2379429 from 1948, remembers that he had a "fever at the end of 12 weeks square bashing and lost leave.
Working on boots with a hot spoon, spit and polish to get mirror shine. Polishing floors, making beds to pass inspection, painting stones white, FFI inspections, learning to iron, competition with other huts. The different accents, passing out parade a hectic time...."
Christopher Mundy 4272343 from 1962, remembers that "in July we were transferred to RAF West Drayton to train for a route lining, I think for the Emperor of Ethiopia."
Bob May 3522477 from 1956, remembers "sore throat outbreak, quarantined at RAF Cosford hospital for 7 days - a cushy break from square bashing! I remember camping out for two nights on an "initiative exercise". Freezing cold weather, made tents out of ground sheets and sticks."
The photograph Bob sent is listed as '1956 - 39 Flt 'D' Sqd'.
The son of Alan Farrow 4177512 (deceased) from 1956 - 1958, says "my father Alan Farrow passed away on 31 July 2016, he was in hut 95. If anybody knew him or has pictures of hut 95 it would be much appreciated if you could post them."
Geoff Otterburn 5060357 from 1958, says that he "spent most of my 8 weeks in the athletics team, throwing the javelin."
The photograph Geoff sent is listed as '1958 - Hut 218 'C' Sqd'.
Peter Hickey 5068958 from 1959, says "I remember one of the lads losing his front false teeth down the toilet after our first night out on the town in Bridgnorth with the expectation of his girl friend's next day visit to the camp."
Brian Stanley 5043007 from 1957, remembers "Frank Treglowan? the pianist, B Flt. Can't remember the hut number."
Steve Taberner P4262192 from 1960 - 1961, remembers that he "arrived by bus from RAF Cardington on a wet and windy November day to be greeted with lots of shouting. Not the best time of my life, hated every minute (could'nt understand why the drill Cpls had to shout all the time) Have a photo of seven of us outside the billet taken sometime in Dec with some of us wearing pullovers and socks (it was cold) I remember Dave Rodrick and Myrve White. Have got another photo of the three of us posing with rifles."
The grand daughter of the Late Stan Lyon 2773128 from 1955 or 1956, says "I was looking for anyone who had any information on my Grampsys Service history or any photographs of him while he was at Bridgnorth. I know he went from there to Kirkham then onto Germany. I have photographs of his time in Germany. I believe he served 1955, 1956. He was ALI, LAC and SAC."
The photograph received is listed as '1956 - Lyon's Flt'.
Former Cpl John Hoath C4113604 from 1952 - 1961, says "I have a number of memories of my time at Bridgnorth. Not too sure that all the recruits will want to remember me in particular."
Jonathan Rao 4263756 from 1961, remembers that "I would like to thank all other personnel during my initial "square bashing" training around February to April 1961. Many people with whom I shared in the same barracks, wing and squadron, I would like to say thank you for your friendship and kindness. I was alone there, without any familial support in the UK, and other airmen who took me to their homes during weekends, holidays etc. I shall never forget and it was a privilege to be with your guys."
Jim Watters T4274939 from 1962, remembers that "Corporal Billington dropped my pint mug into the concrete fireplace surround on a kit inspection because there was a speck of dust on it. Thinking I had got away with not having to buy a new one when it didn't break, he then stopped at the end of the billet and told me to bring him just the handle. Much to his amusement it joined many others on cup hooks inside his room."
Roger Hailwood 3155221 from 1959, has sent twenty-four pages of memories of his three years National Service. Titled "Was it worthwhile? - A reflection on my National Service in the RAF." Roger starts "On Wednesday afternoon, instead of my usual sports activity, I reported to RAF Henlow's fire section billet, which was to be my home for the following week. Fire piquet was a duty which was a requirement of all junior rank airmen at least once during their stay on the station.
