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RAF Hednesford

TIMES REMEMBERED !:

RAF Hednesford, (No 11 School of Recruit Training).
The very name conjures up visions of unspeakable horrors...shaving in cold water at 6 o'clock on dark, frosty mornings in unlit ablution blocks. **Dig those heels in...Keep in step...Left, right, left right...Swing those arms...Get them up, get them up...Shoulder height, shoulder height...Left right, left right!** On and on it went, day after day for nine weeks, interspersed with kit inspections, billet inspections, rifle inspections, webbing inspections, was there no end to it? Didn't we just love those corporal drill instructors, our beloved DI's, who moved heaven and earth to mould us into a smart, disciplined, marching unit?
Remember their hot breath on your neck and the subsequent snarl, **Am I hurting you, I should be, I'm standing on your bleeding hair...get a hair-cut!** How about the order to fix bayonets when you couldn't feel your fingers, never mind the bayonet?
But, there was always the NAAFI at the end of the day: a haven of comfort with real, live, young ladies to serve those delicious bangers, chips and beans, and oh yes, rock buns...if you had any money left from that whopping 28/6d, that is! Remember **coppering up** with your mate and sharing a plate of chips?
One thing I remember about Hednesford with fondness was the snack van that pulled up outside the camp main gate every night. I still remember the delicious coffee and hot dogs we queued up for at that van, to take back to the billet.
Then it was a night of **spit and polish** boots, blanco webbing, polish brasses, clean rifles, and oh yes, polish the floor until it shone, mirror-like. After that, it was a case of, **Watch the floor,** to any one entering the billet and, **use the felt pads or take your boots off!**
On and on it went for weeks until suddenly, we were marching in step, backs were straight, rifles correctly sloped, we halted as one and obeyed drill commands as they were meant to be obeyed.
Those hated DI's had once again miraculously turned their latest intake of raw recruits into a cohesive, disciplined unit...they had turned us into airmen. Anon.
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This account of times remembered by a National Serviceman at RAF Hednesford, is re-produced from the book **Kitbag Hill** with the kind permission of Mr C J Whitehouse and will awake many similar memories in the minds of others who shared the same experiences and may give younger people some conception of what may be their lot should National Service ever be reintroduced.
It is well to remember that many recruits of this era found themselves overseas serving in Malaya, Cyprus, Egypt, Korea. Hong Kong, Singapore and many other places where not only the climate was hot - where they would win campaign medals and where the bones of not a few of them still remain !
The comments of this young airman in regards to his NCOs, completely typify any recruit, in any service, at any time. The reciprocal views of any NCO Instructor about his raw recruits need only be imagined but would again be typical and equally or rather more pungent. CJW.

