Sixty years ago 4



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Now let me think….sixty years ago; what was I doing then?

I know I was eighteen at the time and I was just about to join the RAF for my National Service. The year was 1953.

My life was pretty sheltered until then, living at home with my parents, and going out with mates most evenings. So I looked on the idea of joining the RAF as something of an adventure, a trip into real manhood at last, with other blokes, protecting England from any foe! Perhaps I might be a pilot, and tear about the sky in one of those lovely Meteor jets, kings of the air in those days!

Little did I know! On joining day, I had to travel by train to a place called Padgate in the north of England where I, and several other chaps who were on the train, were met by a corporal with a bus. He got us all on board and drove us to the RAF Station at which we were to be inducted. As we approached the gates I noticed a couple of planes, parked on the verge just outside, and as we passed them the corporal glanced over his shoulder and shouted, over the engine noise, “Get a good look at those kites boys – they’re the closest you’ll get to a plane in the next two years!” And he laughed merrily at his own humour, a joke he most likely recited every week, to each incoming group of recruits.

As it turned out, he was telling the truth!

I never did get to be a pilot and I never got close to any aircraft again, during my whole service. In fact, rather than flying, I did the exact opposite. Most of my service, apart from initial training, was spent underground, operating a radar set. But that all came later.

As I’ve said we went to Padgate to get inducted, kitted out with uniform and given our various jabs. It all took about five days and during that time we were left pretty much to our own devices. We played cards, listened to the radio, drank beers in the NAAFI and generally had a good time; we thought being in the services was a great life!

Then, on the fifth day we were put on another bus and, accompanied by two corporals who sat at the front and took no notice of us, we headed for Wilmslowe, where we were to do our initial training. Half an hour later we arrived and the bus pulled up in front of a row of low, single storey buildings. All was quiet for a few moments, as we all peered out at what was to be our new ‘home’ for the next eight weeks’,  just a low murmur as we absorbed what we could see.

Then, suddenly, the two corporals, who had travelled with us went completely insane! They both leapt up, shouting obscenities, waving their arms about and rushing up and down the length of the bus, screaming at us to get outside! We were  all in total shock, some in tears, as we scrambled off the vehicle, and it took most of us nearly a week to get over it, to start enjoying the very healthy life provided by ‘square-bashing’. By the end of the eight weeks, I was as fit as I had ever been before, or have ever been since – a really worth-while experience that taught me respect for others, discipline and camaraderie.

Some of today’s youth would be well served to experience the same!

photo credit: bill barber via photopin cc

Brian Lee

  1. I was playing with my many dolls; being teased by my older brother; going to piano lessons and being a hula dancer at fancy dress balls!

  2. I was 5 in 1953 the only things I really remember is the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 11. We had a street party with funny costumes made of crepe paper. The entire street brought out tables, chairs and food to share. We could go am
    Nd In November that year my 2nd brother was born. I remember the noise and the lady coming to help my mum later learned she was the Midwife. I was the eldest and only daughter in my family. I eventually had 3 younger brothers and consequently was the spoiled princess of the family. Lol

  3. Sixty years ago my grandmother had just died and I can remember being at school and feeling sad but not knowing why.

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    • 60 years ago I was 5 years old and being abused by the nanny and her husband, but I got over that I went on to live a life full of wonderful things. There were ups and downs but I becme a really strong person and can cope with almost anything that life throws at me.. I could easily have wallowed in self pity , but chose to get on with it and make the best of every situation, even the bad ones.. 🙂

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