After passing out on 12th April 1956 I was posted to RAF Thorney Island in Hampshire as a Junior Technician (J/T) – where on arrival Flt. Sgt Lewis put me in charge of Officers’ Pay. When the phone rang I answered “Hicks here” and dealt with the query as best I could. However, on one occasion the caller was Wg. Co. Flying who accused me of being drunk (he thought I said Hics!) – which I denied immediately! Moments later he appeared it my office only to be quite unprepared to be met by a J/T – “What the hell are you doing here – shouldn’t you be in engineering? “No Sir” I replied “I am a Pay Accountant – having served my time as an Admin App”. “You will in future answer the phone as Junior Technician Hicks”. In that summer of ’56 I thought that the RAF was heaven – my home was in Portsmouth being just minutes away by train or bus or 40 minutes on my NSU Quickly and the whole south coast just beckoned!
Needless to say my dreams of Paradise quickly disappeared when I was posted to 2 S of AT – guess where – yes you guessed correctly RAF Hereford as an instructor. But first I had to attend a “chalk and talk course” (Instructional Techniques Course) at RAF Spitalgate on route to Hereford. The course was made up mainly of SNCOs who like me were on route to various training establishments in Training Command. They were billeted in the Sgts Mess – me a J/T in the transit billet on my own.
On arrival at Credenhill I was allocated one of the Huts and told that I was in charge and sign here for the Inventory! I was given the NCOs’ bunk and told to expect 22 new ACs who would form my first intake to be trained as Pay Clerks. I not having any authority wondered about discipline or lack of?
I quickly became known as “Staff” and as such that became my nickname. Several months passed still no promotion to Cpl until one Thursday my Squadron Warrant Officer came to my classroom to pay me and the members of the current course I was teaching – when he refused to pay me and suggested that I report to the Accounts Flt in SHQ and establish why I was about to receive rather a large sum of money. Answer said the Pay Clerk in response to my enquiry you were promoted to Acting Corporal Paid on posting to RAF Hereford! Back to see the Squadron Adjutant, a National Service Pilot Officer, who told that my promotion was at the bottom of his in tray and had been overlooked………………. I was not amused!
Whilst at RAF Hereford I availed myself of the services of TSTS (Trade Standards and Testing Squadron) and took the Cpl and Senior Technician trade tests – thinking that one day they might be useful. I have often wondered how many others followed the Technician route?
I had two tours as an instructor at RAF Hereford in the 1950’s, which were separated by a six-month posting across the border to RAF St. Athan. It was indeed a
pleasure to return to Credenhill after St. Athan.
The Upside Down Rank caught up with me once more – this at RAF Khormaksar in that delightful little colony of Aden! My role Cpl i/c Currency Control. It was here that I must have become timed served for promotion to Senior Technician – a fact that I had forgotten – but not forgotten by Record Office in Gloucester! In the Accounts Flight at RAF Khormaksar were 3 Warrant Officers and numerous SNCOs and on the morning of my promotion, to Senior Technician, in April 1963 I was taken by them to the Sgts Mess. On arrival I was met by the CMC of the Mess (a WO from Eng. Wg.) who conducted me around the Mess and explained Mess Etiquette etc. He then asked where I worked and what I did? Thinking this might interesting I replied that I worked in the Accounts Flight and that I maintained the “Burroughs’ Adding Machines”! Of course the tour of the mess ended up in the Bar which was packed and I was in the chair. The CMC introduced to the assembly as Senior Technician Hicks who had the cushiest job on the station maintaining adding machines in the accounts flight. Next morning three broken Burroughs’ Adding
Machines were on my desk when I arrived at work!
I wondered what on earth would happen to me if I were to be promoted to Chief Technician – it never happened, thank goodness, Flt Sgt. came first in 1966 whilst at the Secretarial Officer Training Squadron at RAF Upwood in 1966 where I was the only airman! Then in 1970 Record Office in their wisdom saw fit to post me back to the place where it all started – RAF Hereford. This was my fourth tour at Credenhill, as an Apprentice with the 23rd Entry, twice as an Instructor and finally as NCO i/c Accounts. At least the huts had disappeared and the Sgts Mess and Station Headquarters were brick built.
I left the RAF in 1977 as a Warrant Officer – however, promotion to WO caused even more problems but that’s another story for another day………………..