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Page 2 - Stories and memories of your time at RAF Bridgnorth.
Write and submit your memories here.
Les Fowler 3526568 from 1958, says that he "had a lovely time especially with the local girls who were very friendly. The "central heating" in the hut was a bit primitive though as we were only allowed 1 bag of coke per week, which led to regular raids on the coke compound to ensure our survival. As I was responsible for the fires I very nearly gassed the whole billet one night, using a combination of draught and flu controls on the fires, to extend the burning, the atmosphere changed and all the fumes came back into the room, sore throats all round for a while!!
Wonder what happened to the lad from Coventry who kept having his mug smashed on Corporal Hamilton's heel?
Not to mention the cold water shaves every morning when you started out with bum fluff which was detected on parade, ordered to start shaving, with perpetual razor scars for the rest of your life, trying to find a hair to shave!!
Oh, remember the jabs, when you had to line up which both arms hitched onto your sides like a two handled mug?. Sadists were lined up squirting all sorts of chemicals into your body. After mine I was very ill and had to be seen by the M.O. What an experience.
Another vivid memory was the survival exercise somewhere in Shropshire when we were camped on a slope overlooking a stream of dirty water, we had to build a rope bridge and cross it and cross in ever decreasing times, until everybody was tangled up in the middle and the ropes were cut, depositing the tribe into the water, luckily no one drowned. However I sustained an injury to my back when I fell onto an angle iron tent peg which still gives me jip."
'Taffy' Trevor Smith 4149343 from 1954, says "I remember after my first leave (48 hours) going home to Wales with a coach full of fellow Taffies. Missing the coach from Newport back to camp and arriving back the following day. Sgt Rice and Cpl. Eaves were not happy. Happy days."
The photograph that Taffy sent is listed as '1954 - Hut 177 in May'
John Thorpe 3523391 from 1956, says that he "was in Hut 35. Does anyone remember a Sergeant DI Bovingdon?
The unidentified building in the photograph collection is I believe the little concrete room into which we all dashed wearing gas masks and had to pull them off prior to dashing out! This to experience a gas attack.
Memories at the end of eight weeks of hard work, pride, being fit and full of life and enjoying the few accolades that the cup win brought. They did a stirling job turning a rabble into a precision unit."
In 2015, John added a further message.
"Whilst perhaps not believing so at the time, it was one of the most memorable and enjoyable times of my life, full of fun and camaraderie! A rabble walked in and a fully fit and proud group of Airmen marched out, due in the main to the D.I.'s. Happy days!"
The photograph that John sent is listed as '1956 - 10 Flt 'A' Sqd'
Keith Stelling 4091433 from 1952, asks "does anybody else remember the 6th February, 1952. We were called in off a freezing square to be informed that King George VI had died and that we were now serving his heir and successor, our present Queen. We were then given the rest of the day off, an event that pleased us, it being an extreme rarity! I also remember a "double booking" at the Gym. which resulted in us doing our exercises outside in very low temperatures. They even had us doing press-ups on loose gravel. Happy days? I think not."
Cliff Bennett 4235158 from the Winter of 1957/58, says "my memories were; The FREEZING cold. The SNOW came under the hut door about 12 inches. NO BAYONETS on square-bashing (because of the ICE). NO WALL on the assault course (because of injuries). NO HOT WATER (we had nicked the coke to try to warm our hut from the wash-room boiler) Sleeping in our clothes and still COLD. NO gas training (because of illness). Nevertheless I came away fitter than I went in."
Roy Lawrance 2357123 from 1947, says "In the summer of 1947, we had 8 weeks glorious susnshine. The only time it rained was the day of the passing out parade. It crashed down, dissolving the blanco on our webbing and turning highly polished buttons green. The parade finally took place in the hangar, where commands echoing off the walls created chaos in timing, causing grounding rifle butts to sound like machine gun fire. What a disappointment to Flight 13 - "the best flight there had ever been at Bridgnorth". The cynics however realised that this remark was probably attributed to every flight at passing out time.
One Saturday I walked on my own into Bridgnorth town. There was a film on that day that I particularly wanted to see but no one else wanted to join me. I arrived while the trailers, etc were on and the usherette showed me to a seat by the dim light of her torch. At the end of the film, the lights went up and I found myself, in my brand new RAF uniform, in the centre of a large group of German POWs. Did the usherette do that on purpose, I wondered."
Geordie Scales 3529338 from 1961, asks "can anyone remember the last national servicman, he was in my flight unfortunately he cocked everything up and ending up being back flighted. He even threw his rifle into a hedge and legged back to Wolverhampton. He never wanted to join anyway and I believe he was later discharged. Happy day's."
Ian Hatch K3525776 from 1958, says "I received an email a couple of years ago from somebody wanting information on the location of the rifle range in the late 1950's. I think it came from somebody on the Forcesreunited website.
My memories after the eternal train ride from Cardington was the march from Bridgnorth station down the hill then up again to the gateway (to hell?)
I see from the list of NCO's that McCluskie is shown as 1960-61? I survived square-bashing at his hands in 1958 - enlisted Feb 5th, so probably was there from late Feb until late May (the northern climes gave me pneumonia, however I did escape the gas experience as a result) Thence to Yatesbury, also gone from the face of the earth."
Brian Rothwell 2744361 from 1955, says "I have made contact with Mansel Richards the chap who was in the bed to my right, Colin Nestor was in the bed to my left he came from Leigh, my dad gave him a lift to Warrington at the end of squarbashing. I went to Cattrick in the Rockapes."
Mitch Mitchell W4273773 from 1962, says that "I never forget having to send our Civvies home as this was another way of stopping us from going off camp for the first few weeks until we could march and salute correctly. I remember some of us sneaking out to Bridgnorth Town and then getting caught on our way back in through the toilet area by our DI Cpl 'Scouse' Willis. We tried to make out we had just gone to the toilets but he was too smart to fall for that. Ended up doing jankers in the kitchen potash & peeling potatoes.
Another time was when we doing fix bayonet drill and some of us were not getting it right, and Cpl Willis yelled out, "get hold of the bayonet as if it was your Dick" and just at that time unknown to him a lady with a baby pusher was walking past behind him, and we just curled up laughing. That was the end of bayonet drill for that day!
I enjoyed my time at Bridgnorth and Cpl Willis was a bloody good DI. Some of the names I remember were Ray Dunn, Terry Morgan, Brian Stallybras, Paddy Farrell and another Irish lad Amon Andrews."
Eddie Edwards 3525530 from 1957/58, says that "the lads and I first met up at Cardington, where we were kitted out, it all seemed very calm,? but I knew that it was not to last, I had spent 5 years in the Air Training Corpse so I had a very good idea what was about to happen, the train trip from Cardington went off without a hitch. Arriving at Bridgnorth Rail Station Lorries were waiting to transport us to the camp,and our freedom for the next 12 weeks belonged to the drill instructors, [remember], well that was 49 years ago, and I feel none the worse for it, after training I was posted to R.A.F. Ayios Nickolaos Famagusta Cyprus where I spent the next three years, any of my old buddies out there remember our Flight Commander F/O.Subba Rowe The England cricketer. Bridgnorth that was something to tell the grandchildren. Thanks for taking the time to read this, P.J.E. [Eddie] Colchester."
Des Deans 4173495 from 1955, says that he did "Square bashing Sept 1955. Started basic training as a boy and left there as a man. Our DI was Corporal Evans who looked after us like a father. Went in fairly fit came out even fitter, what great days they were, wonderfull memories of teamwork and comradeship."
The photographs that Des sent are listed as '1955 - Hut 21, 21 Flt' and 'Marksman's target' in the 'General photographs' section.
Ian Thoms 4251646 from 1959, says that he "did my square bashing in April 1959 B flight, now live outside RAF Cosford 15 miles away. I drive to the old camp now and again where there is a plaque to all who served there. Some of the old hangars are still in use as it is now an industrial estate."