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I was just over 18 when I was called up in the early 50s, I travelled by train to Cardington in Bedfordshire where I was kitted out and incidentally was much impressed by the huge hangars and barrage balloons.
I was, however, much more impressed with the Leading Aircraftman who took us in hand, giving me the impression that he was only slightly less than God in importance!
I was only there for 2 or 3 days and then the whole motley bunch of us, from all over Britain, came to Staffordshire by train.
We were put off at Moors Gorse and had to carry all our kit up the hill - the infamous Kitbag Hill - and only when we had almost reached the camp entrance were trucks waiting to carry us and our kit to our huts.
The trucks halted and the tailboards crashed down and then came the ghastly shock - I have never heard shouting like it, all that one had ever heard about parade ground savagery was surpassed.
It was a living hell of noise and orders, talk about shock treatment, I never thought it was going to be like this !
We were shown our huts - about 30 men to a hut, with a small compartment for a Cpl at one end.
We were then marched to the nearest cookhouse and told that if we did*nt get there in time for meals there would be no grub for us.
Back at the hut we were shown how to square up our beds, fold our blankets and lay out our kit for daily inspection, severe warnings were given as to the certain results for us if the inspection proved unsatisfactory.
The evening was one of dire panic and almost tears in one case, in our frantic search for pieces of cardboard with which to pad out our packs and pouches to make them assume the proper rectangular shape.
Only after a few weeks did I discover any signs of humanity in my instructors.
Few senior NCOs took part in our education and only occasionally were we drilled or lectured by an Officer.
Mostly, we were dealt with by young Cpls. One of these was thought possibly to be mad, militarily he couldn't be faulted but his manner was crazy. at inspection, he would smash a mug with his stick if it showed any mark or stain. He seemed obsessed with military correctness and it was rumoured that he held inspections of his own kit with ruthless thoroughness.
To start with, I was staggered by the type and variety of cursing used by most NCOs and their use of colourful phrases to indicate their displeasure, as when we were told that we were marching **like a load of pregnant WAAFs.**
The food was not particularly memorable, except that I retain the impression that the eggs served would bounce on the counter like billiard balls. I remember beef, potatoes, beans - lots of beans - and pudding. I suppose we had pudding though I can't remember what it was. I do remember that one cook had lank black hair and seemed to regard recruits as amusing.
We were not allowed out of camp for some weeks. In the evenings, we polished our brasses and boned our boots, striving to get our kit perfect for the next day. Sometimes we went to the NAAFI and occasionally to the camp cinema - the Astra.
I seemed to be virtually incapable of thinking of the world outside. Working all day and working every evening like a maniac on my kit had me dead tired and exhausted. Watching the occasional entry and exit of the local laundry van was curiously cheering - a sort of bridge to normality from a cheerless existence.
I disliked the constant drill. This taxed my nerves and I was constantly scared of making a mistake and receiving the full vocal treatment from my instructors.
I rather liked weapon training - taking the Bren gun to pieces was mysterious at first but proved enjoyable. A curious thing is that while we must have fired on the range I can remember nothing about it at all.
Physical training wasn't bad but a few who were clumsy were made an example of, though less harshly than at drill and one could sometimes slip away and hide down one of the many air raid shelters to avoid the lesson altogether.
I sometimes dreaded the many lectures. Having been up since early morning and undergoing strenuous physical exercise, it was hard to keep ones eyes open and there were other eagle eyes watching ready to pounce as ones lids dropped, when one was yelled and screamed at as if one had committed some foul indecency.
In the hut, I found that the Cpl was sometimes capable of normal human conversation and kindness. My fellow recruits were the usual mixture from all over the British Isles and known very often by the area from which they came - Geordie, Brummy, Sheffield and a Scot, naturally called Jock, the dour opinion maker of the hut. One of our number still wore civilian clothes at the end of the course, he being too tall and large for any normal issue uniform except the denim overalls we wore for training.
While I was there, the Air Officer Commanding visited the camp. Naturally, everything had to be neater then ever and one result was that several of us found ourselves on unofficial jankers, cutting the grass around the billet with our dinner knives.
We received a whole range of injections and it was a quick shock to the system to see men tramped over by the squad when they had fainted after their **jabs**. I am slightly amazed that I never bothered to ask what happened to these unfortunates - presumably they re-appeared at some juncture !.
The whole course took about 2 months and we were allowed a 36 or 48 hour pass after 6 weeks and at weekends after this. Those who lived at far ends of Britain didn't stand much chance of getting home at all.
During the course we took aptitude tests to determine our future career in the RAF. Some were classed as potential Officers and wore a white patch behind their cap badge. However if accepted, one had to sign on for 3 years and many recruits decided this was not worthwhile.
We had spine-chilling lectures on the effects of poison gas and entering the gas hut was an odd and shaking experience, with butterflies in the stomach.
We entered the hut with respirators on, then took them off. There was a kindly instructor in the dark gassy gloom and we emerged coughing and choking but with the sense that we had passed and achieved something.
Certain details such as this are memorable but others are not. I recall the shouts and explosions on the assault course but not the route we took on the long march over the Chase.
I suppose I went to church at the camp but the memory is non-existent: not even the shadowy figure of a Padre.
We had a passing out parade at the end of the course, then 48 hrs leave, followed in my case by a move to Stanmore for training in ground control.
I think that my experience of life as a recruit at Hednesford cannot really be understood by anyone who hasn't been through it, or something like it: however many details one gives, the experience can never enter another persons mental environment with sufficient vividness.
My enduring recollection is that while there, I never seemed to have any ruddy time at all. Anon.
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2547455 AC2 Michael Bromfield. bromfield@stoke54.freeserve.co.uk
I found out about this website from the visitor centre at Slitting Mill near Rugeley which has an exhibition about the camp. Somehow, I managed to keep a diary while at Hednesford.
We arrived from Padgate on 6th February, 1952, hearing the news of King George VI\'s death on. I was in Flight G28, billet 55, under the tender care of Corporal Williams. The Head man in our hut was Havinden (a trainee chiropodist), and I was his deputy. we were given lectures by Wing Commander MacDunacliffe and Flight Commander Williams, as well as the Padre and a local non-conformist minister. There is also a mention of Roy Rolf from our billet, who had gone down with pneumonia by 15th Feb.
The Flight joker seems to have been one Cyril Davies, who on one occasion seems to have impersonated a corporal to torment some newly arrived recruits.
Having arrived on Feb 6th, we were in trouble by the 9th and \ had to clean out the billet for not marching to tea.\ one of the highlights of recruits stay at Hednesford was probably \ Fatigues Week.\ Ours ran from Thurday 28th Feb and the diary lists cleaning out the bath-house, moving many boxes from the Armoury, guarding the coke compound (presumably against the natives), cook house fatigues (where I seem to have taken down the curtains for washing), cleaning the Wing H.Q., and working in the Food Factory.
As well as the usual cleaning of brasses, washing of uniform items such as socks and handkerchiefs, much of our time seems to have been spent in cleaning the billet - bulling the floors etc. By March 8th, we were working on the plots outside the hut as well.
My over-riding memory of Hednesford is with its similarity to Siberia. It seems to have been particularly cold during the time that I was there, with snow and drifting snow at the end of March. There were also power cuts, but we somehow managed to do our cleaning and polishing by candlelight.
Despite drifting snow on 30th March, my father and an aunt managed to make it for my passing out on 1st April, 1952. I learned that I was posted to RAF Prestwick in Scotland for trade training as an ops. clerk in ATC. Later, I was posted to RAF Pembrey in South Wales, which had just been taken over from the RAF Regiment for use as a pilot conversion training school. As well as duties in the control tower, I also drove the garry when there were emergency landings at the camp. From there, I had the chance to line the route for the Coronation - still remembered after many years.
I don\'t know if this will bring back memories for others who were at Hednesford at the same time. I suspect my experiences at Hednesford were pretty much what all National Servicemen went through.
We are indebted to Michael for the following extracts from the diary he kept while at Padgate and Hednesford - this is a unique record of the schedule that we all went through during induction and sqarebashing and we will put them on the www.rafhednesford.org and www.nsrafa.org websites.
If you wish to contact him ? Tel: 01782 630716.
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I started my National Service at the end of January 1952 at the age of 19.
Like many others, I was sent initially to Padgate for a short time (induction) before being posted to RAF Hednesford for basic training (squarebashing), which I completed on 1 April 1952.
From Hednesford I was sent to RAF Prestwick for trade training and then on to RAF Pembrey where I spent the rest of my National Service time.
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THE HEDNESFORD DIARY.
While I was at Hednesford (No 11 School of Recruit Training) I managed to keep a diary. It's a fairly simple account of what we did on a day to day basis, but it may be of interest as many other young men at the time shared the same experiences. Part of the diary is printed out below, starting with Padgate - but omitting anything that I recorded after basic training was completed.
The diary has been copied as I wrote it, although it omits references to letters sent and received - usually from various family members who sometimes also sent postage stamps. My daughter thinks that it was a mistake to omit these references as, what seemed commonplace to me, would now be fairly unusual - telephone or e-mail would now be the way to keep in touch with friends and family. In 1952, we did things differently.
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Wednesday 30th January 1952
Train from Welshpool to report for National Service in RAF.
Joined by two others at Llanymynech and Oswestry. Lunch at Chester Rly Station. Met more lads at Warrington and were taken to RAF Padgate Camp in RAF bus. Allotted to Flight B5 and to a billet with 20 others etc. Meal at the NAAFI.
Thursday 31st
Up at 6 for 6.45 breakfast.
Bought at NAAFI: Brasso, padlock for locker, studs, duster & fastener for kit bag. Dinner at 12.
PM: X-ray and inspection of ears etc. doings with documents. Tea 4.45.
Evening: found wood & paper at rear of cookhouse for billet fire.
Friday 1st February
Fitted up with clothes & kit. PM: Lecture in cinema by 2 officers & the chaplain.
Identification photo taken. Hair cut. Boot polishing & stamped with number shoes & boots & brushes.
Saturday 2nd
Shining boots. 11.00am NAAFI PM: More shining of boots. Had a bath.
Sunday 3rd
Up at 7. Holy Communion at the Rest Room Chapel. (Chaplain:The Revd. R.S.Meadows).
Late breakfast with 17 others. We gave billet an extra clean. Letter writing.
5.30 Camp cinema Astra to see "Between Midnight and Dawn".
Monday 4th
We got stove to burn at last.
Collected from tailors' hangar our refitted uniforms. Stamped clothes with service number 2547455. Sent civvy clothes home.
PM: Kit inspection. Weekly pay 30/- plus 2/- travel concession for over 5hrs travelling.
At tea I met Ian Noble (Broadstairs, Kent), old school friend.
Evening: sewed numbers on remainder of clothes.
Tuesday 5th
Cookhouse fatigues 6.30 to 11.30 (knocking waste food off plates etc.)
PM: Helped on camp laundry van. Teatime, acted as emergency server for bread.
Wed 6th
From Padgate to RAF Hednesford nr Cannock, Staffs. At entrance to Warrington Station we heard of the Kings death. Refreshments on Warrington Stn, then special train to Rugeley through Crewe & Stafford.
By lorry to camp. Am now in Hut 55. Flight 28 *G* Sqadron. 4 Wing.
Our corporal (Williams) couldn't be any worse!
I am deputy senior man with Havinden (training chiropedist) as Senior Man.
Form filling for Cpl. NAAFI for oddments.
Thursday 7th
Lectures by CO, also on PT and one by Medical Officer.
NAAFI at 11.
PM: Inoculation & vaccination. Medical exam.
We all feel awful. Arm aching - and cleaning brass too!!!
Friday 8th
Sorted out in hangar to take part in April 1st Anniversary Parade (RAF Anniversary). Drew rifles from armoury.
PM: Lectures by Wing Commander McDunacliffe & by Flight Commander Williams.
Hat measurements taken. Cleaned billet.
Saturday 9th
Drill. NAAFI. Instruction on rifle.
PM: Inspection of inoculations/vaccinations. Had a bath after tea.
Trouble , so had to clean out the billet for failing to march to tea. NAAFI.
Sunday 10th
Up at7.45. 10am Church Parade. "Bulling" kit for rest of day.
Monday 11th
Began course for 1st April parade. Drill, NAAFI, PT.
PM: Lecture on Rights & Privileges. Drill. Cleaning all evening.
Tuesday 12th
Drill. PT. Lecture by the non-conformist Minister. PM: cross country run and a bath.
Evening: lights failed, so did brasses & blancoing by candlelight. Washed clothes.
Wed 13th
Snow. Was billet orderly (swept floor etc.) PT
PM: March-cum-run in BOOTS! Then shower. Evening: ironed clothes.
Thursday 14th
Snow. PT. Drill.NAAFI. Pay �1.
PM: Route march. Drill in the hangar. PT. Brass cleaning & blancoing as usual.
Friday 15th
Day of Kings funeral. Roy Rolf of our billet down with pneumonia.
Service in the square in commemoration of King George VI.
Lecture on trades. 2pm, 2mins silence for the late King.
PM: Route march. Bath.
Saturday 16th Bad throat. Rifle aiming etc. NAAFI. PT.
PM: Inspection of vaccinations/inoculations.
Had first pass out of camp so went to Cannock had tea and enquired of trains/buses for next weekend's 48 hour leave.
Sunday 17th
8am communion at Station church, Hednesford.
Nothing but "bulling". Letter writing.
Monday 18th
Drill. Maths test.
PM: Rifle drill in billet. Evening: cleaned out billet & usual "bull."
Tuesday 19th
Room orderly. PM: route march and shower after.
Evening: Usual cleaning. NAAFI.
Wed 20th
Ground Combat Training (rifle, aiming, firing). PM: drill. Lecture on History of the RAF.
Evening: billet cleaning. NAAFI.
Thursday 21st
Drill. PT. Pay 30/-.
PM: Lectures on trades & education in the Service and the composition of the RAF. Drill. Evening: usual "bulling".
Friday 22nd
Parade on the Square to hear sentence on Court Martial prisoner. PT.
Received passes and ration cards.
12 noon. 48 hour leave (wonderful). Bus to Cannock & to Wolverhampton. Train to Shrewsbury & then to Welshpool. With Llynclys boy to Salop & Aberystwyth boy to Welshpool. Arr home 4pm.
Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th home on leave.
Arrived back at camp 10.30pm Sunday and had hot dogs and tea at gate.
Monday 25th
PT. Lecture on selection for trades in RAF. NAAFI.
Drill before the Station Commander.
PM: Lecture on overseas service. Drill.
Evening: cleaning billet etc. for Tuesdays usual inspection.
We did the border round the hut with bayonets. Scrubbed webbing.
Tuesday 26th
GCT rifle firing etc. drill. PM: in tailors' fitting room.
Evening: usual cleaning.
Wed 27th
Drill test. Lecture on trade facilities in RAF. Drill. NAAFI.
Paraded on the Square to hear that our Trooping of the colour on 1st April has been cancelled owing to the Kings death but we get extra day to next 48hrs leave!!!
Film on sex hygiene.
PM: ramble down to Hednesford. Cup of tea at Caf�. Others at the tailors shop.
Thursday 28th
Fatigue week. Am carting boxes from the armoury. NAAFI break as usual at 10.
Pay parade 11.15. �1. PM: packing bayonets & oiling rifles.
Had bath & washed socks & handkerchiefs.
Friday 29th
AM; cleaned out the bathhouse.
PM: cleaning & pressing before going to coke compound guard (We slept in the wing Guard Room)
5pm: Parade at Main Guard room. NAAFI 8pm.
On duty 10-12pm and 4-6am with another lad. Supper at 12.
Parade 8am again at Main Guard Room.
Saturday 1st March
AM: aptitude test. 12 cookhouse fatigues. 4 new boys in billet.
Pulled up about hair cut. NAAFI.
Sunday 2nd
Wrote letters. Stayed in billet all day. Bed early.
Monday 3rd
Billet orderly so collected the coke. Hair cut. NAAFI.
PM: Personal selection interviews. I chose Clerk Organization & Personnel, Operations Clerk, Clerk Movements surface, telephonist, fighter plotter.
**Bull** night for Tuesdays usual inspection.
Tuesday 4th
AM: Worked in cookhouse cleaning out the two dining halls & took down the curtains for washing.
PM: Served out dinner. Had two dinners myself. Filled weekends 72 hr pass.
Station library. Evening: Cleaning in the wing HQ.
Wed 5th
Boots back from repairers. Worked in the food factory. Cleaned out meat refrig. Washed floor. Cleaned windows etc. Padres Hour (lecture).
PM: Food factory again. In lorry taking fish & provisions round the camp messes.
2nd innoculation. Had a bath and washed "smalls."
Thursday 6th
Wet. All feeling bad after innoculations. Drill. NAAFI. Pay parade. 10/-.
PM: we spent (wet) pm in billet asking the corporal questions on the service.
Evening: Cleaning & pressing.
Friday 7th
Wet. Took our rifles to the armoury & fetched greatcoats from tailors shop.
Cleaned out ablutions. 12 noon 72 hour pass.
Saturday, Sunday & Monday on leave
Tuesday 11th
Drew our rifles from the armoury. Drill. NAAFI. PT.
PM: drill. Padre. Film on flying. Educational lecture on the press.
Evening: Usual cleaning & pressing.
Wed 12th
GCT. Range cards & firing discipline. NAAFI. Drill.
PM: Ten of us went in a bus to RAF Stafford camp to see rugby match (Pleasant way of spending a lazy afternoon). Usual cleaning at night.
Thursday 13th
C.O.s parade on square. NAAFI. Drill. Lecture on the fitting of gas respirators.
Pay parade 10/-. PM: Lecture on first aid. Drill. Had bath.
Friday 14th
PT. NAAFI. Two educational lectures on the Resources, power and forces of Russia. And on the Western powers.
PM: Our photos taken in groups on the march. We collected our best blue uniforms from the tailors.
Saturday 15th
PT. Drill. NAAFI. Lecture on the RAF during the war.
PM: Stayed in billet rest of the day & kept fires going while most of the others went out.
Sunday 16th
9.30 church. Letter writing. Evening: Made toast over the stove.
Monday 17th
Lectures on : gas equipment; formation of RAF; and rights & Priviledges. Drill. PT.
GCT - the crawls & the Bren gun. Bull night. Working on plots outside billet.
Tuesday 18th
Lecture on different gasses. Hair cut. PT. Drill. PM football.
Evening: working on plots outside billets.
Wed 19th
PT. Padres Hour. Lecture on Spain and films about public opinion and oil.
PM: Most lads went to Wolverhampton to see the Army beat RAF at football.
Had bath & got cleaning done.
Thursday 20th
AM Shooting on the range. Pay 10/-.
PM: working on plots around the billets & drill.
Friday 21st
Filling ammunition clips at the range & unloaded railway sleepers.
Drill for rest of day. Had photos which were taken last week 4/-.
Saturday 22nd
Lecture on south East Asia & 2 films. Drill. 36 hour pass.
Sunday on leave.
Monday 24th
GCT lectures on stalking. NAAFI break. Drill. PM: in sports stores.
Tuesday 25th
Lecture on likelihood of war with Russia, also on Middle East.
Assault course. PM: drill in the wet.
Evening: General Service knowledge test and a few boys to be posted overseas.
Wed 26th
Drill. PT. Padres Hour. PM: drill and GCT test.
Evening: extra bulling for tomorrows COs parade & drill test. Am in running for best recruit with 10 others.
Thursday 27th
Very cold. COs parade. Drill test. Pay �1. PM: PT & drill.
Tea at 3 Wing Mess while ours (4 Wing) is under repair. Issued with gas masks.
Pressed uniforms while others had pass out party in the NAAFI.
Friday 28th
Bitterly cold with wind and snow. PT. Drill and in billet for first 2 periods.
PM: Taken up to the (tear) gas chamber but key was missing so we returned respirators. Hair cut ready for pass our parade.
Evening: Cyril Davies (the laugh of the flight) dressed up as a corporal and fooled some new recruits!!!
Saturday 29th
Had a cold time 8 - 11 clearing rubbish near the hangars.
Stayed in rest of day and some of the others went by coach to Trentham Gardens, Stoke-on-Trent, some went to Cannock and they returned tipsy and they tipped us out of bed.
Sunday 30th
Snow in drifts. 6pm Evensong in the station church
Monday 31st
Slushy. Drill. PT. Pay & leave money �3.
PM: Free from infection (FFI) medical inspection. PT. Pass out test. Drill.
Evening Preparations for the Pass Out Parade. Had a meal and cider at the NAAFI.
Tuesday 1st April
Parade rehearsal. Sing-song in the NAAFI.
Informed I am to be posted on 16th April to Prestwick in Ayrshire (Air Traffic Control Centre near the airport).
Dad and Auntie Doll came to see me Pass Out & then to speeches etc in camp cinema. Returned rifles to armoury.
To Edgmond. Arrived home evening 2nd April.
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John Kent and Pat Honey went through this same experience at Hednesford starting on 5th September 1952 and leaving on November 5th.
Hut 112. 4 Flt. *A* Sqd. 1 Wing.
Now together again after all this time and both agree it did us no harm !
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PASSING OUT PARADE.
Here is a copy of the instructions issued to all visiting relatives to a 1950s passing out parade - these would not have varied or been any different at other Schools of Recruit Training - they were sent in by NS(RAF)A member Peter Jackson and are worth comparing with the current instructions issued at RAF Halton in 2000. (see below).

