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Page 3 - Stories and memories of your time at RAF Bridgnorth.
Write and submit your memories here.
Charlie Williams 5040798 from 1957, asks "can anybody recall the Cricket Cup we won in 1957 or 1958. The year eludes me."
Peter Charman T4256131 from 1959, says that he can remember "using the Bandon Arms, PT runs up and down the hills on cold winter mornings, Cpl Oaten who used to throw my gear out the window cos it wasn't up to standard. I later met him in Aden and Doug Burgham who I went on to Weeton with and a brummy National Service guy who sat on the edge of his bed cryin for his mum."
Philip Barnes 4270889 from 1962, says that "I have the same photo of 13 Flt hut 157 as posted by Paul Harrison, with signatures on the reverse side, will send to the webmaster who may like to post it with the photo. Was lucky enough to play in the station band whilst training, got me out of those horrible runs. Also trips to Wolverhampton to the wrestling (just to get out of camp) Served until September 1974 when I left and emigrated to Australia"
Mick Aves N4237516 from 1958, says that "having previously been Dr Barnardos RN Training School my drill was RN ingrained. During one rifle drill I reverted to the RN mode. Cpl Kipling I believe, shouted at the top of his voice "Fall out the idiot" Must have been about half of flight started to fall out. He then shouted again "No Aves I meen" Happy but tough times"
Arthur Smith 4181330 from 1956, says that "I remember the first day of training in April 1956 leaping off a 3 tonner onto the parade square (in full kit freshly smelling of mothballs from Cardington) and our D.I shouting out his introduction to us wide eyed erks;- "My name is Cpl Pottinger, they write my name on the toilet walls but they spell it wrong, they spell it 'Bas---d and that's what I'm going to be for the next 8 weeks". Great memories but at the time I think we all thought we'd never last the course but we did and were better for it. I often smile about those days, do you think the youth of today could take it?"
Geoff Dennish 5077125 from 1960, says that "when, as raw recruits, we first arrived at Bridgnorth, Sgt Dryden - he who had a part-time job at the Vine in Bridgnorth - impressed us all by insisting that strips of polished lino be removed from the hut window cills. "We don't have any of that bullshit in my flight", he said. The last order he gave us after we had passed out was to "collect those strips of lino from my office and put them back on the window cills".
Finding the picture of Hut 249 in May 1960 by chance trawling through the Internet brought back many memories. I hope ALL of my old fellow-sufferers are still out there somewhere - and if you are then I would certainly like to hear from you."
Dave Swaithe Q4266914 from 1961, says that "having a brother already in the RAF when I signed up and having done 4 years in the ATC, I thought I would be ready for Bridgnorth. How wrong can one be, it what you might say, brought me down to earth. However, I do remember it with some fondness and in particular the Sally Anne. Best cup of tea on camp and without the bromide!! (I think)
I remember the time we all came back to the dear old wooden billet at lunchtime to find our big white mugs smashed against the coke fire in the middle of the hut. Our DI Sgt, who I believe was Sgt Harvey, (I met him again during my Hong Kong tour) was not happy with our bedpacks and general cleanliness and expressed his wrath on our mugs. We all had to report to 'Stores' for a replacement mug. (I have still got mine, dated 1961)
The greatest achievement for the Flight as a whole was at passing out and winning the Drill and Efficiency cups.
I left there and went to Yatesbury for my Air Radio course but halfway through asked to be remustered to RAF Police, consequently I had to return to Bridgnorth to sit the RAF Police Selection Board. During the period I was away I did what many did and slashed my peak, big mistake. On arrival at Bridgnorth, in uniform, I duly reported to the Guardroom and was immediately charged for the henious offence by the Duty Snowdrop (and I was coming back to join them!!) I got 5 days 'jankers'. Anyway I subsequently became an RAF Policeman and retired 31 years later as a Warrant Officer so it wasn't all bad."
The photograph David sent is listed as '1961 - Hut 126, 15 Flt'.
Allan Briscoe B4275305 from 1962-1963, says that "I have never been so cold !! Our Flight became expert ice breakers and snow movers. All our drill was done in that open fronted hanger. We put Torvill and Dean to shame. Deads of daring do, were raids on coal bunkers around camp and married quarters. Twenty two men kept warm on a two bar fire, but we were tough !!! Happy days."
Carl Bradford N4265486 from 1961, says that he can "remember the shock at being growled at by a huge Cpl (?) Billington (built like a brick s..t house) as soon as we got off the coach which brought about 30 or so young lads from Wolverhampton railway station...things got a lot worse before they got better. After a few weeks being allowed a bit of freedom on the outside, first visit to the town of Bridgnorth the pubs !! then there was the Saturday nights at the Queens Ballroom in Wolverhampton...memories."
Tony Haynes 4152311 from 1954, says that "I remember the canals in Wolverhampton and the girls we walked them with.
I remember mostly the piss-up with the course DI after pass-out or should I say I remember passing out with the DI after the piss-up.
God! there were so many entries during 1954. It was hard to get served in the NAAFI because of the crowds. The Sally Ann wasn't much better.
Oh! such memories...... as if it were yesterday. Bridgnorth and the area around the train station was so country to a city boy from Hull, East Yorkshire. Now a 70 year old living in Georgia, USA"
David Carnell from 1959, says that "I can't remember the hut number, intake number, D.I.s names. All I do remember is that at 17 1/2, I found the 6 weeks course to be fairly easy and the only negative was after the hut photo was taken. I stood up and stood on the toe cap of the D.I. who clipped me around the ear and made me bull his boots for the next week. If anybody on this site remembers being there at the same time, maybe they can let me know what intake I was in."
Tom Prestage 2746713 from 1955, says that "I completed my "square Bashing" in Feb/March of 1955 at Bridgnorth. I distinctly remember, as part of the training, we were transported, by truck, onto the moors, probably 10 miles from camp. We were then instructed to obtain the signatures of various people from the nearby villages. To assist us we received a map and told to be at a specific place, two days hence, where we would be picked up and returned to camp. Sleeping accommodation was a tent, made from our rain gear. Food was cold rations. As this was February, it was very cold and wet. However we completed the mission.
To this day, over 50 years ago. I have never forgotten the friendships and fellow airmen, that I spent time with."
The photographs Tom sent are listed as '1955 - Hut in March' and '1955 - March Flt'.
Denis Charlton 2724492 from 1954, says that "without giving it too much thought I found myself staying on the caravan site exactly 50 years after my "stay". Asked where the RAF camp used to be, "across the road from our entrance". How we would have laughed back in 1954 if we had known that it would be turned into a country park, now a great place to walk the dog.
How can I ever forget square bashing at Bridgnorth. Cpl Lewis giving me a dressing down for some minor demeanor - "don't make those bloody eyes at me or I'll pull your arm out and hit you with the soggy end" How he saw my eyes I'll never know as he was quite short and his cap peak touched his nose.
The same Cpl shouting "what's your name airman" in hut 184 (I think) - the response "Daaaavid Corporal" in a lovely Welsh lilt drew an unprintable reply about not requiring the name his mother used - wonder if David Hughes recalls the incident.
I remember receiving a kit inspection which neccessitated sleeping on the floor as it was laid out on your bed for 6.30 am. I was "invited" to take my drinking mug to the hut stove & release it, with predictable results. Given another inspection for the following morning, I could not produce a drinking mug & was taken before a Junior Officer where my explanation of receiving only 8/- a week & could not afford 1/6 for a mug was accepted - some were human after all.
