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National Service

paul stacey

master brummie
Talking about "Bull", (The Guards Brigade were very hot on this), I think the funnest thing I heard in Basic, was a RHM, a tall lad from Yorkshire called Grey, the morning after a heavy night of Bulling Boots, they paraded , RHM was called he smartly came to and marched to the center of the square, came to a halt stamped is right foot and the toe cap of his boot sailed though the air leaving one black toe cap and one grey one, even the SDI's were in hysterics. Apparently he had been a bit to ambitious on heating his spoon and burnt the stitching round the toe cap, a common problem I heard. Paul
 

mw0njm.

Brummie Dude
oldmohawk, I`m surprised you can remember drinking 3 pints of scrumpy. I was stationed at Yeovil, & we were warned about the scrumpy but being young & stupid we took no notice & hence got horribly drunk on the stuff. Never touched the stuff after that.
I took a Air-dispatch course at RAF Abingdon, learned how to pack a parachute & drop stuff from the plane ( Hastings ) without a chute. All good fun & got paid an extra 15 bob a week danger money!
ho.smudge i only have to think of the stuff and i feel ill.
 

johnny082

knowlegable brummie
I only came across this thread last week and only so far managed twenty pages. I thought however i would start to make a contribution. I have so many memories so will split it up.
I started N.S. in November 1949 in the RAF going first to Padgate for kitting out and then to Wilmslow for squarebasihing. I had never been away from home before so it came as a shock with all we went through. I well remember the early morning runs when all we were allowed to wear was our trousers. In December that was not a favourite thing for me. On the day we were due to go on Christmas leave one of the guys asked me what all the spots were on my back. I hadn't a clue so quickly put on a vest in the hope no one else saw them. Later we all went off on leave. I still remember arriving at New Street station and feeling so drained as I got off the train. I then had to walk across town to get the tram to Erdington. How I walked up the road to home I don't know. I had to go to bed immediately and my mother called the doctor who confirmed my suspicion that it was chicken pox. I remained in bed all over the Christmas period which I did not appreciate. It was three weeks before I could return to Wilmslow. Then the shock came that because I had lost so much time I had to start all over again. As with many other contributers on this thread I have many memories of all the bull. One particular one was returning to the billet at lunch time to find every window open, and being January it was like walked into a fridge. Then we found that there had been an inspection that morning and a stain was found on one guys mug so every window had been opened so the sergeant could throw and smash every mug outside. Needless to say we were not best pleased as everyone had to go to the NAAFI and purchase another one.
Memories have also been stirred reading other contributions of things like gas training etc. I still remember charging at the sandbags with fixed bayonets whilst shouting at the top of our voices. Funny thing was not one of the sandbags looked a little bit scared !!!! . Another memory is of a vicious little corporal who used to use a fixed bayonet to push our heads back while holing it under our chin if we did something wrong. One day he went too far and actually punctured one guys neck. He was court-marshalled and demoted.
Enough for now.
 

Radiorails

master brummie
There were some sadists who were DI's in the RAF - and I expect the same for the other services. I remember a National Serviceman who was found 'unwashed'. He was treated to a cold bath and scrubbed with VIM by four of his flight colleagues who were detailed to do it. They were overseen to make sure they were thorough.
The white pint mugs that were broken for little reason. I bet all 'squarebashing' station NAAFI's made a fortune selling them. It was hard on regulars, even more so for National Serviceman who had lower pay. However, some NS bods were well heeled, a couple I recall had cars which for young men in the 1950's was not that common.
As a regular I found that eventually I came across one of those rank conscious ex DI's, or 'Discip' junior NCO's, usually on picket duty or Station Gate duty. He would not remember me, but I would him. So it was good to tear him off a strip. :laughing:
Another catch was replacing broken lamp shades. A kind of white Bakelite which became brittle with age. Even a slight knock could break them. A collection of 3/6d or 3/9d . had to be made for pay for the replacement. Still, it was all good training and experience, made men of many of us I guess.
 

sospiri

Ex-pat Brummie
Yes, Alan, there were a few sadists and quite a few "sham sadists". The latter were the kind that made all the right noises to keep up the pretence, but in the face of a genuine problem were found to actually have a heart. :)

After a successful passing out parade, a couple of the latter were found out to be almost human! Their job was to put the fear of God, and a lot of discipline, into you, and they did.

Maurice :cool:
 

johnny082

knowlegable brummie
Continuing my story of my experience of N.S. After completion of training I was posted to St. Athans in South Wales to train as an aircraft engine mechanic. Being mechanically minded I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.. I well remember the first few days when we were confronted with a Tiger Moth and the scary moment when each in turn had to start it up by swinging the propeller. I was hoping for a flight in it but that did not come to us mere mortals. Whilst waiting for the course to start I was allocated to the control tower. My immediate delight was soon dispersed however. There were very few flights coming in to that station each day but each one flew across a main road outside the station. As it did it was less than 100 feet from the road. Yours truly was given the job of keeping my eyes on the control tower and when they flashed a light I had the job of stopping all the traffic until the aircraft landed. Needless to say I was not the favourite person of the passing motorists.

