from readers who considered my account a true record

Michael Brogan enjoyed West Kirby in 1952 and he says his arrival experience mirrors my account exactly. Michael was "in for three" and served at Kinloss and Topcliffe as a SAC Wireless Operator and later as a Teleprinter Operator. He would welcome hearing from anybody who knew him. (Initially via this site)

Bob Newberry has been in contact. He passed through WK in 1954 and remembers that all recruits in his squadron with service numbers ending in a zero were required to have blood tests every Saturday morning. No explanation was ever given for this and so far his more recent investigations have drawn a blank. The possibility arises that some sort of medical experiment, either innocent or malign, was being perpetrated on the hapless recruits of that period, with a random selection being thus monitored. What alternative conclusion can be drawn? Should anybody reading this remember those blood tests, or ones of a similar nature elsewhere, or have information about them, I would be happy to put them in contact with Bob.

David Taylor, who actually enjoyed his time at WK in 1955 has made contact with kind words and tells me that his somewhat similar experiences did not worry him as much as mine did me..

John Buchanan who passed through WK three months before me has been in contact with kind words and similar recollections.

And this from Tony Rudge who went on to be a Dog Handler at Sopley & Hong Kong:-
I have just finished reading the account of your square bashing at West Kirby. I too was in Roosevelt in 1956, probably a little after yourself in early August and your account was very nearly a total replay of my own experiences.  Coincidentally, I spent the following summer at Ventnor's parent station Sopley as a very wet behind the ears dog handler.  I still have the hut photo which I have copied to Cliff East for the West Kirby site.  Thanks for a great reminder..

Derek Hutton(ex Churchill Squadron) suffered a very similar ordeal a few months earlier in Churchill Squadron. Here are his kind words:-

My West Kirby time was Feb and Mar of 1957 so your writings matched my memories perfectly. Very, very few differences. Amazing how close ........... I found your site quite by accident while trying to write my own squarebashing memories in blog form. So complete were yours, I simply wrote a few explanatory lines and added a "link" to your site instead of trying to write anything approaching your marvellous descriptions. Hopefully my sons and grandkids will read your words in the fullness of time. A small coincidence; my mother was in the WAAF through most of WW2 and spent much time attached as an MT driver to Ventnor's radar site. Again thanks for a wonderful roll down memory lane. I went on to Kirkham as a trainee airframe mech. which spelled out the rest of my working life one way and another.

Alwyn York went through West Kirby in 1953 and has his own website to which a link will be provided here in due course.

And this from Peter Tullis (26.01.09)

Hi, Like many others I also did time at WK mid January to about March 1957. I can't say that I enjoyed the experience at the time but I did survive those ten weeks or so. I do not remember which squadron I was in or flight number, I had the flight photograph at one time but it no longer exists I'm sorry to say. In only one way was your experience different from mine. We did not do a compass & map march but we were transported to a mountain top in Wales which was covered in 2 feet of snow. We had to survive a few days there, maybe three days and two nights, no sign of civilisation around us. I guess there must have been some NCO's there too but I don't recall seeing much of them. We were picked up and taken back to camp eventually. Oh , the luxury of getting into a hot bath and defrosting ! Otherwise you have written my life at WK story perfectly, well done.

Regards Peter Tullis

323 Peter Snowdon enjoyed the read and found that my words dragged back similar memories : he survived the WK experience in 1951.

Phil Harfleet who was also "in for three" has sent this:

Hi, Just a note to say how much I enjoyed reading your memories of RAF service, in particular the Cardington and West Kirby sections. I went thru those two initial camps in the first quarter of 1953. Like you I've forgotten many names of those I served with; it's an 'age' thing with me. "Radar" was one of my choices of trade when finishing basic training at WK. Or radio, even aircraft fitter. I got TYPING! Nice try, no cigar. Anyway, nice to have met you, even tho only courtesy of the web. Kind regards, Phil

See Phil's blog about his service in Germany.