David Jefferson 4259396 from 1960, says "I remember the chaos! 'Square-bashing'. Doing everything in double-time; never having a chance to take a breath and the first experience with a Lee Enfield .303 rifle - a REAL weapon. It was a hot and glorious summer and after Pass-out Parade, you could have taken on the world and WON you felt so good and fit. It was an unforgettable experience which definitely made a positive difference to my subsequent life."
Also see David's other memories here.
Peter Boulton 2769388 from 1955, says that "somehow I was adjudged as Best All Round Recruit and was presented with a certificate by the C.O."
A copy of Peter's certificate is listed as 'Certificate of Merit 1955' in the 'General photographs' section.
Eric Russell 2763143 from 1955, says that "my wife and I now live in happy retirement in Shropshire, only fourteen miles from Bridgnorth to where we often make trips for a look round and a meal. Recently called at site of former camp and was delighted to see the memorial to those who served there.
Many memories of my 'brief' time at Bridgnorth are in my book 'Erks Eye View' (ISBN 1-85858-054-4) now out of print, but available in some libraries if anyone is interested. Regards to all ex Bridgnorth boys (and girls)"
Comment by the Web Master - what a coincidence. Just last week, I requested Bridgnorth library to obtain a copy of your book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Not having been in the Forces myself, I shall find the five pages of "RAF expressions and slang" particularly useful !!
Jim Hart 4060261 from 1951, says that "I was in Sick Quarters for about a week suffering from the 'flu. We didn't put the fires on because of having to clean them out and blancoing them every morning. Whilst I was a Sick quarters the rest of the flight learned about rifle drill and I got the lads to teach me so as not to be re-flighted, our one big dread."
The photograph that Jim sent is listed as '1951 Hut in February'
Keith Hood W4267843 from 1961, says that "the team spirit throughout my basic training was second to none. ALL of my room mates were in it together and we all graduated on time. Although I flunked my firearms section I was allowed to gradute without being back flighted. In the cold December winter, we raided the NAAFI coalyard to keep us warm, it was called 'initiative'. After the Passing out parade, I was given a lift to Wolverhampton station in the Staff car of the reviewing Grp Capt. If only we could put troublesome youths of today through the basic training of the 50/60's I believe we would be a much better society."
Stan Batson 4112125 from 1952, remembers "AC2s - Manchester, Sealey, Drane, Gill, Taylor, Kendall, Hill, Gaskell, Packham, Rae, Blythe, James, Narbett and of course Cpl Lindsay."
Brian Connell 3516155 from 1953, asks if anyone has "any memories of the Route Lining Flight trained especially for the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's visit to the Principality of Wales after the Coronation?"
Dave Fox 4120147 from 1953, recalls "that HAD to be the coldest few weeks I had ever experienced (January 1953) when 'squarebashing' at Bridgnorth. It was SO cold in those billets that guys would sleep in their uniforms as there didn't appear to be any heating supplied for the pot-belly stoves - not the most pleasant of memories. The things that come to mind from those now distant days were not the usual memories associated with the RAF, but just recalling that it was the time that sweets (candies) came 'off ration' so many years after the war and everyone went crazy to the point that the Government actually put them BACK on ration for an additional period of time. Another memory was hearing that Josef Stalin had died in that same time period. It's too bad that the photograph I still have of the group of us 'sprogs' from those days doesn't have any names or home towns listed on the reverse as it would be interesting to see whatever happened to them after spending those few weeks getting whipped into shape by the Corporal Drill Instructor. One thing that does come to mind though is that the few weeks of square-bashing for us 'teenagers' sure gave us an insight into the need for respect for authority that is sadly lacking in today's youth. I often think that a return to something similar to National Service wouldn't be amiss in today's world."
'Taffy' Barry Jones 4175898 from Winter 1955/56, says that "I think we all realised after recruit-training and later on in years, it was the best thing that could have happened to us, no regrets. Did recruit-training, then on to Far East and worked on mobile oxygen plants.
In 2010, Barry added a further message.
"Just to thank Eddie for sending his photograph of 1955-Midwinter's Flt. He said he was 6th from the left on the 3rd row down, well I was the 5th on the left, next to him. I have been looking for that photo for a long time, misplaced mine. Thanks again Eddie."
Bas Hanrahan F4273629 from 1962, says that "I travelled to Bridgnorth on the 18th June 1962, from Liverpool Recruitment office, Pall Mall (now defunct) with Phil Broadbere and Mick Hanlon. We were entrained at Lime Street and detrained at Wolverhampton, whence we travelled by MT, Bedford bus to RAF Bridgnorth.
My memories are of the drill (I loved it, as an ex ATC cadet, it was a breeze) Morning run out to a cafe on the Kidderminster road, at the top of a hill, but no stopping for a cuppa, followed by a final speed run over the air raid shelter mounds. I saw a few of the guys later on in my career, Terry Shuff at Brampton, the Coppers (poodle pushers) Pete Everett and Phil Godber at, I think, Coningsby and Bahrain and maybe Neatishead and Oakhanger. Also Tony Gorman at Locking during trade training."
The photograph that Bas sent is listed as '1962 Hut 221 Aug'
Alan Maines 4248503 from 1959, says that "I arrived at RAF Bridgnorth by train from RAF Cardington. We did not arrive at Bridgnorth Station but at a halt near the camp and had to run across a field into the camp. I remember this well because the shouting started well before the train had ground to a stop. From being treated like gentlemen at Cardington, all hell let loose at Bridgnorth and the nightmare began. I was a Regular (five years) and had been issued with a holdall, this being much more difficult to carry than the kitbag. I think we were D Sqdn with Yellow backs to our badges. The DI was Cpl Fowler, who made a great job of sorting us out, in the end a great guy. In fact we were the top Sqdn. During our intake the Spitfire or Hurricane was moved one night I think to one of the parade grounds or in front of the CO's office. Does anyone else remember the train halt? I was at Bridgnorth Station recently and none of the Severn Valley Railway staff could throw any light on it."
The photographs Alan sent are listed as '1959 Hut 293 in Feb' and '1959 39 Flt in Feb'
Ted Marston 4179079 from 1956, says that "I remember it was very cold in Feb 1956. Our D/I Cpl Pottinger was a big fan of Eartha Kitt."
The photographs that Ted sent are listed as '1956 March' and '1956 March Flt'
Arthur Wallington 4198872 from late 1957, says that he can remember "camping out over weekend and in the middle of the night awake with some guy yelling "Wiki Wiki Wiki". Making our own bivouac with 2 groundsheets. And the relief of having a bath on return to base."
'Golly' David Hills A4258246 from 1960, says that "it was a bit of a shock arriving in Bridgnorth after an easy civvy life in 1960, age 18. It was good meeting people from all over Great Britain and how easy it was to become a team. I still have contact with Roy Sturdy who joined at the same time and was posted to the Airfield Construction unit with me. Special thanks to Cpl Linus, a big Irishman who's bark was worse than his bite. I hope he is still around."
The photographs David sent are listed as '1960 Hut 120' '1960 Group' and '1960 Band'
Michael Durrant H3523979 from 1956/57, says "I was on "A" Squadron, 4 Flight, (red hat badge disk) and lived in Hut 23. I remember returning from Wolverhampton after lights out and buying a bottle of hot tea and a roll from the van parked outside the main gate. We had three D.I.'s, one named Mitchell, (not sure if he was Cpl or Sgt) and a Cpl Klieser, (who was P.O.M.) can't remember the name of the third one. On a recent "nostalgia" visit whilst staying at the local caravan site the security man on the gate was most helpful and allowed me to wander around. It seems strange that after 12 years in the RAF and 33 years in "Works & Bricks" on RAF Stations, I have never met anyone who was there the same time as me."
Geoff Royle 5062057 from 1958, says "Only at Bridgnorth for the drills - square-bashing, team-building, physical training, etc. Remember D Squadron 34 flight, Corporals Hoath & Browning. We won the Drill Cup and the Efficiency Cup - due in part to scraping away old polish from every square inch of the billet floor with knife-fork-and-spoon. Brasso spilled on trousers dried out on parade leaving a big white smudge - caused a massive row. In the process of cleaning up, a 4 inch cold water main in the ablutions burst - me and others were swept away, nearly went down the drain. A wonder (50yrs on) I am not still on jankers."
