I've just been reading through your account of days at RAF's Cardington and West Kirby . . . and thoroughly enjoyed your account of "happy days" there! I did my National Service between 1955-57 and like you worked on radar - but as a Radar Operator rather than Fitter! Whereas you trained at Locking, I went to Compton Bassett in Wiltshire after square bashing! I was in Trenchard squadron! I think my disc was blue in colour!!
I watched the Cenotaph service this morning! I'm not much of a sentimental guy, but I like to participate from my armchair!!! I noted with interest that there was a group in the march-past - post-war National Servicemen! I suppose that applies to us! One of the years they'll be dragging us along to do our bit!!
Getting back to West Kirby. I did have a long chat with my pal in the Wirral, and was a bit disappointed that he, too, couldn't remember where we alighted. He's going to write a letter to the local newspaper to see if anyone has any information about it. So that's it for the moment.
Getting back to WK! I must admit I never found the weeks we spent there in any way onerous! I just kept my head down and kept out of trouble!! I really was keen for the experience, being born into extremely humble circumstances in an Edinburgh tenement "but and ben" (room and kitchen), I was keen to get away! Actually I was born next door to where Sean Connery first saw the light of day!! What I found was - underneath all the bull, drill and discipline, there was a "safety net" for anyone who was not coping both physically and psychologically. Almost avuncular in its outlook! Even of an evening the camp provided entertainment outwith the normal Naafi facilities. Twice I attended classical music programmes run by an officer with the fancy surname of De'Ath. Not too many of them around . . .and even a trip into Liverpool one evening to hear Beethoven's 9th "Choral" Symphony! Of course, for others there were plenty opportunities for sport! I remembered being offered a slot in a swimming team on one occasion. Thankfully I managed to get out of it. Yes, I liked swimming but not at a competitive level!! One thing, there was certainly no bullying that I can remember - nothing like the terrible capers that obviously went on at the Deep Cut barracks recently!!! That was just awful!
I attach a photo of our group on route march - yes, we're all white - just bronzed under the blazing summer sun of 1955! I'm the one bottom-right!!
As for the rest of my 2 years, after radar operator training at Compton Bassett, I was posted to Luneburg in Germany. It was just like a home-from-home; ex-German barracks, 2 to a room, central heating and a shower room in the same building. We had a 24-hour shift system. Top rank was sergeant who was in married quarters. Absolutely no bull! Three cpls, and that was it! After making Corporal I was sent to RAF Sundern (Gutersloh) and Xanten on the Dutch Border.
On demob, I have to tell you, it took me at least 2 years to recover from the experience. Getting back into civvy street was one of the most difficult times of my life. I would have signed up for a career in the RAF in a minute, but unfortunately I was in the middle of an apprenticeship in a newspaper, and it was important that I finished it! So that's it. I have nothing but the greatest affection for my stint for Queen and country! It was a wonderful 2 years!!
Best wishes DavidNOTE : David is a formidable expert where lighthouses are concerned, especially the Bell Rock Lighthouse, an early ancestor having been involved with its construction. His excellent website provided the source material for one of the programmes in the popular TV series "Seven Wonders of the Industrial World" which describes the difficulties of building a lighthouse on a partially submerged reef 11 miles out to sea on the east coast of Scotland. He is also preparing a book for the forthcoming Bicentennial, which occurs in 2010 -11.
Top of Page...or...Previous Page...or...Return to Index
Text © 2008 David Taylor