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National Service

paul stacey

master brummie
I liked your story Dave, and can commiserate with you, the funniest story I ever heard, (Iwas't there) was from my old mate ex Grenadier C/Sgt, he was a first timer guard commander at a large London garrison, Anyway a Col, and 2 Ladies were ushered into his guardroom one night by a panicking 2nd "Leuie. A car had failed to turn up, or something and it was raining cats&dogs. Now in these days old soldiers who had passed there sell by date were sometimes kept on and looked after by the Regiments, until their pension time. One of these was an old "Punchie" who lived and worked always in the guardroom we will call him Cpl A. So my mate welcomed these unusual folks in to his domain and shouted out "CPl A, three chairs for the Colonel and his Ladies". where upon out of the bowels at the rear of the picket room, a rather tipsy vision appeared of CPL A, who immediately pulling himself to attention, raised his forage cap in his right hand and smartly shouted, "Hip Hip Hurrah 3 times" my mate said, "I was mortified", the Col of Engineers, looked stricken, and his eyes wandered from CPl A to me and back again. I suddenly wished I was anywhere but there, but after the picket men ushered away Cpl A and brought chairs, and cups of tea, the Col turned to him and said very quietly, " you do tend to meet all sorts in the army don't you. Tickled me anyway. Regards Paul
 

maypolebaz

master brummie
When I first joined the army it soon became obvious that there were many prepared to "take the mick" out of the new recruits.

Many was the time you would be told to "go and paint the last post", "go and get a box of blue sparks" or "fetch me a tin of small circles".

One day I was on fatigues at the guardroom when the Provost sergeant gave me a piece of paper and said "take this to the QM stores". On the paper was a drawing of three brooms and a bucket.

Thinking "here we go again", I arrived at the stores and handed over the paper. The storeman took one look at it and handed over the brooms and bucket. Nobody laughed.

Later I found out that the storemen were used to getting the type of note I'd turned up with - the Provost sergeant couldn't read or write !
 

paul stacey

master brummie
I came across that more than once, typically from "provost staff"!! a job with more joined up writing than most?, ie Charge sheets , part-one orders and rotas, Another amusing story from the Guards was " no names no pack drill". On duty at the "Tower" a lad had just finished his 2 hour stag, about 6am, and at the tower the main Guardroom in those days was in a small turret tower beside the old dry moat. After brushing and storing Bearskin and scarlet tunic, and re-whitening his dress belt, the lad in question decided to go out of the rear picket gate to a wooden walkway around the side of the tower overlooking the moat to have a drag. Dressed in his grey collarless shirt, army issue braces hanging down, dress trousers and double tap ammo boots (highly glossed) after all this was the foot Guards!! taking a packet of "Embassy" out of his trouser pocket and lighting up with a lighter leaned on the rail and looked down into the moat. Walking along with two spaniel dogs was a scruffy old geezer wearing a brown trilby and white trench coat mac. He looked up at the guardsman where on the soldier said "Morning mate"!!!! very cheerily. No answer!!, the soldier thought no more and continued to enjoy his fag, when the scruffy old gent came back. Looking up at the soldier said in a very posh accent, "I am not your mate, and probably never will be, I happen to be the Governor of the Tower, a MJR/Gen Rank in those days. Turning white an retreating, the lad stayed very low for the rest of his public duty stint.
paul
 

A.Willoughby

master brummie
In April 1956, following being kitted out at RAF Cardington we were loaded into a train and transported to Padgate. Standing on the platform awaiting trucks to take us to our drill station I saw a silver gasometer behind which were black thunderous clouds. It was so stark. Could this be an omen of things to come, I thought. Not far wrong.
First morning we were taken to have a lecture from the camp padre who in so many words told us to keep the faith in view of what awaited us. Oh such true words and so my two years began..............Will
 

maypolebaz

master brummie
Blimey Will !

I thought Padgate was in Warrington. Your description makes it sound more like Auschwitz !

Your National Service wasn't THAT bad was it ?
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
Hi Baz - I was there a few months after Will, and it was reputed to be the harshest RAF camp, I thought so at the time. I did however confess to having a fairly soft National Service in a post here. Whilst at Padgate, I saw about eight B36 USAF giant Atom Bombers circling over Burtonwood waiting to land. you wouldn't see a sight like that these days.
oldmohawk
 
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paul stacey

master brummie
I remember reading somewhere the the 70's sit com "Get some in" was based on Padgate, years ago when at the AADW, I met an old "Rock Ape" Drill Sgt who was a Cpl instructor at Padgate.
paul
 

lindyloo

master brummie
Paul, your mention of "Rock Ape" just brought a tear to my eye and I felt I had to add a little note to this thread, which I am sorry to say I know very little about.
My late and much missed "Pops" who passed away just over a year ago, often used to talk about his days in the RAF and he often mentioned the "Rock Apes" ..he met up with one in the pub my brother runs, some years ago and they often used to chat together.
I have in front of me his Certificate of Service booklet which is stamped RAF Station Coningsby, 3 Nov 1954, and also his Identity Card.
:sorrow:
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Will,

If it's any consolation Hednesford wasn't any better. I arrived there 18 months earlier, in a convoy of buses direct from Cardington and the reception we got as we came down the steps was unnerving in the extreme. You did really wonder what was facing you, especially after the gentle kitting out process at Cardington which had seemed almost civilised.