David Topham E4164515 from 1955, says "What can one say. It was one of the coldest winters on record but we still did our R & I up in the hills near the Wrekin. I eventually served for 15 years mostly in the Middle East. The best years of my life."
The photograph David sent is listed listed as '1955 - Topham's Flt'
Mike Green 3114403 from 1948, says "the passing of the years has blurred my memory of this period. Sadly I can not say that this was a happy period, I suppose mainly due to home sickness! I recall vividly one incident involving one day in June 1948 when we were all assembled on the parade ground to be informed that, due to some Royal event, (a Royal birth?), we were all to be given the day off. Two of us, (both Brummies), decided to try and get home. We had no choice in those days but to start walking, hoping to hitch a lift. Our lack of skill in this matter resulted in our walking the whole distance, about 14 miles, to Wolverhampton where we caught a bus to Birmingham. I had blisters on my feet for a week! My drill instructor was named Corporal Saunders, not Sanders of the bloody river he used to stress! I was only at Bridgnorth for the 8 weeks square bashing, and was then posted to RAF Credenhill, Hereford, for training on Pay Accounts."
Gordon Flinders 3127806 from 1951/52, says that "I was stationed at Bridgnorth 1951/52 as a cook at HQ kitchens behind the main gate. The Sergeant in charge was called Ward, we all called him Cirly Ward. Also on Staff was A/C Codling/ Bannerman/ McGinness/ Pritchard. We received an award for the dining room in 1951 presented to a Ft LT Smith. Does anyone remember Ft/Ser Chambers a real disciplinarian, not to be confused with SF/Ser Chambers in charge of the dinning hall. Many happy memories of my stay on this camp."
Taff Owen 3127295 from 1950-1952, says "I have mixed memories of Bridgnorth, having read other comments about the Station, which are mainly from recruits. I was Permanent staff.
I have vivid memories of driving 3 tonners, full of these raw recruits and then watching how they changed from the raw into a well drilled person.
I remember the Kings Colour Flight practicing for the big parade in London. Also remember a huge castle being built out of scaffolding which was lit up at night and this Lancaster doing a low level flight through the searchlight beams, very impressive!
I also remember a Flight Sergeant who would stand at the hanger entrance when we got paid. He would check everybodies hair cut as they passed him. If it was not to his liking, he would make a signal to his Sergeant who always stood at the side of the pay desk. He would take your name and check up on you to see if you had been to the barber. I think the Chiefy's name was Chambers but not sure on that.
I remember an Officer committing suicide in the Officers mess and the duty driver had to take the ambulance up there to remove the body, not a nice job for the lad, his name was Joe Geldart. I also remember an Officer was killed whilst hitch hiking a lift in a lorry. The lorry skidded on ice on the road outside Wolverhampton. It overturned, he was thrown out and the cab landed on him, the same Officer had given an airman 7 days jankers for hitch hiking only a few days previously!
We used to go down to town drinking. Invariably I would go to the "Black Boy" I think it was called. The landlord would quite often sing some songs from the shows for us, apparently he had been on the stage at some time.
Another story I remember was two airmen joining the MT section who were long serving airmen. They got drunk and in trying to climb the railings at the top of the cliff railway, fell all the way down, their uniforms covered in black grease! At the end of our drinking sessions down town, we would invariably go down to the MT section and have steak and bacon sandwiches fried on the one of those round stoves we had in the billets. This was washed down with mugs of lovely tea! the steak was always provided by the driver who was driving the ration wagon that day!
I remember too when the Station was awarded the freedom of the town of Shrewsbury. We had dozens of wagons carrying all the personnel there and the chaos it caused when the KSLI band started playing at their marching pace!
Some of the lads names I can remember in our billet and section were Cartwright from Kiddy, Doran an Irishman who lived out but who used our billet when he was visiting married quarters. He got into bed one night about 10 secs. before two SP's burst thro' the door with his great coat on in bed, can't remember if he managed to get his boots off! Then there was a guy called Nutter, that was his real name! His bed space used to be littered with straw every morning after romping in the haystack the previous night! Another chap was Cookie from where they used to make the Vauxhall cars, he also had a mate who came from the same place who was one of the mechs. The Corporal mech. was a chap called Baynham (Lofty) I saw him many years later and recognised him by his voice! The billet Corporal was a chap called Robinson. We also had lads from the Black Country who had an accent that was very difficult for someone like me, a Welshman, to understand!
We also had one of the tallest blokes I have ever seen. He had a special piece put on the end of his bed, his nickname obviously was "Lofty" it was a work of art to see him driving one of the small ambulances we had! We had all sorts of jobs to do like driving the pregnant women from married quarters to their weekly check ups in RAF Cosford. I would often drive the Station Commanders Glider to and from Cosford and if he didn't make it back to there, we would have to fetch it back from wherever. Happy memories, but I was glad to get back to civvy street and get back to my job for which I had just qualified for before being called up. If anyone remembers me, drop me an email."
Comment by the Webmaster - I've added a photograph of the 'Black Boy' public house to the web site for you. See it in the 'How it looks now' then the 'Bridgnorth town' section.
In August 2010, Taff added these further memories;
I have various memories of Bridgnorth. I arrived there from training in RAF Hednesford? in Hereford. we had some great nights in the Black Boy? A chap named Bert I think owned the place, he used to like getting on his feet and singing the old Music Hall numbers. I remember the laundry runs to Birmingham, also the ration truck routines on the Station, we would beg lumps of steaks from the butcher, Horace I think his name was, these would be cooked on the stove in the MT section office after a night out in town. Ian Grant and I would walk home from town after a few beers, I would try and teach him Welsh, he did the same with me but in Arabic!
We also had a lad we called Lofty, he was about 6ft 8ins tall and had an extension welded on to his bed! Our Cpls. were Cpl Robinson, Cpl Baynham, Hoppy can't remember his proper name, there was also Cooky a driver, also a great hearted West Indian who never took umbrage at any thing that was thrown at him.
I also remember a smallish guy who used to play the piano in the NAAFI every night, but with one finger, until he learnt to used them all, which was when I left the RAF I think! And last but not least I remember our Chiefy, Flg. Sergeant Richards? I remember also the night an officer committed suicide in the Officers mess, shot thro' the head with his service reveolver.
From 1957 - "Pete Rodgers 5054631 is my name - spent a very cold winter in hut 19 Bridgnorth. I remember snow blowing in through the open door in the middle of the night and covering my bed which was near the door. We went to Bridgnorth for 'square bashing' late 1957 from Cardington. (I remember leaving Central station at Manchester for Cardington saying goodbye to girlfriends along with other lads)
I was senior man over three huts, a job I did not want, but having just arrived and everyone standing for inspection at the bottom of their beds, someone with stripes and a moustache pointed a stick at me and said 'you are senior man', not many would have the bottle to say - there's better men than me around. I was 22 years old when I was conscripted and most of the airmen joining at the same time were only 18 or so which made me look a bit wiser. I've always looked a bit serious and intelligent, but inside I am a bit of a slow thinker which made people think I was cleverer than I really was. (Never been any good at pub quizzes and the like)
I have a treasure photograph of about sixty airmen with me sat in the middle with an armband on denoting senior man which made me very proud. Would be great to see some of these airmen now.
I remember an R & I (Reliability and Initative) venture where some of us were dropped off in some wild countryside and we had to make our way back to the camp over a period of two or three days. Every one looked to me and I did not have a clue coming from a terraced house in Clayton Manchester. The nearest I ever got to the countryside was Phillips park in Bradford! But looking serious as I usually do, everybody was calm, thinking I had everything under control - including the sleeping arrangements - what a laugh! We spent the first night huddled together for warmth against a dry stone wall under our capes held up by branches ( MY IDEA! ) Everyone except me had a cold next morning, don't know why I was spared but this elevated me again in the eyes of my squad. I remember on this trip bringing out our dry rations and thinking how welcome a fire would be. I brought into play my scouting days and started to rotate a stick against a piece of dry wood with some dry kindling. After about ten minutes blowing hard and just getting some smoke (no flames) one of the lads offered me a box of matches! Must have been a regular airman I thought, - National Servicemen could not afford to smoke! luckily I was not embarrassed - no one saw him give me the matches which started the fire and elevated my standing to that of a God!
