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Page 7 - Stories and memories of your time at RAF Bridgnorth.
Write and submit your memories here.
Bernard Browne 4241426 from 1958, says "I Was Senior man but as far as I was concerned we were just a team working together for the same goal and this proved to be true after I had received my numerous statutory jabs etc. when after a couple of hours in the billet I became delirious and then unconscious and had it not been for the quick actions of my fellow airmen the results could have been extreemly serious and death threatning. But after 3 days in sick quarters I returned to hut 132 and with great help they all again rallied round to avoid my being back flighted and this same comradeship I found during my 3 years in the RAF."
The photographs Bernard sent are listed as '1958 - Hut 132, 32 Flt' and '1958 - 32 Flt 'C' Sqd'
Geoffrey Gartrell 5026413 from 1956, says he can remember "some guy from Blackburn who was to big for a uniform taught me judo here which stood me in good stead as a senior man. Cpl Kleiser bark was not that bad; he wanted me to be a DI; no chance; to much bull; I was a bike racer."
Ray Stewart N4258157 from 1960, says he "was there on my square bashing days for 6 or 8 weeks, [memory loss now lol] remember the TABT jab, straight into drill on the square! b.....s. lol. then the "gas-chamber" thing mask off!! & run round the field afterwards, Jesus, wanted to go home to mum!
All the bull comes back to me, spooning your boots, my Dad told me how to melt the dimples & spit & polish them, like patent leather they were, wish I'd kept them for memories.
Yes, the .303 did have a kick, especially when you're only 17 & a half & skinny! remember putting my beret up to my shoulder for padding. still knocked hell out of me.
I made the fatal mistake of dropping my rifle on the square, got 7 days jankers in the cookhouse washing plates etc. before Ist. parade in the morning! Would love to do it all again just for the memories, great pals I had there.
I recall also of sleeping on the floor so as not to upset my kit lay-out, including cardboard in my bed-pack to get it square.
Cpl Nimmock & Cpl Duff were our CPLs. jeez, what a memory. I have contact with Cpl Nimmocks nephew, the Irish lad is still around!
Hope this jogs a few old lads like me, 68 now, still work part-time, [for hols. & stuff, tops the pension up.] I live in a quiet village near Grimsby in Lincolnshire. Anyone like to chat about these good old days, please call on 075 032 181 57, cheers lads."
In 2011 Ray added his additional memories;
All memories I've read about Cardington to Bridgnorth are very true, square bashing on the square, gas chamber/run around the field, tab jab! jankers cos I dropped my 303 on the parade square, 7 days cookhouse washing up! bed packs with cardboard to get 'em square, felt pads to walk on in room, no fire, [only to keep clean & polished!] polishing dustbins outside for inspection, cold water only to wash or shower, jeez, those were the days.
My good pal Ray Lucas was from Grimsby also, joined up together. Wolverhamton Sat. night "pulled" 2 Army girls, great times. Would do it all again but too old now lol. 68! Best pals ever there, god bless all mates who were there at Bridgnorth.
Roy Purser 2743148 from 1955, says "I recall the Parade Ground being 'hosed off' to clear the snow for our Passing Out Parade. Of course it froze. Talk about Tom Arnolds Ice Circus.
We had a terrific NCO (ex Queens Flight) who would spend time demonstrating Drill moves. On leaving we all 'paraded' with our kitbags, came to attention and sloped kitbags. That just about killed him, but made his day."
The photograph Roy sent is listed as '1955 - 10 Flt in Feb'
Colin Clarke 3528770 from 1960, says that "after initial shock we were soon knocked into shape which made us into men."
The photographs Colin sent are listed as '1960 - Hut 312, 38 Flt' and '1960 - 38 Flt 'D' Sqd'
Wayne Davies M3529351 from 1961, says he can remember "playing in the band, always in trouble when reporting back to Flight."
Stan Griffin 3525585 from 1957, says he can remember "being in the Band and covertly and nocturnally removing coke from the Corporals mess site for our hut fires."
Derek Paramor 2782137 from 1956, says he can "agree that it was very cold as everybody says and have contact still to AC2 Barrie Melrose, one of my best friends.[comment - In 2013, Derek advised us that Barrie had recently died.]
The mandatory injections put me in hospital for a while. My whole body broke out in blisters when I was doing the swimming tests at RAF Cosford, so that Sgt. Mackay HAD to believe that I wasn't trying to swing the lead. Any body remember Ward, the "S-house wallah"?"
The photograph Derek sent is listed as '1956 - 17 Flt in Jan'
Ron Brear 4247780 from 1958, says that "writing this has been a walk down memory lane, thanks for making it possible.
I was deferred until 21 to complete an engineering apprenticeship. I'd like to relate some of my own incidents from RAF Bridgnorth 15.12.58 - 13.02.59 as member of hut 22 with 18 others, a great (perhaps even elite) bunch of erks and a goodly selection of characters!!
I'll go along with much that has been said on arrival at Cardington to go through induction process, finally signed on the dotted line (Thursday 11th Dec) and get kitted out, only in my case they'd run out of T63's in my size (proved to a plus later). Monday morning arrives and we quickly found that rumours that had circulated over the weekend were true, to say the least. The 8 weeks had begun!!!!!
Transportation from the Bridgnorth station was by truck, depositing us alongside a dimly lit area with an excuse for arc lights, (Stalag Luft 17 came to mind) can't be sure if I saw the Cpl as we disembarked, he decided it wasn't quick enough, do it again! not until the forth time was it accepted, only then did the owner of the voice that had motivated us in those few minutes come fully into view, a 6ft 3in tall DI greatcoat, 'SD' hat with slashed peak and 'creases in his trousers that could cut butter' (maybe a slight overkill but you get the picture). Our introduction to Cpl 'Steve' Bell of 4Flt. 'A' Sqn.
First thing we did as 4 Flight was fill to out Christmas leave passes, Sgt Hughes laying out his own 'ground rules' informing us of our full address stating "it is Royal Air Force in full, not RAF", finally adding that any alteration to SD hats would get us into trouble, purposely casting his eyes in Cpl Bells direction.
In the few days before Christmas leave Cpl Bell began our 'breaking down' not least to show some resemblance of marching as a squad, NAAFI time was minimal as we soon learned getting kit into order came first, the use of boot polish, spit and duster was an art and needed to be mastered quickly as was Brasso on brass items with a separate duster,(being ex ATC or Army Cadets 'did' help) the lack of a T63 reduced my brass polishing considerably, however the webbing belt items would require endless time and elbow grease to totally remove the manufacturing finish, some as rough as the 'proverbial', my solution, a visit to my recent workplace within the coming leave where they had the equipment to solve the problem, well worth a couple of packets of fags.
After one particular bad day Cpl Bell found fault whatever we did. Back in the hut 22 most were bitching like hell, between ourselves I may add, one guy who'd done his National Service in Korea in the infantry gave his thoughts on the matter, which boiled down to doing your best whatever the order then things could begin to change. Some time later having been allowed onto the 'hallowed' A Sqn square for the first time, (must have come up to scratch) marching back to the huts, Cpl Bell said loud enough for all to hear but certainly not shouting, the two words I've never forgotten "That's Goood"!!! I wouldn't say we were walking on air, (such instances generally only occur in company of the fairer sex!!) we were quietly chuffed with ourselves, to which our 'in hut guide' gleefully said "told you so". So we'd been taken down, now the only way was up. I guess if we're honest with ourselves we accepted he had a job to do. He lead by example (which was more could be said for some of the DI's, if what we heard was true) it was difficult not to have even a minimum of respect for him, hence we began to see him in different light.