Cpl Lackie was the another DI a Scot who's bark was worse than his bite. Flt Lt Pugh was Flight Commander, a navigator & a gent.
Our hut was all National Service & life was not that serious at 18 years old. Great days, great experience. "
Jim Brown 2785514 from 1956, says that "I did my "Square-bashing at Bridgnorth in wintry weather under Cpl Coates, a Yorkshireman and Cpl Cain who came from the Isle of Man. I was in 13 Flt, 'B' Sqd, hut 152. Flight Commander was Plt. Off. Cowan, a bank Clerk from either Plymouth or Portsmouth. Sgt Hay was also on the team but near retirement and didn't do much. The DI's were very strict but fair and it was a good two months. We won the drill competition.
I went on to train as an air wireless mechanic at Yatesbury then posted to Marham where I spent the rest of my time, mainly working as a Clerk in the electronics centre. Met my wife there as she was Nanny to the CO's two boys."
John Peter Williams 5028698 from 1956, says "The Railway brought me into Bridgnorth in 1956 and it did so again a week or so back during the SVR steam gala. The significance is that it was almost 50 years to the day that I crossed the platform into the welcoming arms of the DI's awaiting my arrival in the Station yard."
Also see Peter's other memories here
Eddie Main 4150575 from 1954-1957, says that "I was in charge of EPAS for a time, which was situated in the Main Stores. I used to answer the 'phone with 'Corporal Main, Main Stores, caaaaaan I help you'. One day I answered the 'phone in my usual way, there was a pause on the other end. A voice said 'Say that again, Corporal. This is your Commanding Officer'. It was the Groupie! I never answered the phone again in my usual way!!!"
Derek Noton 5100347 from 1960, has these "memories of 40+ years ago. I was in Hut 77 (The Sunset Strippers) We used to make an impromptu wrestling ring of up turned beds, padded with mattresses. Two lads, from Bristol and Salford, would take on all comers and always won!
The surprisingly satisfying feeling of, as a squad, successfully completed a formal parade.
Having NCO's in charge, who did not swear and bully us, but still commanded obedience and respect. This unlike at least one other hut, where I believe an NCO was later disciplined for conduct prejudicial etc.
The final piss-up in Bridgnorth, after passing out parade.
A near tragedy, when a very large, and rather ungainly lad, was sliding on the hut lino in his socks, (to polish it- we all did this) slipped, and hit his head on the door. We had to cook up a quick story to avoid accusations of dangerous horseplay. He ended up in hospital with serious concussion"
John Winkles 5027873 from 1956, says that he can "recall, like others, the terror tactics on arriving at Bridgnorth station and the falling into or out of the waiting transport! The 8 weeks were generally enjoyed however in decent weather and lovely Shropshire countryside. Perhaps some of my 2006 pains originate from waking up with a wet leg during 'the battle of the bivouac' 50 years ago! Happy days, lets do it all again. Cheers."
Fergus Kemp 4110700 from 1952 says that "I was in my loft the other day searching for something and I came across my old 'housewife' (I think this was issued at Bridgnorth although it might have been Cardington with my Service number) still just about readable. I wonder how many others have still got theirs after 54 years ?
I remember I volunteered for a flight in an airplane and together with other volunteers we went by bus to an airfield somewhere near Wolverhampton, I'm not sure if it was Cosford or not as the memory is fading slightly!! But we were given a flight in an old Anson for about twenty minutes. I think we were all slightly apprehensive but very excited as I don't think any of us had ever been in a plane before. Does anyone else remember a similar experience? If so, I would like to hear from them."
Brian Eason 4243660 from 1958, says that "Cpl Larkin my D.I. allowed me to pass out at the end of my training in shoes, because I could not get a shine on my boots. At the start of my training you would not have expected such a kind gesture. Happy days."
Dicky Bird 4143799 from 1954, says that he had a "great time square bashing, loved every minute of it, gave me a taste of the great outdoors. I also made a lifelong friend, Peter Laws 4143793 who lives in Bolsover Chesterfield."
In 2015, Dicky added;
"Served my three years at Kirton- in -Lindsey Officers Mess, 2 years C/o's Batman. Super time, loved every minute."
Bill Cresswell W4259723 from 1960, says that "I was with 'A' Sqd, Hut 56. Happened to be chosen for a Guard of Honour for Mr Profumo (before he was disgraced), at some function in London (I think it was the Royal Albert Hall). I packed the wrong pair of boots (should have been studless) before leaving for Uxbridge and thought nothing more of it. We assembled at the Hall and as we were marching down a marble staircase, I slipped! I remember regaining my balance just in time! Phew! Our passing out parade was cancelled because of rain. All that white blanco dripped all over our uniforms. Remember the Wolverhampton Wanderers with a smile on my face!! If I had my life to live all over again, I wouldn't miss Bridgnorth for quids! Our DI was Cpl Forsythe."
Sam Mauchline 4238946 from 1958, has a message for Cpl Tosh. "I read your input and I was in your flight from April 1958 to end of June 1958. I always found you to be a fair DI and had us up to a very high standard of compentence, thanks for the memories. I left the RAF in 1967 and ........//........ with my family moved to Australia and have a great life here."
William Hoey W4201615 from 1959, says that "my over riding memories of Bridgnorth are of arriving at the rail station then boarding lorries to the camp and being greeted by NCO's wearing what I thought then where 'mirror' topped boots. We had a lad (National Service) in our Flight who was an accomplished hypnotist, he had great fun demonstrating his abilities on many occasions. The old coke stoves to heat the billet and the cloth pads for your feet so not to scrap the lino floor. The training at Bridgnorth has helped me ever since in my life, I'm now 65 and retired from the Northern Ireland Fire Brigade.
Have sent photos of 18 Flight and the members of hut 207. Very educational times at Bridgnorth for a 17 year old. Had some great times and some not so great times, will allways remember my time there. Good luck to all who served there."
The photographs William sent are listed as '1959 - 18 Flt in June' and '1959 - Hut 207, 18 Flt'.
Don Davis 2722275 from 1954, says that "I remember one day coming out of the barbers having had a haircut, to be turned back by a D.I. to get another one. Then put on jankers painting the stones around the camp and cutting the grass with a knife to the lenght of a matchstick"
Colin Smith 4262282 from 1960, says that "during my time at Bridgnorth, the weather was so bad almost all of the camp activities were cancelled. Returning from Christmas leave, I missed the coach from Marble Arch due to the weather, but all was not lost. A car pulled up alongside me in Bayswater Road and lo and behold I had a lift back to Bridgnorth. To the gentleman than provided the lift whose name I have forgotten, thank you."
Bernard Parke 2786275 from 1956, says that "it was on my second visit to Bridgnorth in 1997 that I was able to identify the site of this training camp which at its peak had a compliment of some three thousand personnel at any one time.
It lies on high ground about a mile from the Town centre and is now an industrial site. The only clue to its past history is a rather forlorn brick chimney breast rising out of the scrub on its boundary.
This is all that remains of the once pristine guard house.
There must be many such sites in the U.K. which to-day appear as just waste land. Perhaps it would be helpful to have these old sites marked by a simple plaque for the information of future generations.
[comment by the Webmaster - In 1994, a memorial plaque was unveiled in the small commemorative garden at the Country Park on the site. Photographs in the 'How it looks now' section of the web site.]