I also remember the injections! what a nightmare! - I could not salute an Officer because I could not bend my arm due to lumps and the pain. I also had the collar up on my 'greatcoat' feeling very cold. I tried to avoid him by going around the back of one of the huts but he must have seen me, because he caught up with me and put me on a charge. All good fun - then off to Cardington again - this this time to join the balloon unit as a balloon operator. But that is another hilarious story!!"
Bill Williams 2205458 from 1943, says that "we were confined to Camp due to a Scarlet Fever outbreak while there. I have been to Bridgnorth several times since, inc. what is left of the old RAF Station. It is a very interesting town."
In May 2010, Bill added;
Am still in touch with one or two others that were there then - ex. Bomber Command survivors - now 85 yrs + and "Pressing on regardless" !!!!
Thinking about attending the 2010 Reunion - would very much like to.
In March 2013, Bill added;
Got a 36 hours Pass and travelled home to Anglesey to show parents my uniform! Arrived home Sat evening and returned early Sunday morning (via Wolverhampton) Posted to No.4 Radio School, Madley end of June. Not many of us left!
John W Holmes 4178185 from 1956, says that "I had a great time at Bridgnorth as my Sgt (who was from Cornwall) loved Lowestoft (Suffolk) kippers and saw to it that I went home most weekends to get him a small box of kippers which we sometimes cooked on the stove in our billet. We had a Corporal Britian (I think that is how his name was spelt). On one occasion while doing night patrol around the camp my mate and I arrested our officer for not producing his ID Card, this was in spite of threats about our future. A few days later we were called up before the CO and thought that we were in for it. However, much to our surprise and delight we were congratulated for our action. After completing my square bashing I went on the train at RAF Chigwell to be an aerial erector. I had three wonderful years in the RAF and thanks to my training I gained employment with the then GPO (General Post Office) about two years after leaving the RAF. I ended my carer as a manager and am still enjoying life. I will always remember the many pleasant Officers, NCO's and ordinary airman with whom I had the privilege to serve with. Thank you, John."
Joe Colbert 4201254 from 1958, says that "it was a bit of a culture shock coming from RAF Cardington where we had spent the first week in the RAF and being on first name terms with the NCO's there. I was in 37 Flight with Sgt Macleod and a Cpl Roughhead, I don't remember the other Cpl at all."
Mike Leather 4244444 from 1958, says that he can "remember Cpl Sturgess & the flu epidemic"
Ronald 'Scouse' Jones U4271662 from 1962, says "I have the usual memories of Bridgnorth, a lot of shouting, bulling, marching, running. But I must add that I would love the chance to do it all again. I 'volunteered' to mow the grass around the billets one Sunday, using one of the old cylinder push mowers. It jammed, so I foolishly tried to unjam it with my hands. Well the blade sprung forwards and sliced my index finger to the bone. 6 stitches later, I could only manage to get my marksman on the 'Bren gun' and 1st Class on the .303. But the friendships that grew from those days and the lovely town of Bridgnorth still hold good times for me."
Doug Field 4195688 from 1957, remembers "the 'Culture Shock' of arriving at Bridgnorth Station to begin Basic Training, after being called 'Mister' at RAF Cardington prior to signing on for 3 years! Being yelled at by Sergeant Burke because I was walking across the Parade Ground while the Ensign was being lowered! Having to cut the grass around Hut 82 with our 'irons' before being granted a weekend pass! Corporal Billows was the Drill Instructor for Hut 82 at the time."
Colin Hide V4193001 from 1957, says that he remembers "that awful day of arrival, and being told to scratch the highly polished floor with our nailed boots. The late suppers in the Airmens Mess, eating up the left overs, and the rationing of butter !"
Mike 'Sticky' Glue 4257200 from 1960, says that "I remember our drill corporals, Moran & McCluskie. Also remember it was a bitterly cold winter in Hut 156!"
Bill 'Jock' Christie 2730729 from 1954, says that after "arriving from Cardington, Bridgnorth was pretty intimidating. Thrown together, under ferocious Instructor control, it was daunting, but uniting. After 6 weeks we left as better people not hating our Instructors - respecting them; at least I did. I was left with deep feelings of comradeship, a sense of purpose. Bridgnorth was a stepping stone to a new way of looking at life."
John Allan 5078192 from 1960, says that "we were at Bridgnorth for eight weeks and our two Corporals and the Sergeant turned us into a smart well drilled group. We learned to respect them as they were always imaculately turned out and I had no complaints, all you had to do was do as you were told and be smart. Once you got over the nightmare arrival on the bus or should I say getting off the bus, things got better."
Derek Calder 5080870 from 1960, says that "in common with others I went to Bridgnorth from Cardington where I was kitted-out.
The drill instructor was Corporal Gorman. My memories are now a bit vague, but I remember the 'Tear Gassing' we all received and the seemingly endless drill and PT. I managed to get a Marksman's badge and being the fittest I've ever been when I left that camp. I went from there to No2 Radio Training School at RAF Yatesbury and ended up as Junior Technician. From there I was posted to RAF Lechonfield and on to Acklington on an Air Sea Rescue Detachment. Happy days!"
Eric Pugh 2754202 from 1955, says that "when I first arrived in our hut I opened the drawer in my side locker to find that the previous occupant had left me a razor blade with the message "I should use this now if I were you !"
Chris Bradley M4273929 from 1962, says that he remembers "wooden huts with brown lino floors and a coal stove in the center for heat, never used naturally, because it would ruin the shine!
Our Corporal was Tom Hirons, a nice guy once we got past the first few weeks. I also remember the Squadron Leader was Sqdn Ldr Badini, supposed to be a Polish Count, most people left the O out in describing him! It was said he could spot a bad shave at 1000 yards!!
Overall very fond memories, I made deputy senior man in our hut.....A good start to my 9 years."
John Penman, 4266480 from 1961, says that "I remember reporting in with some other guys at the front gate, and being yelled at for no apparent reason. We all wondered "What have we gotten into" It was all a bit intimidating until I figured out they were just trying to make us RAF material. The Flights ahead of ours used to tell us horror stories of what lay ahead. Do you remember what they told us about the tear gas hut, and how the Enfield would break your shoulder when it fired. When it was all done, I never felt so fit in my life. Went on to "Instrument Fitter". Nowadays, manage government emergency communications."
Michael Bray X5076900 from 1960, says that he "arrived 5 Flt A Squadron early April. Could not carry a bin of coke fast enough for Cpl Nimmock. Result rupture operation at Cosford. Back flighted to 18 Flt C Sqn(?). Missed official pass out which was street lining in London for the the King & Queen of Siam Jul 1960."
John Falloon 4261966 from 1960 says "I joined the RAF in November 1960 and attended RAF Cardington in Bedfordshire where we were sworn in. That was the time instrumentals like 'Apache' by the Shadows was playing. Percy Faith was playing 'A Summer Place' and Johnny Mathis sang 'My love for You' and there were many artists then before the Beatles arrived on the scene three years later! A group called 'The Ventures' was popular. A year prior to that, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and Big Bopper had all died in a plane crash and it was three years before President Kennedy would be assassinated! How long ago it all seems!
After settling in at Cardington for the night we then took the cattle train to RAF Bridgnorth for ten weeks of square bashing. Most enjoyable. Our man in charge was Corporal Crooke who took us tenderly through the rigorous training in the bitter cold of that winter. I can remember only two billet mates of that period, Chris Chadwick # # and AC Brumby (ex Petty Officer) The Corporals names were Cpl Jolly and Cpl Crooke. We managed to win the drill cup. I was in 'A' Flt and hut 20. We went for the usual drill marches and rifle parades. I managed to get marksman at the range and proudly wore the insignia on my right forearm (well, I was young and impressionable at the time!) I remember a pheasant on a hill just above the range and I'm sure there was a temptation to take a pot at it but no one did.
