The FIRST Entry was attested at RAF North Weald on 31 May 1947. Training was undertaken in the trades of Clerk General Duties, Clerk Accounting, and Equipment Assistant at the Administrative Apprentice Training School RAF St Athan between 1 June 1947 and 6 October 1948. The CO of the School was Wg Cdr Reddick.
The link below will take you to a quite remarkable document containing personal memories provided by Tom Davies of his time as an Admin Apprentice. 67 pages long it covers most of his experiences from joining to graduation. As readers will note, Tom has acknowledged the help he received from Ken Roost.
Cecil George Carter– Ken Roost 1st
It was with great sadness that I learnt of the death of Cecil Carter (1st) Cecil fell out of bed on 7th July and was found to have broken his neck. Following a 4-hour operation at Kings College Hospital on the 10th July complications set in and, sadly, Cecil passed away on the morning of Saturday 24th July. As members of the firstentry we met when we assembled at North Weald and entrained for St Athan in May/June 1947. As u/t Clerk GD’s we were both allocated to D22. We all had our own special friends at St Athan and Cecil’s was Les (Nobby) Brambley. Nobby used to like building model aircraft and he carried Cecil along with him. Cecil was a very quiet and unassuming lad and kept his head down during training and, as far as I can remember, did nothing to incur the wrath of the instructors. Being the 1st entry we were “guinea pigs”. The training regime was tough and the wastage rates high. Of the 59 starters only 29, including Cecil, made it to the passing out parade on 6th October 1948. Cecil, I believe, served about 5 or 6 years before being discharged on medical grounds. Of course, having been born and brought up in Ashford, Kent he went back there on his return to civil life. After his discharge he took an interim job whilst he studied to gain the necessary qualifications to be a civil servant at the Air Ministry. In 1954 Cecil met his wife Betty and they were married on 1st June 1957 in Christchurch, Ashford. In 1965 Cecil was seconded to HQ RAF Germany at RAF Rheindahlen where he was a member of No 3 Civilian Mess. It was in the NAAFI shop there, with Betty, where our paths crossed for the first time since passing out. In 1966 Betty returned home with their two children, Judith and Michael, to nurse Cecil’s mother until her death. Cecil returned home in 1968 to work at the Air Ministry (later known as Ministry of Defence). He continued to work there until his retirement in 1991. He was an Executive Officer. I do recall Cecil telling me he did at one time work with another ex-D22 brat Arthur Denny (1st) whilst at the Ministry. Away from work Cecil was very much a family man. He took a great pride and interest in the educational and sporting achievements of his children and grandchildren. He was also a pillar of his local church, Christchurch, where he had been married. Over the past 40 years Cecil has been a member of the PCC, Church Warden, Treasurer, Verger, Server and at times, in emergency, a member of the choir. He would be found at Coffee Mornings, Jumble Sales, the Autumn Fair and helping with the cleaning. For the first 15 years of his retirement he spent Wednesday mornings working in the Pilgrim’s Hospice shop. In 1997 Sam Mold (1st) and Mike Hurrel (1st) decided it was time to get as many 1st and 2nd entry members as possible together for a 50th anniversary reunion. There was no trouble contacting Cecil, as we all knew of his love for Ashford so we had to look no further than the Ashford telephone directory. Cecil duly turned up at Solihull and was instantly recognisable. He was a little bit older but it was the same old placid Cecil. He had changed very little. From that reunion grew the Association and the reunions became annual affairs and Cecil was an ever present until 2006. Cecil and I always used to pal about together at reunions. At the 2000 reunion (Bournemouth) Cecil was accompanied by Betty. At Bingley (Bradford reunion) we found the canal that ran uphill. At Peterborough we visited the Cathedral, in company with Maurice Jeffrey (1st). At Darlington in 2006, in company with Stuart Robatham (2nd), we visited the Railway Museum. It was at Darlington that Cecil told me he would not be able to attend the following year as he had a long-standing family engagement to keep. That was unfortunately Cecil’s last reunion appearance. He kept from us the real reason being his deteriorating health. He has been much missed by his dining companions, Joe and Joan Green (1st), Sam Mold (1st), Stuart and Angela Robathan (2nd), myself and my wife Lynn. Lynn and I attended Cecil’s funeral in the church where he had married Betty 53 years ago. Betty, her family and friends, made us very welcome. There was a comforting feeling of community. A community that had lost a very well liked and respected member. I am sure that Betty and her family will draw much comfort from the strength of that community. Cecil was a very popular Association member. Many is the member who has asked me “Where’s Cecil? He will be very much missed.