Bill Burt started at Padgate but then continurd at West Kirby in 1948:-

Hello Don,
I've just finished reading your marvellous account of the your time at WK. His Majesty needed me from mid December 1948, first at Padgate, then home for Christmas and ten days later to WK. I thought the RAF was great then - in five days, then home for 10. It changed at WK. Your superior memory prodded mine into action and much came flooding back.
I passed out form Yatesbury August 1949 and went to Worth Matravers as a radar mechanic where they put me in charge of a watch on the transmitter. On every watch I had to sign the maintenance log which included shinning up the 360ft towers to check the alignment of the aerials. I was 6'4'' then, and I reckoned that God had made me far enough off the ground, so I dodged that bit. I duly signed the log that I had done all maintenance except aerial alignment. Nothing happened for ages, but one day, on watch, I was visited by about five officers all equipped with scrambled egg on their hats. They wanted to know why I had been derelicting duty by not closely inspecting the aerials. I showed them the list of things to do; stressed the importance of having the diesels ready in that particularly cold winter, and got away with it. I was later told that the maintenance requirements were changed. My one contribution to those who followed.
I couldn't swear to this because soon afterwards I was posted to near Great Yarmouth on 'care and maintenance' on two nearby stations. The SP corporal was CO while I was Tech CO! We had complete cricket and soccer kits for the two of us. We were in civilian digs and I was so reluctant to return to clearing at Newbury that I just stayed on for a couple of days and some other poor old bod had to do the clearing for me.
Thanks for bringing it all back.
Bill Burt

Derek Powle passed through WK in 1954 and suffered intense cold and blizzards. He went on to Locking for training as a Ground Wireless Mechanic but together with other ex Post Office qualified lads regularly obtained marks in the nineties causing them to receive special training and they all ended up as Fitters! Dave carried out his work at a MU at Cosford. He now lives at Headington, the Oxford suburb.

Owen Platt who is by profession a "Ghost Writer", author, columnist and blogger, being an ex WK man, found sufficent virtue in these pages to direct his Daily Telegraph readership in their direction. I count that as recommendation of the highest order! Here is what he wrote :-

" One of the solutions often advocated to the problem of Britain ’s yobbish youth is the bringing back of National Service. And certainly, on the face of it, it seems a sound idea.

Due to an accident of birth, I found myself the proud possessor of a British passport, one of the unlisted benefits of which was that I was entitled, absolutely free of charge, to a minimum sojourn of two years as a member of the armed forces of the United Kingdom. In this respect I was luckier than a friend of mine from Newcastle. On the strength of having a German mother he had opted to take German nationality. Much to his horror, he found himself drafted into the Wehrmacht, despite not speaking a word of German.

The location for my indoctrination into the ways of the military was RAF West Kirby, on the Wirral peninsula. As I had already been the beneficiary of several years at an English boarding school, I was rather better placed to survive than many of my fellows.

Out of curiosity, the other day I Googled ‘West Kirby’ and there was an aerial view of the camp. I had never realised how big it was, but then, during my time there, we were too busy polishing things to do much sightseeing. Then I found a fascinating article by Don Adams who had been a recruit there.In it he described all the horrors I remembered only too well, as well as a few that had mercifully been erased by the mists of time. I could smell the brasso, the blanco and the boot polish along with that strange odour, redolent of dead bodies, that emanated from the cookhouse, just like it was yesterday. Those of us that survived those ten weeks emerged as far, far better beings than when we first passed through the gates of West Kirby, I am sure.

But how could this happen in today’s state of supreme nannydom? For a start, it seems that every day I was there, my human rights were violated at least ten times. Then there was the racial and ethnic abuse: “Oi, ‘op to it, you ‘orrible little frog!” to say nothing of the homophobia: “Yer marching like a bunch of effing poofters. ”No, no Nanny. It would never do. The Drill Instructors need serious counselling. And this is before we get to the Health and Safety issues. There are not enough clipboards in that department to record the daily breaches that occurred during my stay there. Those of you that experienced the joys of National Service and wish to recapitulate the delights of ‘square bashing’ will appreciate Don Adams very accurate article. And for the rest of you, I am sure you will agree that nothing else will be sufficient to drum some sense and discipline into the yoof of today.

The author is very gratified to have received these messages of appreciation, some of which provided very welcomed added or corrective material. For anybody similarly motivated, the Email address is to be found on the Home Page which may be reached by clicking 'Return to Index' then 'Take Leave'. But please note that he is unable to provide any sort of reunion service, the excellent RAF West Kirby Association being probably the best place for that.

Be posted with me to RAF Locking

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