Following on from the Ruislip Apprentice Clerk scheme (abandoned during W.W 2), I’m sure you will know that the post-war Admin. App. numbering system commenced at 592081. The ‘honour’ of receiving that number was bestowed on “Yorkie” Marshall, but such respect was swiftly lost whilst he was serving in Kenya, during the early Fifties, when he attempted to get rich quick by robbing a bank in Nairobi. Unhappily for him it wasn¹t his lucky day as he was caught and suffered the inevitable consequences of dishonourable discharge and a term of imprisonment. To the best of my knowledge, no ex-brat has heard of him since, hence – no more “Yorkie”!
The recipient of the second allocated number, 592082, was ‘Blondie‘ Sarjeant (no longer blond – but now called Derek), who left our ranks whilst serving as an Admin. App. He and ‘Yorkie’ had originally applied to join as aircraft apprentices at Halton, but the powers-that-be considered both of them to be more suitable for an administrative role rather than a technical one. Another brat in the 1st was ‘Jock’ King. He had been taken on as an aircraft apprentice at Cranwell (No1 Radio Training School) before being transferred to the Admin. App’s at St Athan. ‘Jock’ was the only odd-man-out in the 1st, insofar that he had been allocated (branded!) with an Aircraft Apprentice number. Here was another brat who never ‘passed-out’ from St Athan, or has been heard of since.
The foregoing is merely an introduction to the question: What ever became of those ex-brats who for one reason or another never completed the career they set out on? If only we knew, though I guess that some of them found themselves in other professions and went on to distinguish themselves in their new careers. What wonderful articles they could write for our newsletter. If only!
Our own 1st Entry Alexander (113) who was serving as a Sgt at No 5 Personal Despatch Unit (RAF Warton), kitting out all those who were bound for the hot spots of our old Empire, stretching all the way from Gibraltar to Hong Kong. To make a few bob on the side he flogged-off £2000 worth of tropical pyjamas. At the time (c.1953) I was serving at RAF Butterworth (in north Malaya) and well remember reading about his CM in the “News of the World”, which used to arrive in our Sgts’ Mess about
six weeks after its publication date. “Alex” was discharged and received a couple of years sentence for his attempt to get rich.
Arriving back to UK from Aden in 1963 I found myself posted to the ‘store-bashers¹ graveyard – 16 MU, RAF Stafford! On arrival at the Stafford railway station I found myself dying for a beer, and as I stepped off the train I found it most convenient that right opposite the station entrance was a pub, namely: “Bird-in-the-Hand”. To my unexpected and great astonishment, mine host, the landlord, was none other than our old colleague, “Alex”, happily running the pub with his wife Marjorie. You won’t be wrong in guessing that a lot of my off-duty hours were spent in their company during the 12 months I served at 16 MU – before being seconded to the RMAF. Ah well, happy memories!
There¹s one piece of sad news to relate, that being the demise of the smallest 1st Entry member, my good friend Taff Hughes. With Jock Henderson as our trainer, we were both in the AATS boxing team with Taff starting off in the lightest division at flyweight and myself being the next division up at bantamweight. You may also remember that Bob Roskelly (RIP) and your old mate, Ted Bolton, were also in our boxing team. Prior to tracing Taff for him to attend our 50th anniversary reunion, my
previous meeting with him was when I was in Aden during 1961-63; where 091 Ray (Blackie) Smith and I were both serving as Sgts at 114MU, Steamer Point. Without any acting rank to hold me back, I was promoted straight to substantive F/Sgt on 1st Sept 1961, followed immediately by a posting to RAF Khormaksar. On arrival at the Sgts¹ Mess the deputy Mess Manager greeted me. None other than our old drill instructor and boxing trainer, Jock Henderson, who was still a Sgt. Whilst I had overtaken him by steadily climbing up the promotion ladder since passing-out as an AC2 in 1949, eleven years earlier – I just could not believe it. Jock was a wonderful character who never displayed the disciplinarian streak, unlike Davis and Bradbury. Whilst at Khormaksar I had occasion to visit the Aden dockyard (military area) at Steamer Point which came under the control of the Royal Engineers, and this is where I met up with Taff for the first time since our passing-out at St Athan. By this time I guessed that all 1st/ 2nd Entry brats had made it as SNCO¹s, but poor Taff was still struggling on as a Cpl.