At the time of starting N.S. it was only for 18 months. It came as a shock therefore one evening, I think in June, to hear on the radio that the government was increasing it to two years. Despondency descended on the billet that night.

The aircraft engine training was excellent, and indeed stood me in good stead after demob and for many years enabling me to do all the repairs on my old bangers. The training concentrated on petrol engines of all kinds with only a brief reference to jet engines. Once more I still remember the final exams taking place. We were taken into one of the hangers on the station where there were rows and rows of tables full of engine parts. We were taken individually by a corporal. He would pick up a piece and ask what it was and what engine it was from and what it's purpose was. Up and down the rows we went and he would then mark a score sheet and give his verdict.

It is strange how you remember certain things. The only guy I remember on that station was a Brian Nairn who lived in Ripponden. I will continue another day of my posting to Syerston in Nottinghamshire.
 

johnny082

knowlegable brummie
Not sure if anyone interested in my experiences in RAF on N.S. but will continue. As I said i was posted to Syerston which is situated between Nottingham and Newark. Arriving with two other guys from different stations we were confronted on arrival by guys painting the kerbstones, one white, one black. Then topping it all at the guardroom one guy painting the coal white. What had we come to we wondered. It was a pilot training station and was told that the following day was their passing out parade and an Air Commadore was attending as his son was passing out.. We then was told to report to someone at 5.30 am next morning but not told what for. Ariiving promptly at 5.30am we were told to go round all the camp, empty every bin and wash it out. Talk about bull that day - worse than training camp. Turned out to be a great day however. After that was much easier until the next passing out day when it all started again
 

Ray Griffiths

master brummie
I served my N/S in the Royal Engineers No3 Training Regt at Cove and 17 Port Regt Southampton 1959-1961.
Some of the members I remember was Jonny Ogston the Scotish International Goal Keeper, one of the Mudlarks pop group was another and Scott the Chelsea player football.
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
Not sure if anyone interested in my experiences in RAF on N.S. but will continue. As I said i was posted to Syerston which is situated between Nottingham and Newark. Arriving with two other guys from different stations we were confronted on arrival by guys painting the kerbstones, one white, one black. Then topping it all at the guardroom one guy painting the coal white. What had we come to we wondered. It was a pilot training station and was told that the following day was their passing out parade and an Air Commadore was attending as his son was passing out.. We then was told to report to someone at 5.30 am next morning but not told what for. Ariiving promptly at 5.30am we were told to go round all the camp, empty every bin and wash it out. Talk about bull that day - worse than training camp. Turned out to be a great day however. After that was much easier until the next passing out day when it all started again
thanks johnny ..we are always interested in our members memories and stories...this is what this forum thrives on...

lyn
 

cookie273uk

master brummie
I served 8 years in the RAF, 1948 till 1956 (5 years abroad) and enjoyed every moment, I was aircrew wireless op and was 'grounded' for developing a weak right eye else I would have stayed in. Aircrew were excused all parades, guard duties etc... and once you were airborne rank went out the window, you were all just a 4 man team on first names. I logged over 5000 hours during my service. Happy days
 

maypolebaz

master brummie
On the subject of futile jobs in the forces. Newly posted to Rhyl, my mate & I fell foul of a member of the training staff and had to report to him after our evening meal. Taking us to a pile of coke, about 5 feet high, he said, "Right, move that lot over there, sweep where it was and report back to me". After about an hour of sweated labour we reported our success to the NCO. "Finished have you ? Good, well done. Now put it all back again !".
 

johnny082

knowlegable brummie
Continuing my story of my time at Syerston, as said previously it was a pilot training station but was for navy as well as RAF. I was allocated to the Headquarters flight and was engine mechanic responsible for four aircraft and any visiting aircraft. the airframe mechanic was a guy called Kevin Cox from Wolverhampton. The three aircraft were ones allocated to the Wing Commander in charge of the camp, the chief RAF flying instructor Squadron Leader Lewis , and the chief navy flying instructor named Buchan-Sideserf, (can't remember his rank). He also had a Seafire, the equivalent of Spitfire adapted to land on aircraft carriers. I can only describe the two chief flying instructors as mad hatters. They used to have their "mad half hour" every morning before anyone else went up. They used to do all sorts of aerobatics above the station and then come down and discuss with the trainees the different flying techniques. On one occasion they ordered the one hanger to be emptied of all aircraft and the doors to be opened as wide as possible and everyone to be kept clear of the hangar. No reason was given but as time went on and everyone watched their antics above they suddenly parted and went in different directions. Then it dawned on us as both of them headed for the open hanger from opposite directions. First one flew through the hanger and he had barely left before the other did the same in the opposite direction. Absolute madness as far as we were concerned but they came down and entered in the log books as ususal, "aerobatics". It was to them as though it was a daily occurance.
 

