Royal Air Force
Administrative Apprentices Association

Multum A Parvo

Member Articles

Derek Pitman (3rd Entry)

It is curious how many of the photos in the archives follow the same pattern i.e. either outside one of the huts in the lines at St.Athan or outside a tent at summer camp. The enduring memory that I have from those days of training is that we neither had the spare time for the art of photography, nor did we have the money to afford such luxuries as cameras, film and processing costs. Do! rernember correct!y that in 1948 our pay parade rate started at 10 shillings per week with half being
put away for “credits” to be paid when we went on leave? As regards the lack of spare time, the whole day was spent in one type of training or the other ­parade ground drill, trade training, PT and educational classrooms. Those drill sessions with Flight Sergeant Davis’s stentorian bellows that probably could be heard in Cardiff and dear old Warrant Officer Bill Shakesby who went down in the history of the 3rd Entry when one day due to some forgotten group misdeed, he lined us up and came out with this gem … ” I’ve had my b***s chewed off for you (pronounced YAWl blokes so many times, there’s nowt left but shreds” (in broad Yorkshire accent). Followed by the collapse of the whole parade which jollity earned us doubling on the spot for ten minutes. Our evenings were spent either “bulling” ones kit, bed space, centre of the floor or on “jankers”. Hence, little time for fooling
around with film. There was just NO spare time. When the day’s programme finished the only thing left to do was to collapse onto those ghastly iron beds with “biscuits” as a mattress substitute and itchy blankets that smelled of the steriliser and grab what sleep was possible until 0630 reveille. I was always tired and I was always hungry despite those filling menus in the cookhouse … that remembers “Hamburg Roast?” Lord only knows what was in it, but it quelled hunger pains. The AAT. S was probably one of the most significant character forming times in my whole life. I went to St. Athan as a feeble lad and came away having evolved into something very different and it has left that mark into my 75th year.