On that dark winter afternoon in February the lorries ground to a halt and the raucous shouts of the drill instructors could be heard suggesting that we left the transport as a matter of some urgency.
We were like sheep herded by rotweilers.
Our first port of call was for our bedding. It was put to us that the only way to march was to swing our arms shoulder high. Eight weeks of this really did enlarge our biceps. The bedding was carried back to our billets which were about a mile away, and it seemed to double its weight during that march.
We had two drill instructors allotted to us. Their names were Lewis and Bryan. Both were acting corporals.
Lewis was short in stature and as such had what is called "The little man syndrome." He had altered his cap so the peak fell directly across his eyes causing him to constantly to look up. This was known as a slashed peak, and was favoured by the guard regiments. He and a few of his colleagues caused trouble for themselves by painting their gaiters red for some strange reason. It is difficult to find the logic behind this, but they were not known for their logic.
Bryan was a family man and a little older than Lewis and much more rational.
The Officer in charge of our section was a Pilot Officer Bailey who would have been more at home in the television series "Blackadder goes Forth."
continue reading Bernard's memories here ........
Pete Hilton G4271420 from 1962, says that he "lost so much weight during square bashing, he didn't have a number 1 dress uniform for the pass out parade so missed it. I have a photograph of No 4 Flight dated April 1962 but can't at the moment copy it."
Pat Little 2727610 from 1954 says "I think I was in hut 496 National Service flight. I was on every passing out parade (including my own) as a member of the station band. I remember Cpls Yucker and Lamb and P.O. Cornell. It was a very good summer that year. I have fond memories of the Sally Army tea van arriving with refreshments in the evenings as a much welcome break from our 'bull' chores. The C of E Padre was very conscious of his rank."
John Harding D4190392 from 1956 says that "sadly identified, in December 1956, as the 'Cruel 'C' Squadron' we were developed/cloned by Cpl Jock Morton (Cowdenbeath). He was responsible for me changing my initial engagement from three to twelve years; I was under 18 years of age and had to be released for a long weekend to return home and obtain my Mothers written authorisation (this was the only way I could escape his extreme interest in my development - apart from going AWOL).
Needless to say he appeared quite excited when I returned and 'befriended' me until we Passed Out. Some evenings, in the Billet, he used to loudly call out either my name or that of Jim 'our Senior Man' followed by the phrase 'I'm lonely'. This meant that Jim, or I, had to rush to his Room - knock to gain entry - then stand and talk about any subject which came to mind, whilst he lay with his eyes closed; at one stage I was reduced to telling him stories about my dear old Grandmother, who had been a school cleaner for 37 years, this must have got to him, because he allowed me to personally clean and then light his room fire each day; using the rolled up paper method that my Gran had taught me.
Cpl Morton was in the throws of preparing for his discharge during our training period and used to disappear now and then carrying a small brown suitcase. Rumours had it that he was attending Resettlement Interviews at Carstairs, Pentonville, Dartmoor or, if all failed, back to Barlinnie. More sinister was the suggested contents of his suitcase included a noosed rope and a hood.
In fairness to Cpl Morton and speaking as a fellow Scot, he was determined to change me from, in his own words, "the worst prospect ever to have crossed the Scottish Border" into something more acceptable - to the enemy. His eventual success can be measured in the fact that I stayed in the RAF and tried for over 22 years to meet with his objectives and in all these years he never even dropped me a line to enquire into my progress. Where are you now Cpl Morton...... "
Ken Cotton 4266446 from 1961 says "I remember working in the cookhouse at some unearthly early hour as part of 'The training! 'My job was to operate a mixer with gallons of custard in it ready for lunch, meanwhile another 'ERK' was feeding (throwing from a distance) chunks of meat (FAT!) into another machine nearby. A large chunk bounced into 'MY' custard. I got a huge b....king from the SGT Cook for stopping the motor to retrieve said meat. He said it will give the 'Fiiing' custard a bit of body. Bang went my favourite dish. I never had custard again at Bridgnorth!"
David Collins 4154177 from 1954 can recall "Square-bashing relieved by theatre trips to Wolverhampton and evening walks with local girls in High Town."
Cedric (Robbie) Roberts 3524483 from 1957 says "C Sqd - i.e. 'The Cruel C' (Can't remember flt or hut no., maybe B flt D.I. Cpls Fox & Smith) usually won the Bull Plaque, talk about blood sweat and sometimes tears ! Pretty tough, but good for us, especially the Teddy Boy element who thought they were going to show the RAF a thing or two, ha ha ! The rest of my RAF career was a doddle after square bashing at Bridgnorth ! Still got my short back and sides nearly 50 years later ! Very good for this country, should bring it all back again say I ! 'Stand by yer beds, ewe orrible bleeders' was the usual (shouted) way of address !"
In 2010 Robbie added "My boots never touched the ground whilst I was there ! I was 17 years of age, youngest sprog on the flight, it was hell and terror but I am so glad that I did it and survived ! The experience has stood me in good stead the rest of my life (I am now 70 years of age), and I am proud to have served in the RAF, when it really WAS the ROYAL AIR FORCE !"
Betty Hobson Miller 2058434 from 1941 says "I enlisted in the WAAF'S in 1941 and was sent to Bridgnorth for six weeks training then was posted to Shrewsbury, 34 mu. I came from Stoke On Trent and joined the WAAF'S at the age of 17. I may be up in years but I remember Bridgnorth very well especially the High and Low Towns."
Malcolm Burgess 4256838 from 1960 says "I will never forget the troop-train journey from Cardington to Bridgnorth. I only remember going in to Bridgnorth for our passing-out party. I wonder why we didn't go "down town" much in those days. Perhaps we weren't allowed to."
Gerry Shankster 4098772 from 1952 says that "time dulls the memories but many of the photographs displayed recall the rough and happy times of "square bashing" which separated the men from the boys after a gruelling 8 weeks training. Who will ever forget that sense of pride and achievement on the last passing out parade (white webbing and bulled boots) marching to the strains of The Airforce March. Great stuff. Does anyone remember Cpl Bullock and Sgt Hoey? I still have nightmares."
Cpl D.I. James Hough 5028708 from 1957/58 says that "I always remember the friendliness of the people of the town, so now since 1958 things have changed but my wife and I still visit the town and the old camp whenever we are in the area."
Roy Warner 2770506 from 1955 says that "whilst giving the PT Instructor cheek, I was then made to run round the hangar quite a few times before going on the six mile run. Forgot to put my shoes out on inspection and got put on a charge, the only one while I was in."
Jaswant 'Harry' Singh W4274054 from 1962 says "I had just arrived from Malaya 10 days previously when I joined up at Broad Street Wolverhampton. I had no idea where Bridgnorth was and as expected, I didn't know my left from my right, but picked it very fast with D.I's in my face. I served for 12 years in Valley Lyneham Laarbruch Changi (Home postings) Brizenorton and St.Athans. I live just 8 miles from Bridgnorth after having retired from West Midlands Police (Sergeant) I still travel to the old camp area (Stanmore Industrial Estate) with my grandchildren to tell them about my best days of my life. I wouldn't have liked to change those years in the RAF for all the tea in China. I did meet a few of the lads later in my RAF service."
In 2012, Jaswant added further memories;
My first English meal after having Asian foods to that date...it was kippers.. I was shocked but soon got used to it.. went on to serve in ATC in Valley/Lyneham /Changi/ and Brize Norton then remustered to AmechA and served at St Athan until demob in October 1974.....happily retired.
