Last year I found a small pocket sized RAF diary that I had kept for the whole of 1955 and hoped it would prove illuminating, as it covered my first two terms at Hereford. Unfortunately it was all in pencil and rather faded, but with a strong magnifying glass I was to decipher quite a fair amount.
Monday 25th April – Travelled down to Halton via Kings Cross, Baker Street and Wendover. Had preliminary medical and talks. Felt very keen. Bed at 10pm.
Tuesday 26th April – Up at 6.30 am. Had full medical and interview. Successful- but cannot fly due to failing the colour chart. Left Kings Cross at 7 pm. Got home at 6am the following morning. Long wait at York.
Thursday 28th April – notified to travel to RAF Hereford on Sunday 1st May – instead of Thursday 5th May – due to impending rail strike,
Sunday 1st May – Went to Hereford to train as an Apprentice in the Royal Air Force.
What the diary does not say was how comfortable the permanent facilities were at Halton and how good the grub was! Nor does it say that on Sunday 1st May I travelled to Manchester Central and got lost walking across to Manchester Piccadilly. I recall that I only just made the Hereford train and there, at the station, I joined a few lads in the back of a RAF lorry en route to the camp. I can still remember that awful evening meal of cold, square plastic fried eggs, tinned tomatoes, soft white bread, rock hard margarine and scalding hot tea which had a funny taste. “Bromide” said someone knowledgably, ” Stops you pulling your plonker” said another.
Between Monday 2nd May and Thursday 26th May my little diary refers to the standard daily routine of cleaning, training, lectures, drill and bull etc, just as you might expect for a Junior Entry, but then on Friday 27th May we were all sent on leave, despite the impending rail strike!
Friday 27th May – up at 6am and left camp at 9,45am. Got home at 6.30pm. Knackered but still went out for a drink.
Saturday 28th May – very warm. Pete, George and ?? came round to watch cricket on TV.
Monday 30th May – cycled to the coast and got sunburnt. Rail strike looks serious.
Wednesday 1st June – Had photo taken in uniform – (See entry scrapbook). Played cricket later. Out for a duck!
Several years ago I submitted an article to the Association about this train strike and posed the question ”Did anyone go to their local RAF Station to see about getting transport back to camp, as we had been advised to do, should the strike go ahead”? There were, I believe, no takers so I presumed I had got things all wrong! However my diary for the 4th June 1955 confirms that I did cycle to the nearest RAF Station, where my reason for being there caused a certain amount of amusement. It was also here that I realised that I knew nothing about saluting whilst riding a bike on camp and took the easy way out by changing direction, when necessary, to avoid the issue (was this subject ever covered in the GST Syllabus)?
My diary states that my dad drove me all the way to Hereford the next day, leaving home at 6.40am and arriving at the camp at 3.30pm. My diary also states that at least two from our hut did not get back for 24 hours and another for 36 hours so I presume there must have others from the other four Entries?