The THREE HUNDRED AND FOURTH Entry was attested on 9 September 1965. Training in the trades of Clerk Secretarial and Supplier was undertaken at RAF Hereford and Nursing Attendant at RAF Halton: The Entry passed out on 1 August 1966.
Website Manager Note:
The photographs that were taken during the 50th Anniversary of passing out of Apprentice Training event support the article below submitted by Dave Ainsworth. The photographs were mostly taken by Patrick Whitelam, with contributions from various members of the entry (or their better halfs).
50th Anniversary Reunion August 2016 – A Report By Dave Ainsworth
In August 1966, as England was still celebrating it’s July World Cup Football victory, 72 Clerks from ‘A’ & ‘F’ Flights of No.2 Squadron joined Cooks and Suppliers at a passing-out parade on the square at RAF Hereford. Music came from both a full-time Regional Band and from an RAF Apprentice Wing Band. That RAF station, at the village of Credenhill 5 miles’ north west of the cathedral city of Hereford, is now home to 22 Special Air Service (SAS) Regiment. Sadly Apprentice training ceased at RAF Hereford in 1973 with the 330th being its last entry.
On Saturday 13th August at upmarket Lea Marston Hotel and Spa on the outskirts of Sutton Coldfield, 32 attended a 50th Anniversary Reunion, of whom 19 were ex-Clerk Secretarial Apprentices, with 2 travelling from the States. A further 6 sent apologies : Ben Brittain, Peter Burrows, Nigel Knowles & Greg North plus 2 Staff members in Flight Commander David Evans and Trade Instructor – then Sergeant Peter Harris, who’d hoped to attend but for a late family illness. It was the first time an attempt had been made to stage such a Reunion for 304th Entry Clerks. This idea stemmed from Sid Day who’d started the proverbial ball rolling in 2015, before handing the baton to Mike Hudson – who from his abode in far-away Brechin took on the Organiser’s task. Publicity was generated by ads placed with Forces Reunited, RAF News, RAF Administrative Apprentices Website, RAF Administrative Apprentices Newsletter, Airmail Magazine, Saga Magazine and mentions in Midlands’ local newspapers & radio stations so covering the area chosen for our function. The area couldn’t have been more central for allcomers, and was selected after an Organiser’s on-site inspection.
The weekend reunion spirit was ignited early as some checked-in ahead of Saturday night’s function, so yarns and tales of past days could be eagerly recalled during the day. The function commenced with a drinks reception in a private room before dinner. Organiser Mike Hudson doubled-up as toastmaster and gave a short speech of welcome, after which grace was said and a quality meal enjoyed. Following our meal tributes were paid to 2 Staff members who are sadly no longer with us. Then Flight Lieutenant Education Officer Mike Shannon had sent us a message only weeks before he passed-on earlier this year. Mike had an affinity with the 304th as, like ourselves, Hereford was his first posting and we were the first entry he was assigned to. Legendary genial Northern Irish General Duties Sgt Jack Murray MBE was fondly remembered and a message from his son Jack Jnr. was read out. Jack’s sister was the late Ruby Murray, who’s best known 1955 No.1 hit “Softly Softly” was mentioned, prompting some to start singing it! ‘A’ Flight Instructor Peter Harris MBE was equally fondly recalled and his mightly impressive Service record read out – and what interesting listening it made! During speeches Sid Day proposed a vote of thanks to Organiser Mike Hudson, and the volume of appreciative applause said it all! Our dinner ended with Mike Hudson proposing a meaningful toast to “Absent Friends”.
Cameras came out again as many photographs were taken, adding to those taken at the tables. We had our room booked until midnight and much time was spent as attenders caught up with one-and-other. Many hadn’t seen fellow guests for 50 years, so – like all long term reunions – some needed prompting as to who people actually were? But, hey, nobody minded when asked, “Who are you?”. Then were just glad to be asked…which is the spirit of such functions. When a “last orders” bell rang at midnight, another bar was at our disposal until 2am. Come the morning as attenders surfaced for late breakfasts, our reunion spirit was just as much in evidence around the tables, as final goodbyes were said before the 304th dispersed – most to homes and some on further trips around the UK.
Picture caption (left-to-right) : Jim Barnes, Andrew Suttie, Kevin Whitelam, Ian Seymour, Dave Ainsworth, Roger Davey, John Burnett, Mike Hudson, Jeff Blair, Brian Dunstone, Sid Day, Mick Allcock, Graham McCulloch, Tony Proctor, Neil Angus, Neil Williams, Tony Soper, Seon Smyth & John Satherley.