Who can forget the times being marched from A to B and come across another Flt, especially from a different Sqdn, he'd give a muted order to 'smarten up', not that it was needed, but at that point he wanted that little extra. The building up of 4Flt continued, we learned that he'd been successful with some earlier intakes, competing with the other 3 Flts of A Sqn for Flt and Drill Cups, even doing the double on occasions, unfortunately we missed out in the Drill Cup but won the Flt Cup.
Who can forget the dammed 'canned' bugle call on the Tannoy at 6am. I guess we must have had the news, how else would we learn that Bridgnorth or Shawbury were the coldest places in the UK for several days. Snow and ice became the norm for a while but with several recruits going 'base over apex', thankfully without breaking any bones, marching was put on hold and we had billet time to do anything useful. Someone decided to start a Solo school which by any standard would be frowned on, the inevitable happened, being caught by Sgt Hughes who immediately made his feelings known, rounded off by ordering the four culprits to pack up their kit as they were to be back-flighted 4 weeks, (their signatures to this effect are on the back of my photo of 4 Flt, I'll refrain from giving their names.) However, shortly after they departed Sgt Hughes came back with more of his words on card playing either in periods like this or maybe in total (can't remember which) his final words when leaving surprised us, stating the four were not to be back-flighted and would return later in the evening.
Scroungers we were! Broadly speaking anything not locked away or nailed down could be 'lifted' and used for its intended purpose. We were short on creature comforts and with temperatures often below freezing extra fuel was needed. Checking out various fuel stores we found anthracite not coke at the officers mess, small quantities were liberated, less chance of the missing fuel being noticed and easier and quicker to get back 'safely' to back '22'. It was then hidden under the coke. There was one other area which proved fruitful but was only used in only a limited manner for one week, providing sustenance for members of '22' in the form of egg and bacon 'sarnies'.
With the hut's 'days to do' chart running down nicely the week came for boots to be re-studded. Damage was inevitable and the amount of work to get them back 'as was' varied, with 'pass-out' parade getting closer we took more care in our daily routine not to scratch the polished toecaps. I decided to experiment on my shoes to find out how clear dope (used in aero modelling) would adhere to highly polished leather. Shoes were included in the daily inspection and I hoped they wouldn't be looked at too closely, however, they were and I was commended for them.
Our NCOs, who'd been mostly responsible for us, giving us hell at times in the early weeks if we stepped out of line or maybe in their opinion gave other than our best, now seemed to be a tad easier on us without being it being too obvious. Even seeing a little humour surface from Cpl Bell as later in rifle drill, he held out a rifle via the pistol grip to return it to the owner, who calmly reached out likewise grasping it firmly behind the foresight to receive it then slowly lowered it to a rest position. A look of total surprise was countered by a knowing grin adding a positive comment to match the moment.
The final build up continued, going through any grey areas in our drill during the last week. A full rehearsal was held sometime late in the last week. Thursday evening (our last night at Bridgnorth) a final effort, taking a even more care to have kit up to standard for 'the' parade tomorrow, and avoid the wrath of our eagle eyed NCOs in their own critical inspection in the morning, especially as time by then would be running down. My boot toecaps received 'the treatment' and would fully hardened overnight. Can't recall too much of the Friday, inspection was fine, apart from the odd use of a duster here and there, then it was wait in the huts until it was time to move off. One last piece of advice "make sure you recognized your NCO's voice and move only on his calls", none of us would have mistaken Cpl Bells 'bellow' after 8 weeks, so was Sgt Hughes in charge? If there were any 'hic-ups' they weren't big enough to be noticed. It seemed to be over in no time before we were back in '22', packing kit bag and handing-in all that wasn't ours including the red disc. (delete Basic Recruit add AC.2)
As with many other erks after every pass-out parade, you'd be saying good-bye to other hut members, many if not all had become as close as family in the 8 weeks, also fellow erks within the Flight, all of us dealing with whatever came our way, to put it mildly. Through the camaraderie, lasting friendships had been formed, many of which are evident from the many comments on this website of those years long gone. Sgt Hughes and Cpl Bell made themselves available to see us off. I doubt there were many who didn't shake hands with at least one of them. Finally time to catch the transport to the station etc. Handshakes all round, brushing aside the fact that we'd be lucky if we ever met up again.
I hope this selection of snippets from my own 8 weeks have brought a you a few knowing smiles and perhaps given some of your own thoughts an airing, even if it is now 51 yrs down the line. Happy times? yes for sure, they far out weigh the bad bits, which by week 8 had diminished greatly. We'd learned a little more about ourselves and equally others. Like many I'm glad I had the experience and I am sure we became better individuals for it.
I've tried to keep all the details correct, my apologies if there not.
My postings:- RAF Shawbury Ops Clerk course #187 then RAF Manston which had just reopened, (USAF had moved out May '58) working a watch system that us gave ample time on the local beaches, weather permitting. No doubt your imagination can fill in the rest. Departed 10th Nov '61 with one month terminal leave.
info:- the dope covering on the toecaps did their job, remaining in place for 5 days then 'pinged' off in unison."
The photograph Ron sent is listed as '1958 - Hut 22, 'A' Sqd'
Peter Venour 3125168 from 1950, says "I remember our DI was Cpl Shuker, whose slashed cap was reputed to be the highest peak in Europe. Also fond memories of the very colourful--and imaginative---language with which he addressed us, much of which I can still recite word perfect.
When I was there the Station was given the Freedom of Bridgnorth and I recall marching along the main street and under the archway with fixed bayonets.
Comment by the Webmaster - As mentioned on the 'Miscellaneous Facts' page, a 42 second movie film of the event, by Pathe News, is freely available on the Internet.
I've lived in Australia for the past 42 years and went back to Bridgnorth for the first time in 2008 to visit the camp but had difficulty in finding anyone who even knew that there had been an RAF camp there, let alone knowing where it had been located. I gather though that the site has long since been built on. Happy days. Life was different then."
Comment by the Webmaster - Only part of the former Station is now part of a trading estate. That still contains a former hanger, the former Main store / Gymnasium and two other buildings, Also the old rifle range is largely intact. The rest of the site is now a Country Park containing thousands of trees instead of recruits. See the 'How it looks now' section.
John Bradley 4240134 from 1958, says "Our D.I. was Cpl Walters. Lads in hut 176 were great but I struggle to recall names."
The photograph John sent is listed as '1958 - Hut 176 in July'
Geoffrey Trueman K4258664 from 1960, says "I was deputy senior man in Hut ? ( can't remember ) so had to collect the mail !. Kept my nose clean and avoided trouble. Got my marksman's badge which I kept throughout my 12 year engagement."
