After square bashing at Bridgenorth and training at Yatesbury, Mike Harrison served at Ventnor as a Radar Operator from July 1952 to March 1955. Mike arrived at an interesting time as far as this website is concerned. It seems that the CH equipment was in use again after it's period on Care & Maintenance reported by Harold Lewis but not to the extent of round-the-clock operation.(the Type 80 was not brought into use until March 1956). Initially Mike lived in the Down Lane domestic site but transferred to the brand new Lowtherville road site some time during his service. He lived in one of the huts at the far end and recalls sufficient space for football to be played played adjacent to his hut. Football played a big part in Mike's life as he was in the RAF Ventnor team and also turned out on the far from level pich of Ventnor Town. His friend Jock Burns played for both sides too. Mike remembers Ted Wilcox for his dual skills as the RAF's goalkeeper and as a 'Ladies Man'.
Mike says that other names that come to his mind include John Ronane, an aspiring actor for whom he would listen to his reading of lines. John never became a star but Mike recalls seeing him in a TV costume drama many years back. Also recalled is Terry Peppin from Minehead, who shared an interest in the jazz of the time. A particular mate was Pete Bowen a lad from Tiger Bay in Cardiff.
The Winter Gardens was a popular venue on Saturday nights but Mike does not remember any special RAF pub, although he reckons he enjoyed most of them. However the HITW is remembered for the stout and vintage cider Black Velvets he downed, usually too many, and the ensuing shaky legged wallks up the steep climb back to camp have never been forgotten!!! As for walking back to camp, the late night climb up the Shute from the Railway Station desperate to get some sleep after a 36 or 48 pass spent at home, which for him was London, comes to his mind. Mike thinks that the work regime seems to have been a bit tougher when the Type 80 was in operation as he worked but 4 or 5 hours most days and doesn't recall too many night shifts unless there was an "Exercise" on. In fact he remembers little of the work aspect, because he has minimal recall of it other than plotting blips on a radar screen.