I don't know whether the normal transport to Cardington was by road. There was a nearby station then: if I remember correctly a miserable little halt called Brindley Heath, slowly rotting away in the damp and mist and no doubt swept away by Beeching a decade later - well, I hope so anyway, it deserved it!

And the days following our arrival weren't much better with jabs which made you feel rotten, constant bellowing, unfamiliar kit, hut and equipment inspections, trying desperately to get a mirror finish on soggy boots, constant threats, no time even to think for yourself. But I suppose it all helped to make my generation the simply wonderful people we are...

Chris
 
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paul stacey

master brummie
Hi Lindyloo, I hope the memories are not painful for you, "Rock Ape" was a pseudonym for a member of the RAF Regiment, "something to do with Gibraltar I believe"!!. They were responsible for airfield security PSS, along with the "Snow Drops" RAF Police. In my day there depot was RAF Catterick but I am not sure now. Hope that helps!!!
Regards Paul
 

lindyloo

master brummie
Hi Paul, no ..the memories arent painful at all, I am glad I have them.. I just wish I could remember more of what Pops told us. He often spoke of cycling miles and miles back to camp and getting into trouble for being late!!
I think the Apes were to do with Gibraltar too. I don't recall him mentioning the Snow Drops but he did speak of Catterick.
RAF Hawarden, Chester is written on the inside front cover of his record and from what I can tell his last date of enlistment was 1951 and he was discharged in 54.
Regards Lynne
 

paul stacey

master brummie
Lynn,The reason I came into contact with them was because, next to the Foot Guards the RAF Regiment had a cracking drill team and their instructors came for advanced drill instruction courses run by the Guards at the, "All Arms Drill Wing", which was situated at The Guards Depot Pirbright.
Regards Paul
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
I had not thought about 'Rock Apes' since my demob until these posts reminded me. We had a few days with them and they were not as bad tempered as our usual Drill Instructors. I can almost forgive the 'rock ape' who ordered me to run two laps round a field holding my rifle above my head. They trained us about chemical warfare and we were told how to deal with nerve gas and mustard gas etc.
There is a pic of my NS drill instructors here, the one on the right was a 'nightmare', the one next to him almost as bad. They could not stand 'tick-tock' marchers.
oldmohawk
 

A.Willoughby

master brummie
OldMowhawk- The second corporal from the right reminds me of a Corporal Sharpe. I could be wrong, for time attacks memory, but he does resemble him. Our instructor was 'Jenkins'.

While at Padgate there was a lad who went 'hunting' for Sharpe with a baseball bat. Seem to recall the snow drops got to him first and he simply left our company but I was told Sharpe was rattled by it. We also had one lad top himself by hanging from a toilet chain.

We had a scouse in our billet and he was fearless. Jenkins was tipping his hat to a girl in the NAAFI so scouse set out to woe her and did so. What he took from Jenkins, as a result, was frightening but every time he faced Jenkins he had a half smile on his lips to indicate he had one over him. Thing was we in the billet also knew.

Padgate and other square basing camps were there for a purpose to break those apron strings and the NCO's did it very diligently and with certain 'finesse'. Once you mastered the 'impossible demands' they put to you all was well. Overall I would have hated to miss it...........Will
 
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oldMohawk

master brummie
Hi Will
Sadly, someone hung himself from the water tower while I was there.
I remember our 'ragged' marching in the first week or two on the shiny worn paths at Padgate, but at the end we marched with precision and became quite proud of ourselves. A photo of our flight is here with our DI sitting in the centre. The airman to his immediate right looks too happy!
I'm third from left front row.
oldmohawk
 

paul stacey

master brummie
They look a fine body of instructors to me!!, we all hated "tick tock" marchers though & the "can't tell my right from my left, we had one bloke so bad they painted his left boot bright yellow, and he still could't get it right!!! I always remember one bad day on "God's Acre" ( Main square Pirbright), sweating ,puffing, wobbling, The RSM marched on to the square straight over to our squad, and the instructor and said screamed "3rd man rear rank bloody idle", where on being pulled up. They both got on to the poor victim screaming and shouting, in astate of near collapse he shouted "I can't do it any more", where upon the RSM screamed " non commissioned officah's Coldstream Guards, march this man off my square to the M I room he's gone mad". paul
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
Hi Paul - The 'tick-tock' man in our flight was dragging us down, but we cured him by having guys walking each side of him as he marched along and they swung his arms in the correct positions. Suddenly he could do it.
 
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