Joe Gildea 4241847 from 1958, says "I can only remember that the August Bank Holiday 1958 interrupted our training and we got leave. (Bank Holiday Monday would have then been the FIRST Monday in August)"
Gordon Welch G4271403 from 1962, says that "having spent 6 weeks at Bridgnorth on basic training I can honestly say I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Yes it was hard & yes at times I thought my world was coming to an end. 48 years on & I'm convinced it set me on the right road to a successful working life. I spent 22 years in the RAF serving in Cyprus, Singapore, two tours in Germany (one in Berlin with BRIXMIS) & various Stations in the UK. Still not sure about the DI's though! But hey, they had a job to do & they did it well, God bless them!"
Chalky White 4092461 from 1952, says "I would actually like a photo of the 14th February 1952 entry, its such a long time from those days and I have lost the main passing out photo, long ago. I'm thinking there just maybe some lucky ex/RAF guy who religiously kept his."
David Runyard 5067807 from 1959, says "I came across this site almost by accident and was delighted to discover the photo of 6th Flight 'A' Sqdn supplied by Brian Crowdie, (I am the last man on the right, top row). I recognise several of the men in the photo, including Brian and the Cprl DI, but could not put names to any of them. I was a keen photographer but lost everything prior to 1970 after my father died, so seeing this particular photo has brought back many memories. Thanks Brian."
Maxwell Clarke 4197173 from 1957, says "I am an Anglo-Indian and came to the UK specifically to join the RAF. When I got to Bridgnorth it was a culture shock for me. The two Cpl's I remember are Cpl Tosh and Cpl Bishop. Since I came from India and had done a bit of hunting I was expected to excel in rifle and bren gun shooting, it turned out I was hopeless, much to the dismay of Cpl Tosh"
William Bidwell P4271113 from 1962, says "Straight from 'down the pit'. Not too bad, it did show how unfit I was and sorted out the 'men from the boys'. An experience and worth every tin of 'polish and blanco' An episode in my life not to be missed. Respect to all Ex sprogs!"
Dick Stevens 5073503 from 1959, says "I'll never forget the fear when 'greeted' from the train by the DI's. Hundreds of us straight from Cardington arriving in the early foggy hours at Bridgnorth. I was so scared I couldn't remember my service number they screamed out mid all the confusion. A wonderful guy called Fred Newman not only remembered his own number but mine too. Thanks Fred, wherever you are! I was a mess, but still reckon it toughened me up! "
Peter Coe 4195675 from 1957, remembers "A very hot spring as I remember, cutting grass with a pair scissors and painting kerbstones white."
The photograph Peter sent is listed as '1957 - Hut 79, 8 Flt'
Colin Harker 4245365 from 1958, says that "before passing out day, a few of us enjoyed a few too many beers in the town and someone decided to try out a parked motorbike. The Police took us in and an Officer was called to take us back to the camp for a dressing down. What still suprises me to this day was the speed at which we all jumped attention when the Duty Officer appeared at the Police Station. At least we had learned something during our happy time at Bridgnorth."
Robin Knowles 4257118 from 1960, says that "Split Shenton 4257117 and myself joined together and he was National Service. He came from Nottingham. We did our square bashing together at Bridgnorth then we both went to Netheravon to do basic Station Police course.
I don't have any photo's of my short time in the RAF so can only hope someone can remember me."
Derek Sillet 3527700 from 1959, says "I was a voluntary bandsman during my basic training, 'volunteered' by the brother of Sgt Dryden (DI), who I used to practice with prior to enlisting. I was hauled out in front of my entire intake on our first morning and told to wait outside. Some of my compatriots probably thought I was some escaped convict or similar."
Thomas McEvilly 4272413 from 1962, says that "we used to enjoy going up to High town, are the lifts still there? There was also a couple of other Geordies in our billet, I can't remember the names, I do know that Cpl Fullbrook was our DI never have forgot that scream of attention, he was hard but he was fair, I really can't remember my other mates I enlisted on the 30th of April 1962. I remember John Martin because everyone said he had stinky feet! Do's anyone have any photos of our flight ? I think it was "A" Flight. I went on to Catering School in Hereford. Where have all the years gone, thank you to you all for that "square bashing experience and comradeship."
Douglas Barber P4266305 from 1961, says that the "countryside was nice. The black velvets were an education."
David Jeffrey 3155433 from 1959, remembers "the long walk down the road, over the bridge then up the steep hill to the "Old Town"? Getting "Snared" by a young lady from Wolverhampton!"
Tony Hill 4271472 from 1962, remembers that he "arrived on the 26th March 1962 and were in B sqn (forgotten the Hut no:) for the 8weeks training. I've forgotten names of the guys I passed out with, as I have'nt kept in touch with any of them. The only guy I remember was John who came from up North and his girlfriend paid me a complement from the photograph (I am the Anglo Indian dark complexion guy standing 2nd or 3rd from the left in the back row). I have misplaced my photograph, so if anyone has it I would like a copy. I also remember a Welsh guy who we put in a cold bath as he never did wash himself."
Miles Biggs from 1949-1950, says it was "hard physically, but felt a lot fitter after it all. The tea and sticky wads in the Sally Army hut were excellent! Washing greasy tins in the "tin room" was my least favourite chore."
Frank Mills F4266648 from 1961, says "I had served 6 years in the Army before joining the RAF Regiment, but I shall never forget the Basic Training at RAF Bridgnorth. The friends I met at that time will live with me forever, especially our Instructors, Sgt Miller, Cpl Mitchelson and Cpl Price, they were excellent."
The photographs Frank sent are listed as '1961 - Hut 292 Informal' and '1961 - Mills Flt'
Maurice Gibson X4268885 from 1961-1962, says he was "reflighted due to short stay in hospital. R & I at RAF Sleep and Highgate Common. I remember a Sgt Jackson, Cpl Payne got his third whilst drilling us. There was another Corporal DI who was very good.
I have a photo of the 21 flt. Of course I don't have those of 13 flt. I did salute a warrant officer on a bike.
But for the record I wouldn't have missed the comradeship for the world. I joined up at 17yrs & 6 months, I couldn't get in B/E or Apps so I signed on as a Regular."
Mike Wallace 3153757 from 1958, says "I remember watching a lad from Grantham who boxed in an inter-Service match at Bridgnorth & beat the much more fancied fighter also from our billet.
Does anyone remember seeing what we thought was a sqaud of women marching towards us but they turned out to be a PT squad heading for the gym & wearing greatcoats that we took for skirts from a distance, swirling round their bare legs (wearing shorts!)?"
Bob Cokayne Y4268913 from 1961-1962, says that he "did my square bashung here Dec 1961 to Feb 1962. This period was in the middle of a very very cold winter and it was difficult to get warm in the hut. Our drill team was headed by Sgt Jackson ably supported by Cpl's Marsh and Leishman. Station Commander was Gp. Cpt. Foxley-Norris.
I left "the mob" in 1973 and loved every minute of my service time. I did not meet any of my square bashing colleagues during my subsequent service but they all had a servcie number between 4268900 and 4268920 which were subsequently prefixed with a letter."
The daughter of Sgt Bob Hughes-Smith from 1961 - 1962, says "we were based in Bridgnorth May 1961 - June 1962. I currently don't have my Father's service No./rank etc. but I did visit Bridgnorth recently and it brought back many happy memories. I went to St. Mary's junior school. We lived at 20 The Hobbins. It would be great to hear from anyone who worked with my Father (who passed away in 1993) and knew my Mother Audrey. Thank you. Sue Jensen."