Cecil G Carter (1st) remembered – Jim Wilcox
Ces left St Athan a few days before the 5th Entry arrived for attestation so I did not get to know him there. I first met him at RAF Fayid, in Egypt, in 1951. We both worked in SHQ and were accommodated in Billet 54A, Ces occupying one of the two bunks. He was about half way through his tour and I was just beginning mine. Fayid was a large busy flying station with a number of Valetta transport squadrons. Although the Middle East Air Force was not divided into Groups, the Air Transport element was under the command of an AOC Transport Fore, who, with his staff was located at Fayid. Soon after my arrival the AOC’s ADC and civilian clerk/shorthand typist returned to the UK at the same time. A call came to SHQ for a shorthand typist to be temporarily attached to the Transport Force HQ. Ces and I being ex-Admin Apps and versed in the art of shorthand writing (allegedly) were volunteered as possible candidates. Neither of us was enthusiastic about the detachment, and conveyed this to the Sqn. Ldr. (probably the SPSO) who interviewed us. He informed us that refusal was not an option and resolved the impasse by informing us that the last to pass out would be the ‘’lucky appointee’’ so Ces returned to SHQ and I began working for AOC Transport Force MEAF. Some months later Ces returned to the UK at the end of his tour and I moved into his bunk in Billet 54A. We next met at the Association’s first re-union in 1998. Even after some 46 years I recognised him immediately, he however took some prompting before he remembered our time together.He was a regular at subsequent re-unions until ill health forced him to stop attending. With his passing the Association has lost another dedicated and supportive member.
With Joe’s passing, I have lost another dear friend. As a junior entrant, my contact with Joe was with the Wing Rugby XV. As a rugby back, I didn’t think/know much about forwards! But playing in Wales, against good grammar schools, with better backs than us, I realised we needed the ball, via our rough, tough forwards, and here Joe stood out, he performed with vigour, and perhaps a little more! But he was a rare specimen, he could smile, a rare achievement by a prop. Looking at our Casualty List, so many of our illustrious team have moved on, and now Joe joins them. My wife and I enjoyed Reunions and meetings with Joe and Joan, for we always found plenty to talk and laugh about; we will miss them and I am sure many others will too, for friendships are not related to Entry Number. I had intended to go to Joe’s funeral, but was unable to do so, however I have since had a long chat with Joan, and was pleased at how well she was, and happily remembering over 60 years of marriage. Like most of us, Joe had moved around quite a bit, amongst overseas postings were El Adem and Singapore, and others. In the UK there were tours at Mildenhall, High Wycombe, Coningsby, Duxford, Gloucester, and North Luffenham where he retired at age 55 – but returned the next day as a civilian! Vale, Joe – We’ll Meet Again.
Roy William Larcombe – Ken Roost 1st
Roy Larcombe was my very oldest friend. He passed away on the afternoon of Friday,5th June with his wife and son at his bedside. I attended his funeral on Monday 22nd June at Bournemouth Crematorium. We go way back to well before our apprentice days. We met when we sat next to each other on our first day at Infant School in September,1936. As children we were in and out of each others houses and we grew up together in Parkstone, Dorset. Poole Park was one of our favourite play spots and we often took a boat out on the lake. We were lucky to be born in such a beautiful part of the country. When we were 16 Roy saw an advert for RAF Aircraft Apprentices to train as Instrument Makers and we decided to give it a go. We must have been mad because neither of us had a technical bone in our body. When we got to North Weald we both failed our aptitude tests and we were told we would probably be better at clerical tasks and were offered the chance to join as Administrative Apprentices which we accepted. Roy trained as a Clerk Accounts and myself as a Clerk GD which meant we were put in separate billets and consequently we palled about with those we trained with. After 10 months Roy was invalided out through ill- health. He was unfortunately dogged with ill-health throughout his life but he persevered at night school to gain his accounting qualifications. He worked for many years for Bournemouth Corporation Transport until he retired in 1991. Roy married his wife, Vicky, in 1958 when I was in Aden I always used to see Roy when in the area. Roy was best man at my first wedding in 1960. When we had both retired I always used to ring him around his birthday. It was his 84th birthday on 11th November last year.Shortly after his birthday he told me he had been diagnosed with cancer of the aesophagus. Due to his weak heart the hospital were unable to give him chemotherapy treatment. He said he did not wish to know how long he’d got. He said he’d just take life one day at a time. I spoke to him regularly after that. He faced his end very very bravely. I only hope I can be as brave when my turn comes. Roy leaves his wife Vicky, his children Theresa and Paul and grandchildren Sam and Ben. Roy is the third recent 1st entry death after Joe Green just before last Christmas and Ted Bolton in May this year. Joe was a regular at the main reunions and will be missed by all. Ted attended the 1st Entry 50th reunion and I always remember him with a big smile on his face. Roy attended the 2000 reunion in Bournemouth and resigned from the association in 2007 as he felt the association was not for him.
Mike Hurrell – Obiturary by Sam Mold dated 21 November 2016
Its befallen to me to pass on the sad news of the demise of yet another former member of the 1st Entry, M.J. Hurrell. Mike’s wife, Margaret, had died a couple of years earlier, and he has been survived by his three daughters, one (Angie) of whom phoned me to advise that her father had died on Sunday, 13th November. Two important years on Mike’s calendar of life were 1954 when he got married, and 2004 when he celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary. I was in attendance on both occasions; at the former event, I was there on ‘best man’ duties.