I had been dodging this duty for months, providing watertight excuses to the station warrant officer as to why I was not available. On the last occasion he had muttered under his breath that he would get me. With just three weeks to go before my discharge at the end of my National Service he had posted my fire piquet order, and when I saw him yet again with an excuse, he explained that to get off the station at the end of my service I would need his signature on my discharge papers, and there was always the possibility that these might be mislaid for an indeterminate time, possibly until the end of my discharge leave period. I realised then that he had won and the duty would have to be done.
There were four of us on fire piquet duty from various sections around the station. First we had to learn about the duties required of a fireman, then we were introduced to the fire engine and shown the location of all the pieces of equipment stored in their various lockers. Then there was the practical part of how to unroll the hoses quickly and efficiently, how to link them together and attach them to the engine forming watertight joints, and then attach the pump on the engine to the main water hydrant to provide a constant supply of water. Then everything had to be unattached, rolled up and restored to its place in a locker. When we had practised this a few times we were instructed in how to fight fires with a water hose, first of all we were shown how to hold the hose, so that it we were in complete control, and then how to lean on the person holding the hose to keep him on the ground. When they turned on the pump and the jet of water shot out of the nozzle we realised the importance of the techniques we had been taught, as the hose if not properly controlled could take on the attitude of a giant snake fighting to be released. Fortunately we did not spend too long with the water gushing out of the hoses, as it also produced a great cloud of spray which drifted over the operators making us grateful for the fire section waterproofs that we were wearing. However we soon realised that we were unlikely to be part of an actual fire fighting team, and that we would have other duties as a secondary party, responsible for emergency water pumps and the turning on and off of other water supplies around the camp. Alongside all of this training activity during the day, there was the waiting, and the time spent in the guard room at night in the role of controller, which turned out to be a telephone operator receiving and passing on messages, though it would have been a liaison and guiding role if a civilian fire engine had been called. The members of the fire piquet did four hour shifts during the night, trying to get some sleep when not on duty, the fact that we were located in the guard room meant that we also found ourselves doing some of the police duties. One of the less boring duties was to be in attendance at the camp cinema during a performance, responsible for the possible evacuation of the audience and the use of a fire extinguisher on a small fire.
It was during one of my 22.00 to 02.00 hrs shifts in the guard room that my thoughts began to drift, thinking back over the last two years spent in the service of the Queen. What had I achieved, and what was my real contribution to the defence of these islands?"
................ continue reading Roger's memories here ...........
John Power G4249321 from 1959, says he was "called up for National Service. I was 21 (deferred as an apprentice) Signed on for three years. I was in 22 Flight??? (Yellow Disc on Beret) Best time of my life, made an Independent Man of me."
Connie Phillips (nee Smith) a lady that lived a few miles from RAF Bridgnorth in 1957 - 1960, writes "I lived in Amblecote, Nr. Stourbridge and in 1957 - 1960 my friends and I used to wait at the Bus Depot in Stourbridge at the weekends for Bus 192 from Bridgnorth and hope it was loaded with RAF chaps. It was the teddy boy era and we much preferred the smartly uniformed and shorter hair of the airforce chaps. I clicked with a few in those innocent days of walks around Mary Stevens Park with Ian Smith, Sammy Brown, Max Perez, Dave Proctor, Dave Mobberly to name a few. We kept in contact for a while and then real life took over. I view it all in soft focus. The camp closed in the early sixties and can I just say, 'bless 'em all'."
Frank Trigg 2777102 from 1955, remembers "pinching coal at night to keep ourselves warm at night in the huts!"
George Peacock B4268520 from 1961 - 1962, also remembers the "bitter cold winter. Ice on bedding and clothing."
Dennis Luke Q4238691 from 1958, says "my (stay) at Bridgnorth was a real eye opener, I never realised one could be so well treated by so many fearful people. Fond memories."