On one weekend we went to Wolverhampton to see the city. (the local prostitutes were called Wolverhampton Wanderers) I remember being in a cafe and the Drifters were playing 'Save the Last Dance for me'. The Diamonds sang 'Little Darlin'. In the afternoon I went to see 'The Apartment' with Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine. One of the best films of the period no doubt!
RAF Cosford was nearby and in those days it use to be the training camp for Boy Entrants. It now houses a very impressive aircraft museum so I gather. It would be really nice to speak to someone who was at Bridgnorth between November 1960 and end of December 1960 whatever group they were in!
In 1967 I emigrated to Australia with the family where I have lived ever since. That concludes, for now, my reminiscences. Thank you."
# # Comment by the Webmaster. In March 2012, Chris Chadwick registered on this site but can't contact you on your listed email address.
David Fitches M4270391 from 1962, says that "I would like to get in touch with anyone who met up with me at RAF Netheravon (Dog School) RAF Driffield, RAF Wittering, RAF North Coates or in Bahrain."
The photograph David sent is listed as '1962 Hut 189 March'
The family of Fred Freeman (desceased) 916461 from 1940, says they "have been told by IWM that No 7 RC, was where he was during this time. I would be interested to learn more about the station at this time."
Dick Doyle J4265627 from 1961 says that "my memories of Bridgnorth are very good. I'm just disappointed with myself that I can't remember the lads names. I hope that somebody who sees my photo,s will remember some names and contact me"
The photographs Dick sent are listed as '1961 Hut 157, 13 Flt' and '1961 13 Flt 'B' Sqd'.
Bob Aspey 5063293 from 1958, says that he has "happy memories of Bridgnorth. I was in Flight 18, Hut 207 right opposite the 'Drill Hanger' I made a great friend in Adrian Bader from Newport Mon. but lost track of him when I went on to trade training ( Hope someone can track him down ! ) Went on to RAF Locking and RAF Negombo Ceylon. These are some of the names of brilliant pals I worked with during my National Service - Derek Maughan, Dennis Wordsworth, Mike Canning, Alan Moore, Brian Eaton, John Playle, David "Robbie" Burns, Ray Nelson, Gordon Hodgson, Mike Hollingswoth. Does anyone know their whereabouts?"
Ken Alley 5080014 from 1960 says that "I arrived in Bridgnorth in 1960 at age 21, for square bashing! but my time there was cut short as some of us had to go to London to train for a route lining ceremony. We were based at West Drayton while we trained but the actual training was done at Uxbridge. We spent days around the Uxbridge camp roads learning how to 'Drop Off' after counting a certain number of paces from the 'Markers'
If anyone remembers this could they please contact me for some reminiscing. (Sign of getting old!)"
The photograph Ken sent is listed as '1960 Hut 289'
Frank Clark 3126632 from 1950 says that "on looking back on my time at Bridgnorth, I can say that overall I enjoyed it. Like Maurice Dobson in one of the memoirs submitted, I too took part in the P.T. display at Farnborough Air show which spared us a lot of the aggro of square-bashing but was hard work nevertheless! I remember we were under canvas at Farnborough and it poured with rain - we were instructed to dig trenches around our tents but were told there weren't enough spades to go round and to use our knives and spoons - which we did! Our best blues were soaked and when we hung them up to dry in the tent, the trousers stayed in a sort of bow-legged shape!
I also had the opportunity to play in the Station cricket team once or twice. It was at Bridgnorth that I experienced my only occasion of getting pie-eyed. Going out with the lads to Bridgnorth one evening, I was sat at the piano (I was a pianist) and they asked me what I'd like to drink. Being almost teetotal I said "Oh a lemonade". Of course my mates couldn't have that and unbeknown to me brought back a glass of gin with a little lemonade in it. Concentrating on the playing, I downed the cocktail gradually and don't remember the rest of the evening. Next morning however, I got a right rollocking from the NCO on the parade ground in front of the rest of the parade! Apparently I'd turned the hut lights out right in the middle of bed-check and plunged the duty Officer and NCO in darkness - not once but twice - as my bed was next to the light switch! I'd also got up at 2:30am and went down the lines of huts in my vest and plimsolls asking all and sundry if it was time to go to the cookhouse (I was doing my stint there at the time)!
But I look back on it all now with great nostalgia and even look kindly on Corporal Roberts who was our DI. I wonder if he is still alive or if anyone else recalls the period. I'm not sure whether it was Bridgnorth or Compton Bassett where I shared a hut with Peter Baker who went on to play for Spurs and young England. Great times!!"
Rod Beck 3154754 from 1959 says that "when square bashing, remember our Corporal would not let us wear our parade boots. We had to wear ordinary shoes. The boots were to be saved for the final pass out parade."
John Cox 4124791 from 1953 says that "it seemed a drag at the time but when I look back on it, my time at Bridgnorth was one of the most memorable of my four years in the RAF. I met so many people all of whom I have lost touch with. Old mates like Martin Donnelly "Dad" Dixon, Squires, Hopgood, Brian Gadsby, G Lynch, Taffy, Peek, not forgetting my good friend I joined up with, Joe Segolem. Please contact me if you read this message."
Peter Sandilands 2382459 from 1948 says that "I really enjoyed square-bashing at Bridgnorth, despite the 'bull' and the shouting on the Parade Ground. I remember playing football, between the huts, with a tall, skinny, ginger-headed fellow called Derek Dooley. He went on to be
Centre-forward and Manager of Sheffield Wednesday then Managing Director & Chairman of Sheffield United. We used to be taken out of the camp for long marches round the local area, to get us used to marching as a squad. As we returned to camp, up a hill, our D.I. would order us to sing, or double.
I remember that it was bitterly cold that Spring in 1948, and we never had enough coke or coal. Our hut sent out volunteers to steal more fuel from the storage facility. Whoever was in charge there decided to whitewash the fuel, so as to make it more obvious where the theft was occurring. So our thieves took whitewash with them to cover up their thefts.
Our D.I. (whose name I can't remember) was a musician,and had a mace (or whatever the technical term is) which he marched with, and threw in the air, in front of the marching band. We persuaded him to demonstrate to us, inside our hut, after clearing obstacles out of the way, and he marched up & down, tossing the mace over the rafters. I think our Sergeant was called Higgins, and was a good friend to us, especially if we had any problems, but he could really bellow out on the Parade Ground.
I remember going to the firing range, and firing live .303 rounds at targets, across a little valley. Next to the targets were tall sturdy trees, oaks or elms, with bullet holes all the way to their tops, 60 or more feet up.
I also remember polishing the drawing-pins on our Notice-board with metal polish, and sitting with several others on a blanket, being pulled along the hut floor to buff up the polish, and winning the prize for being the best hut at Inspection. The prize was to have the radio for that week.
Another memory I have, which others might like to share, was of our arrival at Bridgnorth. We had arrived at Padgate, to start our National Service, in February 1948 and at our first parade, in the open air, our Sergeant told us that we would be pleased to hear that that day was the first day it had not rained in Padgate, for six months. It was snowing at the time.
After collecting our uniform, and having injections etc. we were put on a train in early morning, with a packed lunch of doorstep sandwiches each, and sent off to Bridgnorth. Every time there was a "real" train which wanted to use the line, our train was shunted into a siding and so we took all day to get to our destination. I remember looking out of the window and seeing this lump of a hill on the flat plain and recognising The Wrekin. Later, I was looking out of the window again, just in time to see the Iron Bridge, quite close to the train. This piece of line does not exist any more and I recently parked my car on the same spot where I first saw the Bridge.