RAF Hednesford, 11th School of Recruit Training - Order of the day: Thursday May 3rd 1956. Station Commander:- Group Captain G.M.Gillan.

CEREMONIAL PASSING OUT PARADE OF FLIGHT NOS: 22 AND 23 OF *D* SQUADRON.
THURSDAY MAY 3RD, 1956 AT 09.30 HOURS.

REVIEWING OFFICER :- GROUP CAPTAIN G M GILLAN.
PARADE COMMANDER :- SQUADRON LEADER H COATES. DFC.

1. The Passing out Parade is held after the completion of eight weeks recruit training. After the parade the recruits are classified as trained airmen.

2. The flights are assembled on the Station Parade Ground as a Wing, in readiness to receive th3e Reviewing Officer, whose approach will be denoted by a sounding of the **Alert**. The Reviewing Officer will take up his position on the Saluting Base and the "General Salute" will be given.

3. The Parade Commander will then report to the Reviewing Officer, who will inspect the Wing. At the conclusion of the inspection the Parade Commander will request permission to carry on with the ceremonial drill. The ceremonial drill will will conclude with an advance in review order, followed by the **General Salute**. The Wing will then be marched off the Parade Ground, at which stage the recruits assume the status of trained airmen.

4. There is a Ladies Room and a Waiting Room in the Station Education Centre where visitors may wait prior to the Ceremonial Parade and afterwards while airmen have their lunch and collect their kit before proceeding on leave.

5. Visitors are permitted to take photographs during the ceremony.

6. Spectators are requested to stand and Gentlemen not wearing Uniform are requested to remove their hats:-
(a). On the arrival of the Reviewing Officer and during the **General Salute**.
(b). For the second **General Salute** immediately following the advance in review order at the end of the ceremony.
It is unnecessary to stand at any other occasion during the Parade.

7. It is customary to refrain from smoking during the Parade.

8. After the ceremonial parade visitors are invited to No 1 N.A.A.F.I. where refreshments will be provided free of charge.

9. As soon as the airmen have handed in their arms they will be assembled at the Station Theatre for a short closing address by the Reviewing Officer to which visitors are invited.

INCLEMENT WEATHER PROGRAM.
10. In the event of inclement weather the Parade will be held in the Transportation Hangar. Because of insufficient space there it is not possible to perform the full Ceremonial Drill. On these occasions the Ceremonial Drill consists of the **General Salute** on the arrival of the Reviewing Officer. After the Reviewing Officers inspection of the Recruits comes the final march past the Saluting Base and out of the hangar. The second **General Salute** does not take place.

DEPARTURE OF AIRMEN.
11. Airman doe to depart from the Station on completion of their training are at liberty to leave at 12.00 hrs but not earlier. The Airmen will be assembled in their Wing Areas and conducted to the Main Gate where those proceeding by private transport can join their relatives. Control of departure is necessary to ensure that airmen have the opportunity to partake of a midday meal before proceeding on leave.

12. Catering establishments in the vicinity of the station to which visitors may wish to go are:- The Shrewsbury Arms, Cedar Tree at Brereton and the Eaton Lodge Country Club at Rugeley.

Signed:- (P M Sheridan) Sqd Ldr, for Officer Commanding Royal Air Force Hednesford.

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01: From: "Jim Wood"
Date: 09 May 2003 19:33
Pat, Many thanks for your recent letter returning my passing-out picture which arrived safely. Glad to hear that we are now on line.
Since my visit to Hednesford in December I have been trying without success to trace my particular square-bashing pal, Mike Worden, who is third from the left in the front row of the picture. Should he by any chance make contact with you, would you be good enough to let me know.
Regards, Jim Wood.
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02: brian hill (brian@citytel.net) on Thursday, May 01, 2003 at 17:59:15
comment: I WAS POSTED TO THAT HELL HOLE IN MID 53 ESCAPED MARCH 56 WORKED OFFICERS MESS.
#4125898 LAC. MET & WORKED WITH GOOD MATE RON DODD WE WERE BOTH FROM BRUM HAVE BEEN TRYING TO TRACK DOWN RON HE LIVED PERRY BARR WAY I THINK
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03: Tony Hewson Oct-Dec 52 (tonyhewson@tiscali.co.uk) on Saturday, May 03, 2003 at 21:27:42
comment: A superb website. My thanks to all involved in its construction. It brought back memories (**The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there!**) Kent J's contribution was astounding for its detail. Did he make notes? Is it possible for me to contribute? 2575316 Saarh!

