After returning to Hereford as a corporal instructor, and teaching airmen and airwomen how to type, I was after 2-1/2 years posted to Aden. An uneventful 2 years there and then in November 1962 on to Honington in Suffolk. This turned out to be a V-bomber base with 2 squadrons of Victors and 1 of Valiant refuelling aircraft. Whilst in Aden I had filled out a very lengthy questionnaire concerning loved ones, not so loved ones and people and places I had known. On arrival at Honington I was
told because of the high cost of the security clearance that had been undertaken I would be at Honington for 5 years at least. I was not overjoyed at the news but there were certainly worse places. Although why I was working in the Instruments Section handling the occasional secret file didn’t make a lot of sense. Then one lunchtime I was in the library discussing life with Sergeant Alec Pearson who, much to his disgust, was working in the Ops Wing Orderly Room instead of the Station
Orderly Room. I happened to mention that I had this expensive security clearance yet I was working in the instruments Section. The next day I was working in the Ops Wing Orderly Room doing Alec’s job, he had moved on to SHQ. It only took higher authority 6 months to realise that I had been security cleared especially to work in Ops Wing. That was why I was going to be there 5 years! I settled down to a very good job working with aircrew and other laid back types although I was still only handling the occasional secret file. To be fair I did once give a hand to clean up the ‘Vault’.
The Vault was a very hush hush room with a massive steel door, the type you see in banks although looking back it was more suited to ‘Get Smart”. In the Vault were kept all ‘The Plans’ for the V-bombers to find their way to Russia, avoiding anti-aircraft sites and dropping nuclear weapons, very ‘Dr. Strangelove’ (or How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb). Opposite the vault in Ops Wing were small cubicles just big enough for the crew of a bomber to crowd into and study ‘The Plans’. At least once every 24 hours over the station PA system came “Exercise Edom, Readiness Zero Five.” And, no matter where they were on the station 2 bomber crews would be running to their station wagon to go immediately to 2 Victors which were kept ready at all times so that they could be rolling down the runway within 5 minutes. Presumably the aircraft were loaded with nuclear weapons ready to go to war, as there would be only a few minutes warning of a missile strike. Happy
The best thing about working in Ops Wing was that you could get 6 weeks leave. The Squadron Leader Operations (later Wg.Cdr.) Brian Lewis believed strongly as did I) that leave should only cover the period you wanted it to, if you wanted 5 days leave to cover Monday to Friday then only take 5 days, not 7, why take 7? You were only entitled to 30 days a year so why waste any. In the time in Ops Wing I always took my leave 5 days at a time, which bought some snide remarks from SHQ but no one stopped me. The other interesting discovery was that I was not entitled to a relocation allowance on return from Aden because I took advantage of the facilities available at RAF Freckleton near Lytham St. Anne’s. There were facilities and quarters there for families who did not have anywhere to go on postings to or from overseas. If you happened to use these facilities there was no removal allowance and that was that. These rules were set in concrete and no one was allowed to question them. Unfortunately my then wife did not understand this, although I tried my best to explain it. Unknown to me she had the nerve to send a letter to our local member detailing our plight, and I must admit I could not have worded it better myself. About 2 months later I was called into see Wg.Cdr. Admin. “Are you Cpl Huntley from Rosewood Cottage, Norton.”. “Yes Sir.”. “Here’s twenty-five pounds, sign here.” “Yes Sir, thank you Sir.” “Go back to work.” “Yes Sir.” Naturally enough, as I was going to be at Honington for 5 years I was posted to Cyprus after less than 2 years. Next, how to dispose of top secret files you don’t want.