John Smith F4267912 from 1961, says "I joined up during the coldest winter on record at Bridgnorth. We could not do the camping exercise as the tents were frozen solid from the week before we were due to go. Only one hot tap worked in our billet. Quite a queue, obviously Officers first. (Happy days)"
Terry Jenkins 5057296 from 1958, says "I was a Salvation Army bandsman and together with six other S.A bandsmen spent Naffy breaks at the Salvation Army hut. On Sundays we were given lunch at the hut before taken by mini bus to the S.A.church at Dudley. I spent every day in the band either in practice or parades. I played in the band on all Passing Out parades between 10 Feb and 15 April 1958 and was wondering if anyone can date the photo of the Passing Out parade shown in the 1958 photos section."
The family of Vicky Wilkinson 2092281 (deceased) from 1941, say that "she did her basic training as a WAAF here. Vicky started as an Orderly on 20.10.1941, rising to ACW2 a few days later on 22.10.1941 (according to her RAF war records) She was transferred to train up as an FME (Flight Mechanical Engineer) When she received her discharge papers on 22.9.1946 at Bassingbourn, she was a LACW FME (Leading Aircraftswoman Flight Mechanical Engineer)"
James Simpson N4264016 from 1961, remembers that "Yes, coal was painted white and the floor polisher was heavy !"
The brother of Cpl Geoffrey Cross from 1956 - 1957, says "his brother was I thought stationed at Bridgnorth, but probably wrong, I can remember visiting him, I thought at Telford (Hospital) but could well be wrong."
John Gregory 4173226 from 1955, says he "went to Wolverhampton, picked up a girl, still married 2016."
Alan Whitelaw E4268871 from 1960 - 1961, remembers he "had a couple of run inns with a rock ape drill instructor (Ted Topping) who I later met up with again in Singapore. Saw a different side of him then. Wish I could return and do it all again."
Brian Emerson 3520194 from 1955, says "Good set of lads Dis Well. Told by one Sgt DI after making a mistake on arms drill, that he would put his boot up my bum I would be spitting nails for a fortnight. Never made another mistake. God bless him. Those were the good days."
Colin Lock 4052797 from 1950, says that he "found what "team-spirit" really meant....."
The photographs Colin sent are listed as '1950 - 5 Flt, 1 Wing' and '1951 - Hut 42 in Jan'
The family of John Ashenhurst U4241590 from 1958, say that in April 2016, John "is aged 89, living in a nursing home in Scotland."
John has been identified on the photograph listed as '1958 - Hut 292, 38 Flt'
Joe Ainsley V4267484 from 1961, says "I arrived at holding Sqd with two chaps from Hartlepool who had taken the same train as me from Middlesbrough. I spent the 'Queen's Pound' on the train on dinner ( 12s and six pence ) a couple of drinks and the waiter kept the rest.
After a couple of days we were marched to the barbers and I had no money to pay for the haircut. The Corporal had to pay... chaps in the hut took me to town where I was treated to many pints of beer. Later in training, we had been to town for a 'skinful' ( beer ) and I got into a fight with the chap fron Hartlepool. I hit him once and knocked him out. He awoke next morning with a black eye."
Philip Allman 3039044 from 1945, says he was "introduced to some of the niceties of Air Force life by the redoubtable Flight Sergeant Goodwin."
David Carroll 3520858 from 1955, says it was a "very tough time training but made a man from a boy."
Adrian Hunt L3528802 from 1960, remembers that he "was never the best recruit, but my time square bashing was an experience fondly remembered and never forgotten.
Still in touch with 804 Porter after 56 years and would hope that there are many more Regular and Nat.Service personnel enjoying a long and healthy retirement."
The photograph Adrian sent is listed as '1960 - Hut 210, 16 Flt'
Hedley Porter 3528804 from 1960, remembers that he "had a great time square bashing at Bridgnorth - no shock as I had been in the A.T.C for several years.
Our D.I s were Cpl Pickett and Cpl Fisher, both names will remain with me forever.
I have found a picture of us in Hut 177 in the Cpl Pickett collection page.
Looking at the Station photos, I well remember the Guard House - as a whole coach load of us spent some time in there after a punch up at the Castle Hall Ballroom in Bridgnorth.!!
All good memories. Sorry to read Cpl Pickett is deceased, he was hard but fair, a great example to all."