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04: From: "Mike O'Neill" (Labrador) Date: 22 April 2003 20:33
Hi Pat: Have been in touch with Bill Buchanan-hoping he was our Corp' in 1953-no such luck. Anyhoooo, he said you **were a mine of information**! So here is my question, If I joined at Cardington on Sept 17th '53, that would put me at Hednesford in Sept? Would you know the Wing that I would have been in??
I have poured over all your excellent Gallery Photo's (nice work) hoping to see myself & other buddies-no luck. So I'm hoping that if we can identify the Sept '53 Wing than maybe, just maybe you will put up a Photo one day & "Bingo" Ha Ha.
Regards. Mike.
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05: 2703223ac2. bert edwards (westwards@zeromeridian.freeserve.co.uk) on Thursday, May 01, 2003 at 07:16:53 brilliant website - so evocative! I was there from 31/8/53 for my square-bashing stint, a great melting pot of a hut to learn different accents, rude ditties, how to lie, cheat, steal and generally grow up. Onto Middle Wallop to become a radar op/plotter, then a brilliant 20 months in 2nd TAF, Germany at many different stations in 537 SU, a mobile radar unit, working from backs of lorries and living often in tents. I'm retired and compiling a loose autobiography, mainly for my grandchildren, who don't believe my version of escapades and cock-ups. (I still have photos of Hednesford but my memory's poor on hut number, flight, etc. Some NCOs, like Corp Crawford, I'll never forget! Nor the kindly sergeant who protected us and for whom there was a collection on our last day for his getting married - we learned later that he got married every 8 weeks!) From: "Burt EDWARDS"
Date: 10 May 2003 17:32
Hi Pat - Yes, interested in Hed in July .
Was on the Norfolk Broads last week, so visited the RAF Radar Museum at RAF Nettishead (near Horning). No coverage of 2nd TAF but a really good, nostalgic display there.
I do have some decent photos of boot camp at Hednesford but have not yet learned how to scan them for e-mailing. One day!
How about this, then: few weeks ago, writing some memoirs (provisionally called **Carry On Up The Cock-Ups**) for the grandchildren, got to wondering if there had ever been a reunion for 537 S.U. Checked the web, masses of unit reunions but nothing for my old lot, but there was a mention of a book **RAF Signals Units Since World War II**. So I rang the author to ask if it mentioned 537SU. He was astonished, because although it did not (he said that 537 only lasted for 3 years, 1953 - 56) he said I was the second person to ring him in two weeks with the same question. The other enquiry was from a bloke I served alongside and we are now in good touch, swapping anecdotes. So, no contact for 50 years, then two in two weeks!
Briefly, from Hednesford memories: got very fit, from a weedy civilian to a smart/reluctant airman.
learned to understand regional accents. learned to steal, carrying NAAFI supplies from trucks to the cookhouse. learned to lie, inventing ACII Robinson whenever a name was wanted for fatigues.
learned to laugh on the left side , while keeping the right side of my face straight.
learned to survive on pennies. and much, much more.....................All best, Burt ( 2703223 SAC Edwards)
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06: From: "Ralph Bale" Date: 02 May 2003 15:48
Hi again Pat,
Thank you for your e-mail. Its good to hear from people with common interests in nostalgia. I love the idea of a meet at Cannock Chase visitor centre in July.
One pal of mine who was serving in the RAF in Germany and had square bashed at Hednesford, wrote to me about the square and referred to "having marched on that square, you know what Capt. Carlson felt like when his oil tanker, the Flying Enterprise I believe, ran on to rocks and listed badly, but the Captain remained on board.
I am attaching three pics, one of the NCO's, one of the whole flight, and the inmates of hut 39 with Cpl L (I'm front row 2nd from the left, wearing a "kit bag" on my head). Cpl L was very crafty, he was married and lived off camp, he always wore best blue which meant he did not wear gaiters. The bunk at the end of hut 39 was occupied by Sgt Tomlinson.
Hopefully, when you have the reunion, you will be able to put some pics on your wonderful web site.
Take care best wishes, Ralph Bale Taunton.
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07: ralph Hopkin (koko@inreach.com) on Tuesday, May 06, 2003 at 04:48:32
comment: I was 2562879 airman Hopkin. I was in 15 Flight in 1952. I was under the Eagle eye of Sgt Grafton and Corporal Clark.(I think)
This was in July/August/Sept. This is about all I can remember as to units and non-coms. I went from Hednesford to St. Athan and thence to Coastal Command in St. Eval, Cornwall. The only claim to fame in our wing was the inclusion of the actor the late James Cossins. I think the appointed senior man was named Jennings or Jenkins. I remember a RAF regiment instructor who was about 5 foot six and a ball of Scottish fury. I also remember a Colin Dumper from Southampton and a Dave Mines from the same town which is from where I came.
I now live in California USA (since 1967)
I was a tad older than the average recruit as I had obtained a deferment until my apprenticeship was completed so I was twenty one and a half. I am now almost 73.
I like the site. Keep up the good work. Ralph.
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08: From: "robin cheesman"
Date: 14 May 2003 14:48
Pat, Thanks for the e-mail. I will try and scan said photo, but as I am new to this game I personally do not have a scanner but may have access. Otherwise I can let you borrow the book to do whatever with it. If this is easier or better, let me know your address either by e-mail or phone
(01452 531474) whichever you prefer.
My service history did not take me to Oldenburg but when I was at 724 SU Wildenrath, we were linked to other sites, but as an Operator, we probably did not even speak to each other. Mind you a lot of guys were posted to 300SU so you MAY have heard my name mentioned but I did not reach Germany until Feb.5th 1954. As for Hednesford. I arrived on August 20th 1953 thru Oct 7th. Then Yatesbury thru Jan 1954. I do remember the Days of the Long March down to
the Radar school . That cabbage patch certainly smelled
during the cold winter that year.
D.I.'s at Hednesford were McCluskey, Doyle, Swann, Hill
and a Peruvian whose name escapes me. I do have a list of all those who shared Hut 60 (?) with me but that will take some finding amongst all my treasured rubbish !!
I just cannot believe it is 50 Years ago. Three of my friends from then (Spargo, Cross and Askam) who I see often do not seem to have changed apart from the obvious grey hair etc.
Anyway, nice to hear from you and I am glad to know that
some of us still remember.
2701323 ACll Cheeseman. R T. (Stretch!).Hut 60. 4 Wing. Aug 20th to Oct 7th 1953.
After the first couple of weeks when the shouting and rushing around had become a case of "Oh no, here we go again" without a sense of panic, sheer terror or palpitations, we realised that we were going to survive squarebashing after all.
Another 2 weeks passed and we were allowed a pass to go home for the weekend.
I lived in the Forest of Dean and found it was possible to get home by 15.30 hrs on the Sat providing the bus left the main gate on time in order to get to New St (Birmingham) Station at 13.30 hrs.
After a non eventful couple of half days at home, the dreaded return journey began. Dreaded, not because I was going back but because of the thought that I would not make it by 23.59, the witching hour !
My train left Gloucester at 20.40 hrs and was very slow - it finally arrived at Wolverhampton very late and although there were more sprogs milling about, I still felt apprehensive and was relieved when the train for Brindley Heath finally pulled in.
as I remember it was a short journey but it was after midnight when we came to a halt and what seemed like half of the Air force tumbled on to the platform and proceeded to climb that long hill back to the camp.
At the top of "kitbag hill" was the camp cinema - the Astra - and as we approached in the gloom we could see two white patches about head level bobbing around in the entrance of this deserted building and was accompanied by the clink of chains. Yes it was the **all chains and no brains** mob, affectionately known as Snowdrops !
At this point we all smartened up and passed on our way fully expecting to hear the dreaded shout of **AIRMAN COME HERE** but nothing disturbed our heavy breathing.
I finally arrived back to my beloved pit at 00.45 hrs not knowing that apart from being first back, it was generally acknowledged that leniency was the order of the day as our arrival solely depended on the state of the transport system.
Think about it - all that panic for nothing - and I was still on time for Breakfast Parade.
At the end however, I and many thousands of others survived to complete our service and emerged two years later none the worse for it and with a completely new outlook on life and some catching up to do as the world did not stand still while I was away. Regards, Robin 2701323 Ex SAC
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09: Albert Hinsley (doneric@telus.net) on Thursday, June 19, 2003 at 23:33:53
comment: Hi Pat, My service number was. 2781636 hut 76 D Sqd.
Time spent at Hednesford, December 1955 to February 1956.
Just found your web site through a friend, who I am in touch with by email, he was at Hednesford a bit later than me. Would love to attend the reunion, but now living in British Columbia Canada, so a bit short notice, maybe the next one. I remember the DI's, CPL Keen ( very appropriate name,) and Sgt Doyle, can't recall the other DI's name.
Good luck with the site, will try scanning some photo's later, Albert.
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10: Hi there, Pat. Great to hear from you. Strange to think that the one time which caused so much stress, should be the one time we look back on with nostalgia. Certainly I do.
Regret I don't have any pictures of this time. Only those bought at the site.
After leaving Hednesford I went onto Netheravon to do a RAFP course. Then was sent to Stanmore Park/Bentley Priory ( Fighter Command HQ ) and then onto Fontainebleau ( NATO HQ ) and had two great years. I am a member of the association, and am in contact with a number of ex inmates.
As said, was at the camp a three weeks ago. Where I got this site from. I have passed it onto an e-mail friend ,and ex Hednesford inmate, now living in Canada.
He thinks it a great sight, and I.m sure will make contact. It would have been great to have been there in July, but regret unable this time. Maybe a future date.
My regards to you. I look foreword to further contact with others during this period. By the way. I'm one of those who got a Marksman badge. Might as well boast about something. Take care.
Mike
Mike Woolton (mwoolton@onetel.net.uk) on Wednesday, June 18, 2003 at 16:30:20
comment: Hi, there, Pat. 4178644. AC plonk. That was me from January 1956 to March 1956. I think it was "D" squadron. With a Sgt. McClusky and Cpl. Jollife in charge. I was at the site a few weeks ago. Changed somewhat ? Can'y remember names of this period. One fellow came from Wolverhampton. He took me to meet his parents. That day we saw Wolves play. Another fellow sang. " It's Almost tomorrow " every night before lights out. Another chap lived here in New Malden. Memories. It would be great to make contact with anyone from this period. Am in touch with others.
Mike
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11: Tony Allen ("mailto:abletonyallen@aol.com") on Friday, June 27, 2003 at 05:20:02----comment: 4149455 AC2 (of course !) Allen reporting. Sorry, I can't remember Hut Number / Flight details.
I did my square-bashing at Hednesford from late April (just before Easter) to the end of June 1954.
Anybody remember them ? More to the point, anybody remember me ?
I've also just seen the name Cpl McLuskey in another post. That name, too, rings a bell.
Great site by the way !
I did my initial training at RAF Hednesford in May / June / July 1954.
I cannot remember my intake number, but among the DIs under whom I suffered were Cpls Blanchard and Jillings.
My contemporaries as recruits are too numerous to mention, but among those I particularly remember, the name of Alan Randall stands out.
I would like to know if he or any others of my intake who remember the nightly delights of the hot dog stall at the camp gates or the weekly delights of Saturday night out in Cannock are likely to attend the reunion on 10 July.
4149455 AC2 (later J/T, later still Corporal) ALLEN
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12: BAILEY T (TONY) (forthefamily@sasbirthsay2001.freeserve.co.uk) on Sunday, June 29, 2003 at 12:44:55
comment: I was at Hednesford 1953/4 service no. 4182729/aircraftsman/hut - can't remember!/B squadron 8 flight. (this would be 1 Wing PGH).
I remember our drill instructor, Corporal Ball. I am very much looking forward to meeting everyone at the reunion.
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13: Peter Brown (cbro9611@bigpond.net.au) on Friday, July 04, 2003 at 11:36:55
comment: I square bashed at Hednesford in February and March 1952 as a National Service recruit Service No. 2545497. I regret I cannot recall the hut number, the flight number was Flight nine and I believe it was 2 Squadron. At that time 4 Squadron was unused as it was sinking into the mine shafts under Cannock Chase. I remember the latter fact well, as their was a fuel shortage, it was bitterly cold and somebody had stolen the doors from the 4 Squadron billets and used them as firewood. We were all charged barrack damages at the conclusion of our training to pay for these. I returned to Hednesford for a further 6 weeks in Pool Flight awaiting a posting, which finally came through in June 1952. I was posted to Lyneham as a Clerk Air Movements.
I still have the book of photographs that was given to us at the conclusion of our training, which I would be happy to send. I now reside in Perth, Western Australia so regret I cannot get back for the re-union . Stand by your beds
Date: 16 July 2003 09:34
Pat,
Thank you for the photographs of the re-union day. The place sure looks a lot different.
You asked if I could number the huts. I regret that I cannot. Whilst I remember many things about my time at Hednesford, as I not only square bashed there, but also had about 6 to 8 weeks in Pool flight awaiting a posting, my memories tend to be selective! I cannot even remember the hut number.
What I can confirm about my intake is that we were split into two flights 9 & 12. I have a picture of my hut,(102) which was part of 9 flight plus the NCOs and Flight Officer.(103). I find that when looking at photos of a bunch of 1950 type 'erks they all tend to look the same. On perusing all the photos on the website, I keep going back and saying "I know that bloke" only to realise that I cannot possible have known him. I have studied the camp map in attempt to jog my memory of the layout of the camp and am convinced that the hut area I was in is the area marked 1 Wing. The area on that map marked as 4 Wing, was most definitely "closed" in early 1952. The reason given was that the land under that area of the camp was subsiding into the mining tunnels underground. It could possible have been re-opened later in 1952. What convinces me of that memory is the location on the map of the YMCA hut. That was still in operation yet the huts opposite were not in use.
When I try to remember the square bashing time I only seem to relate to geographically is the hut I lived in, the drill sheds, the gymnasium and the mess. During my time in Pool flight I managed, after a couple of weeks, to become unofficial "batman" to the Corporal in charge of the TV hut. Which was a nice cushy job, as all I had to do was "bull" his kit and watch TV. The TV hut was down slope from the Spitfire which is in picture 045b.
My main memories are of arriving at the camp in a manner similar to you, in the back of trucks. I had been kitted out in Padgate, but one of my prize memories is that in Padgate they were short of webbing kits. I got just the belt and gaiters and a deficiency chit for the rest. I handed in that deficiency chit the day I booked out of Lyneham and I cannot repeat the comments on how I had managed to do two years N.S. without a full set of webbing!
The day I arrived at Hednesford was a miserable winter's day. I reckon that the brightest light globe in the hut was 25 watt and to make matters worse, because we were split into billets in alphabetical order, all the mates I had made during my time in Padgate were in different huts. Some even in the other flight. We got the usual "I'm a bastard" routine from the Corporal and despite the fact that that photo shows greatcoats etc. hanging on a wall, we did have cupboards which were about 6foot high. In the top of the cupboard door was a little slot in which you had to put in a card giving your name, service number and religion. My memory of that day is of it being the most miserable day of my life! I mentioned the drill sheds(hangars) earlier. The weather was so atrocious, ice and snow, that most of our drilling was done under cover. After about four weeks, I remember us all being lined up after a period in the gymnasium first thing in the morning with just our PT gear under our boiler suits, in the perishing cold, to be told that King George VI had died overnight and that we could possibly be used to line the funeral route. Fortunately the powers that be realised that we were still too "raw". I was very grateful for that fact. It was about this time that our senior NCO made his first appearance. He was a Sgt Grafton, who is mentioned elsewhere in the website. He really was a bastard. I heard a rumour some time later, possibly after I had been demobbed, that he had been found murdered in a back lane in Birmingham. I can think of many recruits who would have had a desire to do just that. I suspect the story is apocryphal, but one lives in hope. Another memory is of a C.Os. parade. I had my gear in immaculate condition, but had sat in some porridge on the seat.
When on parade, as the Officers and entourage passed behind me, I heard some whispering and the next thing I knew was a drill Corporal saying in my ear "airman, you've got porridge on the seat of your pants. Report to the tin room at 6 pm tonight". I spent that evening up to my elbows in greasy water. Yuk! Other memories. Chaplains's hour, the high spot of the week. I am an R.C. and there were about a dozen of us who reported to the R.C. chaplain. It was heaven. A nice cup of tea and a chat in civilised surroundings. I don't remember the Chapel, but I do know that I went to Mass each Sunday I was on camp. I possibly served Mass, I know I did at Lyneham. A trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers ground to watch the R.A.F. play the Army. I had split loyalties. I am a Londoner and the Spurs are my team. Tony Marchi, who played for them was in the Army team. The inoculations and then having to do bayonet drill the day after, before going home on our first 48 hour pass. The gas chamber, going sick with a swollen ankle and being kept in the hospital for three days and being terrified of being "re-flighted". Going into Cannock to see a film with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. All that pent up testosterone nearly ruined my "best blues"! A British Restaurant in Hednesford where one could get a cheap meal. Going to the Astra cinema on camp, where the comments from the audience alone made it worth going. Hitchhiking down the A.5. to London. Finally Pass Out parade. I cannot remember who won the cup. I did not care- it was over. Then realising that I had to return, to go into Pool Flight. By this time spring had arrived and Cannock Chase was a beautiful spot. That is my final memory of Hednesford, leaving on a beautiful warm day. Because I had been in Pool Flight I had my "civvies", I could not get everything into my kitbag, so I had to wear my greatcoat despite the fact that it was a summer's day. I kicked my kitbag down kitbag hill, in order to get a train to Dauntsey in Wiltshire, via Bristol, to take up my posting as a Clerk Air Movements at Lyneham, where I spent the remainder of my N.S.
Strangely enough, I had not given a lot of thought to Hednesford in recent years, but I had been reminded of my N.S. with all the 50 year celebrations of the Coronation etc. I was at Lyneham at that time and watched the Coronation on the NAAFI tv. I was also there for the East Coast floods of '53 which was a very hectic time. Last year I enrolled on the Friends-Reunited site. and about 4 weeks ago, I received an email from an ex Movements "bod" who now lives in Queensland (I live in Western Australia and have done so since 1972). He was at Lyneham during my time, though I do not remember him. He gave me your website address as he realised I had square bashed at Hednesford. Within days, I received another email from someone I met during my days at Hednesford. We had kept in touch for some years after demob, but had lost touch before I left the U.K. He had found me on the Friends site.
Regards Pete
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14: Mr Brian Kendal , Email Address: brian@g3gdu.freeserve.co.uk
I was at Hednesford 11 S of RT from November 1950 to January 1951 in the original 16 flt. At that time two flights per week were arriving , numbered 1 and 8, 2 and 9 etc, so 8 and 16 arrived in the 8th week after the school opened. Our corporals were Rudd and Walls and another whose name I have forgotten.
Our billet was filled with recruits from South Yorkshire, mainly Rotherham, Leeds and Bradford
The weather was atrocious, the food even worse and the only hot water was on the night before pass-out. One of our lads was put on fatigues for heating water on the stove in a fire bucket.
We obtained coal for lighting the stoves by clandestine expeditions to the coal heap by the Officers mess
Still we survived and I went on to what I consider the most valuable two years in my early life.
Regards
Brian Kendal (ex- 2497419, SAC)
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15: AC2 Peter Middleton . Telephone Number: 01926-812243
Email Address: peter@p-hmiddleton.freeserve.co.uk
National Service recruit at Hednesford from March 1956 to late April.Service No. 5014037. After 'square bashing' went for trade training at RAF Credenhill. thence to RAF Weeton Hospital as Typist. Finished service at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford on 28th February, 1958 as SAC. Glamourous wasn't it?!!
I'll be there and hope to meet my D.I. - Corporal Beauchamp!!
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16: AC 2 Ray Spiers Telephone Number: 01491 573498
Email Address: ra.spiers@ntlworld.com
Simply did my training there (8weeks) in July 1954
Service No. 2727201
Will never forget the VD films, the jabs or the DI's! Would love to see the DI's again.
The passing out parade was something to take pride in too.
Went on to become a Radar Op PPI at the Ground Radar Calibration Unit (GRCU) base at RAF Chigwell, Essex. From there we went to various bases to calibrate radar installations, mobile and fixed.
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17: AC2 Michael (Mick) Street-Williams .Telephone Number: 01227 364426
Email Address: m.streetwilliams@btinternet.com
I think I was in the first intake when the camp was reopened as a square bashing school. Eleven is new to me. October 1950 through into January, and I seem to remember I was in hut T5.
I have some vivid memories that I cannot talk about on the net. Most of them were good, but it was dreadfully cold.
Now that I have retired, I sign my name as Major Street-Williams. So it must have done me some good!
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18: Jock Fraser Telephone Number: 0889 451208
Email Address: royalairforce@opta4.com.au
I had a happy stay at RAF Hednesford 1956-1957.
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19: LAC Dan Danaher. E mail Address: danaher@sasktel.net
Would have loved to be there. at the re union. I served (squarebashing) from mid-March 1952 for the normal 8 weeks. I now live in Saskatoon Saskatchewan. If anyone from the mid-March '52 group wants to email me I would love to hear from them.
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20: Dick /R Read . Email Address: dickread67@aol.com
at Hednesford 27 Nov 1953 to 28 Jan 1954
posted to RAF Locking then RAF Hemswell as Ground Wireless Mech
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21: Mr Brian Turner .Telephone Number: 01274 691535
Email Address: brian.turner10@btopenworld.com
Entered RAF 12 Jan 1956. At Hednesford for basic training. National Service. trained Air Wireless at RAF Yatesbury followed by 18 months at RAF Luqa Malta. Would like to see some of my old intake
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22: Len Farrow (Farrowwsd@aol.com) on Friday, July 25, 2003 at 15:30:46
comment: 4149745 AC Farrow.L.H, I cannot remember Hut No. I believe it was A Flight, 22 Sqdn, cannot be sure, I arrived at Hednesford after coming from Cardington at the end of May 1954, the Flight was picked for a P/T display at the White City stadium, so the Flight only done half a day square bashing, the other half training for the show, whilst I was there we had an AOC's visit and the camp was condemned even then, I never had a pass out parade at Hednesford, owing to the fact that being at RAF Uxbridge, for 3 weeks whilst the show was on, How many ERKS remember this time, I went into National service at the age of 20yrs old, but it taught me many things, I then was stationed at RAF Felixstowe for 2yrs, and then exchanged posting to No. 1 Emb Unit London, I have found this site bringing back many Memories.
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23: Neil Trotter No.4136744 ("mailto:costa.rei@ntlworld.com") on Thursday, August 21, 2003 at 14:12:21
comment: Great to see this site and the information that it contains .I was first a recruit on 23 Flt."F" Squadron No.3 Wing during September /November 1953.My NCO's were Cpl's Oaten,Vernon,Millar & one of the Rice Brothers(There were twin brothers on this Squadron).Although Cpl Oaten tried to talk me out of it, I became a Drill Instructor. I spent a short time on R.A.D.U. at RAF Uxbridge before commencing my D.I. course. On qualifying, I was posted to no.4 Flt,"A" Squadron No.1 Wing RAF Hednesford. I remained here until the Station commenced its closure in June 1955 at which point I was posted to RAF Padgate.I later went to RAF St. Athan to train Boy Entrants. In 1957 I decided to remuster to the trade of Supplier with the intention of becoming an Air Quartermaster, later to be known as Load Master. But once in the trade of Supplier, I decided to remain on the ground eventually completing a little over 37 years in the Royal Air Force. As this site is dedicated to RAF Hednesford,I wil!
l leave it at this point. Would I do it again?....You bet I would!!
Neil is now the NS(RAF)A Parade Marshall.
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24: AC2 Haythorne, Ivor (theophilus@talk21.com) on Friday, August 29, 2003

