55 years ago today
Can't believe it's 55 years ago today that 55 of us turned up at Albrighton village railway station and boarded an RAF bus to be taken onto RAF Cosford camp to begin our training as Telegraphists and Photographers. Today over 20 of us had a celebratory conference call using ZOOM in lieu of the reunion that was supposed to be on this weekend.
There were more of us Telegraphists as more manpower was required for the continuous 24 hour coverage in most communication centres around the world. Photographers sounds a pretty cushy job but it was very complicated with the techniques available then, and it also involved loading the cameras into reconnaissance aircraft (Canberras, Victors etc). and analysing the results, after processing the film, for intelligence purposes.
Another two joined us from the previous entry, as they hadn't attained the required level to 'pass out' from training. Some, I think 3 or 4, decided it wasn't for them and they packed up and went home after a very short time.
We had a very relaxed time for about a week, until our attestation was completed. We swore our allegiance to the RAF and HM the Queen. The attending officer then left the room and the nightmare began. Training was hard, we did marching, drill, armaments including firing on the range with the .303 Lee Enfield and then the 7.64 SLR (Self Loading Rifle), two weeks camping in a very wet Wales where we did orienteering, bridge building etc. We had continuous inspections, some 'open locker', floors had to shine despite our stud encrusted boots. Trade training for us Telegraphists included Morse Code up to 22wpm, teleprinters, endless reading and practicing of Allied Communication Procedures, use and maintenance of Petrol/Electric engines (used to give our mobile transmitters power of course, and more. There was a lot more to it than you might imagine.
The next 12 years saw me serve at HQ Bomber Command, Oman, Singapore, Gloucester, Malta, Gloucester again, Maldives, Box Hill (Bath, RAF Rudloe Manor), back to Gloucester and demob in 1978.
Would I do it all over again, you bet you life I would. It was the best thing a young lad from the North East could do at the time.
Plus the discipline, and self discipline, stood me in good stead for the rest of my life.