Alex Burgon 5045559 from 1957 says "Once we got the first week over and realised the DIs couldn't legally kill us, we settled in to the system and most of us had some good times there. The comradeship was the best part and lifelong friendships were formed. Our trips into the town of Bridgnorth were great and I remember a cafe up near the station where we used to congregate. The local people were very friendly considering they were under constant invasion by guys in blue suits. All in all very good memories of Bridgnorth.
I did go back once some ten years ago and stood where hut 24 A squadron used to be, also went into the town, had a meal and a wander around the old haunts.
Although we all went on to many and various postings, Bridgnorth was where we changed from civilians into servicemen and gave us something to be proud of. I'm sure that for thousands of us, Bridgnorth will always be a special place, maybe not all for the same reasons.
My sincere thanks go to Gwynne for bringing these memories back to life, a great job very well done.
Also see Alex's other memories here
Frank Quinn 4201188 from 1958 says "I was in D Flight, can"t remember the hut number, it was the bottom hut looking on to the parade ground. I have a photo of all of us at RAF Cardington in civvies."
Terry Coulson 4157066 from 1954 says that he can "remember Cpl Holt & Flt Sgt Colyer and the Canadian Con. man who was wanted for desertion and walked off with a lot of money 'borrowed' from recruits."
Ivor Browne N4202452 from 1961 says that "I arrived at Bridgnorth from Cardington and after initial settling in was commandeered into the station band when the Band Master overheard me practicing one evening. This did not go down well with our DI (a chap called Brown and a real grumpy SOB). The others in the flight thought I was having it easy but the Warrant Officer bandmaster (see photo) was worse that any DI. He would select you to play a section of the music and of course being a bit nervous with someone standing behind you, a note was missed. That's when you got a rap across the knuckles with his baton. Our DI for Hut 319 was Cpl Gordon Forward who was a regular little s**t but when I met him at Innsworth years later we had a good laugh. I think a later recruit reported him to the press for the use of blue on the parade ground - poor sensitive lad. He once asked me why he couldn't ruffle me and I replied that as I had been educated by Irish Christian Brothers, Bridgnorth was like Butlins and at least he couldn't beat the crap out of me. He roared at that.
I recall Charlie Chester putting on a show in a hangar which was shown later on BBC TV and he made a crack about "bromide" in the tea which thereafter made me suspect of what came out of the urn.
I met up with some of the guys in my travels and we all agreed that it was great fun."
Also see Ivor's other memories.
The photographs Ivor sent are listed as '1961 - Hut 319' , '1961 - 4 Flt 'A' Sqd' and '1961 - Band'.
Jim Oxley 4091989 from 1952 says that "I arrived at RAF Cardington on 6 Feb 1952 and was told that the King (George VI) had died. Having been warned about Service rumours I did not believe, until I saw the newspapers the next day. I was one of the first to take the Queen's shilling. Then onward by train to Bridgnorth. Luckily at Bridgnorth I already knew my drill, having been in the cadet force at school. Happy days."
Andy Glen P3528893 from 1960 says that "I was a 17 year old Regular among a lot of National Servicemen. They were the cream, and later when NS ended, I missed the banter and that "spirit" that helped us through the worst of it.
The day we had our inoculations, the two smallest in the billet, me being one of them, had to stretcher one of the biggest lads out to an Ambulance while the permanent staff orderly stood and watched."
Roger Langley 4268372 from 1961-1962 says that "I especially recall the freeze of that year. When we got back after Christmas leave, the entire Station was frozen solid. Cistern boxes were blocks of ice with the wooden parts encased in the ice. We were offered a 'deal' to de -ice the Station and avoid the Camping week......! We did a great job of de-icing!
I returned to Bridgnorth last August and stood before the Memorial, it brought back so many memories."
Dennis Brown 2378219 from 1948 says that "we had a chap in the billet who had every weekend off to travel to London to play in the Primo Scala band. His surname was Borman and had his jaw broken because he would not stop the bloody accordian playing. Is he still around?"
Vivian Pope 2473180 from 1950 says that "as a Welshman, I was chosen to be Senior Man over a billet-full of Glaswegians. When I was returning from the showers, the Corporal looked hard at me and said, 'Can you look after yourself, Taff?' 'I manage', I replied, whereupon he said: 'Then you're in charge of this bloody lot!' I was also chosen as a stage model for a Gym Display and took part in the same in a national event and I was top recruit on Passing-Out Parade.
However, I was banned, with some others, from the local open-air swimming-pool for an experiment I conducted in making waves by synchronous movements at the bar on the shallow-end. In unison, we created waves that, travelling back and forth down the pool, eventually amplified to a level where it became a mini-tsunami. It swamped the young ladies around the pool, whose intention had never been to get wet but only to lie around the pool in their bikinis and cosmetics, looking beautiful.
At the camp, I inadvertently created consternation by giving the order, to men marching in close ranks, to 'trail arms'!
One night, I swamped a sleeping airman in another billet at 2.00 am with a firebucket full of cold water, thinking that it was he who, earlier on, had thrown a cup of water at us through the open window of our billet.
At one stage, as a 'fellow Celt' I was elected by the Glaswegians under my charge to lead an 'attack on the Sassenachs' in the English billet. Dutifully, I charged, at their head, into the English Billet wielding the sort of standard-issue 'pillow' that (as airmen of the time will fondly recall) seemed to be suffed with twigs, and set about the first person I met. Up till then these guys had been sitting peacefully smoothing-out the manufactured warts on their boots in an atmosphere of quiet domesticity. In our attempts at surprise, my Glaswegian group were so keen to get at their 'enemy' that they all got jammed in the door like a big noisy, struggling set of corks. The result was that I, unsupported and on my own, was immediately counter-attacked by the English, with these same twig-stuffed armaments, to the extent that I was knocked skidding to-and-fro across the polished floor, while my group, with arms firmly jammed at their sides, had their faces steadily and vigorously belted by the English with these same sorts of 'pillows'. This was to the extent that, the next day, we all looked as though we had a bad case of either gravel-graze or nettle rash.
I'm sure that any of us who were involved, and now survive (I am now approaching seventy-six and physically falling apart) will recall some of these events with nostalgia, reminded of the glorious days of our all-too healthy, irresponsible and inconsequential youth.
Someone has suggested that I should write book about all that happened, both then and later, as a national serviceman in the RAF from 1950 till 1952. Maybe. However, that will have to do for now. Anyone who would like to know what happened afterwards, in adult life, is invited to access the website www.vivpope.uk
Sincerely, Viv Pope [Taff - known at the tine as the 'muscle-mechanic']"
John Harrison 5050903 from 1957 says that he "loved every minute, went to Wolves when they played Honved and Red Banner. Trained to box, did loads of time in gym. The whole hut posted together to Locking. We were Flight 21 Hut 22."
Since leaving the above memories, John has let us know that "I have found, at last a friend from my billet, one Tony Lawrence. ...... but would love to find more mates from that time."
Alan Lake 3524465 from 1957 says that you "had to take the good and the bad times, but very fond memories, plenty of good mates in those days."
Allan Lacey E3528492 from 1960 says that he was an "ex ATC Cadet hence the 352 prefix to my Service number.
Physical Training, running races 6 men at a time over the 6 grassy banks of the Anderson shelters and back. The last man had to run in the next race. Competition was fierce, nobody could do it a third time and the PTI screaming in your ear did'nt help.