Of my time at Bridgnorth, I remember that we had been vaccinated at Padgate and all developed painful septic scabs on our arm, ten days later, just in time to cause us maximum discomfort when we were carrying out rifle drill. We all thought that it was deliberate! I also remember going on guard duty where we were issued with cast-iron wash-basin legs and told to patrol the camp, looking for invaders, but on no account to hit them on the head! Only the sentries, outside the Guard-house, had rifles and even they didn't have any ammunition. Luckily, we were not attacked. I remember being taught unarmed combat by a very brave Sergeant, who encouraged us to try to stab him with a bayonet in the stomach. We each ended up on the floor, with a very sore head.
On the day of our Passing-out parade, I had been in charge of starching and ironing all of our collars, as I had been a Research Chemist before being called up. Slightly twisted logic, but all the collars were very stiff and very shiny!
We had one poor lad, from the East end of London, who could not get the hang of marching. He would always swing his left arm forward at the same time as his left leg. After we all took turns at teaching him, we accepted failure and left him in our hut, pretending to be a hut orderly, whilst we grand-standed on the Parade Ground. Our D.I. was proud of our performance."
Alan Pickstone 2383175 from 1948 says "I'm on the Station Band picture which I had previously donated to
I'm pleased to be able to say that I can claim to be the founding member of the Band. My Father started to teach me the Cornet aged 9 yrs and I played in several Brass Bands, including the National Fire Service at a big parade in Liverpool.
I was conscripted into the R.A.F. at 18yrs and arrived at Bridgnorth, via Padgate in Feb. 1948. At the time there was only a Wing Band, consisting of Drums & Bugles.
Whilst walking in the Camp I heard some beautiful Organ music coming from the Gym / Theatre. Investigating, I found Flight Sergeant 'Bandi' McKay-Fairgeaves was playing on a Hammond Electric Organ. This was before the days of Electronic Organs. After talking to him he gave me the keys to one of the huts and invited me to select a Trumpet. Opening the door was like an Alladins cave of Band instruments. I understood they were the Instruments of the demobbed R.A.F Germany Band and were being stored in the care of Flt/Sgt Fairgreaves. On returning to the Theatre he gave me the music of the 'Trumpet Voluntary' which I played, accompanied by' Bandi' on the Hammond Organ. He acquired this name from years of Service in India, I think to be correct it was 'Bandi-Sahib' which I assume is 'Bandmaster.'
Following this encounter, an order to recruit others to form a Voluntary Band sent round the Wings & the response was as you see on the 'photo. The Band played at all the 'Passing out Parades' both the rehearsals and on the actual day. Concerts were given, in the Camp and Bridgnorth Castle Park & Parades in High town, Bridgnorth. plus 22 Group HQ. Market Drayton and at 'Dining-In' nights at the Officer's Mess. We also played at a Country Fair on the Easter week-end 1948 at a local mansion called Dudmaston Hall and I personally played the Last Post / Reveille at two Military funerals. Altogether we were very busy.
We were promised that if we volunteered we would all be returned to Bridgnorth after our own 'Passing out' The Drum-major ( a very skilled man ex- A.T.C. ) and myself volunteered to go into the M.T. Section and we were promised that we would be trained on the Section with our own Instructor. We did so but was very disappointed to find after leave that we were the only two to return. We did train on Camp with Flt. Sgt. Carl Herzig who was transferred to Bridgnorth for that purpose, (though it caused some friction as the N.C.O. i/c. was of equal rank) and passed our trade exams at R.A.F. Chigwell.
However because nobody else on the 'photo returned we had to rely on the weekly Intake and so sometimes we had an excellent Band, which only lasted the week, whilst other time it was embarrassingly poor. Eventually it got to me and I resigned, finishing the rest of my Service in the M.T. Section under Flt. Sgt. Bill Griffiths.
I last saw 'Bandi' Fairgeaves, promoted to Warrant Officer, on a visit in 1954, but he was not very well. Group-Captain Roland Coates was also promoted to Air Commodore and left Bridgnorth."
Alan's photographs are titled '1948 Station Band' and '1948 1 Flt 'A' Sqd.
He also provided three sketches in the 'General Photographs' section listed as '1948 - 1949 sketches'
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.
David, son of James William Draycott 2432973 from 1949 says "I came across your site while searching for pics, etc. of where my father did his training in 1949. I remember him saying (but I might be wrong here, it could be Cosford, where he went after) that down the road by a railway line (which guided them back to camp after a few) was a pub where they used to go. On the way back, there were fields at the side (a turnip field if I remember right) and one of their antics late at night was to throw turnips on the barrack tin roofs then run. He also told me the story of someone who lit a cigarette in the accumulator sheds. Sadly they never found the shed or the airman. Then one time they skipped guard duty and went for a few drinks. They didn't know the seargent (who rode a motor cycle at the time) had come in. Somehow they got him drunk and dragged him back through the main gate unconscious. Next morning they found that the tips of his boots were worn through where they had dragged him back. Please excuse me if I've the camps wrong. I'm sure someone will correct me. Thanks and keep up the good work."
Christopher 'Dan' Dare 5077317 from 1959 says that "after basic training, I had trade training at Digby (aerial erecting) Posted to RAF Akrotiri Cyprus 103 MU. Also three months in Eladam Libya. Demobbed April 1962"
Rod Goslin 5058008 from 1958 says that "in retrospect, and despite the moaning, among the best years of my life."
Mike Marsh 3151346 from 1957 says that "as we arrived at Bridgnorth railway station the RAF unleashed some of its Drill Sergeants on us and we were balled and shouted at to move here, go there, go faster, do this and do that. We were a little apprehensive of the next few weeks after a few minutes of that, I can well remember! Bundling us rapidly into the backs of three-ton lorries we were whisked away to the RAF station a few miles away.
There we were subjected to more shouting and rushing about and instructed to do things and be at places in an impossibly short space of time. The first instruction was to get into our designated huts, pick a bed, change out of Best Blue uniform, partially unpack, find the ablutions, have a shower, dress in Working Blue (remembering also that the shirts had separate collars fitted by studs) and be outside again in ten minutes! Somehow we managed it too!!
The next few weeks were spent in learning "immaculacy". How to dress immaculately, polish our boots immaculately, march immaculately, do everything immaculately. We settled into a routine of moving fast, marching, undertaking physical training, being lectured, cleaning ourselves, our uniform and kit, our huts and our whole environment, being inspected, drilled, shooting weapons, having field breaks at the mobile NAAFI, going on route marches, even going camping in bivouacs set up in a field nearby and building aerial runways (guess who admitted having been in the Scouts and getting lumbered with being in charge of this)! We, or at least "I", actually enjoyed all this; perhaps I have a masochistic streak in me somewhere! My Flight even won the Drill Competition at the end of the session which pleased our drill instructors no less than us.
We were not allowed home during this period (probably in case some of the more disgruntled or home-sick amongst us did not return) but we did have some Sundays off when we went into Bridgnorth town for a few hours, and for three of us a special dispensation on one occasion permitted us to go out for the evening to attend a large local Scout and Guide gathering nearby in Bridgnorth.
Most of us learnt about "going sick" during our time at Bridgnorth, often from a sweat rash around the crotch brought about through an active and prolonged close contact with the rough blue serge cloth of the uniform trousers. The treatment for this condition, we were informed by the lady doctor (an RAF Squadron Leader who had to be called "Sir"), was to paint the area with permanganate of potash that was bright purple in colour. This had a quaint and colourful effect not only on our legs but also on our under-pants even after they had been through the laundry several times.
I will say that, at the end of this period of square bashing, I felt and undoubtedly was, fitter and healthier than I have ever been in my life before and certainly since. A peak of physical fitness that permeated my whole person, and I could feel it."
The photograph Mike sent is listed as 1957 Hut 87.
Geoff (Pixie) Sayce 4241096 from 1958 says that "Porky earned his title by being rather portly + having his beret knocked accidentally into a huge metal bowl of eggs.
When he washed it, it shrank to the size of a large pork pie.
