Hello Don, I must thank and congratulate you on a most interesting web page of your experiences in the RAF, particularly those spent in the GCI Section at Leeming. Like you, after call-up I opted for the extra 11 months service and, at Bridgenorth, doubled my weekly wage from the then 28 shillings National Service pay.
After 8 weeks training at Compton Bassett as radar operators I and Eric Greenhalge made our way in November 1958 to our posting at RAF Leeming, reporting to the Flight Office GCI Section. Although arriving 1 year to the month after you, I feel our paths must have crossed as I spent the whole of my service there until demobbed in June 1961.
Your many anecdotes about the people and the events jogged and unlocked my memory of all those years ago. Of the tech crew, I only really remember Wilf Rhodes as the friendly character he was, chatting to him on the bus or wagon that took us around the peri-track to and from the GCI Section. As you know we worked in shift teams and of the officers there I do remember the unit CO, Squadron Leader Allen, who was replaced in 1960 by Squadron Leader Park. Also, Flight Lieutenant Bibby, one of the more friendly officers towards other ranks. Gus MacPherson, another Radar Op, and I enjoyed a game of golf and a Flight Lieutenant Laurence (I think that was his name) who also enjoyed a game, used to drive us in his car to Catterick Garrison Golf Club where we were able to join as service members for a game or two when not on duty. This degree of social mixing of officer and other ranks was unusual at that time. About other personnel, apart from my own ops shift team, my other recollections are more vague; however I have some recognition of Ed (Taffy) Hughes from the photos on your website. There was another welsh lad from Anglesey,a radar op and on our shift team,very pleasant nature who didnt smoke or drink. I think his name was Taffy Davis.
The Station Commander during the whole of my stay was Group Captain K.P. Smales, but from March 1957 to November 1958 it was one Group Captain J.M. Thompson. Referring to your story of the Station Commander giving an impressive flying display in a newly arrived Javelin, this could well have been either, but more likely, John Thompson. He was a highly decorated and written about WW2 Ace Fighter Pilot who, among other things, supported the evacuation from Dunkirk and had fought throughout the Battle of Britain in 1940.
I remember that all GCI crews, both Ops and Tech, being billeted in H-Block C3 which was situated facing and at right angles to the NAAFI and Airmen's Mess Building. I was in the ground floor front right barrack along with, amongst others, Eric Greenhalge, Pete Rutherford, Gus MacPherson, Stuart Whitworth and his friend Geoff (I forget his surname), Bob Kershaw, Burt Caldwell, Keith Wood and a lad called Marsdon (I forget his first name). The stories of the illegal shortcuts to and from the Section to the A1 and the road from Leeming Bar to Northallerton were very familiar and many of us took them. Boozy trips, usually to Northallerton, often ended in the Buck Inn where the Landlord, who was an accomplished Jazz pianist, would entertain us in the style of Fats Waller and Erol Garner. I think he and his wife had spent some time in show business.
I have many fond memories of the people and times spent at Leeming, which included occasional trips to Master Radar Stations Boulmer and Patrington to take part in NATO exercises. I wouldn't have missed it for the world - Happy days! I was lucky to be given the opportunity of a visit to Leeming in 2001 and attached are a few photos including a view of the airfield and camp from where I believe the GCI building was located prior to its demolition. Note also that a pitched roof has been added to C3 block in the ensuing years.
Many thanks and best regards Ian Stewart (SAC)
1st. August 2012 : Ian is wondering if there would be enough interest for some sort of reunion for ex Leeming GCI people to be arranged. Continue at On Parade, or return to the previous RAF Leeming page.......or.....next Leeming page Rev190812
Continue at On Parade, or return to the previous RAF Leeming page.......or.....next Leeming page