The Flt Sgnt with his pace stick yelling "You two get fell in in three's and march properly"."
The Son of Cpl Les Davies from 1962-1963 says that "I was a boy at RAF Bridgnorth 1963/63 my Dad was drill Corporal Les Davies (the one with the good voice) He was a local boy coming from St Georges now part of Telford and finished his service at RAF Watton Norfolk. He is now living at nearby Thetford with my Mum, who are both still fit and healthy. He will be 80 this coming August, and, yes he can still sing."
In June 2006, his son continues "I took my Mum and Dad (Les Davies) back to Bridgnorth last week and found the Hen and Chickens, now the Friar's Inn, where they used to drink. The town has not changed a lot as I remember it. Does anyone out there remember my Dad?"
Cpl P.T.I. Eric Hart 2677390 from 1957-1958 says that "upon arrival at Bridgnorth the P.F.O.'s greeting was "I hope you're not using this posting as a stepping stone!" I didn't have the heart to tell him that I had applied for a P.J.I. course while at St Athan, and when at Stafford applied for overseas posting to Ceylon and an exchange posting to Bridgnorth being very disappointed at having to help construct a new running track instead of taking P.T. having spent 6 months being trained for that role. Ceylon posting came through when I was halfway through the P.J.I. course and the School had it scrubbed! After successful completion I was posted back to Bridgnorth to await decision on my future either as a P.T.I. or as a P.J.I.
Whilst carrying out my P.T.I. duties on a snowy day, I had to collect a Flight a few huts away from the Gym and decided that if each man had a couple of snowballs, we could ambush the Sergeant P.T.I.'s when we lined up outside of the Gym prior to going into a hangar for the P.T. period. The first row scored some hits but the second and third rows were somewhat erratic - hopeless actually - and quite a few snowballs missed their quick moving targets and ended up in the Gym. The P.T. W.O. was not amused and summoned me from the hangar. As a result of my actions he decided I would be on duty over the weekend. This didn't seem fair so I approached an Officer for advice and was told it was illegal punishment. Nearer the weekend I informed the W.O. that I was refusing to do the weekend duty - which he had thought up - as it was an illegal punishment. Obviously there were a lot of P.T.I.'s and the incident became known to all. The W.O. took advice and realized that he couldn't issue punishment. To be fair he assembled all the N.C.O. Instructors and said that he had been in the Air Force for years and had just found out the punishment he had tried mete out was indeed illegal. I forget exactly what I was charged with but I ended up before the Station C.O. proudly wearing my brevet. Not wanting to scupper my future, when asked if I wanted a Court Martial or would I accept the C.O.'s decision? I took the C.O.'s punishment - an Admonishment. I had a lot of laughs there and wonder what became of some of my fellow P.T.I.s"
Comment by Webmaster - Cliff Thomas 5055736 was one of those throwing the snowballs. His contact details are listed.
Bob Gordon 5034165 from 1956 has amazingly provided a forty page record of his initial eight weeks of National Service at Bridgnorth. It is based on the fairly detailed letters he wrote home at the time. Although never intended for publication, Bob has kindly provided a copy which I personally found both extremely informative and interesting.
Read Bob Gordon's memories here ........
The photographs Bob sent are listed as '1956 - Hut 295, 40 Flt' and '1956 - 40 Flt 'D' Sqd'
Smudge Dave Smith D4265693 from 1961-1963 says "thank God finished square bashing only to be posted back after trade training at Hereford (where are you Ruth Pitts) Ended up at ROD Bridgnorth, good job great lads probably best time of my service career and I had millions. John Gilligan, Bob Finnis, etc. etc. Kitione Lave ex professional boxer from Tonga (huge man)"
Robert Bennett 4260589 from 1960 says that "I seem to recall that we were the last intake for D squadron, because National Service was finishing. I'm sure it was 12 weeks we were there having come up fron Cardington. One memory I have is walking back from the mess after breakfast and thinking I'll never survive 12 weeks of this, I did and was a much better person for it, I went on to become a Dog Handler."
David Saville 5081542 from 1961 says that "names in Hut 32 during this period I'm not sure of. I do remember the D.I. (Corporal) was a small Welshman. I remember a "Chalky" White. His trick was to strip naked, hide his privates between his legs and strut down the center of the hut. The one and only coloured guy in our hut was part way through the eight weeks we were there and had to be rushed to hospital to have his appendix out."
Alan Catterall 2767810 from 1955 says that he can "recognise many faces but can't remember names! Played other Flight at rugby and shoved 70 odd pts into them in 50 mins. Some good nights in Bridgnorth with our Irish Sgt. Got us slung out of a lot of pubs. We must have had a good time!
I visited the memorial site on Wed 5 July 2006. Site quite difficult to find, there is a noticeboard at the car park gate. Memorial is in a clearing 100 yds along on the right hand side of the path. 51 yrs on, I can't believe we used to walk to Bridgnorth town from there."
Pete Letch 4111390 from 1952 recalls "Sgt Meopham's little trick of making you run round the field holding a 9lb rifle above your head. Cpl Rastrick our D.I. was a hard nut but fair."
Reg Hearle 3520224 Cpl D.I. from 1955-1957 says that "the reference to the Cpl who had a Leprechaun on a lead was a Cpl Fagg if I remember. It was a long while ago."
Comment by the Web master - Thanks for setting the record straight. The memories of former Cpl D.I. Dennis McMorrin T3523719 from 1957-1958 have been amended.
Brian Twigger 4242365 from 1958 recalls that "whilst out camping at Ditton Priors, we had a route march, I got stuck on the morning lot, some one in charge got us lost, we were that late getting back that it was too late to send the afternoon lot out, lucky sods."
George Parsons 4173840 from 1955 asks "does anyone have a copy photograph of 31 Flt D Sqd [20 Sept -15 Nov 1955] of us all together. All costs met if you can let me have a copy.
I remember being allowed to go off camp to go to a youth club in Broseley. The Pardre O.K'd this as my friend Gordon Anglesey had some good contacts. I met up with Gordon after 48 years at Wales area RAFA Meeting in LLandudno. For my sins I am still involved with RAFA as Welfare Officer with Pontardawe Branch in the Swansea valley."
Several photographs George sent are listed as '1955 - Parsons in Nov'
and (in the 'General photographs' section) '1955 Bridgnorth High Street'
Harold Willans 4076060 from 1951 says "Cardinal Red ! ! ! Did we use some! We were marched into a Tin Shed and directly into a Wall !. Ha,Ha. What a shambles as we all piled on top of one another. We soon learnt how it should be done. Those mad dashes in and out of the Billet changing into differant Dress. Shoveling Heating Coke in your Dress boots !!! as punishment. 8 Weeks of Sheer Mad Hell. I think it was a great time in all our lives as we learnt mate ship, even if it was for just a short time together. I spent a lot of time laughing at the madness of it all at the time. Poor Gwen Sowerby [He has since Passed away] who did his 8 Weeks wearing his own suit due to them not having a Uniform big enough for him. Him and I missed the pass out Parade ?. I was too small and would have upset the Ranks Ha,Ha. Gwen and his lack of a Uniform. As we left the Camp at the end of our time on a Double decker Bus, Gwen [he was Welsh] had us all in tears as he sang THE LAST MILE HOME. What a climax after those MAD great 8 Weeks. Gwen and I and Ray Teale [with whom I spent the rest with in the RAF] are on the FLIGHT 20 1951 Photo that Les Nash has put in the Photo section. I'm sat next to the DI who has the folded Arms. You can see Gwen and his very POLISHED suit [He had to iron it just the same as the rest of us] The suit soon took on a very Polished look. I would say every intake would have some really good tales of those days. I still see Ray !? he lives near to us here in OZ believe it or not. That's a tale in it's self. Best of luck to all of those days. Still YOUNG in the MIND but the flaming BODY lets me down. Still laughing though."