John Flaxman 4096390 from 1952, says "Cpl Aikon was our D.I. Remember rolling up in the coaches which delivered us from the railway station. Before they came to a halt there was a terrible banging on the outside and lots of yelling. We wondered what on earth we'd come to. It turned out that it was a small group of D.I.s welcoming us in their normal way. They screamed at us to get the hell off the bus and line up on the double (at that stage we didn't even know what "on the double" meant!) and then actually threw our kitbags at us when our name was called out, nearly knocking us over. We were then marched to the billets and detailed off into groups for each hut. On entering our hut I was impressed with the sparkling state of eveything - the floor was so shiny you could almost see your face in it. By the door there was a pile of blanket scraps and we wondered what on earth they were for. We soon found out - if anyone dared to actually walk on the floor they would be met with shouts of disgust and "PADS" - we were expected to slide everywhere on these pads and this helped to keep the floor shiny so that on Bull Day it wasn't as hard to slop on the Red Cardinal polish. Every nook and cranny was completely dust free - tops of windows, tops of doors and in every unlikely corner. All these spots would be examined in great detail by "Corp. and the duty officer during the weekly inspection and woe betide any billet that didn't come up to scratch. I well remember one evening when, all dressed up in our best blue and on our way out to the camp cinema, when "Corp" came out of his room at the end of the hut and asked where we thought we were going. We told him and received this response - " yeh - OK, but you'll have to clean out the stove first and re-black lead it, it looks a bit scruffy". Despite the fact that we'd just spent all day cleaning the billet AND the stove (which was, in fact pristine!) we had to change and get stuck in again and of course missed the film. Such was the power these "Gods" had over us. We daren't even open our mouths unless answering a D.I.s question. Of course, after the first week things quietened down and as we got the hang of things we relaxed somewhat and almost began to enjoy the hard work and training. By the end of our six week square bashing we were swapping beers in the N.A.A.F.I. with the D.I.s. It was really a great experience and lesson in human nature for all of us callow 18 yr. olds."
Enoch Mayer 4203293 from 1959, says he can "always remember when transport for our 48 was being arranged "Cookhouse" Malley said "I'm gowing home on the lowcal buzes corprul" :-)"
Brian Wadsworth 5066460 from 1959, says "I was playing football for Gt Yarmouth FC when I was called up so I was allowed to go home on the first two weekends that I was at Bridgnorth to play in cup matches.
I was in C Flt Hut 21 our Segeant was Sgt Pallas who also played football for the camp, I can't remember the name of our Corporal. We won the drill cup."
Clive Andrews J4275069 from 1962, says that "Cpl Brown & Cpl Stevens were our D.I.s Cpl Stevens had foot trouble! Cpl Brown made sure that we got a beer or 2 when doing our stint as waiters at the Sgts' Mess.
In Hut 213 with:'Pip' Freeman (Reading), Geoff Philips (later RAF Police), Keith Wooler (who used to do a great job bulling our boots for half a crown, while we went up the NAAFI - thanks Keith!), Reg....and a bunch of other great lads, whose names escape me.
Never drop your eating irons into the tank of hot water for swilling them in! There had to be 3 of you to be able to march to breakfast, etc. Enjoyed most things, especially drill, cross-country & firing the 303 & Bren, on the range. The Astra cinema, ('the Pictures' in those days), was a good antidote to a hard day. Never been so fit, before or since!
Remember going to Bridgnorth Railway station in a 3 tonner, to send all our 'civvy' clothes home, (worth volunteering for, despite the old adage; we were allowed a quick lunchtime pint in the station buffet!)
Missed the bus back, in High Wycombe, after our 48hr pass & had to hitch all the way back. Lorry drivers were great, handing me on to Birmingham bound oppo's. Got back at 5 am, just in time to sweep my bedspace! (Hope I'm not boring you out there). Strange how often I dream about being back in the RAF; anyone else get that?"
Len Hudson 5047099 from 1957, says that "on arriving at Bridgnorth, it felt like I was entering a German concentration camp, the Corporals all had their peak caps across their eyes, we all had to have a haircut. Discipline was needed for raw recruits but the NCO's took their work of training too far. On parade they would make you repeat what they said which often was f.ck, a word I was brought up never to say. As luck would have it for our Corporal, I was never asked to say that word, had I been put in that position I had decided no matter what, to go to the Station Padre to complain. One recruit who was threatened, took his case to the Station Padre resulting to a Court Martial for his Corporal."
Ian Gray 4266183 from 1961, says "I have been unable to find any pics of the intake I was in. But maybe someone will remember me and a contact would be great."
Derek Wellings 4137533 from 1953, says "I well remember our di's, especially Cpl Welsh. They were very fair and of course, comical, at times!
What I remember most is finally walking out of the station (with full kit) on completion of basic training, feeling on top of the world. I would have gone anywhere in the world, at a moments notice! Never felt so well, physicaly and mentaly, before or since!"
Ian Gillis 2617783 from 1959-1960, says "I joined the RAF at the Induction Centre at RAF Cardington at a low point in my life after ploughing a degree in Electrical Engineering. We were well treated at Cardington until we'd signed up, then we were put on a slow train to Bridgnorth which took most of the day. Our reception at the station at Bridgnorth was the classic first stage in the "knock 'em down and build 'em up" process, and was accompanied by much profanity by the NCOs which caused some adverse comment by the locals. I have never felt so low in my life, and the photograph taken on arrival shows that the others felt the same!
But I enjoyed the companionship, the training and the satisfaction of marching in a group of perfectly-drilled airmen - when each heel touches the ground at the same time with one, sharp "click". I got to wear the white belt and lead my squad from the passing-out parade - I had regained my self-esteem.
All my generation say that modern youth would benefit from such training - but I earnestly believe that it is true."
The photographs Ian sent are listed as '1959 - 1 Flt 'A' Sqd' and '1960 - Hut 36, 1 Flt in Feb'
Roger Russell 4235442 from 1957, remembers "Good times at Bridgnorth when I look back, although not always at the time! Never been fitter and had a great D.I in Cpl Steve Bell. Made some good friends during those 8 weeks and had some good laughs.........wouldn't have missed it for the world or the rest of my time in the R.A.F."
The photographs Roger sent are listed as '1957 - Hut 40 in Nov' and '1957 - Hut 40, unofficial'
Kenneth Stevens 5068899 from 1959, remembers that "following the kit distribution days at RAF Cardington and a tortuous journey by rail, winding around various Midland Counties we eventually arrived at RAF Bridgnorth on a Saturday evening. We were allocated our huts and met our drill instructors, Sgt MacPartland, and Cpl's Larkin and Cpl Collis. Suddenly the tempo of our life changed dramatically and we realized what a basic training camp was all about. It was an eye opener and it took several days to come to terms with our new lifestyle.
My primary memory of the time spent at BN was the weather. It was a glorious dry, sunny and hot early summer; I cannot recall a wet day throughout the weeks spent there. We did most of our training wearing PT kit under fatigue overalls.
A further memory is the diverse mix of men present within Flight 25 with ages ranging from 18 to 25 years, both regular recruits and National Service men, from all parts of the country including a high proportion from Scotland. It was a great opportunity to get to know people that one would not otherwise have met in normal life. Surprisingly we all seemed to get on well together having realised that, whatever happened, we were all in the same boat. It amazes me still how the few weeks that were allocated to basic training could transform an initial uncoordinated group of about 80 recruits, into a smart drill team. In fact we came to enjoy the drill and we became very good at it and were eventually tipped to win the Drill Cup.