> I was at RAF Hednesford May-July, 1953. I did visit the site (though the camp had closed by that time) about 1964. I didn;t go again until 1999and had the job of finding it from the bottom of Kitbag Hill. The Visitor centre, when I at last reached that, was closed.>
> I went again last year (2002) and discovered the Visitor Centre open and was delighted to discover quite an impressive RAF display. I was also invited to sign the Visitors Book, and I was shown a small photograph album which contained a few photographs and a few note.
That night, I decided to write down my reminiscences of the camp and present it to the Visitor Centre. This I did just a fortnight after the re-union!>> I was interested to hear about the re-union and should most certainly have come if I;d known in time. Is there to be another? Will someone keep
me posted?>> I was also delighted to discover the web sight and to learn of the
Association? How does one join?>>
Though there were times - as with everyone! - when I wished the wrath of heaven would descend on the place but, by and large, I enjoyed my time square-bashing. Yes, I really did! It was certainly a turning point in my life and proved to be to my advantage.>
> Best Wishes to the Association and the web site, and to all concerned.
> Ivor Haythorne.
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25: Roger Edwards: (rogeredwards@eurobell.co.uk) on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 at 22:35:11
comment: Thanks for a splendid website, bringing back old memories. I square-bashed 2/53 and I think I was in hut 184, B squadron, 1 Wing. Service number: 2584213. Returned 8/53 till 2/55 on permanent staff as the C.O's clerk, working for Grp, Capt. Montgomery. Would really like to contact any members of the permanent staff who were there during that time, especially those working in SHQ, or the stores because I was in a storemans' billet.
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26: Below is the result of your feedback form. It was submitted by
Danny Danaher (danaher@sasktel.net) on Sunday, November 09, 2003 at 02:55:05

comment: Formally 3136378 ac2 Danaher....entered Stalag Luft Hednesford approx March 20th 1952 and did my 8 weeks squarebashing, have enjoyed this site tremendously, spent a long time looking for face s to remember...maybe my long term memory will return someday.I really can't remember the flight number or hut number. Back in 1970 or thereabouts I attended a course in Lancaster PA for the large multi-national I was working for and the room-mate they gave me was another English guy, we got talking, and to cut a long story he turned out to be the officer who was in charge of the flight I was in...small world !!