John Daveridge S3529275 from 1960 says that "I enjoyed most of my time at Bridgnorth. The thing I didn't like was the cold. It was always so dam cold!"
'Taff' Harry Davies 3523392 from 1956 says that he will "never forget the day we arrived at Bridgnorth railway station. Everything had been great up to then, Corporals and such talking fairly nice to you, telling us to get on the 3 tonners with our kit bags so we could be transported to camp. I thought this isn't going to be bad, boy was I wrong. When we got through those gates and finaly stopped by the parade ground, I knew our days of relative luxury was over. Then the two months of bawling and shouting began. I might seem mad but I enjoyed it all. I was a sucker for punishment as I joined the RAF Regiment after and did a further 13 weeks training.
My memories of RAF Bridgnorth were very happy ones although the going was tough, I would do it all again, they certainly made a man of you in a short time."
Ken Garner 4069588 from 1951 says that "I think I was in A Sqd No 1 Wing. We won the drill cup. I was National Service in the Royal Artillery, but the RAF was far better, they treat you as a real person, not gun fodder! Not many memories as its going back half a century."
In 2012 and 2014, Ken added;
"I was drill pig. The standard of drill was much higher that the Royal Artillery. Really enjoyed myself, especially rifle and Bren.
Thoroughly enjoyed my time at Bridgnorth. Drill and attention to detail was far better than the Royal Artillery. Enjoyed rifle drill and 303 shooting."
Alexander McGregor Y0680486 from 1957-1958 says that "we arrived at RAF Cardington on the 9th Dec 1957, spent a week there getting kitted out, then on to RAF Bridgnorth for square bashing. The square bashing and bullshit and getting shouted at was nothing new to me as I was in the RAF apprentices for over a year. The D.I. asked us if anybody had been in the ATC or anything else, I kept my mouth shut as I knew what was coming, Room orderley!. We were there a week and then sent home for Christmas leave (Thank God). On our return we did all the usual things one did there. I had a good time there.
After RAF Bridgnorth it was on to RAF Hereford for supply training and then to RAF Honington, where I signed on and completed 22 years service. I enjoyed my time in the RAF, retired as a Sgt."
Lofty Mick Eyles 4254985 from 1959 says that "it came a bit hard the basic training, but I left far fitter than when I arrived, many times I wondered if I'd done the right thing by enlisting."
The photographs Lofty sent are listed as '1959 - Hut 15 in Dec' and '1959 Dec Flt'
Brian Slater 3118471 from 1948-1949 says "Sergeant.... Have you had a shave this morning Airman?, yes Sergeant! then have another one and this time, stand a little closer to the razor. I went back to the wash house but couldn't see anything wrong, I foamed up some soap and rubbed it on my collar and ran back to the Sergeant stood to attention and he gave me the once over, that's better laddie, and I want to see it like that tomorrow morning."
Tony James 5050657 from 1957, says "I have just reread most of the Bridgnorth memories, I was taken back to Cardington by Robert Aird when he spoke of the hair cutting. One rather simple minded person came out of the barbers with little sign of having had a hair cut, the Sgt. gave him one look and gently "asked" him to go back in, he did and came out having told the barber to almost shave his head, he said "that should be short enough" we smiled untill he put his cap on, it fell down across his eyes, we were then too afraid to laugh, as the Sgt. was not too pleased, I think that lad had made his first mistake, I've often wondered how he got on.
The photographs Tony sent are listed as'1957 - Hut 84 in Nov' and '1957 - 20 Flt, B Sqd'
Also see Tony's other memories and poem.
Donald O'Rourke 4087605 from 1951-1952 says that "it was very cold and I think the Corporal was called Williams but not sure - he was Welsh but living in London with an English wife."
Brian Coates 4150038 from 1954 asks "does anybody remember the trip to the Birmingham Gas Works and Ice Rink?"
Richard McLoughlin 4121481 from 1953 says that "we were the chosen ones with ten weeks Squarebashing, all to celebrate, through the streets of Manchester, 35 years since the formation of the RAF.
My clearest memory of Bridgnoth was being told by Corporal Sunnocks on arrival, "My name is Sunnucks. Corporal Sunnocks to you. Spelt B A S T A R D. Remember that all of the time you are here"."
The photograph Richard sent is listed as '1953 - Feb Flt'
'Taff' Rees Bartlett 5056308 from 1958 says; "Hope you are feeling better, Cpl Tosh, saw your note. Remember you well, and with some affection (!!!) 70 yoa now. No longer have steel-rimmed --acles, and got over the 'tinea pedis'(Elephant's what?) the Queen gave me.
Yeah, we won the drill shield. Terrific feeling: that fantastic sound as we crunched to the parade ground - Zulu's got nothing on it. Best wishes, ReesB "
George Shaw 2408544 from 1948-1949 says that he has memories of "square bashing in the snow, trying to put on a collar & tie when your fingers are frozen, an Irish RAF Regment Sergeant !!!"
Brian Foord 5061703 from 1958 says that "reading some of the memories of Bridgnorth 1958 I feel pleased that I was there in the summer months. I was in 19 flight hut 176. I'm afraid my memory of names is not what it used to be and therefore cannot recall many of the "inmates". At Cardington I met up with John (Taff) Bowen 5061700 and we were fortunate to be posted together for the remainder of our National Service and we still keep in touch today. I have a copy of the hut photograph and when I get more proficient at this computer lark I will endevour to email it on."
The photographs Brian sent are listed as '1958 - Hut 176, 19 Flt' and '1958 - 19 Flt'
Frank Whalley 5081686 from 1960 says that "I just remember the wooden hut with a huge boiler, which almost exploded when we were able to steal extra coal from the compound. Everybody had to (obtain) bread and butter from mealtimes for "toast" parties at night. I suppose this is a common memory.
I also remember Whittles Coaches supplied for our 48hr. passes and still see the name on transport vehicles.
I was one of the last National Servicemen (aged 21) and resented it at first but soon settled down to sharing with other people. One look at my chunky hands and in their wisdom they decided I should be a typist. I ended up as p/a to Air Vice Marshal Coles at RAF Dishforth and enjoyed the experience. Most of all I remember non-stop laughter. It did us no harm!"
The photograph Frank sent is listed as '1960 - Hut 207, 18 Flt'
Robert Aird H4200689, from 1957 says that "my starting point was in Belfast on the 12th of July 1957. I remember the Recruiting Sgt and how friendly he was. Having travelled a long distance he gave me a pint mug of tea. The latter was my first but certainly not my last. Following some paperwork and a shilling, I became a genuine sprog.
The boat and train trip were quite long but looking back it was all an adventure. RAF Cardington seemed like a zoo, giving the impression of organized chaos but in fact it was far from it. How many remember that first haircut and who did you recognize afterwards. On the train to Bridgnorth, feeling a little apprehensive and wondering if I would be able finish OK. I remember one of my companions telling me that the track noise symbolized "you'll never come back, you'll never come back". I almost believed him.