Below: Gallery Published 10th February 2020 – Images provided by Patrick Whitelam
Below: Gallery Published 5th January 2021 – Images Provided By Keith Tompkins
Obituary To Brian Dunstone – Steve Day (304th)
I’ve never been one lost for words, but I’ve really struggled to pen this, for one of my oldest friends Brian Dunstone, who passed away suddenly, at home in Lincoln in early July this year. We first met at RAF Hereford, in September 1965, when we enlisted in the 304th entry and undertook our training as Clk Sec’s. He lived in the next bed to mine, in Room 6 Gibson Block. Brian, together with Jim Barnes and me, were the real force behind the original organization of our entry’s 50th Anniversary of passing out of training in 2016. He came into his own that evening, accompanied by his wife Carol. Those present, and those who knew him, will never forget him. I’m going to use some lovely eloquent words written by another of our Entry, and a fellow roommate and Brian’s best friend, (and Best Man at his Wedding) – Dave Ainsworth, who has summed Brian up, far better than I ever could.
Brian was 69 and would have been 70 next month. At RAF Hereford Brian was a key player in the Apprentice Wing cricket team which won the 1966 RAF Apprentice Schools’ Competition. At this time, the Royal Air Force had 4 establishments offering apprenticeships, Cosford, Halton, and Hereford & Locking. Hereford and Locking were small compared to the other two – so it was difficult to win any sporting competitions. Cricket saw a Hereford victory. Brian was a true all-rounder, being excellent with both bat and ball and, for good measure, could also stand-in as wicketkeeper if needed. The Officer-in-Charge of Cricket was an Education Officer – Squadron Leader Benson. He rewarded his victorious team by taking them to a day’s professional cricket at nearby Worcestershire’s ground. . At times there seems little justice in the world – as Brian was probably the fittest person in our entry! He was voted “Sportsman of the Entry“, for which he won an award, and his name was on the wall of RAF Hereford Station’s gymnasium along with previous entry winners. Brian was talented at Rugby, making the scrumhalf position his own at whatever station he was at. His talent was rewarded with appearances at Command level and while at RAF Coltishall also turned out for a Norwich-based Club – Crusaders. As a footballer he also excelled and was usually Captain of any teams he played in
Like many living a “Service life”, Brian and Carol, chose to settle in the area of his last posting – in his case at RAF Waddington on the Lincoln outskirts. While at RAF Coltishall I had a couple of enjoyable leave trips to Falmouth as Brian’s guest, as well at being at his wedding. Brian in turn came for weekends at my place on the outskirts of London. In August 2016, the 304th Entry held a 50 years’ reunion at Sutton Coldfield. After 50 years it was difficult to recognise some attendees – but all easily remembered Brian, who looked as young and enthusiastic as ever. It goes without saying; he was a most popular reunion attendee. Brian was an authority on popular music, and at RAF Hereford often bought a couple of pop magazines – the “New Musical Express” & “Melody Maker” – which he always passed around the billet room when he’d finished reading them. His knowledge of the charts was on display at our 2016 Reunion when a letter was read out from the son of our genial Irish Drill Sergeant, the late Jack Murray MBE. This tribute mentioned that Jack’s sister, the late legend Ruby Murray, had enjoyed a No.1 success in 1955 with “Softly Softly”. Brian started singing it – such was his knowledge of past chart hits!
Those of us who knew Brian were truly and deeply upset when told of his death. Indeed, most of us couldn’t hold a conversation about what had happened until the rest of the day had ran its course and had a complete night’s sleep – it took that long for this information to sink in and be accepted – for Brian was a lovely man who’ll be much missed. The world was a much better place – with him in it! RIP Brian.
9th April 2021
Obiturary To Keith Gardner – John Davies (303rd)
It is with much sadness that I heard about the recent death of Keith Gardner (304th) after a very long and challenging illness. I first met Keith at Cottesmore in September 1966 when he arrived from Hereford on his first posting and where we shared a four-man room – standard practice at the time! I left Cottesmore in May 1967 on posting to El Adem and had the good fortune to be dispatched to work in Station Headquarters at the RAF Garrison Tobruk, some 18 miles away and close to the beach. Keith followed some 4 months later, and I was absolutely delighted to learn that he was to be working alongside me. Keith was a great colleague and friend, together with being the best boozing mate anyone could ask for. He made many friends during his tour and remembered his time in Tobruk with much fondness. I met Keith some years later when he was stationed at Rheindahlen and I was up at HQ RAF Germany from Gutersloh on a course and we took the opportunity to enjoy a few beers and a bit of a reminisce in the Sergeants’ Mess bar. Keith was indeed a wonderful character, with a cheeky smile and a mischievous sense of humour, and he will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
Comment By Steve Day Association Newsletter Editor:
I was also in the 304th Entry with Keith, and he occupied the bedspace 2 up from mine, during the whole of our Apprenticeship. I will be writing my own obituary in due course. Keith’s funeral took place at Warrington Crematorium, Lancs, on 11th March 2021. Our sincere condolences go out to wife Lynne, and daughters Lisa, Natasha, and Becky, together with the rest of Keith’s family and friends.