Leslie Hill 5066572 from 1959, remembers being "marched to the Astra and lectured by Station M.O. about Flu, told of an injection and that to receive the "Jab" is strictly voluntary, he went on to say that if we wanted the "Jab" we were to take off our jacket and roll up shirt sleeve, if you didn't want to volunteer you should keep your jacket on, he then asked us to wait for 5 mins before we started to file out so that he could check all his staff were ready, whilst waiting, our Sarg' D.I. got up said he was looking for people for a project, you can guess what he was implying, all had the "Jab". Guess what, we all got the Flu, some very bad, our 8 week "square bashing" was extended."
The photographs Leslie sent are listed as '1959 - Hut 189, 21 Flt' and '1959 - 21 Flt, 'C' Sqd'
David McDonald Y4267683 from 1961, says he "enjoyed it, was there from October to December 1961. The Drill Sergeant was Sgt Orange & Cpl Greensleave. Was in 7 Flt, hut 219. It was a good time, from there went to RAF Weeton to do my trade then to RAF Swinderby."
The photograph David sent is listed as '1961 - Hut 219, 7 Flt'
Peter Connor K4269927 from 1962, remembers "Drill Instructors, Cpl Crewe, Cpl Brown and Sgt.Overall."
George Grimes 4235160 from 1957 - 1958, says it "sent me on life's journey."
Brian Pepper 4197039 from 1957, says he had "great NCO's who got us weekends off whenever possible."
Kenneth Whiteman 2573628 from 1953 to Sept 1954, says that "whilst stationed at Bridgnorth I met my wife to be, who was a serving Police officer in the Shropshire Constabulary stationed at Bridgnorth."
Comment by the Webmaster - The newspaper article about Ken's marriage is mentioned on the 29th April 1955 of my web page titled RAF Personnel in the local newspaper.
I've sent Ken a copy of the 1955 newspaper article.
Peter Radcliffe 5062429 from 1958, remembers that it was "quite a culture shock when I joined the R.A.F as a National Service recruit to face the unknown at Cardington, where after the genteel time of nothing more energetic than sewing on name tags and picking up kit,"this feels good!" then Bridgnorth happened.
Wow! the noise plus the organized chaos one thinks, "what the hell has happened?" and then a MANS life started to emerge. I then started to enjoy every moment of my time in the Service. I only had a brief time square bashing before being sent to Uxbridge to rehearse for route lining duties in London for a State visit of, I think it was the President of West Germany? but to form up on Horse Guards and take up position in Parliament Sq. on day 1 and on day 2 near the Cenotaph was a tremendous thrill and proud moment and still in my memory, also the rest of the lads where pretty good too!
Whilst at Uxbridge we had demonstrations from the Central band of the R.A.F and the Drill Unit which are still good to this day and a delight to watch.
On return to our home unit we just had time for a quick "passing out parade" and off to new Stations, I was lucky as I was interested in athletics and posted to Cosford where I enjoyed every minute, ultimately a brief time at M.T.E Freckleton and then back to civilian life.
The Royal Air Force did a lot for National Servicemen and formed many good citizens."
Gerald Bailey B4266921 from 1961, says he "made many friends and memories at Bridgnorth during training. Have photo of Flt which I will scan and send by email. I have a small blue cover booklet with photos of the camp that I bought and sent to my parents at that time. Remember marching through Bridgnorth with bayonets fixed for Remberance Day 1961."
Graham Plimbley 5053802 from 1957 - 1958, says he "would like to hear from any of hut 214, or from the band, I am 79 now and my memory is not too good."
Cyril Smith 3525281 from 1957, says it was "a bitterly cold winter, the coal allocation for the cast iron stove in the hut was exhausted. When we requested more coal, we were told to use our initiative, so we launched a foraging expedition with dustbins after dark to 'borrow' some fuel from the Officers Mess. It felt heavy, when we got back to the hut, we found out it was anthracite. The next morning our hut was creating a dense white smoke-screen over the parade ground. No-one queried this to my knowledge."