11 Flight B Squadron Hut 129 I think with green discs behind the badge.
The one thing that stands out in my mind is the nights of the whistler. We would be in our beds absolutely exhausted from the days bashing, And at 01:00 in the morning-most mornings someone would
pass the billet whistling very loudly. So one of us decided we would wait until the hour of disturbance-rush out with our bayonets and scare the living daylights out of him. Upon hearing the first strains of the tune they ran out only to find- nothing.
Bridgnorth camp and town had a reputation of being haunted. Now come on my old squarebashing mates
somebody must remember that particular happening."
In 2016, Geoff added;
I feel sad at not contacting any of those pals. Hard days but thankful of what that time did for me.
Ray Wheat 4055982 from ? says that "the training at Bridgnorth was a bit rough, the Corporals were ok apart from the odd one or two. I was glad to pass out and join the real RAF"
Jim Given 4120328 from 1953, says that "like Al Forsyth, I was also in the band during that time. I was one of the drummers. I remember Warrant Officer Fairgrieve (Bandy) very well. I remember the day after we arrived we were marched to the Astra Cinema to be welcomed by the C/O. during which he asked if anyone who played any kind of instrument to stand up. After which we had to report to the W/O in the bandroom. The W/O then proceeded to test us on the instrument we played. Most of us passed. I also one lad played the cornet/trumpet in the Salvation Army but I can not remember his name"
Jim Williamson C4274238 from 1962 says he "had a great time at Bridgnorth, I remember one of my colleagues saying "Isn't this better than working?", and of course we all agreed. Saw Terry Lightfoot in concert, boy what a night that was."
The photographs Jim sent are listed as 1962 Hut 248 and 1962 A Sqd in Sept.
Trevor Munro 2720256 from 1954 says he "thoroughly enjoyed Bridgnorth especially the Mayors Parade (May 1954) Sgt Saint and Corp Lamb were on form that day. I was the one that was unable to attach my bayonet."
The photograph that Trevor sent is listed as 1954 April / May.
Nicholas Rogers 4245925 from 1958 says "after induction at RAF Cardington arrived at RAF Bridgnorth in Oct 1958. We were yelled at as soon as we got of the train. That evening, this callow gullible youth, volunteered the info that he had been in the Combined Cadet Force, so got made Senior Man of the hut. Wrong move, what a horrible job being at everyones beck and call. As a result learned not to volunteer for anything and since then never have. Then the jabs and very sore arms and the guy in front of me made the mistake of watching the needle going in and promptly fainted. I remember a guy called McQueenie who must have been over 30 and had already served in the Army and Navy and wanted to make the hat trick by joining the Air Force. He knew a lot of the tricks of the trade about bull, shining shoes, etc. and was a bit of a father figure helping us inept greenhorns with our kit. I remember our Sergrant was named Rodgers, same as mine, but with a D so that's why I remembered it. Apparently Ronnie Corbett, of the Two Ronnies, was at Bridgnorth as a Pilot Officer but don't know when that was. Well I did 4 weeks in D Flight I think Hut 63, but can't remember the Squadron and after that got up flighted, so my earlier unwise admitting of my Combined Cadet Force paid off since I only did 6 weeks instead of 8 and didn't experience the Gas Chamber thank goodness, but was sorry to have missed the outdoor exercise. The day I got up flighted Sgt Rodgers called me into his room and told me, because I had a lace trailing out of one of my boots on hut inspection, he was demoting me from Senior Man and then congratulated me in the next breath on being up flighted. Think I went to A Flight. Never got into Bridgnorth town at all since on D flt the officer thought the previous intake were his blue eyed boys and couldn't put a foot wrong so we could never achieve his high standards so never got any passes off base and when they finally got a weekend pass it was my turn to do Cookhouse duties and when I got up flighted nobody got passes as everybody was getting ready for Passout Parade. After Bridgnorth, trained as an Air Defence Operator (Scopie) at RAF Compton Bassett and then served at RAF Bawdsey and RAF Stanmore and worked in MT for last 6 months. Came out in 1961 and joined civilian Air Traffic Control and worked at Prestwick Airport Control Tower and later at Scottish Air Traffic Control Centre for 37 years retiring 5 years ago. I remember the shocking waste of good food, when on Cookhouse duties one was instructed to get rid rid of trays full of eggs and bacon and sausage. We purloined quite a bit and got bread and made up bacon and egg butties and took them back to the billets and never did get caught, but if we had, would have got charged for stealing Airmens Rations I expect. Yes even if they were to be thrown out I bet the authorities in their wisdom still would have charged us. Later on at my permanent station I got jankers for having a duty supper when not on duty and the charge, you guessed it, stealing Airmens Rations. Oh well in spite still enjoyed my Air Force service."
Robbie Robinson 5077991 from 1960-1962 says "when I first arrived our "square bashing" was so bad we were put on overtime so were were marching up and down most of the day and night. The cause wasn't helped much by one lad from Glasgow ( I can't recall his name this many years later), no matter how much he was dressed up he just couldn't look smart. Well all our perservance paid off and we came second in the drill competition!
After about 3 weeks we considered ourselves somewhat battled hardened recruits a new entry arrived!!! Hammering down with rain, the middle of the night the young Glasgow recruit "borrowed" a Corprols raincoat, turfed out the new recruits from next door and had them marching up and down the road in the pouring rain! After some one worked out what he had done we never saw him again - he could still be peeling potatos for all I know.
I can rememeber getting 3 days "Jankers" for going into town one night and being recognised by Corporal Campion sitting there with his girlfriend, next day I was summoned into the Sergant's office who wanted to know who the airman was, with me, I said I had never met him before (I had in fact been to school with Dennis Dawson for 10 years - sorry for grassing you up after all these years Dennis!)
Like many people I found it hard at the time but look back with fond memories of all the good friends I made. From here I went to RAF Melksham to train as an aircraft electrician followed by a stint at RAF Watton B Flight on the marvellous Avro Lincolns, 18 months of sheers bliss but thats a whole lot of other memories. P.S. At Eden camp there is a photo of all the the lads in the next hut to me."
The photograph Robbie sent is listed as 1960 Hut 15, 1 Flt.
Harry Haywood 3522825 from 1956 says that he "enlisted April 15th 1956 at the recruitment office in Dale End, Birmingham, together with a rake of other Midlanders, then to Cardington and Bridgnorth. I still can't remember the first 24hrs at Bridgnorth, just fleeting memories of running loaded with kit and bedding. Anyone remember Chris? a South African and a bloke called Weeks from Ironbridge? I think we were lucky as I seem to remember the weather was kind, it did however rain on and in our Bivuac."
Brian Leeming 4246803 from 1958/1959 says "Whilst at Bridgnorth I was billeted in hut 58 but can't remember the Flight number. The Sgt in charge of the Flight was called Kennedy, but don't remember names of the other N.C.O's. I remember how cold it was at the time and having to do P.E. in plimsols, no socks, in the snow. Must admit it did keep you fit. When I left Bridgnorth in January 1959 I went to do my trade training at Yatesbury and HMS Daedalus (3 months at each) After I finished my trade training I was posted to Coltishall and then Middleton St George. I finished my 5 year stint in November 1963 (6 months later Middleton St George became Teeside airport) I have sent a photograph of hut 58 with all the names of the airmen on the back of the photo."
The photograph that Brian sent is listed as 1959 - Hut 58.
Michael 'Spike' White 4242362 from 1958 says "After having the T.A.B.T. injections, we had to go to the Gym and throw medicine balls at each other to encourage the using of our arms. The next morning we had to have three people to help dress one as our arms were too painful to use.
Corporal Floyd loved to offer to take any of the flight into the boxing ring for a 'go' as he was reputed to be the lightweight RAF champion. He certainly had the personality to be a champion, but we never found out the truth of his claim. The 'bumpers' used in the huts to 'bump up' the floor were possibly the most hated items of hut equipment. The favourite night of our training was when it was our turn (the night before passing out) to raid the huts of the new recruits when we could turn them out of their beds and upset rubbish on the floor as we had had done to us in our turn. Oddly the D.I.'s would tell us the day before that the raid should not take place, and then praise us the next day when the entire hut denied being involved. It was obvious by the look on his face that he did not believe us. I think the D.I.'s just wanted to keep the tradition alive."
