Joining the Regiment 1946-66
In early 1946 at Air Ministry in London, I was interviewed by a Board of six RAF Officers, headed by an Air Vice-Marshal. It was quite an experience for a twenty-year old but I obviously said the right things for soon after I was advised I was posted to the RAF Regiment Officer Cadet Training Unit at Belton Park near Grantham.
Thus I said goodbye to my aircrew and other friends made at St. Athan, thanked Wing Commander King and Warrant Officer Banwell for their guidance and interest in my short RAF career, and began a new chapter in my life which was to cover the next twenty years. At Belton Park we had to remove all rank emblems and cadet ‘flashes’ were issued. We were addressed as ‘Officer Cadet’ and we were now part of No.23 Course of the Officer Cadet Training Unit. We did what was termed ‘a Pre-OCTU Course’ of some two months - drilling and other exercises, physical training, tactics etc. This was, in reality, a ‘weeding-out’ process and cadets found unsuitable were returned to their former units. Cadets included recent conscripts, regular-Service airmen and NCOs and, thankfully, six aircrew like myself, including one former prisoner-of-war. It was tough going back to barrack block accommodation, being chased and bossed about by NCOs junior to myself and others.
While there my promotion to Warrant Officer came through but insignia could not be worn apart from a Warrant Officer’s cap badge. We were given berets instead of forage caps and wore khaki battledress instead of the usual RAF blue uniform. Why? Heaven only knows - some two years later we reverted to blue battledress. The other difference was my pay. As a Sergeant Air Gunner I received all of 7 shillings a day (less War Service credit deduction of 6d. a day). As a Flight Sergeant I received 9 shillings a day and as Warrant Officer about 12/- a day. By this time I was making a ‘fair’ allotment to my mother.
A Cadet’s life was tough, the training comprehensive with a lot of emphasis placed on physical fitness and leadership. About sixty of us graduated from an intake of 120.