27). Hi there,Ray Taylor 5025289 (then AC Plonk)finished SAC
1956 July - September Hut ? Flight B Wing ?
I have enclosed my memories of my first couple of months as a recruit National Serviceman at RAF Hednesford and hope you will include it in \'Times to Remember\'.
It was a pleasant ride down to Cardington in Bedfordshire on Tuesday 12th July 1956, along with a number of newly conscripted recruits travelling from the Central Station at Newcastle-on-Tyne.
At 21 years of age, having been deferred for 3 years, I had just recently completed an apprenticeship as an engineer and my future civilian life as an instrument maker had come to an abrupt halt, and the pay too. from �3.6.8p (just over �3.36) to 28/- each week, �1.40 in new money. Later 7/- (35p) was sent home to mother towards help in family budget then when married to wife Janet.
Quite a few on that train struck up friendships that were to continue for not only the next two years but were to continue for many years to come. I am afraid that I have never had a good memory for names or dates but suffice it to say we all wondered what was to become of us.
The chatter among those new RAF men was full of "What's your name? Where do you come from? What work did you do? and so on. This chatter was interspersed with quieter moments and all no doubt were feeling hidden misgivings. NONE OF US REALLY WANTED TO GO. In my case thoughts were all back at home having left behind my family of Man and Dad and younger brother. No doubt the biggest pull was having had to say goodbye to my fianc� Janet, now my wife of 46 years, the night before.
Well we were now at RAF Cardington and the vision of the Air Ship hangers were something else, and a casual meander into a couple of lines, at this point joined by all shapes, sizes and accents (yes I heard more Geordies'). Not a bad introduction to life for the next two years, but a bit of a funny crowd.
"Grab a cup of tea laddies", this was our introduction to bromide tea
A Scottish voice was comfort in its manner, mightn't be too bad after all. Well the next couple of days were filled with the receiving our Service No. 5025289 AC. Taylor R. that's me, 1250 ID Card, another doubtful form of a medical. Then my kit (my best blue was dated WD1945) must have been a good stock! The lingering memory of my stay at Cardington was when we were lectured by a Pilot Officer who appeared to be about 19 and informing us that if we had any personnel problems (i.e. matrimonial or domestic his door was always open. Nineteen, must have had a degree in something.
Now kitted out and civvies packed to be sent home, we were really getting used to the blue surge uniforms (itchy though) but we had no idea what was to come the next day.
En-bussed we were off to RAF Hednesford, another fairly pleasant journey with a lot of humour and laughing, and a packed lunch NAFFI style.
We arrived, oh yes we had arrived. The first impressions of the camp were daunting huts, huts and more wooden huts that appeared to be miles from anywhere with blokes stumbling all over each other to the joy of those dashingly smart characters with corporals stripes on their arms. "Out ,Out, Out, you bloody lot you're in the RAF now" "Get that kit bag picked up" "Move, Move damn you" "Get fell in, in two lines, two I said not bloody three" and many more endearing comments I didn't think I'd heard before. The noise was deafening, my God what's happening? they can't be human we had come down to earth with a bump.
"You lot in there and you crowd of idiots in there". That was us being detailed, about 20 blokes to a hut. Again names I fail to remember but that Scottish corporal (later to be identified as the squadron senior DI) his name was something like Ferguson I am sure didn't know his paternal parent. The bellowing welcome continued into the hut and "Get that kit on a bed and get fell in outside in 2 minutes with your Mug and Irons". Once outside our, oh so friendly corporal, instructed us that we were part of 'B' Squadron and would be known as 'so and so' flight, "Got it". He next told us the way we would march to the cookhouse for meals Mug, Knife, Fork and Spoon in left hand horizontally behind back and swing right arm forward and back at shoulder height. Any chance of let-up after the evening meal was a no-no. It was time for our corporal's ground rules and there were many, which I hasten to add I have forgotten most them but they keep coming back from time to time. BED PACK was one that can't be forgotten, blanket, sheet, blanket sheet, blanket all wrapped around with another blanket. This had to be got right for the following morning and every one for the next nine weeks. Lights out at 10 or 2200 hrs and in the dark a number of sobs could be heard, in fact my next bed occupant really had it bad and must of only got a couple of hours sleep.
Being the youngest lad of our group back home I hadn't been given any insight as to what to expect, I think that was bit nasty on the others lads part but we suffered.
Up on the first morning it was chaotic, out into the ablutions, wash and shave (no hot water) back to billet, dressed, bed pack made up (Many sorry states but another inspection that night saw a slight improvement.
Cpl Ferguson? still wasn't happy and neither were we!
Four days of complete HELL, with our beloved Corp. then a change. During the Sunday night, about 2am I was awoken by the crash of a door and the clomp, clomp of feet to the corporals room at the end of the billet and another crash.. HE HAD ARRIVED our permanent Flight Drill Instructor, back from leave. At about 6.00am more crashing and banging then "Out of your pits I'm Corporal Ball the B......d of 'B' Squadron. Ablutions now and outside in threes in 15 minutes it's time for breakies then work." And work we did, virtually non stop for the next four weeks.
No need to go over it again but to this motley bunch with so many idiosyncrasies between us we got on with it, the never ending routine of Drill, Bed Packs, Billet Bull, Blanco Webbing, Polishing Brasses & Buttons, Assault Course, R & I on Cannock Chase, bed packs, lectures (many eyes tried to rest during these, especially when being shown films in the cinema, the good old Astra, (remember the ones on Gonna & Syph, but Oh! if you were caught, jabs, bed packs, the not to be forgotten SPIT & POLISH BOOTS, medicals "Drop 'em and cough", washing and ironing help the trouser creases stay in by drawing the bar of soap down crease before ironing and when the bed pack was dismantled for the day the daily letter writing to friends and family back home. Will the eyes stay open long enough to finish them. No, it's lights out.
One memory of kit inspections was the lay-out, each item in its place. One unfortunate chap, possessing an uncommon electric razor, placed it in the position reserved for safety razor, brush and soap. Well Cpl. Ball wasn't impressed "Who do you think you are, the camp C.O.? Get rid." He immediately picked the razor up and hurled it towards the opposite bed, he missed. Crash it smashed into many pieces and Brummie had to hot tail it to the NAFFI shop to by new shaving gear.
General Defence Training (G.D.T.) by the RAF Reg. was a relief from the arduous 'Squarebashing" and fairly enjoyable, apart from the Gas Chamber. A few of us thought that we would get out of it by volunteering to give blood, but you were told in the beginning not to volunteer, we had to do both. I have never since liked the song 'A knapsack on my back' as this we had to sing in the chamber after removing our masks. Another memory of GDT was the L.M.G. weapon training. We had to dismantle and reassemble this gun and real off "No 1 gun clear", No.2 gun clear" and so on to No.6 gun (Mine), when it was "No. 6 gun clear corporal". The Geordie accent seemed to amuse the NCO's and consequently I was detailed to that position thereafter. A more pleasurable amount of time was spent with the P.T.I.'s in the gym and sports activities. One of our intake was a golf pro., after the first half of basic training he suddenly disappeared and later on, nearly two years, I bumped into him at RAF Wyton and he told me he had spent most of his N.S. coaching officers at various camps in Bomber command.
Our first encounter with civilians came on the fourth weekend of our basic training when we were given a 36 hour pass. Transport being what it was in those days it was too far to travel home so, and not being a football supporter, I found myself in best blue going into Wolverhampton to see the Wanderers play against who I don't know. At night it was visit a few pubs in town then back to camp. On the Sunday it was letter writing, lazing about and the Astra in the evening then some light 'Bull' before retiring.
Whoa! That Monday, all the D.I's. on camp must have had a rollicking (No, apparently it was the norm after the mid-training break) but they were worse, shouting and screaming we couldn't do a thing right. the punishment was around and around the Square with rifle above head lap after lap all gradually dropping down so being awarded with another night of BULL and Kit inspection.
It was the run down to squarebashing and corporal Ball had somewhat mellowed allowing the occasional 'fag' break, if you had any, a little more time over NAFFI break and dare I say it, a joke or two. It was all out now for the Passing-Out parade and more bull, rifle and foot drill, on and on it continued until Cpl. Ball indicated that HE expected us to win the 'Drill Cup' which we eventually did.
After a breakfast of steamed mackerel we returned to the billet and proceeded to pack our kit (we were to leave Hednesford shortly) and help each other with our appearances, boots, webbing, ties, flat hat brims shining, rifles etc. and were lined-up by 'Ball' and marched to the camp square. I picked them out straight away Mam & Dad had travelled down to watch the PASSING-out, with many other blokes parents, then they were to drive me and an 'oppo' from Sunderland back home. The band struck up and the faces beamed now it was up to us. Wearing the uniform of the RAF, how proud I felt having survived those eight weeks of hell, but looking back on those lessons learnt from those 'God-like D.I's' they have stayed with me now for nearly half a century. A weeks leave and a little more time with Janet then off to RAF Melksham on a Elec. & Instr. Course which eventually saw me back at my trade, servicing and maintaining photographic equipment with No. 58 P.R. Squadron at RAF Wyton. The next eighteen months were to see me travel immensely over many continents. Finally as a last memory of Hednesford, and they keep coming back, was a poem learnt there, all the words I fail to remember but it started:

Join the Air Force. Learn a trade.
Adventure, travel and well paid
These are the things you're fed upon
And like a sucker you sign on.

But when they've got you in their grip
Where are those smiles, that comradeship,
Where are those friendly helpful types
And who's the B... d with three stripes

With brasses bulled to bright perfection
Pay parades and kit inspections.........

The verses go on and on, so if anyone knows the rest please get in touch.
They were rough days and worse nights but like most National Servicemen we persevered and did our bit WE DID GO !

