Ginny Bourne

 

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124th Entry

RAF Halton Technician Apprentices

(1974-1977)

Last Modified On 08/11/2004

The 15th October 1974 was a flat grey day as dozens of young men converged on the RAF station of Swinderby in Lincolnshire. They were about to embark on a three year adventure that would irrevocably change their lives.

There would be many milestones to pass during this time and some would inevitably fail to make it. The first was a ceremony that involved allowing a sadist to remove the hair from their heads in a random fashion. Some of those young men failed to pass even this initial milestone and returned to the four corners of the country unscathed.

          Those that remained learnt many things in the following six weeks. Never volunteer, don’t look too closely at the food served up in the mess, don’t lend others your cigarettes.

Having been initially housed in the ‘H’ blocks that dotted the camp they were soon moved into a brand new block and became the envy of all other recruits. With carpeted floors there was no need of ‘Bumpers’. However, they were found many and varied menial tasks to keep them sweating day and night.

More innocent souls fell by the wayside as compulsive ‘Tick-tockers’ were spirited away in the deep of the night to face a firing squad. Their last memories accompanied by the strains of the theme from Laurel & Hardy being whistled at them.

          A few days respite was enjoyed before they reconvened at the picturesque RAF Halton. It was December and cold, much like the reception. Herded into a lecture theatre, a strange man in a blue suit issued warnings about failing to live up to expectations on the course. A darker warning was given that, before any of them would see release from the clutches of the RAF a dozen of them would be dead as a result of being eaten alive by voracious feral jet engines.

          Not all was gloom and doom though. There were quaint traditions to be enjoyed like chasing a gaggle of cat mutilators up and down a hill twice a day, holding up civilian traffic in the process. Oh happy day! Then there was the joy of walking across the ‘crunchy’ floor of the mess in the morning to take part in ‘the sorting of cockroaches from cornflakes’ ceremony. Not to forget the glorious sight of the midday ritual of ‘Briefcase Hurling’ that preceded the ‘Soggy Cabbage and Lumpy Spud’ competition.

All that is now a dim and distantly remembered world, but does it evoke memories? Has it set you to trying to remember incidents from those days? Wouldn’t you just love to know how the others did in the intervening 30 years? What became of them? Were they successful?

Well here is your chance to find out. The Royal Air Force Halton Aircraft Apprentice Association is holding a Triennial reunion in 2004 (most likely September). I am proposing to organise a 124th Entry Reunion to celebrate our 30th year since signing on that dotted line to coincide with the RAFHAAA event. To contact other entry members and or register your interest in the reunion contact ex124brats@hotmail.com

I have also created a page.

©Ginny Bourne 2002