My arrival and training seemed now all a blur. The cookhouse duties and lining up outside the NAAFI. Trying hard not to break my pint pot. The comments and lots of them "wispered" in my ear by the DI's. The latter often quite profane but looking back it would not have been the same without them. "Heels, heels, heels, I want to see the last man walking in a trench" and "When I call eyes left, I want to hear those eyeballs click".
There was the down side, desertions and suicides. I remember being formed up early while still dark when they marched one deserter back. Just the same, I was amazed as the weeks passed and how the DI's comments meant less. My Enfield got lighter. My pig stick bayonet went where it was supposed to. As time passed, I could not march out of step. My billet, my home was always sparkling clean. Remember the pads we scooted around on. The ever smell of Blanco, Brasso, Boot and Wax Polish. Giving that last shine to your boots under the tap with cotton wool. The final parade when everything we did was as one. The feeling of pure joy to have made it and the level of success that can only be achieved in that kind of environment.
It was an experience hard to explain and difficult to put into words. You had to have been there and be a last three, knife, fork and spoon. I know that I will never forget but would I ever want to. My hat off to Cpl Draper, our DI, who made it happen."
Alexander Heath 5037579, from 1956 says that he can't "remember a lot but the only thing that stands out at Bridgnorth is down the pub and top of the hit parade was Singing the blues"
Former Cpl D.I. Dennis McMorrin T3523719 from 1957-1958 says "I remember a crazy Squadron Leader who hated DI's who had slashed the peak of their SD Cap. When we marched our Flight into his Squadron Lines we took off our SD Cap and replaced it with our Beret. When we left the Squadron Lines and returned to a saner environment we replaced our SD Cap.
There was also a D.I. on our Flight who insisted that someone was detailed each evening to take his "Leprechaun" for a walk. This consisted of a knot in the end of a length of string. He got mad with any recruit who walked too fast for the poor wee thing."
Comment by the Web master;
Reg Hearle 3520224 Cpl D.I. from 1955-1957 believes that the D.I. who had a lepricorn may have been a Cpl Fagg.
Harry Walmsley 2434820 from 1949 says that he can "remember playing at Royal Show in Shrewsbury. Anyone have copy of band photograph taken in August 1949 at garden party ? Paid my 3/6d and never received it!!
Also remember Freddie Flynn who played with Fodens Band and Stockport Citadel Salvation Army Band. Euphonium player who played with Brighouse and Rastrick Band- name has slipped my memory."
Alex Burgon 5045559 from 1957 says "we arrived at Cardington on 27th May 1957, spent a week there and then they sent us home on a weeks leave, my mates at home thought I'd gone awol. Then back to Cardington for another week, as we all know it was cushy there to say the least, if this is the RAF we can handle this for a couple of years no problem. Then one day we had a visit from a couple of little chaps from Bridgnorth who liked us so much they wanted to take us back with them, so we went. I think they must have been circus midgets in civvy street. On to the train and then we realised this was not going to be one of our best days, the evil little sods wouldn't let us eat our packed lunch, they screamed and swore at us all the way. Into 3 ton trucks and thence to the camp, what a surprise, all the permanent staff were out to welcome us, I think they must have been having a bad day also, I've never seen so many angry guys in one place before. They asked us, well not excactly asked, to disembark from the trucks. This is when a slight touch of panic took over, did I say slight?, we were terrified. Guys and kitbags were coming out those trucks like there was a bomb about to go off. Kitbags were being dropped and rolling under the trucks, all the time we were being requested to get in line, in the foulest possible way. We didn't know whether to go after our kit or get in line, it didn't really matter though because whatever we did was wrong. Then up to hut 24 No. 4 flt, 'A' Sdn where we got a little lecture from the D.I.'s just to let us know what low life we were and what would happen to us if we were naughty. As we had a full kit layout very early next morning we layed the kit out at night and slept on the floor. Once we wised up things were good and most of us enjoyed the remaining weeks. I was with a great bunch of lads and would like to meet up with them again"
The photographs Al sent are listed as '1957 - Hut 24, 4 Flt' and '1957 - 4 Flt in Aug'
Also see Alex's other memories here
Joe Cade 3111653 from 1947/1948 says that "surely there must be a few of us around. I know it was cold in the winter of Dec 1947 to Feb 1948 but people live longer now and I am only a lad of 76. I seem to remember that I hung out in the Lady Lampson Club or am I thinking of Credenhill?
I arrived at Bridgnorth and was selected as a Senior Man as I was ex. A.T.C. I seem to remember marching a Flight of men down to the cookhouse and gave a beautiful eyes right to a Warrant Officer! Or was that at Padgate."
John Newth 5072477 from 1959 says that "I am in Alan Stubbs photo of 38 Flt. D Squadron. I was there Sept-Nov 1959, and we were under Cpls. Fowler, Humphries and Thomas, possibly in Hut 392? The Officer I/C was Flg Off T.M Jeffery.
Memories include one night when some of us had been promised a visit to see Wolves play a European match. In the event the Corporals came in and spilt coke (not drugs!) over the billet floor and we spent the evening cleaning the billet.
At our 2/3 day camp, having built a flimsy bridge over a stream, the Corporals made us all go over it, while they shook the structure. One of our number fell and broke his ankle.
On Saturdays when we were let out, the Baptist church put on a tea and evening meeting. One Saturday, about 15 of our billet turned up, and one of our number, named Rees, played the piano for the hymns and choruses at the meeting.
I can also remember the continual odour from the camp sewage facilities, which seemed to be near the cookhouse. One bonus was the Indian summer that existed for the whole of our 'square bashing'."
Ray Penney 4130247 from 1953 says that he "tried very hard to forget square bashing. Not a very pleasant time. What ever happened to Cpl Thurgood? Hope I have spelt his name correctly"
Geoff Jones 4258930 from 1960 says that he "enjoyed the town - was not a drinker in those days - but had good coffee and movie houses. Also nice place to walk around. Camp - as one would expect for initiation! Was not worth **** at handling rifle for that drill! Could aim O.K. but that was it! Oh yeah - they had great coach services which seemed to go efficiently all over the U.K. Wonder what happened to those operators? And the snack van - so welcome during our breaks! Other than that - was O.K. but not that memorable - thank goodness! I now live near Orlando - nice distance from Bridgnorth - as I much prefer getting a tan than freezing my *** off! Have no reason to go back - but hey - was nice to see pics - think I was in Hut 37 - but after all these years - that is a basic guess."
Brian 'Curly' James 5069765 from 1959 says that "although I lived about 6 miles from the camp, my first impression of National Service as the troop train arrived at Bridgnorth station was, "What the hell has happened". All that could be heard was the shouting and bawling coming from the Corporal drill instructors. We were transported to the camp in 3 ton lorries and deposited on one of the parade grounds. I remember that exiting the rear of these lorries was a few feet from the ground, laden with kit bag etc and one was a little hesitant to jump. You would then hear a loud voice shout "Jump what do you want a bloody parachute". The next few weeks in a heat wave were both enjoyable and painfull. Three things I remember well from my time at Bridgnorth, firstly being on guard duty with a 303 rifle which had no ammunition and no firing pin anyway. Secondly I remember our outside R & I camp which took place in the woods at Highley which was only about 3 miles from my home address. I remember walking home one evening and borrowing my fathers van, going back to camp laden with fresh eggs and taking some of the lads on a visit to a local pub. Thirdly on the night before our passing out parade certain individuals removed one of the static aircraft from its location near to the entrance of the camp, and left it parked in the middle of the parade ground. As a result of this, at the end of the parade the CO instructed that no one was allowed to go on home leave until the persons responsible owned up. Neadless to say nobody would own up and coaches such as Whittles and Foxalls were kept waiting to take airmen to all parts of the UK. After some delay we were allowed to leave. Looking back I can say that that my time spent at Bridgnorth did me no harm and I met a number of new friends. I wonder where they all are now from Hut 319, 34 Flight."
