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R.A.F. Experiences continued page 2...

I was posted to R.A.F. Yatesbury to join my Air Radar Mechanics course which I think was due to last 12 weeks, however after 8 weeks we took a test in which I scored high marks and was given the option to transfer to a 48 week Air Radar Fitters course, this I jumped at as, on completion, I would become a Junior Technician with more pay and promotion prospects. On joining ARF 59 I found to my surprise that all the participants except for an ex "brat" SAC were National Service personnel. I believe that the recruiting Sergeant when I signed on had mislead me in order to get me to enlist as a regular airman however, in hindsight, I have no regrets as I thoroughly enjoyed my four years service in the R.A.F.

The training at Yatesbury was exceptionally good, we learnt some basic electronics, then specialist radar circuits such as multivibrators, flipflops etc. and then about components, aerials, waveguides, magnetrons, rhumbatrons, klystrons etc. We went on to learn about specific Radar equipments, Rebecca 4 , Gee III, I.F.F. and BABS. I believe I learnt far more in my one years training at Yatesbury than in my subsequent 4 years study at Kingston Technical College for my Higher National Certificate in Electronics.

Some things that I remember from my year at Yatesbury are travelling home to Epsom weekends on the "Sodbury Queen" coaches, dances in the 4 Wing NAAFI, pop songs of the period, my favourite singer was Ruby Murray who sang "Softly Softly" "Evermore", "Happy Days, Lonely Nights" "Have you ever been lonely" etc., dancing to the music of the Johnny Styles Big Band at the Majestic Ballroom Swindon. Also a young airman called Derek Ibbotson who I remember won every race from 400 meters upwards at the station sports day (he went on to become the best U.K. miler and held the world record of 3 minutes 58.2 seconds from July 1957 to August 1958)

Chiefy Dunlop in the Guardroom was greatly feared by all of us trainees until he suddenly disappeared, the rumour was that he was guilty of some "misconduct" with a young airman!

Having graduated as Junior Technicians in August 1955, we were all excited to find out our next posting, I was hoping to be sent to the Far East but surprisingly all the National Servicemen were sent there and the Regulars to the 2nd Tactical Air Force in Germany. After embarkation leave we caught the troopship which travelled from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, it was a rusty old tub called Vienna, built in 1929 and with which I was to become quite familiar over the next 2½ years! I believe it was scrapped in 1960. From the Hook we travelled to RAF Goch by train which I remember was quite comfortable and better than the British trains of that period, even the food was quite good!.

At Goch we were given our final destinations, I was posted to the Tech Wing of R.A.F. Jever where I was to remain for the next two and a half years, all I knew was that it was somewhere in Germany and as I was the only person to be sent there, I was given a travel voucher and was told which train to catch and to change at Bremen and then Oldenburg for Varel which was the closest railway station to Jever. This was quite daunting to an 18 year old who had never travelled in a foreign country and couldn't speak the language, but somehow I successfully navigated to Varel station but by this time it was dark and there was no one there to meet me. I telephoned RAF Jever and some 2 hours later an R.A.F. Volkswagen driven by a member of the G.S.O. (German Service Organisation) turned up to transport me the last 15 or so miles. It turned out that Jever was in Ostfriesland in the North West of Germany, not far from the ex U-Boat base of Wilhelmshaven on the North Sea coast.
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