Regards Ray Taylor yarrolus@ntlworld.com
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From: "Ron Day"
I was permanent staff so many friends passed through in the two years.
Many great memories came flooding back of 1950 to 1952. Remember the two horse\'s on the Station ?
What about Sgt Dusty Miller (any one know him?) in charge of the cook house.
Any one remember Denis Hodgkins, I am currently in contact with him.
That imfamouse \"Kit Bag Hill\" up from the station.
Taff the Boiler House Man (Civy)
Thanks Hednesford for that period in my life.
rjvm@day3231 Ron Day
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From: "2746256 Derek Wheatley"
I was at the hellhole of Hednesford from February 1955 to early April 1955 - one of the coldest and longest-lasting winters of the 1950s! On Cannock Chase, that meant bleak!
From memory, I was in G Flight, Hut 169; our DI was a shortish Welshman, Cpl Davies. He made our life a complete misery but just after our passing-out parade and when we were being told our postings (to the real RAF!)he showed himself to be a quite caring and friendly guy - a human being, in fact!
derek@wheatley.1421.fsnet.co.uk 2746256 Derek Wheatley
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From: "roy lewis"
Does any one have any information on Hut 24. Flight 24. F squadron. 3 Wing. August/September 1952.
Persons name is my father in law: Micheal Angell.
EMAIL to roy@ECS-Limited.co.uk NAME Roy Lewis
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From: "Brian Lewis"
3145534 AC2 Lewis B. arrived @ the hellhole you call Hednesford January 1955 until late March. The snow was up to the billet eaves, you could not see out of the windows, boots were always wet and often froze to the floor.
We slept with trousers under the bottom sheet, the rest of our clothes were in the bed! Our days were punctuated into 30 minute intervals of drill and PT. There were two suicides on the camp during my time--one hanging and one drank a bottle of Brasso, that was the story.
I remember one Corporal Bagnell, most wanted to catch him up a dark ally, he was so hated. Then there was Sgt Browning,a man one could talk to.
I was in 28 flight, and as some will have noticed my number starts with 314 which denoted I was a former ATC cadet and had qualified as a marksman(crossed rifles)prior to call-up, I did\'tn wear them during square bashing but did take money of the corporals at the Rudgley rifle range.
At the end of training I went to St.Athan for 8 weeks training as a aero-engine mechanic (in hut 156).
I finished my time at 16MU Stafford and then went to New Zealand.
"Brian Lewis"
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From: "John Keith Brierley (Keith)"
I did my Nat Service in June 1955 to June 57. Cardington, Hednesford. West Freu/Cairnryan, Harpur Hill,
2759796 AC (plonk) spent several months in Pool Flt Hednesford (ill Health). was actually a cook, but assisted on expl disposal and medics - also a lot of time spent showing the Medical men(and women) the results of opp on hips performed by Sqd Ldr Stone at Cosford. My 1st opp was only the 2nd the RAF had ever done.(Had medical trouble ever since. Reg disabled now) But if I had to do Nat Service again .YES I would do it - enjoyed 90% of it.
John Keith Brierley (Keith)
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From: "Cal Swann"
Hi I was at Hednesford in 1956 - actually the very last flight to pass through.
Here is my memory of Hednesford:
During my square-bashing induction at a dreary camp in Staffordshire, I learned to play the Eb trumpet, which is an up-market bugle. No valves, just an arpeggio in Eb. The Hednesford Camp was scheduled to close down and our intake was to be the last cohort to complete the training. The military band comprising Eb trumpets and lots of drums (they made a terrible sound as they marched round, almost as bad as bagpipes) was dwindling in size as recruits graduated on to further postings. Volunteers were required to bolster the numbers of the band. A banjo player from Guildford and I declined to sign up for this, we agreed it was musical suicide to be a member of that awful noise machine.
Still the band declined in numbers and the music Sarge came round personally to the remaining barrack rooms to plead with anyone who had ever played a comb and paper to have an audition for the trumpet. My banjo friend and I were resolute; our musical integrity could not be impaired through association with that military cacophony. Then the Sarge pointed out that members of the band were excused guard duty. It was bitterly cold that November; the nights outside on dumb guard duty were a miserable endurance fraught with rumours of murderous IRA raids. We volunteered immediately.
It took 9 days rehearsal from the first blow on that instrument to my solo performance on Remembrance Sunday in the town square in Hednesford. In the comfort of the practice hall I had learned to play a tear-jerking version of The Last Post. Any tune that fitted Eb-G-Bb-Eb could be blasted out on this horn and my lip was broken in by my efforts to play the trombone, so it was easy-peasy. The Sarge sent me off to play solo at the 11 November Cenotaph Service and I was supremely confident that I could bring the tears to the eyes of the gathered crowd. The local mayor took me under his wing (he was to take me home afterward to have Sunday lunch) and we arranged that he would give me the nod for when I should begin playing after the two minute's silence was up.
It was, as mentioned earlier, extremely cold that November, and the Sarge had neglected to advise me about warming up the instrument in such conditions. I had never played outside. When the mayor nodded I ceremoniously threw up the trumpet which now had a gold sash attached (it looked splendid against my grey-blue RAF greatcoat), and blew my best and most sensitive note to serenade the air in that clear crisp morning. The sound that came out was at best a flat fart that fluttered briefly and fell on the ground to die. I tried again and again and still it flapped and farted and fell dead on the concrete frost. Sheer panic was strangling my lungs as I tried 5-6 more times without a sound even slightly resembling anything musical. It took another minute (it seemed) of inglorious public farting before I found a few right notes as the trumpet began to warm to its task. Eventually I got through a proper chorus but the tears in the eyes of many in the crowd were not quite emanating from sadness and poignancy, as had been my fervent intention. It was a humbling experience. The mayor said not a word about it through the Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes. I departed to hitch-hike home and those warm arms of a young wife.
------------------------- EMAIL -cal.swann@mail.dk--- NAME ---Cal Swann
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I\'ve forgotten how I stumbled on this website, but reading it brought some fifty-one year-old memories back. Then I was 3140124 AC2 Bennett, G.B. and I have forgotten my Wing,etc., my mounted photograph says 2 Flight 1Wing at the bottom, and I have a photo of myself and another recruit with the inscription 206 Billet 2 Flt on the back. The Cpl Blank, who figures prominently on the website was one DI I remember, but our \"own\" DI was Cpl Quinn, whose welcoming speech to us promised to \"make you bastards sweat blood\". I was a National Service POM and got pilot training later.- ----- EMAIL brushpilot@eastlink.ca NAME: Geoff Bennett
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From: "Neil Trotter"
4136744 a/c2 No.23 Flt \"F\" Sqdn.No.3 Wing.
I did my \"Square Bashing\" of eight weeks at RAF Hednesford during September/November 1953. My D.I.\'s were Cpl Oaten, Cpl.Millar, Cpl.Vernon and Cpl\'s(twin brothers)Rice.I met Cpl.Oaten when he was stationed in Germany at RAF Bruggen; he was the Station Warrant Officer at this time in 1979, and I had also reach the rank of W.O.by then.
I became a D.I.initially and returned to RAF Hednesford as an instructor on No.4 Flight \"A\" Sqdn. No.1 Wing in April 1954. I remained at Hednesford until the Station commenced its \"run down\" when I was posted to RAF Padgate. I remained here until late 1956, whereupon I managed to get an exchange posting to RAF St.Athan, training Boy Entrants. It was whilst I was here in 1957 that I decided to remuster to \"Air Quatermaster\"- now called \"Loadmaster\". Following the completion of Supply Courses, necessary in those days prior to being selected for the AQM course proper, I decided to remain a \"Supplier\" and where I remained until my retirement in December 1990 (Oh, Happy days!!)
Regards to all, Neil. Now Neil is the NS(RAF)A Parade Marshall. (see website: www.nsrafa.org).
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From: "Ken Thoroughgood"
2709104 Ken Thoroughgood
Photo No 052 Hut 159,32 Flight H squad
I served at RAF Hednesford from mid October 1953 til Xmas that year.
Cpl Buchanan was our instructor I am on photo 052 Cpl Buchanan is in the centre of the front row I am at the end of the front row on HIS left.
I still have a copy of the photo with everyone`s signature on the back,although its difficult to put name to face after all this time.
Prior to call up I had served for a couple of years in the Royal Marines at Deal as a boy entrant so I found recruit training at Hednesford almost enjoyable,If only the weather had been better.
2709104 LAC, Hut 159 32 flight H Sqd October 1953 until Xmas.
The pay was �1 8s Od a week but 3 shillings a week was taken out for Barrack Room damages,that means that in the 8 weeks I was at RAF Hednesford it amounted to �1 4s 0p being stopped !!
As I never caused any damage and I am now a poor pensioner how do I get my money back?
Perhaps Bill Buchanan can help out with this request as he was my drill instructor!
ken@thoroughgood48.freeserve.co.uk Ken Thoroughgood
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From: "John Willis"
Date: 19 May 2004 21:57
Service number: 3150649 (NS ex ATC)
Recruit (Refered to by DI\'s as \"You orrible little man\" when they were being nice.)
Did square bashing in last entry at Hednesford before it closed. Arrived there in October 1956 after being kitted out at Cardington. Left RAF in 1958 at end of NS. Worked on Hunters as Electrical Mechanic (Air). Rejoined RAF in 1961 served most of my time on Flight Simulators. 13 Years on the Lightning. Retired as a Chief Technician in 1981 after 22 Years service.
So pleased to have found this website, brought back many memories. Can only remember the good times and the laughs we had. Still in touch with my best mate from the same Hut, Johnny Brymer. John Willis
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From: "Brian Morris"
Just found your site and noted your comments re No 3 Wing. You may have already heard that there was indeed a No 3 Wing but if not my address on a letter from my Mum dated 4-pm 25 Jne 1953 (envelope available) was : 2590146 AC2 Morris B.R. Hut 175, Flight 24, \'F\' Squadron, No3 Wing, No11 S of RT Royal Air Force, Hednesford, Staffs. As I recall, the hut was on a corner and overlooked the hill down to Brindley Heath Station. I have a Flight photograph if anyone is interested
Brian Morris
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From: "John Eden"
I was really pleased to find this site, details were passed to me by another ex RAF type.
Comments about this site, organised well, efficient/fast to load, all that I looked at was. Very interesting information which perhaps more of us should add to for the webmaster editor, god bless him.
I loved the Naafi so much and the Malcolm Club (no it aint) and other reasons,,,,, that I started a website called Transportcafe.co.uk some years back now. http://www.transportcafe.co.uk if you care to look.
Is Smudger Smith out there from RAF Bruggen 8mfps he was a NS lad.
The best wishes to you all. John
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From: "2736345 SAC Edwards, Grant F. (W/Op)" grant.f.edwards@btinternet.com>
* Congratulations on a fascinating site. It brings back lots of memories. I spent a happy(?) eight weeks in Hut 111, 23 Flight, F Squadron. Would that have been 3 Wing? (I can\'t remember.)
* Our huts looked down from the edge of the hill into the valley where Brindley Heath Station used to be. We arrived at Hednesford from Cardington on Saturday, October 16, 1954, and as far as I remember we had our passing-out parade on a Friday in December. It was held in a hangar owing to the deep snow!
> Three other National Servicemen from Hednesford and myself have stayed in touch with each other throughout the last 50 years. We are holding our celebratory half-century lunch next week. All four of us went on to become wireless operators and spent our entire two years together, most of it in Libya at El Adem (to which I returned on a nostalgia trip last year).
> I see I\'m not the first person on the site to remember the Rice twins. One of them was my DI at Hednesford and both were thoroughly decent guys. I also remember a Cpl. Miller and Cpl. Lantaff, as well as a Sgt King, who died part-way through our training.>
> Revisited the site of Hednesford a few years back; it had been turned into a nature reserve. It was a weird sensation to stand on the exact spot where my billet used to be. My three former billet-mates that I\'m still in touch with are Roger Davies, Terry Drew and Brian Hatton>
> grant.f.edwards@btinternet.com- 2736345 SAC Edwards, Grant F. (W/Op)
Pat - further to my reply earlier today, I have just looked at a copy of my RAF records, which I requested a couple of years ago from RAF Innsworth. It has a list of my movements, and according to that I moved to Hednesford on the Friday, i.e. October 15, 1954 ! That's not impossible, I suppose, as I clearly remember that I arrived just in time to spend a weekend bulling my boots (which I still have!).
The main event I recall from Hednesford was nearly a fortnight later. Following my smallpox vaccination I was rushed into Sick Quarters by ambulance with vaccination fever and spent almost a week there. Eventually I was released just in time to avoid being put back a week and rejoined my own flight. While I had been in SSQ, however, I missed the instruction on how to clean a rifle with a pull-through and four-by-two, so when I had to clean my own rifle I had no idea that four-by-two actually referred to the size of the piece of cleaning cloth in inches. As a result, I simply cut off what looked like a reasonable length from the roll, put in the loop on the pull-through and pulled it into the breech. The inevitable happened and it jammed fast in the rifle. Try as I might, there was just no way I could shift it. All my efforts were in vain. I had visions of appearing on parade with the pull-through hanging from the end of the barrel.
Being in such dire straits made me eventually think of a drastic solution. The poker for the coke stove in the billet was unusually thin, so I put it in the stove till it was red-hot, then rammed it down the breech. It created a terrible stench and clouds of smoke, but by repeating this several times I eventually burned right through all of the four-by-two, ruining the pull-through in the process! I've no idea what damage it did to the rifle, but I hid the remains of the pull-through, cleaned the barrel as best I could afterwards - and no-one outside our billet was ever the wiser. Fortunately the barrel of my rifle was never inspected on parade, otherwise I reckon jankers would have been an absolute certainty. Regards Grant
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KEN ELLIOTT: I was at Hednesford in April 1954and went to St Athan after a week spent on permanent staff due to being Sick at home for a week during my squarebashing I remember nearly losing an Eye when during drill with fixed bayonets the guy in front slipped as the square had suffered subsidence (due to Mine working) I lived in Hednesford for a few years up to before moving to I of M 13 years ago
My number was 3518293 Ex ATC P O M didn't last long ended up as a J/T demobbed in 1959--- EMAIL -kenelliott@manx.net--- NAME --KEN ELLIOTT
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Just put \"national service\" on the browse site and re-lived the horrors of Hednesford !
2532546 SAC Edwards,A.T. H32 flight October 1951 until the end of time somewhere about January 1952 under the guidance of a Cpl Richardson(later as Sgt at Stanmore as D.I. training the Coronation Mob to stand up).
Also present a Cpl Doyle and an extremely thick Brum who gave out innoculation \"sustificats to yous lot\"and who\'s head was permanently tilted to the side by constantly pulling his beret down over his forehead.
Finally an Irish Sgt who only appeared at our arrival and passing out Parade.
Remember the slope of the square,due to the mines below, where you could move without any effort on a **** cold winter day and slide to attention!
I recall one of our intake\"Wilf\" from Burnham on sea being a victim of the camp dentist and having to be stretchered out of the hut in the early hours of the night, never to be seen again and in a pretty sorry mess.
From \"Hell\"onto Melksham etc
I have now lived upside down in New Zealand since 1963 with my wife Jan, also ex Watford. Thanks for the memories,keep in touch.Alan.
janal.e@xtra.co.nz--------- NAME -----Alan Edwards
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4137428 S.A.C. King, J.G.