We were not so skilled on the firing range with very few marksmen. I remember well the day on the range. It was so hot that late in the day after the rifles had been fired many times they were almost to hot to handle. Some airmen actually suffered blisters on their hands from the wood cladding around the rifle barrels.
In the final days we did not win the Drill Cup. Half way through the test the officer I/C gave a command out of the normal sequence, some members of the flight obeyed this command but the majority carried out the command they were expecting. For a moment there was chaos but we did recover and completed the test though not with the result expected. All members of Flight 25 were devastated especially the officer I/C and our NCO's. Following much discussion amongst the recruits a small deputation was formed to request that Flight 25 be allowed to retake the drill test and be reassessed. We had accepted that we could not get the Drill Cup. We just wanted to prove that we were as good as, or better than, the other Flights that were passing out. The request was permitted and we redid the test that evening without any problems. We also had a consolation in winning the inter-flight Sports Cup.
Within the next couple of days we had the passing out parade and were leaving RAF Bridgnorth for the last time. Looking back, after 51 years, it was just a few weeks from a life time but it really was, in many ways, a great experience which I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to take part in. At the end we had also got to like the drill instructors, it had become evident, during the basic training, that it was all a great act on their part. As a NS conscript I still had most of my two years to complete. Initially at RAF Locking for trade training and then, for the final year, detached to a small mobile radar control unit located on a Dorset cliff top overlooking Lyme Bay. But that's another story."
The photographs Kenneth sent are listed as '1959 - Hut 184, 25 Flt' and '1959 - 25 Flt'
The family of Jesse Foxall from WW2, says they are "trying to get some information on their grand parents service in WWII both served in the RAF but unsure of what base. Any information on Jesse Foxall, Lillian Rose Meecham later married Jesse and moved to Australia."
Rodney Dorsett L4265798 from July 1961- Dec 1962, remembers "playing football for RAF Bridgnorth with Fred Davies as Centre Forward although at weekends Fred was at Molyneaux playing in goal for The Wolves who were then in 1st Division."
Ian Barr Y4275536 from 1962 - 1963, says it was "really was a bad winter and we had to drag parrafin burners around all night to all the derelict huts to stop pipes freezing, of course had to wear our AP boots and the residual parrafin stripped the boot polish off. Remember doing camp guard and being issued with Navy Rum. I was in the RAF station band and remember us getting the Freedom of Bridgnorth."
Comment by the Webmaster - I wonder if you are recalling another event? RAF Bridgnorth exercised it's right to the Freedom of the Right of Entry for the first time on 7 June 1951.
In Feb 2015 Ian added his additional memories;
Due to a spell in Hospital I was backflighted to the last entry at Brignorth.
Seem to recall the Flight having to have in one day, both arms jabbed with every conceivable inoculation to cover world wide cover. The drill Sergeant then had us out doing rifle drill just I guess to "stop the arms seizing up" yeah right !
Peter Heeley X4273281 from 1962, says "I was recently given an intake photo of 19 Flt B Sqdn but was unable to compare it to the photo given on these pages. It was still nice to look through the selection of intake pictures from those great, initial days of my RAF career"
The photograph Peter sent is listed as '1962 - 19 Flt 'B' Sqd in May'
Dennis Saunders 4125518 from 1953, says "my two abiding memories of square bashing there for the Coronation Route Lining. The sound of homesick young men sobbing under the blankets and the fearsome Corporal Bligh. His special terror tactic was to storm through the hut at first light lashing (and smashing) with a rifle sling at our displayed kit screaming, "Shitty!" Then once on the parade ground something I found really funny. He'd called us to attention after the 'right dress', then after walking up and down between the 3 ranks of petrified 'sprogs'and glowering at us with absolute disgust, yelled so loudly that all of Bridgnorth must have heard, "Do you know what's wrong with this flight? then after a pause...and even more louder, "Mass masturbation"!
Those were the days!!! Didn't do us any harm though, did it? I'd love to hear from anyone who was there at that time and hopefully on the Coronation Flight."
John Stubbert X4268983 from 1961, remembers that it was "freezing cold. Sheer fright. At the same time many laughs."
Ernie Wakefield 3520558 from 1955, remembers that "we went out one night into Bridgnorth, it was late but before 2400hrs one airman fell on the way back to camp and lost his I.D. card No ?. Any way we must have been further behind and an airman fell in the same place and recovered this I.D. We arrived at the camp gates and this bloke was in a state as he couldn't get back in without his I.D. It's incredible but true. Who was he?"
Jim Smith 4074200 from 1951, says he has "no happy memories of Bridgnorth other than the road out. Unable to remember Flight or Hut No's. I do remember one D.I. a nasty little Scot named Andy Mowat. We also had a guy who had been a winner on Carroll Levis Discoveries or some similar radio talent show. Excellent pianist who, as I remember spent much of his time playing in the Corporals Club once they heard him in the NAAFI.
I was reflighted two weeks for turning right instead of left (or vice versa) just a week or so before passing out. I thought the crossed bayonet bayonets of me a the guy next to me werre quite decorative but the drill Sergeant disagreed and after much red faced, high decibel, abuse reflighted me.
I met up with Dalrymple again at Compton Bassett. I would be glad to hear from anybody who shared my time at Bridgnorth."
Derrick Etches 4237677 from 1958, says "Happy days, very good discipline, well worth enjoyed. Bring back conscription, all younger end don't know they're born.
It was in 1958 whilst doing my squarebashing, it rained every day and by the end of the day, my feet and inside of my boots were soaking, I placed my boots on top of the 'pot belly' stove to dry out. The next day after breakfast, I dressed to go on marching drill but the toes of my boots had curled up and difficult to get on. As I stood on parade, our drill instructor noticed I was having difficulty marching, saw the state of my boots, nicknamed me Aladdin, marched me off to the stores to get a new pair. The nickname stayed with me till I finished my squarebashing which created a few laughs in hut 77."
Mike Hartley 5079407 from 1960, says "I remember one night on guard duty, the Station C.O. arrived back on camp after a social event in Wolverhampton. I was told by the duty Sergeant not to let him pass till I had seen his F1250, needless to say I had to wake him from his slumbers, but he was okay and obliged thankfully?
I think I was in 'c' Flt, but can't remember any photographs. I remember a Sgt Brennan, Cpl Scott, Cpl Andrews and Pilot Officer Turley being Flight Officer."
Bob McCombe J4273568 from 1962, says that "after about four weeks into training, one day when playing football, I was dead legged by a jock, I think his name was Cochrane. After two weeks in the station sick quarters and some fairly intensive physiotherapy, I rejoined my basic training eventually passing out two weeks after my colleaues who I then joined at Compton Bassett where we trained as Wops.
I was the first person to be charged on our flight at Bridgnorth closely followed by Paddy Sullivan. Paddy had a very large beret which was the joke of the billet. He had mislaid it and later found it. One day when the Flt Lt was carrying out a kit inspection he stood in front of Paddy and said "I see you have found your beret again Sullivan where did you find it?" Paddy replied that he had found it in the Mess. The Flt Lt then asked Paddy if he had his name on it? Paddy replied "No Sir." How did you know it then the Flt Lt asked. Paddy replied "I knew it by the size Sir." I was standing next to Paddy and could not contain a snigger. Suddenly the face of Cpl Child-Freeman appeared six inches from mine and order me from the billet to stand outside the Flight office. A few seconds later Paddy was standing beside me. We were each awarded five days jankers for laughing on parade. I look back and laugh about it now but it was not funny then. Those were the days, eh?"