johnny082

knowlegable brummie
Squadron Leader Lewis was, as far as I know, the only officer in the RAF allowed to have his Harvard aircraft polished instead of painted. It was the job of myself and my mate Cox to polish the plane once a month, spending all day Saturday doing so, usually using about 4 tins of metal polish on it. One particular month when it was due to be done, Cox was on leave so it fell to me doing it all. My only regret is that I never had a photo of it, it looked spectacular, particularly when the sun was shining.
On the following Monday Squadron Leader Lewis told me he was going up at 2pm and could I make sure the plane was ready. We did our usual checks on it and signed the Log Book. At 2pm he appeared and got in 'Jig Mike' as it was known, (the letters on the side being JM). When flying solo the straps on the back seat had to be firmly tied to make sure they did not fall down whilst doing aerobatics. So I asked if he was flying solo. His answer shook me. "Yes Johnson, why? Do you want to come up with me?" Never having been up before I declined the offer knowing he would be doing aerobatics. He then said "Go and get a parachute and helmet" Still declining the offer he then asked if I had done and inspection and signed the log book, and if so then the pilot was in his rights for the technician to fly with him. For the second time came the order " Go and get a parachute and helmet and get Cox to start me up" Just as he taxied to the runway he said, "Don't worry Johnson I'll be lenient with you". I'm sure he heard my knees knocking.
To be continued.
 

Radiorails

master brummie
On many RAF Stations, without an operational field, it was often possible to get a day out and a flight as a passenger with an flying type (irrespective of rank) who had to keep up his flying hours.
 

johnny082

knowlegable brummie
Continuing from my last post regarding my flight with Squadron Leader Lewis. As we climbed steadily I was amazed at the patterns the fields formed and became more calm. However that was to be short lived. It was a beautiful sunny August day with hardly a cloud in sight. Suddenly his voice boomed in my ear, " that's a lovely little cloud in front of us Johnson". As I looked over his shoulder it looked more like cotton wool. As we headed towards it the plane suddenly lurched and he did a barrel roll round it. My heart was in my mouth for a while. Moving on he suddenly said, "That's a lovely little train down there". Sure enough I could see the smoke of the train. (Yes, we had lovely steam trains in those days). He then dipped the nose of the plane and headed straight for it. Here I must interupt the story to say that very often as he and the chief Navy Instructor went out to their planes we often saw them band down and pick something up but we never knew what. Until today !!! As we headed for the train he opened the cockpit part way, pu his hand in his pocket and as we got over the top of the train pelted it with stones. He immediately soared up and away. He continued to do many more aerobatics and after doing a loop the loop got me to put my hands on the controls and follow his commands. I am proud to say I completed it successfully. Returning to the station after an hours flying we landed on the grass runway which was being used on that day. As we landed I heard what seemed to be a tearing noise and thought to myself I had not heard that noise before when planes landed. The next second of time is one I will never forget. The plane came to an abrupt stop, tipped forward with propeller still going and then, after what seemed an eternity on our nose, tippedupside down and slid along burying the plane into the ground. It buried so deep that my eyes were level with the ground.As they always did the pilot had opened his cockpit halfway. It seemed ages before he moved and had just got out when the fire engine arrived. He grabbed an axe from it and dashed towards me saying " Duck Johnson, duck" and began hacking away to get me out. I got out a few minutes later without a scratch. My first thought though as I viewed the wreckage was the amount of energy I had used over the weekend to polish it up. What had happened was that when doing tics the pilot puts the parking brake on and Squadron Leader Lewis had forgotten to take it off.
Sorry for such a long post but thought someone may be interested in my excapades
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
I was an Instrument Fitter at RAF Feltwell and we were often detailed to go up on the first flight after a major service. The theory being that we would work carefully knowing that one of us would be detailed for the flight. One day it was my turn and I climbed into the right seat of a dual control aircraft which had parachutes built into the seats.

The sergeant tucked a sick-bag into my tunic even though I told him I was never air-sick and I waited with oxygen mask and headphones on for the pilot to arrive. He came and we roared off down the runway to climb up to about 10,000 ft where he turned the a/c upside down and told me to collect all the toffee papers and other bits of rubbish which dropped into the canopy.

He then had to make some performance notes and asked me to hold the stick and keep it straight and level before he then took control and dived the a/c to start a loop during which I blacked out. I told him about this and he said I hadn't blacked out, it was simply my eyeballs being forced down and blocking vision, and I was to look upwards at the start of the next loop which I then saw all the way over.

He continued to do stall turns, barrel rolls, wing overs, and I remember seeing the fields of East Anglia spinning below as we did a spiral dive. By this time I was feeling slightly queasy but luckily we landed and I did not need to use the sick-bag.

It was worth doing National Service just to have had a flight like that .... :)
 

johnny082

knowlegable brummie
I quite agree oldMohawk. the squarebashing at the beginning was not good but thereafter it was great. While up on the flight as described yesterday we also did all the manoeurvres you speak of.
Continuing from yesterday Squadron Leader Lewis said to me on a daily basis, " Sorry for that Johnson, it doesn't always happen". My reply was, " It's a good job because we would have no planes to fly" A week later they made me go up again but this time in the Percival Prentice where we sat side by side, not doing any aerobatics though. Three weeks before my demob they asked me to consider signing up and becoming a pilot. Sometimes wish I had.
Many more stories for another time
 
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