Kenneth Wright 5038864 from 1957 - 1959, remembers having a "great time and made many friends, many of which still remain in contact 58 years later."
John Wilson E4178175 from 1956, remembers RAF Bridgnorth being "the coldest place on earth. Queueing in shirt sleeves, in the snow, waiting to have a TABT jab!"
Colin Hogg 4244060 from 1958, would like to contact "members of the winning rugby & football teams.
I did 7 days "jankers" for having my small pack covered in blue Blanco which the C.O. got all over himself when he went to pick it up from the top of my locker (Blanco still wet!) By the time it came down to the Cpl, the air was not fit to breath. Needless to say my feet didn't touch the proverbial floor and I did the worst 7 days in the RAF. However the rest of the 12 years was most full-filling. They say "you haven't been in "till you've done jankers"!"
Keith Davies 5081656 from 1960, remembers that "on the last day after Passing Out, excited about going home, went to bed early ready for the long journey home, being fast asleep heard the Tannoy, thought it was reveille, got up and dressed, all the rest of the billet must have realised what I was doing and didn't say a word. I got as far as the Parade ground before I realised "No buses" and I must have heard Lights out. Dull B----r."
The photographs Keith sent are listed as ''1960 - Hut 175 in Dec' and '1960 - Davies Flt'
Gordon Ellis 5029413 from 1956, says that "D.I. Crampton will live in my memory for the rest of the years I have left!"
The son of Sgt Bill Colyer (deceased) from 1948 - 1963, remembers living in the Station Married Quarters for 15 years. He says "I am the son of Sgt Bill Colyer just wondering if somebody remembers."
Bob Wagstaff 2443491 from 1949, says he was in "2 Flt, 1 Wing and a member of the Station Band under W.O. McKay-Fairgreaves.
Posted to RAF Cranwell, No.1 Radio School. Final posting - RAF Kirton Linsey, OCTU, HQ Signals Section."
Gerry Woods N4256771 from 1960, remembers the "trips to Calne and first time drinking scrumpy."
John Massey 4126171 from 1953, says he "marched into Bridgnorth on Coronation Day 2nd June 1953."
Maurice Turner 2438126 from 1949, remembers that he "got a weekend pass for best boots in the billet. On best Flight for square bashing."
John Brown 3502492 from 1947, remembers that "after a few weeks, we were sent home on fuel emergency leave, returned about end of March. Cigs were in short supply. I sold them for Cpl in day time, can't remember names."
Patrick Lynch F4201691 from 1959, says "I am trying to contact anyone who has photographs of my time at RAF Bridgnorth. I have found lots on this site but none with myself or the DIs Cpl Dryden or Cpl King. It is as if we never existed. I cannot find any photos of the DIs anywhere on this site. Please help as time is running out after all this time. Sqn Ldr Badini was our Squadron Commander and he sent me for an interview with the AOC recruit training. Thank you in advance."
Stan Walker 4251237Q from 1959, says he was in "Hut 59 fond memories. I went on to regular service and was commissioned eventually made Sqn Aldrich rank and an MBE happy days."
George Peates P4258489 from 1960, says he "doesn't wish to remember most of it. Do rememeber the Wolverhapmton Wanderers as we called the young ladies in that town."
Bryan Wykes 4269585 from 1962, remembers "walking into the town one evening and inadvertently chatting up the drill instructors girlfriend. Somehow he saw the funny side of the encounter.
Waking up one morning with snow covering my face after the hut window near my bed had been laft open to get rid of the fumes from the stove.
Was backflighted from 3 to 6 Flight owing to my having a temperature of 105 for two days. The DI's were a Cpl Daglish and a Sgt 'Pop' Over?
I recall the wide range of various accents among us. A lad from Liverpool left his kit bag on the stove overnight to dry. It was totally in shape next morning but crumbled to black ash when touched."
Gerry Guest 5023539 from 1956, says of the photograph listed as '1956 - July Flt' "that photo from Bryan Groves brings back memories. Thank you for that."