By Jeff Blair
Keith came from a small village called Haverigg, about 2 miles west of the small coastal town of Millom in Cumbria. I came from Barrow-in Furness which is about 20 miles south of Millom along the Cumbrian coastline (my mother and her parents had lived there before she eventually moved to Barrow). We therefore instantly had a common interest. Indeed, when we all enjoyed our home leave, Keith and I would travel together from Hereford, me getting off the train at Barrow with Keith moving onto Millom. I recall, too, that he had terrible dental issues at Hereford and spent a couple of weeks in hospital having his teeth removed to become the youngest person in our dorm with false teeth which I seem also to recall became the butt of many jokes. One instant memory I have is that during our Summer leave after passing out and before arriving at our first units he decided to come and visit me. Unknown to him, my dad had just concreted the drive which still bears his footprint where he mistakenly trod as he approached the house and before I could get to him to warn him!
I met Keith again at RAF El Adem in Libya. I was posted there in Jan 1968 and Keith met me on arrival – it was a great pleasant surprise He was living and working in a detached site with Paddy Davies in Tobruk (about 20 miles away – they looked after an Army company, RAF MT section and marine craft unit). I worked in El Adem PSF and Keith had been in Tobruk since Sep 68 and as these were 2-year tours we chatted on many occasions and indeed spent many hours in the local NAAFI bar as well as the sailing club. I think he eventually came home shortly after Col Gaddaffi’s military takeover in Aug/Sep 68.
I met him next at Rheindahlen when I was posted there in Mar 79. I was PA to the Deputy Commander and Keith was already working in the CICC(G) (Commander in Chiefs Committee (Germany) which provided admin support on mutual matters affecting the CinC RAFG (3 star), Deputy Commander (2 star), CinC BAOR (4 star) and COS BAOR (2 star). Keith was a Cpl at the time and was working with Sgt Colin Lamb, who returned to the UK in mid ’81. Keith was promoted to Sgt to replace him. So instead of having a couple of beers in German hostelries we were eventually able to go to the Mess together. My wife (Diane) and I also met Keith’s wife Lynne and their children, indeed he lived just a couple of hundred yards away from us in MQs.
I never bumped into him again or even spoke to him. I always liked Keith, he had a great sense of humour and he is a great loss.
By David Ainsworlth
I recall Keith as one with a sense of humour which was seen on a near permanent basis. He could bring that humour to any given situation, sometimes when needed to brighten spirits during the hardest times of our Hereford apprenticeship period. Whenever he was the butt of jokes, he always took it in good spirit and was known as one who gave as good as he got. Without doubt he was a character – and those in the Royal Air Force gaining that description are ones who’ll are not forgotten! I was sorry to learn that serious illness brought about an early end to his life.
Rest in peace Keith.
Dave Ainsworth (once known as 881)
A Family History Part 1 – Graham McCullough
I enlisted into the Royal Air Force as an Administrative Apprentice at No 3 School of Technical Training on 9th September 1965. I went into training as a u/t Clerk Secretarial. It was not until after the death of my father that I made the application to join the RAF as an apprentice. I served for 31 years and 4 months and had tours in the UK as well as Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium; I spent 50% of my service in Europe.
My life journey started when I was born on 9th November 1948. I was the youngest of 5 children (3 boys and 2 girls) of Samuel James McCullough and May McCullough (nee Young).
It was not until late in 2020 that I started to research my family tree using Ancestry. Following the death of my elder brother Brian James McCullough, who also served in the Royal Air Force for over 30 years. I was handed many documents by his widow which contained some interesting information relating to my late mother, May McCullough.
My father, Samuel James McCullough, was born on 21st December 1897 in Belfast to James and Elizabeth McCullough (nee Dodds). He had 2 sisters – Effie and Ellen. I know that they lived in Birkenhead for the 1901 census at an address that is no longer in existence. I do not know anything about the years from 1901 to 1915 for my father. However, his mother and father returned to Ireland.
My father enlisted in the Royal Marines Light Infantry on 4th November 1915 at the recruiting office in Belfast. He was sent to the Royal Marines Depot in Chatham/Gravesend. As his father James McCullough was serving in the Royal Engineers Inland Water Transport regiment, he was permitted to transfer in August 1916 to serve alongside his father. They were based at the Inland Water Transport, Royal Engineers in Sandwich, Kent.
