Back in the UK 1957-61

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I could have opted to serve five years in Aden but the prospect of doing so under Army command did not appeal to me, and much to our delight I received a posting to RAF Guttersloh in Germany..  We had two months leave in Ireland and England and two days before we were due to leave for Germany the British Government issued a ‘White Paper’ disbanding many of the RAF Regiment’s units in Germany and I received word my posting was cancelled. 

Instead I was posted as Ground Defence Officer to a Fighter Command base at Stradishall, Suffolk, near to the small market town of Haverhill and the larger town of Bury St. Edmunds.  It was a pleasant unit and I enjoyed good relations with the young Pilots and Navigators of the Javelin Fighter Squadrons.   We spent 18 months at Stradishall and during this time I could see that career prospects were fast vanishing, with the disbanding of so many Regiment squadrons reducing the Regiment to less than a third of its former size (more was to follow), and requested an interview with the Air Secretary’s Department at Air Ministry where I was told my prospects were good but promotions were slow at present and very competitive with less than one point separating those promoted and those who missed out. 

I had at this time been put forward as A.D.C. to the Commandant-General, ‘Tog’ Mellersh, so it was obvious from this selection that I was expected to go on to better things.  Second son Paul had been born in October 1957 and another child was due, when it was decided that with such a young family (first and only time I knew the RAF to show any consideration for one’s personal situation) this would be an unfair appointment as it would mean considerable periods away from home, and soon after I found myself posted to the Officer Cadets’ Training School at RAF South Cerney in Gloucestershire.

We moved to South Cerney in late September 1958, spending 6 weeks in a small village, Calcot, until a Married Quarter became available, and were there to the end of October 1961, the longest time I spent in one place during my RAF service.  Training Aircrew Cadets was one of the most pleasant tasks given me in the RAF.  Apart from training-lecturing duties, I was also Station Fire Officer and acted as Station Adjutant for long periods and also was Mess Secretary.  The Instructors at the School were a ‘mixed bag’ of Pilots, Navigators, Education and Secretarial Officers and myself and I had a staff of 8 NCO Instructors.  I also participated in survival exercises which the cadets had to undertake as part of their training and these were conducted in the Welsh Hills in wet and snowy conditions, and it was not my favourite recreation. 

Third son, Rory, was born while we were at Cerney, after a hair-raising 25 mile drive (for the WRAF driver) from Cerney to the RAF Hospital at Wroughton in the ‘wee small hours’.  I attended several courses while at South Cerney, two months at the Light Anti-Aircraft Instructors’ School at Manobier in South Wales and also two months at Junior Command Staff School at Bircham Newton in Norfolk.

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