The photograph Bob sent is listed as '1962 - 12 Flt 'A' Sqd'
Eric Payne 4262972 from 1961, remembers "arriving at RAF Bridgnorth for the very first time and being descended upon by a flury of D.I.s and being screamed at even before we could get off the RAF coach - oh dear, what have I let myself in for?? Mum, I want to come home!
But not so bad after a while - enjoyed the 'Reliability and Initiative' week playing soldiers and firing on the range.
Being congratulated by some Instructor for leading a team over a supposedly mined, barbed-wired fence using just three poles and some rope without getting blown up (little did he know that someone on the previous team had advised exactly how to do it! - well, that's initiative isn't it?)
Marching through the town of Bridgnorth after we had acquired some semblance of how to all march in unison.
Passing out (almost literally) on a freezing cold day in March. Then leaving the camp for the last time and feeling - amazingly - a little sad that it was all over."
Norman Hill 2727682 from 1954, says that "Hut 33 won the flag of merit for the best "bulled up" hut for seven weeks of the eight we were at Bridgnorth. The regulars got it for the last week!!
I drew a Flying ticket along with two or three others for all that "bull" and did my only flying time in the Airforce, 20 minutes with an ex Battle of Britain pilot and I nearly needed the sick bag."
John Raymond B26779 from 1961, says "I arrived in Bridgnorth Oct. 1961, 1st time I'd been out of Scotland. It was a shock to the system, I thought the D.I'S were sadists, apart from Cpl Walsh, an Irishman. I was frequently pulled up for imaginary specs of dust on my cap-badge etc, and did a fair amount of jankers. Still, when I had to work in the cookhouse I put my back into it, and the Corporal i/c said, "That wee Scots b.....d can fairly work!", and rewarded me with tins of fruit etc which made me popular with my hut-mates, as we always seemed to be hungry.
I was also the guy whose rifle was never at the correct angle during drill, [ironically, years later on a guard of honour I was the one who was used to demonstrate the correct angles for slope, present etc!]
I'll never forget camping in the snow in December 1966. We had some real characters in our hut, and we were fortunate to have a former Army chap as our senior man, a Welshman whose name I think was Fothergill. I felt stressed quite a lot of the time, as I was worried about being back-flighted, but I passed out on schedule, and remember it as the start of some of the happiest years of my life."
Tony Kinsman 5080042 from 1960, says that he "arrived at camp on train from Cardington. Real culture shock. DI.shouting, looking very menacing with their slashed cap peaks, our feet never touched the ground. It was all round panic. After we got to our huts and settled in. Our hut was No.309.
It was a good group of men. We soon came to terms with the dicipline. Doing square bashing was an experience not to be missed. Our DI. had some very funny sayings. But everybody knew better than to laugh. Had to admire how he got us from a group of indiviuals to work as one.
I remember skating around the hut with pads on my feet to polish the floor. Painting the stones around the hut black and white. My one mistake was lighting the office stove and not opening the flue. Duty officer went in and ran out, it was full of smoke. They were not amused.
I missed the passing out parade because I was sent to Uxbridge for route lining for King and Queen of Nepal. We paraded on Horse Guards and lined the bottom of The Mall, never seen so many people in my life being a country boy from Cornwall.
After training, posted to RAF Newton for tech training. Arm/mech A.GW then Boscombe Down. The last few months I spent at Middleton St George End of my National Service. Glad I did it."
The photographs Tony sent are listed as '1960 - Hut 309' (two photos) and '1960 - Kinsman's Flt'
Stuart Murray 5069558 from 1959, says that Bridgnorth was "an experience never to be forgotten."
Kenneth Wrigglesworth 4241835 from 1958, says that he "had a great time at Bridgnorth, I even signed the dotted line to extend my service to 9 years, which I never regetted, I enjoyed every minute of my service in the RAF."
The photograph Ken sent is listed as '1958 - 'B' Sqd in Aug'
Barry Keeble 2454509 from 1950, says "I seem to remember how cold it was (Dec 1949 - Feb 1950) Happy memories of times spent in Bridgnorth itself and the cliff side railway."
John Davidson 5057209 from 1958, says "I cannot remember our flight No. I thought we were in hut 40 but ..... We were a mixed lot. Lots of us were Nats from Scotland who had been deferred on education or training grounds, there were also some regular recruits. I seem to think we won either the sports cup or drill cup but again????? Anyway I would like to hear from anyone who was in that flight."
Roy Hemingway Y4269856 from 1962, says that "like many other people before me I was in the ATC before the RAF. So all the drill was easy for me. I found it very interesting to watch the people who had never been away from home before learning how to cope with it all. RAF Bridgnorth was the coldest RAF station that I went to. My time at Bridgnorth was the fittest time of my life. All those long runs certainly did it. "
The photograph Roy sent is listed as '1962 - Hut 299 in Feb'
Bill Knox 5068961 from 1959, says "I did my square bashing here, I was in hut 315 and I can remember that I had a yellow disc behind my RAF beret badge. I think the corporal's name was Cpl Tomkingson and the Sgt was Sgt Wilson, but as I said I am not sure. I went from RAF Bridgnorth to RAF Compton Bassett."
The photographs Bill sent are listed as '1959 - Hut 315, 38 Flt' and '1959 - 38 Flt in July'.
Joseph Fisk H4272543 from 1961, says that "my memories of Bridgnorth are very sketchy, all I remember really was the good old sally ann lol."
Kevin Hill 4269152 from 1962, says he "arrived in January 1962. Was auditioned for the Station band and played euphonium. On parade every week for passing out parades. It was freezing cold. I recall on one occasion the valves froze on our instruments and on the command "general salute, present arms" there was complete silence! The AOC was not impressed!
One of the trainees owned an Austin Heally sports car and for some time he received a salute from the Corporal at the guardroom as he drove out of the front gate who assumed he was an Officer!!"
Robin Wells 4126062 from 1953, says "I really enjoyed my time at RAF Bridgnorth, during April / June 1953, although it was hard graft, I guess we all went there as boys and all came came away as men and the better for it.
I cannot remember any of the lads, although you were great mates with all of them, but I do remember our DI and hut Corporal was Cpl John Hoath and Hut No 319. Would be great to hear from anyone who was in Hut 319 during that time."
John Hunnisett 4070012 from 1951, says "I remember coming from Cardington, off loading onto the platform and being met by the D Is. They introduced themselves in the usual pleasant way Ha Ha. Told us we would wish we were dead before the morning. At 18 I did. I remember my mug being not quite dry after wash freezing to my locker top overnight and having to stuff a sock into the hole in the wall beside my bed at night. Gradually getting used to the life and the pride one felt when we passed out from 10 flight. Did we win the flight cup? I have a feeling we did but cannot be certain."