The three photographs that Mike sent are listed as 1958 - 23 Flt, 1958 Hut 222(A) and 1958 Hut 222(A).
Alan Corcoran 4257403 from 1960 says "I was a regular 5 year man with the last batch of national servicemen roughly 80/20% in our favour. I can recall a 'them and us' situation for some unknown reason. The National Service were easily recognised by their 'Hairy Blue' uniform. The two D.I's responsible for our Flight (29 flight 'C' Squadron) were Cpl's T-O-O-N (Toon) and Larkin a regular good cop bad cop scenario, with Cpl Toon the regular bad cop. We were made to spell his name out aloud just so we would not forget him (how right he was). He used to say that he was proud to have his name on every toilet cubicle at West Kirkby and (I) we believed it. I can recall 'burning' the bubbles off my new boots with a candle, spoon and boot polish. I still have the photo album we were presented with on 'Passing Out. I left Bridgnorth for Trade training at Melksham and then on to Henlow Tech. College before finishing my time at 8MFPU Bruggen in 1965."
Tony Braid 5058245 from 1958 says "My memories of RAF Bridgnorth came as a big shock. On arriving at Bridgnorth we were greeted with a Cpl bellowing like a bull. He happened to be our drill instructor Cpl Vance. After three weeks he treated us like humans. I could do no wrong. With him in charge or with the Sgt whose name I can't remember, he helped me to get time off to go training at RAF Cosford with Cpl Bruce Wells, RAF coach. First week jankers. I burnt my boots drying them out on top of the fire. After that, every day improved. Gym, gym, gym until passing out. Our Flight came second in the drill competition after being given no chance. Thanks to Cpl Vance - the best. Happy memories. I would do it again."
Jimbo Lear 5028481 from 1956 says "Served in Bridgnorth 1956 was then posted to Credenhill typist training. Have photographs of past service which I will have to search for. Have small blue book with about 6 photographs inside huts pt, and larger photograph of my friends with all their signatures on reverse lined for official photo. Ended up in RAF Shinfield Park, demobbed in August 1958"
Jimbo later posted this message to Ian McKechnie who had recently identified himself on the '1956 - Hut 289' photograph that Jimbo sent.
He says "just a reminder - I am the one who submitted picture, second from right, one down. Do you remember farmer boy from Buckleberry? also one in the front who went thru' a lot of stick. I remember betting the farmer boy he wouldn't carry the rubbish bin at 7:00 am in the morning freezing weather. He did - he also thru' a bucket of water over us when we were going out."
Two of the photographs Jimbo sent are listed as '1956 - Hut 289' and '1956 - Oct Flt'.
Richard Stevenson V4273245 from 1962 says "our drill instructor was Cpl Petrie a Scottish gentleman but a dam good instructor, I still recall these times with affection. On first time were allowed off camp we went down to Low Town to the pub by the river bridge and got quite drunk on a pint of scrumpy but managed to get pass the guardroom safely to sleep it off....Great Times."
The photograph that Richard sent is listed as 1962 - 19 Flt.
Vic Connor 4263852 from 1961 says "The screaming and shouting was a bit of a shock at first and then there was the Drill Instructors to cope with. Really not too bad though in the end and I've never been so fit. I'm pretty sure, however, that the tea contained bromide. The only time I came to attention was on the parade ground."
Tony James 5050657 from 1957, says "It is surprising how time seems to have removed the agony which most National Service men went through at Bridgnorth. My own memory is that most of it was unnecessary. The methods used were to satisfy moronic minds of certain men. Most N.S.men did not need brain washing, they knew that they had no alternative. In my case a certain Sgt. came nearer to dying than ever he did in action I will never know what stopped me.
I must have been some use to the R.A.F. I finished my sevice as a Cpl. at R.A.F.Gaydon !"
Oh little camp at Bridgnorth how still you now do lie
beneath our feet the grass grows sweet where a million feet passed by
the huts are gone and theres no one standing by the gate
to let us out - or keep us in and leave us to our fate.
trees now stand where once we drilled and tried with all our might
to get it right and keep in step, be a credit to our flight.
one old hanger lingers on, now filled with iron and wood
who would know this was the place the mighty aircraft stood
but if you sit at dusk, in the garden there, that's made to remember us by
and open your heart on an evening fair, you might hear the sound of a sigh
and see the smile on an airmans face
and hear a million feet march by.
Also see Tony's other memories.
Mick Johnson 4259277 from 1959? says "There was a chap who on dance nights got up and sang with the band, I think his name was Bob Jewlion?? about 6 feet 6 inches - brill voice. He was also at Cardington. Is the train line still at the back of Bridgnorth? Happy days 11 stone 7 lbs and as fit as a fiddle."
Geordie Heward 2452789 from 1949/50 says "I remember Cpl Mepham and Cpl Taffy "The Frog" Evans. Also Sgt. Hannan and
Flt. Lt. Herschell. I remember Harold Brandwood and I'm sure Des O'Connor (yes, the Des O'Connor) slept in the next bed to him near the Corporal's Bunk. Also Alan "Wik" Whittaker. I have my old square bashing photograph somewhere. I'll try to find it and post it on site. I was posted to RAF Credenhill, Hereford on a Pay Accounts Course and I'm sure when I was there it was Emile Ford who used to sing to the girls and play his guitar in the YMCA. I was posted to RAF Hednesford on the 16th April 1950 and guess who I had on my Pay Ledger? None other than Flt. Sgt. Fulton Mackay ! He wasn't acting in "Porridge" he was no different in the RAF, only much worse. And he certainly wasn't funny, he terrorised us all. Happy days !"
In another submission Geordie writes ....
The winter of 1949/50 was one of the coldest on record. Shrewsbury had the lowest temperature in the British Isles. Mess tin hinges froze solid within two minutes of leaving the mess. I was in 6 Flight with Cpl (I'm a right bastard) Trevor Mephem. And he was ! The TV comedy "Get some in" was very close to the truth, but nothing could compare with the reality. There were three suicides whilst I was there. Harold Brandwood was in the end bed next to the Corporal's Bunk and I'm almost sure that Des O'Connor was in the next bed. I should know, I stole his woollen gloves. After Christmas leave somebody had came back to camp and forgotten his gloves, so at any one time somebody in the hut didn't have a pair of gloves for the C.O.'s Inspection. Finding myself minus my gloves I helped myself to Des's. He was small, inoffensive and always smiling. It couldn't be anyone else but THE Des O'Connor of television fame. So if you're reading this Des, it was me !
I have a photograph with some of my hut mates on it, but not all. I'll hunt it out some time and post it on the website.
We won the cup for the passing out parade and I can still hear the lads singing, "Six flight are passing out parlez vous, we won the cup without a doubt inky pinky parlz vous. All together now lads...... "Six flight are passing out................."
Sean Pollock 4200140 from 1956 says "The training was interesting and the best thing I ever did was to join the RAF. It was a great experience with great people. Great memories and many good friends made ... best years of my life."
In 2015 & 2016, Sean updated his email address and added;
Love to hear from anyone who remembers me as Snr. Man in A Flt. I served 10 years until 1966. Now living in Canada.
John Morris P4274496 from 1962 says "On the 8th August 1962, aged 17 years and 6 months, I enlisted into the
RAF having served 278 days in the Territorial Army and not wishing to
spend my military career digging holes on Salisbury Plain. I remember
that period well because of the long lasting impression that the course
NCOs' made, Cpls Coyle and Jenkins. To those of us
on the intake in question, Messrs Coyle and Jenkins made a very lasting
impression - bad cop, good cop sort of thing. So much so that the TV
series "Get some in" rang very true .....
After 5 years and 6 months, I returned to the Territorial Army and spent
14 years digging holes in various parts of the world wishing I'd signed
on for 22 when I had the opportunity."
The photograph that John sent is listed as 1962 - Aug.
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