So sorry to be the bearer of distressing news; it is a constant reminder that the ranks of the first two entries are rapidly diminishing. As they are now all octogenarians it is to be expected, but doesn’t make such news less painful.
Mike was a good, reliable and trusted friend, who through the generosity of his parents, offered me to stay at their house near Epson when I had no home to go to. Over an on-and-off period of almost 70 years, Mike and I maintained a friendship which started from our apprentice days at St Athan that kicked off after our first training break was granted to cover the 1947 Christmas leave period. On my Form 295, leave application, my leave address was listed as the Union Jack Club, close by to London’s Waterloo railway station. With insufficient funds to maintain any sort of lifestyle in our capital city, meant I spent my London leave working every day in a Lyons Corner House, mostly cleaning or washing dishes. The company ran several of these Corner House restaurants in the central area of the city and were renowned for their cleanliness, quick service and reasonably priced good food. When Mike heard how I spent my Christmas he immediately said he would contact his parents to see if they cold help me as they already had a spare bedroom. To cut a long story short, I was welcomed with opened arms, and for want of a better word, I was virtually ‘adopted’ by them and their house became my home. How could anyone forget such kind friends?
A Message and Photos – Provided By Sam Christmas 2916
Please find below the Christmas message I sent to Pete Ralph in the belief that he was Admin App secretary. Having just completed a long chat with President Jim, it appears that you should have been its recipient. Before reading the re-directed email that was originally sent to Pete, please accept this New Year update, together with the sentiments listed in the first sentence of the paragraph immediately below my signing-off
As we enter into a new calendar of life, I am pleased to be able to extend to your good self and family, my best wishes in the hope that the New Year brings you the best of ……………
‘At this time of year, I can’t do better than to forward my appreciation for the dedicated work that your good self and the rest of your committee carry out in making a success of our Admin App Association. My only disappointment is the lack of enthusiasm shown when volunteers are called for to keep going the good work that your committee do.
Ever since I left the RAF 43 years ago, I have served on various committees on honorary duties that I only gave up 11½ years ago when I reached the age of 75. A few years back at one of our AGM’s I attended, Jim Wilcox called for someone to take over our AAA’s archivist role. Jim’s pleas fell on deaf ears and the absence of any volunteer was getting discomforting. Despite already being on another committee, I volunteered out of embarrassment as no one else was prepared to take on the task. What surprised me was there were so many much younger members who could have taken on the role, but none of them did so. Not long after, one of the more senior entries, Bill Huggins (5th), took over as our Admin App archivist. What our younger members should realize is blindingly obvious: if you don’t have a committee to keep our AAA’s wheels turning, you end up without an association.
2017 will be upon us in a couple of weeks time, leaving me just three years away from becoming a nonagenarian. My ill health causing lack of mobility has prevented me from attending further reunions, and that makes me feel especially uncomfortable, for it was back in 1997 that along with Mike Hurrell (120) we set about organizing an Admin App 50th anniversary reunion. Mike’s job was to seek out 2nd Entry members, while I sought to find those from the 1st Entry. I had the easier task of finding the greater number of ex-Admin App’s, not because I was more clever, but simply because I had kept the list of names of attendees present at the 20th anniversary of 1st Entry members. We had all met up in a London pub at a reunion organized by Ken Roost (085) in 1967. Because every name on that original list would have been serving out a pensionable engagement, I knew I could go through the Postmaster General’s Office (for RAF Pensions) at Crawley – just 20 miles from Brighton. Having bribed them with a £10 note to put towards their tea swindle, I got a quick response showing a ‘no trace’ on ten of the names I had listed, with one in Canada (105 Stephens) – the rest were still based in the UK. I never did find out if PGO forwarded the reunion details I had given them to pass on.
Further advertising in the RAF News and on TV Teletext (Service pals search) resulted in a good 50th Anniversary attendance. At that reunion, I believe it was Dennis Hurley (133) who suggested forming an association to include all ex-Admin Apps. Turning the clock back, it would be fair to say that if Ken Roost had not started the ball rolling in 1967, there would be a strong possibility our Association would never have been founded. From small acorns ………!
The 1st Entry signed on the dotted line on 31st May 1947. In less than six months we will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of that important Admin App date, and a further two weeks on I will be enjoying my 87th birthday – God willing! At the next reunion, I think it would be appropriate if all in attendance could raise their glasses in a toast to Ken Roost for starting the ball rolling into what is now a very successful association. I would say Cheers! to that.
Trusting this message finds you in good health and enjoying life. On behalf of our members, may I extend to the AAA’s committee, seasonal greetings which simply express best wishes for you all to enjoy ……..