I am sure that every RAF Apprentice or Boy Entrant would agree that their training has had a profound influence on their life, career and outlook in one way or another. I personally have never felt so proud as when we, of the 25th Entry, marched off the Parade Ground at Hereford on that foggy morning in December 1956. I had been a borderline case in Terms 3 and 4 for Trade and Education but I managed to put in the required effort when we became Senior Entry in Term 5. I therefore passed out successfully, but with just the minimum required marks in all subjects except GST. ( This caused one or two of my classmates to claim that I had been ”pushed”. They were of course unaware of the hours and hours that I had spent catching up and revising in the trade hut while they were larking about or living it up in the NAAFI !)
Christmas 1956 at home was warm and magical. My parents had invited my brother and his wife and baby boy, as well as a few Aunts and Uncles and I paraded about in my uniform at every opportunity. My posting was to the Accounts Section at nearby RAF Middleton St. George and, as I was not due there until the New Year, I celebrated rather hard and to excess with some of my old pals and schoolmates.
Christmas 1957 at home was cold and depressing. I was now an unemployed civilian, having been medically discharged from the RAF, and I was staring at a bleak future. I just moped about drinking and smoking and, when I could find a pal, they soon made an excuse to be elsewhere. My first experience of the dole queue only added to my misery and yet, in a strange way, it sparked a strong inner reaction. I cannot explain it but I felt in my head – YES THOSE 20 MONTHS AT HEREFORD HAD BEEN TOUGH FOR A PAMPERED SCHOOLBOY. IT WAS BOUND TO BE – BUT YOU DID IT – SO NOW GO AND DO IT AGAIN!
I cleaned up my act and spent every day seeking and applying for clerical and accountancy positions far and wide. After three months of rejection and disappointment I finally secured a position with a local company and I was on my way back. Now with another Christmas approaching and my career well and truly over, I will again be remembering some of those other times in the past when I had cause to call on that ”inner spark” again.