Tony Terry 4188900 from 1956 - 1957, remembers having a "great time, good memories. Going to see Wolves at the Molineux."
Denis Abberley 4241197 from 1958, remembers he was "awarded the best recruit of the Flight, leading the Flight off at Passing Out parade and I had the best bulled boots in the Flight ! Thanks to watching our drill Cpl Bouker giving his boots the final water treatment ! And I will never ever forget the Flight Sgt Davison !!! He gave me a severe ********* when I didn't see him come into the billet for not coming to attention. Wow he was quite a character !!! never to be forgotten !!!"
John Waddington 4139602 from 1953 - 1954, remembers that he "travelled to Bridgnorth from Cardington. DIs, their noses two inches from ours, snarling, 'Quiet, Charlie!', if we dared to utter a word after being handed over. A dark November evening, foggy and freezing cold. We enter the icey barrack room, our DI screams, 'See these effing windows? Open 'em ...!' The curtain on one side of the shack blew inwards and those on the other blew outwards ... These effing windows will stay open night and day. See this floor? It will be a mirror by tomorrow morning ...!' Two nightmarish and freezing months of pure bullshit and sadism followed, some poor devils cracked, most of us survived to marvel at how almost human the rest of our time (5 years) in the RAF would be. How wonderful it be if it were possible to meet some of those DI thugs again and scream, 'Quiet, Charlie', in their faces ...!"
Warren Murphy 4133555 from 1953, says that he "went in a boy and came out a man."
The daughter of Melvyn Chapman (deceased) from 1960, says "My Dad passed away in June 2015, age 76 and about a month before he died, he spent an evening telling me about RAF Bridgnorth. He had very fond memories of the time there and of the people.
He told me a story of someone being told to press their trousers, put a crease in them... so the person did, only it was a side crease not a front/back one!
My Dad is holding the plaque in the '1960 - Hut 34, 10 Flt' photograph."
Jim Nicol 4251737 from 1959, remembers having a "great time there, played football for Station and was one of special guard trained for possible funeral of Mr Churchill.
Didn't happen but we were used as Guard of Honour for Mayor of Coventry and enjoyed free viewing of stage show there. Made a lot of good mates."
The photograph Jim sent is listed as '1959 - Hut 88, 13 Flt'
Ivan Smith 4200034 from 1955 - 1956, remembers "having to shave in cold water at 6 in the morning."
Keith Brennan S4122543 from 1953, says "my memories were purely a learning curve. I enjoyed every day considering it was 'Square Bashing'."
Brian McArtney C4269052 from 1961 - 1962, says "I recognised myself in the photograph '1962 - Hut 152, 15 Flt' middle row, 2nd fron end, right hand side. On my right is Jim Green from Edinburgh.
Remember the Sgt (whoever) of the flight taking a few of us on a night exercise which involved fetching coal for his Married Quarters. So there it is - jointly concerned in the taking of coal. (Statute of Limitations applies)"
Richard Johnson 3525535 from 1957, remembers "the Coke Store. Raids on the coke store had to take place or we would all freeze. Well organised by the Barrack Seniors. The Drill Instructors were fierce, but we all survived, just."
Brian McPhee 5023393 from 1956, remembers he "picked a number two from a pack of cards to win an undisclosed treat. Just my luck I thought, only to find low numbers secured a free flight in an Anson over Wolverhampton.
Flt C was never issued with a gate pass. One Sunday I visited relatives near Birmingham, in uniform of course. I left my return too late for my bus, and not daring to go near the train station, decided my only option was to thumb a lift and then walk if necessary. My lift took me approx. two miles, hardly out of Birmingham. The rest I walked estimated to be 24 miles arriving about 4am. Climbed a 12ft fence as guard room area was bathed in lights. Made my way to my hut and bedspace only to find that's all it was. Blankets up in the rafters, bed in the latrines, I mean what are friends for, I needed that like a hole in the head. My conclusion to this never to be forgotten episode is, fear and adrenaline must go together."