Engine Mechanic (Turbine). 5 Years Regular

At 17years 6mths I set off from my home near Tunbridge Wells, Kent and arrived for induction at RAF Cardington on the 8th Oct. 1953, where I spent the next week or so getting kitted out, sworn in (and at), having another haircut (the one I had had the previous day was deemed inadequate) and generally given the rough guide to RAF life.
On the 16th Oct. 1953 a handful of us (the remainder of the group had already left for RAF Padgate, which apparently was all they could take at the time), journeyed to RAF Hednesford for an 8-week spell of hard training. An early morning trip to the sick quarters for a jab or two was the first thing on the agenda and as our arms stiffened up and nausea set in our attention was not completely on the instructions being issued by our tormentors in the shape of Cpl's Walker, Gibson and Janes. Sgt. Hurst provided overall control and absolute adherence to his every word was to be unquestioned.
Since I had been to a grammar school in a previous life and had received basic training in the army cadet force for three years the drill and weapons training stood me in good stead. Indeed, there were a number of us with the same experience and we were singled out as POM's (Potential Officer Material). We were also issued with a white disc to wear behind our cap badge until, after a series of weeding-out interviews, we were either included or excluded, from later officer recruitment. Needless to say I was excluded. During the 8-week square-bashing one 48-hour pass was allowed after our 4th week's training. Naturally we were eager to get away sharpish on the Friday to catch the London-bound train from the little station at the bottom of Kitbag Hill. But wouldn't you know it, fault was found in the final session of drill and a repeat of several parts of the session were carried out before finally getting away. An inspection at the main gate had to be undergone too before the mad rush down the hill. Thankfully we just made it. The 48 hours passed by in a flash. Of course, in those days no civilian clothing was worn whilst on or around the base so getting into some nice comfortable civvy gear was a luxury after the stiff, scratchy uniforms.
It being late autumn the weather was grim with lots of frost and cold wet days. After about 3 weeks we were scheduled to do the assault course and the morning parade in the pouring rain was eyed with dread. But off we went and after realising the going was exceptionally bad (parts of the course was flooded) the billet orderlies were dismissed to return to barracks forthwith to light the coke stoves, an hitherto strict no-no because of the work involved in restoring said stoves to a pristine condition. I was one of those billet orderlies and welcomed an early return to the shelter offered by an indoor job. The following week I came down with flu'. I was in sick quarters during 'bonfire night' and managed to return to normal duties after 5 days (any longer would have meant getting back-flighted a week). We never did the assault course.
When we were allowed a 36-hour pass at the weekend a trip into nearby Cannock was the regular thing where fish n' chips and pubs were on hand. For those so inclined several willing young ladies were also to be found and to be avoided if at all possible. These trips were looked forward to eagerly. Just outside the main gate was an enterprising chap with a mobile snacks van where specialities like bottles of hot tea or coffee and hot meat pies were on sale. On returning from a night out this was a popular stop-off.
On arrival at Hednesford one was issued with a numbered .303 rifle DP (Demonstration Purposes) for use in our training. These were locked away in one of the huts in lockable racks after use in the day and cleaning. At the end of the second week my rifle 'disappeared'. After hunting high and low and questioning any and everybody I had the unenviable task of reporting this. Cpl Walker, who occupied the single room at the end of my hut, was not at all happy and the subsequent 'interview' with Sgt. Hurst was an experience not to be undergone by anyone of a nervous disposition. As a result of being informed "I would never leave the Air Force until it was found" I was issued another rifle. No other punishment was levied. Naturally I kept my eyes peeled over the following weeks for my rifle to turn up. During our final week the missing firearm appeared in its proper position locked in the rifle rack. I couldn't believe my eyes. Someone had obviously somehow hidden it away despite all the checks carried out. However, there it was, covered in muck and dust and, worst of all, rust. On reporting this to Cpl Walker and Sgt Hurst I was given a morning off to get the rifle back into good order. The external rust was no problem but the rust in the barrel was particularly difficult to shift. However, it was given the OK by the said NCO's. But, we had to hand over these rifles to the station armoury on departing after our pass-out parade and the NCO armourer was not so forgiving of my rifle's condition and I was given what few hours were left that day to get it in an acceptable condition. All the necessary tools etc were available as well as a 'kindly' armourer's assistance. I still have the chitty for that rifle whose number will forever be burned on my memory. "Rifle No. 125."
Although I had been raised in loving and caring home in a quiet village I had no illusions about being exposed to the harsh world beyond my front door. Bad language and ugly behaviour was expected to be the order of the day upon arrival at my first RAF base. There were those from even more sheltered homes who were shocked and upset by being routinely cursed for no apparent reason and I met one ex public schoolboy who absconded from Cardington after 2 days never to be seen again. Then you had the 'jack-the-lad' types who thought they knew it all and would stand no nonsense. They also had a rude awakening. But you still got the bad eggs who were always in trouble and you learned to give them a wide berth. But on the whole I met up with a good bunch of lads and it would be good to learn that they did well in their lives.
I cannot pass this opportunity to mention Ron Lacey, a fellow recruit in the same hut as myself. He was an enigmatic character with a very dry sense of humour and who, like most of us, kept a low profile. I didn't have a great deal to do with him, apart from the odd beer in the NAAFI etc, but when a bunch of strangers are thrown together for a short while you don't see the whole person so I was unaware of his acting aspirations. The first time I saw him in a TV play in the early 1960's was in the first instalment of a short series called "The Planemakers" in which he played the part of an aircraft mechanic. He only appeared in that one episode. Of course, he went on to further plays on TV and in films. I was really upset to learn of his early death.
An old pal of mine from schooldays also went to RAF Hednesford about 18 months after me and he told me that the days of Hednesford were numbered due to subsidence. I well remember when I was there that the square dipped away sharply in one corner and a complete squad marching in that area would be invisible from elsewhere. One night, one of the bods in another hut who was prone to loud snoring was carried out whilst still asleep, bed and all, and placed in the dip on the square and left. He only came to when it started to rain.
Guard duty was one of those thankless tasks to be endured throughout service life and none more onerous than that carried out at Hednesford. One of the areas to be patrolled included the coke compound, which, as I have mentioned earlier, must have been the least-used part of the base, at least, by the recruits. However, during the night I was on duty, and there were pairs of us, we heard this noise. As you can imagine a mound of coke is an unstable beast and acts like an avalanche if disturbed. Such was our subsequent experience and it put the wind up our kilts so to speak. It turned out to be a rat, spotted by my partner with his wavery torch.
Basic training was, and still is to those entering military service, a great life-preparer. No better start in life for a young person can be that of a bit of enforced discipline. Harsh it may have been but I take my hat off to those NCO's who have the task of instilling a little sense of self-worth and responsibility where needed. One only has to look around at today's youth to witness indiscipline, scruffiness and bad behaviour. How many times have you heard, " What they need is a dose of square-bashing!"
I went on from Hednesford to St. Athan, S.Wales for trade training (engine mechanic) for 3 months. From there I was posted to RAF G�tersloh, Germany where I joined 79 Sqdn for two and a half years. This was a low-level fighter/reconnaissance squadron with Mk9 Gloster Meteors. Here my real air force life began. It continued in England and Cyprus finally being demobbed from RAF West Raynham, Norfolk in Oct 1958, 5 years of good times and bad, but I'd do it all again. John Gordon King
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Roger Edwards (rogeredwards@eurobell.co.uk) on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 at 22:35:11
comment: Thanks for a splendid website, bringing back old memories. I square-bashed 2/53 and I think I was in hut 184, B squadron, 1 Wing. Service number: 2584213. Returned 8/53 till 2/55 on permanent staff as the C.O's clerk, working for Grp, Capt. Montgomery. Would really like to contact any members of the permanent staff who were there during that time, especially those working in SHQ, or the stores because I was in a storemans' billet.
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Danny Danaher (danaher@sasktel.net) on Sunday, November 09, 2003 at 02:55:05
comment: Formally 3136378 ac2 Danaher....entered Stalag Luft Hednesford approx March 20th 1952 and did my 8 weeks squarebashing, have enjoyed this site tremendously, spent a long time looking for face s to remember...maybe my long term memory will return someday.I really can't remember the flight number or hut number. Back in 1970 or thereabouts I attended a course in Lancaster PA for the large multi-national I was working for and the room-mate they gave me was another English guy, we got talking, and to cut a long story he turned out to be the officer who was in charge of the flight I was in...small world !!
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2548103 AC2 Knight, B.D.
Arrived Hednesford from Padgate sometime prior to 28th August 1952......this was the date of my first jab.
Total confusion as we tumbled out of the lorries which had brought us from the railway station. Our first taste of gentle persuasion as presented by the quietly speaking DIs who used words we had'nt heard before, but would hear many times over the next eight weeks.

Somehow we ended-up in the correct huts.....twenty in our hut.

Told we wouldn't have a Cpl resident with us....he was on a course. As we never saw him in all our time in the hut, we assumed he must be serving time, [as all the other DIs should have been!!]

Endless square bashing from then on. I was fortunate in that I had been in my school Cadet Force and was familiar with drill.

Told I was A "POM"....Potential Officer Material". Whoever thought that must have been out of their mind. Me, an officer, not on your life!!!! Failed the interview quite spectacularly!! But I was happy.

On fire and security duty. Wandering around the Camp in the middle of the night with a fellow inmate, armed with a baton to strike down any miscreants. Saw no one.

NAAFI breaks.....so very welcome. Give the body a rest ready for the next session of whatever.

Attempting to take bren gun apart and reassemble.....so exciting, and, in my case, so impossible.

Firing the .303 on the range. What a farce.

Bulling boots, belts, gaiters, and coal.

Up at 0530 to ensure all chores completed before inspection. What fun cleaning windows at that unearthly hour.

DIs who shouted out orders in what seemed like foreign languages. After a while we got quite good at translating these foreign sounding instructions into such words as "left wheel", "right wheel", "about turn", "stand at ease", "attention", etc., etc., etc.

Soon learnt not to do anything which might cause your name to be known by a DI.

A uniform which did not, and never did, fit. This didn't matter as I only wore it a couple of times after the Hednesford experience.

Halfway through the training, it was decided that the beds should be rearranged so that instead of them all having the head of the bed against the wall, alternate beds would have the feet against the wall. This meant that we were not breathing in the next mans face during the night, so avoiding the spread of whatever they thought we might have.

Was notified that I was to be posted to MEAF,

Thought this was great. The alternative of being posted to some remote Station somewhere in Great Britain had no appeal.

This overseas posting meant I missed the infamous assault course......I was at RAF Cosford having needles stuck in my arm. Mind you, that Yellow Fever jab was not funny, but I was lucky enough not to hit the floor as so many others did.

I cannot recall why, but I also missed a number of sessions of drill [shame!!], so I did not take part in a Pass Out Parade. Instead, I was a traffic marshall keeping all traffic away from the Parade Ground.

I had a nice long embarkation leave, before going to No.5 PDC Lytham.

I mentioned not having to wear my "Blue" uniform regularly after Hednesford, but I did, in fact wear it until arrival at RAF Castel Benito in Libya en route to Pakistan From then on it was KD, until arrival back in UK at the end of my two years.

In my case, the time spent at Hednesford was wasted time. During the rest of my service in Pakistan, the bearer polished shoes, blancoed webbing, washed mug and irons, made the bed, arranged the laundry [dhobi], and was there from 0600 until 1800 at your beck and call. Had a couple of kit inspections, an occasional parade, and worked in an office from 0700 until 1300 six days a week, with the rest of the time your own, except for occasional guard duties. I was still happy, and almost sorry to have to leave, but it was a maximum two year posting.

One question. I am sure that I was in Flight 13, [I was superstitious, and still am], which would mean "D" Sqn, 2Wing, I think. No idea of Hut No., but if anyone can supply possible hut numbers for this Flight, I may recall mine.


2548103 AC2 Knight, B.D. e mail: bdkmwk@hotmail.com
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