Arnold Brunton 5070640 from 1959, says that "call up for my National Service was deferred until I was 21, to allow the completion of a five year apprenticeship. In June 1959, like most conscripts my rail warrant to RAF Cardington arrived in the post. On arrival at Bedford station, herded like sheep into RAF buses we were driven to the camp. This first introduction of what was to come was ok. Getting kitted-out for the majority was relatively simple, marching to various stores for uniforms, boots etc. Except for two 6'10in tall lads and one very broad shouldered lad, no uniforms or boots would fit them. Our new hobnail boots were slippery at first. DI's shouted dig your heels in, as we were shuffled around the camp.
I can't recall where we received our first compulsory service haircuts perhaps at this camp or later at RAF Bridgnorth ( the spelling always looks wrong without an 'e' ). This was the era of Teddy Boys and DA hairstyles. In the RAF barber's chair, some would jokingly say "not too much off please". The end result was always the same, hair clippers were dipped into a tin of oil, all new recruits were scalped to the hat line and short on top.
After about a week, all kitted out, smelling of mothballs, we were shipped off to RAF Bridgnorth. Entering the camp, the bus stopped parallel to a large grass area. We disembarked in turn onto the grass, to be greeted by the waiting DI's, barking, "GET OFF THE F***ING GRASS", "AT THE F***ING DOUBLE". 'We had arrived at RAF Bridgnorth'.
I joined the station band when told that musicians must report to the Bandmaster ASAP. Great! I enjoyed this apart from one incident. As a trumpet player I was ordered to play 'The Last Post' at sunset each day. Unfortunately for me, the first time coincided with the dreaded 'TABT' jab and my arm was numb. Unable to lift my arm and put the trumpet to my lips with enough pressure to sound the notes, it was a disaster. Later, I enjoyed the respect shown to the colours, the duty officer would salute when I played, everyone froze to attention, cars stopped, just for those few moments everyone showed their respect to our country and national flag. 'How things have changed'.
Basic drill training was a doddle, as a bandsman I was accustomed to marching. We turned out for more parades than most recruits. The band would play at the weekly pass-out parades, which I enjoyed.
My basic firearms training was almost zero. About a dozen of us left camp for trade interviews, to join the RAF police. This coincided with rifle range training, which we all missed. On return we were marched to the range, too late for weapons instruction, we each fired two clips of five rounds and that was it.
The basic bull, the bumper and floor pads everyone will recall, along with window cleaning using Brasso and newspaper. The local drink was 'scrumpy' a very potent cider. One recruit who drank too much crapped his pants, earning him a special nickname. Some ten years later my wife and I moved to Chester le Street. House callers in the usual two's were in our avenue. Imagine the surprise when I saw Jehovah's Witness 'Sh*te Hawk' at my door.
The various photographs Arnie sent are listed as '1959 - Hut 80, 7 Flt' , '1959 - 7 Flt, 'A' Sqd' , '1959 - Band in the Summer' , '1959 - Blood donor' and '1959 - Housewife' (the last two being in the General photographs section)
Ray Maddox 4069988 from 1951, says "a pint of cider after every mid-day meal - quite often a cabbage salad. This experience expanded my vocabulary and also gave us a vivid imagination due to the amazing educated (!) D.I.'s"
Roy Swann 2783706 from 1956, says that "Christ, it was cold! We had to go round in shifts through the night flushing the toilets to prevent them from freezing up! Afterwards - to RAF Melksham for trade training (Instruments)"
Robert Ellis 3156395 from 1960, says that "being an ex ATC cadet and having experience of RAF camps/drill etc. I found Bridgnorth easy and really enjoyed my time there. I remember Cpls Kennedy and Pope."
Peter Hill 5072173 from 1959, says he remembers "some cold nights. We had to defend a canal somewhere in Staffs from APOs trying to cross. I caught one naked with his clothes above his head, just about to enter the water. Does anyone remember the canal somewhere in Staffs."
Mike Sanders 4260704 from 1955, says that he was "one of the 8 who volunteered at the end of National Service and enjoyed every bit of my time in the Royal Air Force and even the mistakes I made."
Keith Ellis 4174457 from 1955, says "I notice that Taff Weston (4174454) has an entry. We were in the same hut together. I still have some photographs from those far off days. I will upload them soon."
Jim Roy 4117951 from 1952, says "don't remember the Flight I was in or the Hut number. We did win the drill cup on passout parade which had been lost by the previous Flight. Our N.C.O.'s were ecstatic over that. We started out with a short Scottish D.I with a very gravelly voice don't remember his name but I think he was due for demob because we only had him for a couple of weeks. The other Cpl D.I. was quite a good boxer I think his name was Steel but not 100% certain. Then later we had Cpls Payne and Jewel.
Two of the men who were with me on the course were William (Bill)(Taff) Davies from Bridgend, Glamorgan, South Wales and John (Jock) McMann from Leven, Fife, Scotland. Jock and I met at the recruiting centre in Edinburgh Scotland and lived only a few miles from each other in Fife Scotland."
The photograph Jim sent is listed as '1953 - Jan Flt'
Harry Medhurst 3123281 from 1949, says that it was "tough going, but was home for Christmas. Still in contact with fellow hut resident Derek Watkins."
Mike Wilson 5011803 from 1957, says "we went into Bridgnorth once and asked for pikelets in a baker's shop. They'd not heard of them. They called them crumpets. We took them back to the billet and singed them on a coke fire. We also went to see a soccer match at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Somebody won 4-2. Have got leave passes for 12.12.57-29.12.57 and 20.1.58-29.1.58. How long was I at Bridgnorth? There's a few memories on my website www dot freespiritwriters dot me dot uk."
The four photographs Mike sent are listed as '1957 - Hut 219' , '1957 - 22 Flt, 'C' Sqd' (two photos)' and one in 'Leave Passes' (in the General photographs section)
John Forde P4273651 from 1962, says "I remember all the bull nights and square bashing, making up blanket packs and the pride we felt on passing out."
William Andrews Q5030714 from 1956, says that he has "checked this site many times for messages and photograghs of personnel who were in my intake at this time. Cannot trace any group photos where Cpl Widdowson was the DI, or remember the Hut No./ Flt.No. Would appreciate any info."
Comment by Webmaster - Cpl Widdowson is shown on the following photographs; 1957 - Hut 162, 1957 - Hodge's Flight and then later in 1959 - Hut 312 in Aug.
Keith Laverack M4264525 from 1961, says he "arrived 8 May 1961. Think our hut was the middle one of three on the right of the main road from the guard room. Our DI was Cpl Alan Thomas and the Regiment Cpl was Rocky Gorman?"
Tom Maddison 4048838 from 1950, says "I remember giving blood and had to go into other arm because it wasn't flowing fast enough and ended up with both arms plastered and could not salute an officer on my way back to the billet (hut 18).
Having an abcess on a front tooth and the tooth extracted.
One of the recruits in my flight hypnotising another at the passing-out party. Every time a certain tune was whistled he would jump up and shout 'toffee apples'."
The photograph Tom sent is listed as '1950 - 7 Flt, 'B' Sqd'.
Johnny Johnston 4244325 from 1958, says that "I remember the tall drill Corp, was he Cpl King? Also I remember an ac2 who was excused shaving! there was a tall ex university only had civvies for ages."
Henry Cooper 2734077 from 1954, says that "I remember my short time here with fondness and would be glad to hear from anyone that can remember this AC plonk!"