Denis Thompson 4104387 from 1952 says that "after getting off the train at Bridgnorth, I wonder what hit me. I swear the entrance to Hades could not have been more spine chilling. We were virtually chucked into a RAF lorry, along with our kit and called every name the D.I. could think of, plus a few more.
When we got to the camp, all hell was let loose, as we were screamed at by yet another team of the devils disciples and given a billet number. We rested on our beds, our knees knocking and hearts thumping, for all of twenty seconds, before the devil himself was glaring at us. Something seemed slightly wrong as apart from wearing two horns, he was also wearing two stripes."
Robert 'Haggis' Stephen 2487955 from 1951-1952 says that "my memories are all good ones!!"
Dave Drew 5073618 from 1959-1960 says that "I didn't know of this website until yesterday, 17th March 2006, when I read about it in the Bridgnorth Journal. The weird thing about this is, the day before that I was actually on the Stanmore Industrial Site, as it is now, visiting a friend who works at one of the units. Also quite strangely I wondered if I could still remember where the hut was that I had been billeted in? Not a chance, although I have been on the site many times over quite a few years I can't now remember where it was.
My memories of RAF Bridgnorth are not that extensive but of the usual things like parades, constant 'bull' to try and stay one step in front of the D.I. Someone else mentioned a Cpl Pope, he was our D.I. so I presume it must be the same one.
This was not my first time away from home or experience of military life so unlike some of the other conscripts I had some knowledge of military procedures. I had left my home in Kidderminster to do a five year apprenticeship in Rugby and during this period I also served over 2 years in the T.A. so moving to Bridgnorth was almost back home.
One of my main memories is of going against the general advice of 'don't volunteer for anything', about half way through basic training our D.I. wanted volunteers to assist by serving food and drink for special functions at the Sergeants Mess, which myself and two or three others volunteered for, the advantages of this was some extra food and the odd drink free of charge. The other perks were that we didn't have to get involved in bulling up the billet in the evening and as we did several of these events and as long as we were reasonably turned out the next day, minor shortcomings were ignored by the D.I. We found out during these duties that the D.I. was quite human.
After Bridgnorth, stores trade training at Kirton Linsey in Lincolnshire, two and a half years at RAF Wildenrath in Germany and eventually moved back into Bridgnorth District Council area in 1963.
A very good site I hope it will go from strength to strength and bring back memories to a lot of people."
Former Cpl D.I. John Tosh 5012678 from 1957-1958 says that "I particularly enjoyed the challenge of having to train recruits from all walks of life. In particular I was very proud that my Flights were particularly successful in winning the drill cup. I also enjoyed the fun of passing out parties. I remember one at the Stewpony. What a night. Someone has commented in my involvement in the flu jab. Tell me more ....."
Dave Benger C4273697 from 1962, says that he "met a young chap called Jerry Rolfe on the MT bus outside Wolverhampton Station. Funnily enough he was going to train as a photographer as well and we ended up in the same flight and went through all our basic training together before being separately posted. We met up again in September 1964 at Episkopi in Cyprus and have remained in touch ever since. My memories of Bridgnorth are of the tremendous cameraderie amongst the guys. The bull nights live on and the fantastic sense of achievement on completion of the drill test. Also whenever I hear Frank Ifield singing "I Remember You" (not that often these days), I am forever reminded of the tea and buns in the Sally Ann. I met up with the drill sergeant who was the terror of our lives (I've forgotten his name, such a shame), some years later when I was photographing a missile shoot in the Libyan desert. He was in charge of a gang of guys painting canvas targets - a terrible job - and I couldn't help be struck by how our positions were reversed and he seemed somehow diminished by the loss of his job at Bridgnorth. A bit sad really."
Ray Hulley 5091005 from 1959 to 1961, says "I was stationed at Bridgnorth for two separate periods of service - one for National Service initial recruit training from 12 June to 18 August 1959 then as a member of the Permanent Staff from 24 September 1959 to 21 February 1961. In between these dates I was at RAF Hornchurch on a Trade Training course. I shall describe my experiences of Bridgnorth in two sections.
A. Initial Recruit Training.
I was in C Squadron 21 Flight Hut 187 from 12 June 1959 to 19 August 1959. My service number was 5091005 and I couldn't understand why it was so different to the other trainees whose numbers were generally 4225xxx until later on I realised that this was an emergency number allocated to me because I had requested a delay in my call-up date because of a previously booked holiday. I was allowed to report to Cardington 2 weeks later than the first date hence the odd number. Who says that the RAF weren't human?
On Friday 12 June 1959 I arrived at Bridgnorth from Cardington, leaving the remnants of my Sunday School-type packed lunch on the special train. Along with the other 300-odd members of C Squadron I was harassed, shouted at, cajoled and bullied into the waiting buses for the 3 mile trip to the camp. You could have heard a pin drop in the bus - we were all scared out of our skin already! When we arrived at the camp the buses pulled up on to the drill square - oh, what fond memories we all had of that place! - and told - nay, shouted at, to line up in our flights. If someone dropped his kitbag, he was bellowed at to pick it up, then if someone else committed the same crime he was bellowed at to leave it there! I have never been so frightened in all my life and this was only the first half-hour. What lay in store for all of us during the next few weeks we all wondered? We were all in the same situation but this probably made the training easier for us.
Each night the 'Lights out for all trainees' order screeched out over the tannoy. This record must have been years old and with constant playing sounded like 'Lights out for all Chinese'!
The first weeks were almost end-to-end drilling on the square. How we polished that tarmac, let alone our kit! Up and down, down and up, across and back, back and across. Each intake had to learn funeral drill in case the sovereign popped her clogs during their initial training period so it was 'Line the Route', 'Reverse Arms', Rest on your Arms Reverse' as well as the boring 'Quick March', 'About Turn', 'Right Dress' and other standard commands. Sergeant Palace used the drill periods to impose his discipline on us as well as knock us into fit airmen. I will always remember his little quips - when he was checking for those in need of a haircut he would walk along the back of the row saying 'haircut, haircut, estimate' etc and he would come up behind one particularly unkempt person and say "Airman, one pace forward, MARCH!" Pause, then "Airman, one pace forward, MARCH!" Another pause then "Airman, am I hurting you?" - reply "No Sergeant". Reply by Sergeant Palace - "I bloody-well should be airman, because I'm standing on your hair!"
Rays memories continue here......
The photographs that Ray sent are listed as '1959 - Hut 187, 21 Flt' and '1959 - 21 Flt in Aug'
'Vince' John White 4270389 from 1961, comments that he has "not a lot to say. Did me "bird" and kept a low profile. Didn't save me from much though :-) I would dearly like to get in touch with any from 9 Flight, A Squadron. Our D.I. was Corporal Walsh (a rarity at Bridgnorth, a very, very nice D.I. !) I can't remember the Sergeant's name. I do remember him with some fondness as the Sergeant who didn't swear and when some poor miscreant actually gave an incorrect answer, the sergeant's expletive given in exasperation was "knickers!!"."
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