Frank Williams 4248211 from 1959, says he has "similar memories to others posted for Jan / Feb 1959. Went down with flu, spent about a week in sick bay and then home leave. I have no happy memories of my time there, just the bitter cold!!"
The photograph Frank sent is listed as '1959 - Hut 181'
Tony Crowder 5057259 from 1958, says his "main memory was of frost and ice during February and barracks room stoves glowing red hot.
Having a monster cold and becoming deaf whilst being the hut rep meant great difficulty hearing daily instructions. Was determined not to be back flighted."
The photograph Tony sent is listed as '1958 - Hut 22 in March'
Mike Tilyard 4135885 from 1953, says "I remember it was bloody cold and I was always hungry!"
Donald Eaton 5076385 from 1960, remembers "being told by Cpl Fisher, if we did not toe the line, he would back Flight us so far we would all end up in the b.....y Stone Age !!!"
Walter Curry 4113512 from 1952, says "I had some great times in Hut 85, 8 Flt, B Sqd, 1 Wing."
Emlyn Phennah Y4253469 from 1959, says he "arrived by train from Cardington. Did Battle of Britain march past Bidston Town Hall. Volunteered for a trip to Stratford made to watch a 'Shakespeare play'!!!
Trained with C Sqd DI Cpl Taff Floyd. Passed out wearing AC2 Patterson's uniform from Sheffield. First taste of scrumpy up High Town, Bridgnorth in the Swan. Left for TT at RAF Compton Bassett as a GWM."
Malcolm McPherson 2479280 from 1950 - 1951, says "when ever I think about my time at RAF Bridgnorth, the most vivid memory is the time when Cpl Petrie fought AC2 Gordon Fisher (Bedfordshire ABA welter weight champion) in the boxing ring inside the hangar."
Tony Clack 3525184 from 1957, says he "seems to have lost the actual location of the Camp. It was about three miles from Bridgnorth town."
The former RAF Station is approx. 1 mile East of Bridgnorth. Although part of the site is now an industrial estate, a larger part is a pleasant wooded country park with several miles of level gravel footpaths.
By car, either one of these two routes will get you there within a few minutes.
Take the A458 Stourbridge Road out of Bridgnorth. Once out in the countryside, after 1/2 mile turn left at the roundabout. Entrance to the Country Park is 200 yards on your right.
Alternatively, take the Wolverhampton Road out of Bridgnorth. Once at the top of the long hill, turn right at the roundabout. Take the second left for the entrance to the Country Park.
Post code WV15 5HP is for a business address adjacent to the Country Park. A web site about Stanmore Country Park is available here
John Dickson from 1958, says he "did my basic at RAF Bridgnorth in 1958. Drill Instructors were Cpl Hartman and Cpl Dacey. Great people, at the time mind you, did not believe that one, Dacey, was right by the book. Hartman, he got me to sign on to the Rock Apes, so just wondering, how these two people are doing, does any one have any knowledge of them. Would be grateful to hear anything. I now live in Canada."
Larry Rowe K4261167 from 1960, remembers "Cpl Nimmock, whose training methods bordered on the illegal! Ron Atkinson, Oxford United footballer whose daily life in a track suit differed from ours on the parade ground."
Comment by the Webmaster - An newspaper article detailed the Court Martial of Cpl Nimmock in July 1961.
A copy can be found at the bottom of my web page titled RAF Personnel in the local newspaper.
John Tester 5058041 from 1958, remembers it being "cold, snowy weather. Also Cpl Wright and Cpl Lightfoot!"
John Robertson U4273835 from 1962, says he "joined with three chaps from Edinburgh, had a great time but lost track after basic training. Two of the chaps first names where Chris."
Bryan Small 5081483 from 1960, says "I was there from late October 1960 for basic training. I think my drill instructor was Cpl Wood. He sent me home most weekends to repair watches. I was sent on an exercise to draw a cottage but could not find it on a recent visit."
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 11 of memories
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