Anthony Babb 5080285 from 1960, says that "square bashing was a shock to the system! However I soon settled in to the "routine". I was lucky in that I only lived in Wolverhampton so that any leave I got I was home quickly. Posted to Kirton Lindsey for pay accounts training."
Ian Harwood A4269445 from 1962, says "I remember being picked up from Wolverhampton high level railway station by a Sgt to be escorted to a RAF coach where other new AC2s to be, were awaiting on the coach for further recruits to arrive. When the coach was full we travelled to RAF Bridgnorth ---- The ultimate rememberance of that journey was complete silence aboard that coach from Wolverhampton to RAF Bridgnorth. The other rememberance was we were often sent on cross country runs or road runs in boots. I for some reason managed to avoid these runs.
I went onto to serve as a wop(a) sent to marine craft units, NATO HQS Mountain rescue teams and finishing up on 38 Gp Tactical Signals unit."
Stan Allen 4062138 from 1951, says "Great site that brings back lots of memories - one I remember was at the station in Bridgnorth the day I arrived from Cardington and hearing the D/I shouting orders, throwing my kit bag at me, dropping it and breaking my mug that was on the top for easy reach - and (thinking what have I let myself in for) but great Instuctors. The names of all the people I knew have gone over the last 57 yrs and wonder at times how many are still left with us."
Mr Bullen 3525583 from 1957-1958, says "I met some really nice people while in training. Although torn away from family and friends, I would not have missed it. I still wear my Royal Air Force badge proudly on my blazer."
Graham Marsh 5013122 from 1956, says "I was in 10 Flight, 'A' Squadron about 29th February to end of April/early May 1956."
Bryan Hogg B4268405 from 1961-1962, says "I remember it was very cold - 19 degrees and snowing when we were doing our square bashing with Cpl Dave Bryant who was immaculately dressed and on completing our course a very nice person.
Yes we used to go to the coke yard but we had anthrasite not coke and the hut stoves glowed red, however our toilets were the only ones that worked. We tried to do rifle drill on the square by digging a hole in the snow.
I also recall having a drinking bet with a hut pal from London to see who could drink the most Newcastle Brown Ale at the dance hall. We both lost!
We had a good bunch of guys and it set the scene for the next 25 years I spent in the RAF returning to RAF Bridgnorth married quarters in the 70's and running the Hob Inn where I met Dave Bryant again whilst playing football in the Bridgnorth League. I will always remember Bridgnorth very fondly."
The photographs Bryan sent are listed '1961 - Hut 247' and '1961 - Hogg's Flt'.
Ray Evans E4273699 from 1962, says "I left home at the age of 20 on the 18th June 1962 to travel the short distance to join the RAF at Bridgnorth. I then lived just across the Welsh border in Mid Wales some 30 miles from Bridgnorth. Like thousands before me, I thought to myself as I spent most of the first night near to tears, 'what have I let myself in for' However I soon settled down to the rigours of basic training and the weeks just flew by. Soon made friends with what were in essence a hut full of total strangers just thrown together. We were 9 Flight A Sqdn, Hut 190 and Cpl Smith was one of our DI's.
We did eventually get permission to go out of camp down into Bridgnorth town where we certainly enjoyed the delights of the local pubs and lassies at the dances. Frequently missed the last bus back to camp but always managed to sneak past the guardroom.
I recall that our Hut 190 missed out on one particular weekend pass due to our billet not being up to scratch or some other similar 'serious misdemeanour' and we spent all of a Saturday afternoon peeling spuds and cleaning the cook-house.
On another occasion when we were allowed out one evening, a few of us went into Bridgnorth had quite a bit to drink,(as you do) and on the way back got into a fracas outside the Bandon Arms with some local lads. They just didn't like us RAF lads pinching their girls off them !!
Another thing that I have to thank RAF Bridgnorth for, was that it was whilst serving there that I first became hooked on my beloved WOLVES. I went to Molineux to see WOLVES play MAN UTD one Sat afternoon when Wolves were in the old First division. From that day since, apart from when I served abroad, I have been a regular supporter of the old gold and black through good and bad times, and remain to this day a season ticket holder there.
I thoroughly enjoyed the training, loved drill marching and the military bearing and discipline it gave me stood me in good stead for my career in the Police Force after I left the RAF. Little did I realise when I was in the RAF at Bridgnorth that I would one day return there as a Police Sergeant and Inspector. Happy happy memories of Bridgnorth."
The photographs Ray sent are listed as '1962 - Hut 190, 9 Flt' and '1962 - 9 Flt, 'A' Sqd'.
Ronnie Watson D4262050 from 1960, says he remembers "signing on in Edinburgh and then given a travel warrant (aged 17 and 6 months) and told to report to RAF Carddinton was quite an experience and very frightning at the time as my Mother had died in June and this was November the 5th 1960. As luck would have it I met up with a lad I had been to school with and lived within view of my home, he was Walter Hamilton. Both of us got the 11pm Train from the Waverly Station neither of us knowing what lay ahead.
Being met at the station by NCO,s we were taken to the camp and sort of marched to the billets, nobody in step. I remember the NCO's were very nice to us until we took the oath and then it all change we were IN !!!
Having signed on as a regular we got diffrent Battle dresses than the lads who were doing national service and more money. That was an experience all on its own, the organization to get everyone kitted out in one afternoon. A few sizes of uniform to fit all and then the tailors altered it to fit you and it was ready the next day. They even made you put your boots on and then you had to stand with your feet under an xray machine to ensure they fitted ok. But the big shock came when you got into battle dress for the first time and you had to pack up all your civilian clothes into a box and they were sent to your home. Everything you were left with had been issued except for your wallet and your tooth brush.
All kitted up we were all put on a train for Bridgnorth. The journey I can't remember how long but the NCO's kept walking up and down the carrages making us sit straight and button up our tunics. I did not know what to think as I had only once been out of Scotland before. Not exactly frightend but very close to it.
Arrival at the camp we were allocated our billets and our bed space. No choice just detailed. Twenty one to a billet and your Corporal Instructor had the single room at the end with a coke stove in the corner. We had two large coke stoves between the lot of us which kept the place very warm. We were then stood buy the ends of our beds and told the do's and don'ts. That was the first time we were introduced to our DI's : Sgt Smith : Cpl Nimmock : Cpl Duff.
For the rest of the six weeks square bashing they made men out of the group of kids that first came throuh the door. The Cpl's seemed to always be there shouting and screaming at us. Throwing your kit all over the place, turning your bed over if they thought that there was any dust or dirt about or your kit not in the right place or dirty. At the time I hated them but as time went on after training I realised it was all done for your own good. The Sgt, although strict, was the good guy he could shout like the rest but was very approachable.
All in all I really enjoyed myself at RAF Bridgnorth. The training and discipline prepared me well for what I was heading for. The RAF Regiment Dept Catterick, as I wanted to be a Fireman I had to do three weeks Regiment Training before the Fire training started as the Fire service was moved from Trade group 9 to trade group 22 when the Fire Service was amalgimated with the RAF Regiment. If you thought the training at Bridgnorth was tough, it was easy compaired with Catterick. When I finished training I was the fitest I had ever been or since."
Bill Gillis 4203383 from 1961, says that he "played field hockey for RAF Bridgnorth during my basic training."
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