My father married his first wife Winifred Maud Spicer on 20th May 1918 who was living at 8 Market Place, Sandwich, Kent. On 21st May 1918, my father embarked on HT Willochra (troop ship) out of Southampton to Dar es Salaam in East Africa via the Suez Canal. The ship disembarked on 29th June 1918. He served at the Indian Depot of the Inland Water Transport, Royal Engineers. On 16th February 1919 he embarked on the HT Desonej (troop ship) out of Dar es Salaam to England. On 29th March 1919, my father was posted to the RE Depot and sent to Crystal Palace Dispersal Station for Demobilisation on 26th April 1919 in the rank of Temporary Corporal.
He returned to his wife, Winifred Maud, and lived in 8 Market Place, Sandwich, Kent. I am aware that my father and Winifred had 3 children Dorothy May (25 May 21), George Samuel James (1 May 27) and Margaret Lillian (25 Nov 30). Dorothy married a Raymond Eric Trigwell in April 1940 at Hove, Sussex, George married a Kathleen Patching in April 1948 in Hove and Margaret married a Gwilym Evans in April 1952 in Hastings. My father and Winifred were living in Boundary Road, Portslade, Sussex in 1939, only Dorothy and George were living with them at the time. I do not know where Margaret was living.
I now know that my father met my mother sometime in 1940/41 whilst my mother was working as a house maid in Worth Court for Sir Gerald Woods Wollaston and his family. From conversations with my mother before she died in 2010 she went to Portslade one day with a friend – this I believe to be Dorothy May – she met my father and that was the beginning of the relationship.
My mother together with my father travelled to Blackpool where my elder brother, Brian, was born in January 1942. During World War II they travelled to Watford by train and knocked on doors to get a place to live. Bother my elder sisters, Sheila and Monica were born in Watford in 1943 and 1944 respectively. My brother, Colin, was born in 1947 followed by myself in 1948. We lived in a rented house in Croxley Green and moved to Berry Lane Estate, Rickmansworth in 1953.
I remember we had a day outing to Brighton every year and I now know the reason having spoken to my brother, Brian, before his death in October 2010. My father’s first family lived in Portslade, so he went to visit them leaving my mother and her children on the beach. My mother or father never at any time talked to us about his other family. It was in the months before she died in January 2010 that she said about me having some stepsisters and brother but did not say much else.
Since I started researching my family history, I was contacted firstly by Helen Whitehouse saying that her family may have a WWI medal belonging to a James McCullough. He was my grandfather whom I never met and he was never spoken about. I provided details to Helen, and she has confirmed that the WWI Victory Medal does belong to my grandfather, and we will be meeting in either July or August 2021 to talk about how her family may have been in possession of the medal. Unfortunately, they do not have the WWI British War Medal. I have both medals that my father was presented with for serving during WWI and have had new ribbons and clasps as well as being cleaned.
Secondly, I was contacted by Andrew Trigwell, he is the grandson of Dorothy May Trigwell (nee McCullough). He lives in Australia and his father, Robert, is still alive. Robert is the son of Dorothy who passed away a few years ago. Andrew said that his father has no memory of his granddad Samuel (my father) and, he, my father, was not spoken about; I can now understand why as my father took up with my mother who was only 19 years old at the time, the same age as his elder daughter Dorothy. Andrew tells me that he vaguely remembers his ‘Nan Mac’ but she died when he was very young.
There are many questions still to be answered about my father’s family from his siblings and his first family. I remember going to Sandwich, Kent, where my mother and her family came from and what is a coincidence is that my father and his wife Winifred were living in the same place in Sandwich, Market Place, where my mother was living as a baby/child. My mother may have gone to school with Dorothy as they were of the same age.
I have found the whole experience of researching my family history, on my father’s side, remarkably interesting. I have a copy of my mother’s family tree on her mother’s side going back to the 1700s. To get further I would have to get hold of birth, marriage, and death certificates and that can be a costly exercise. I would also have to travel to research local archives to find where my father was living from 1919 to 1939, there is a thought that he may have been out of the UK, but I cannot find confirmation of this. I also wish to visit the Royal Engineers Museum to gather further information about my father’s time with the Inland Water Transport Regiment both in Kent and Dar es Salam during World War I. I am aware that my grandfather, James, and his wife Elizabeth had about 6 children and I would like to find out about them and their families as I remember I met some of them during my early life. I would like to know what happened to my cousin, Joe, who served in the Royal Navy in the submarine fleet. He came to visit the family in the 1960s when living in Mill End, Rickmansworth. My mother also had a Jimmy McCullough visit her in the late ‘90s but I only know that he may have served in the Merchant Navy.
This is my story so far, if I succeed in finding more information, I will start Chapter 2 of my story. I hope you have found this an interesting read.