In 1953 saw the first of the Administrative Apprentice Training School’s moves to RAF Hereford and this ‘tour of duty’ lasted until 1959 (and again briefly between 1962 and 1963) when the School was next relocated to RAF Bircham Newton in the wilds of Norfolk .
Royal Air Force Hereford was opened in June 1940 by the formation of No. 11 School of Technical Training, which remained there until 1947 and was joined from 1942 to 1946 by the School of Torpedo Maintenance. Although never an operational flying station, it was responsible for training the airmen who were to keep the aircraft in the air, providing airframe and engine fitters for Bomber Command’s Halifaxes and Lancasters and for Fighter Commands Hurricanes and Spitfires. It also provided torpedo experts for the torpedo bombers of Coastal Command. R.A.F. Hereford therefore made a major contribution to the war effort. At the same time, other units on the Station, notably No. I Aircrew Officers’ School (1944-47) and the R.A.F. School of Administration and Accounting (1944-1948), also played an important role. After World War II, the Station was mainly concerned with the training of officers, airmen and airwomen for administrative duties. Some of the units that contributed to this end left. These were the Secretarial Branch Training School, No. I General Service Training School, the Advanced Training School, No. 6 School of Recruit Training, the N.C.O. Training School, the Administrative Apprentice Training School and No. 2 School of Administrative Trades, which came into existence at Hereford in May, 1947, and over the years provided the Royal Air Force with very large numbers of highly trained clerks, shorthand-writers and typists. They returned here in 1964 from Kirton in Lindsey in the form of an Adult Supply and Secretarial Squadron.
Administrative Apprentice Entries 21-35 were trained (or started training) at Hereford. Entries 32-35 relocated to Bircham Newton in January 1959 where they completed their training. Entries numbered 44 to 46 moved back to Hereford and eventually graduated there – passed out in mixed flights of BEs and Apps together which was odd. In 1956 the station had been hit by the first ever attack of Asian Flu’ and many, if not most, Admin apprentices training there at the time were affected. The Station Sick Quarters located opposite the main entrance was filled to overflowing and empty huts behind the then guardroom were hastily made ready for the expected flow of infected hordes. I well remember these huts that were linked together by a central corridor which seemed to stretch away for ever and was eerily spooky when one left one’s bed to venture alone to the toilet during the night! I well remember keeping everything crossed until daybreak rather than take that trip!
Talking of spooks and such like, RAF Hereford reportedly had its own ghost within the sick quarters itself and rumour had it that nurses at one time refused to work in one particular ward because it was said to be haunted. It is now 50 years since Iand other apprentices of my era were holded up in station sick quarters but something really strange happened one night. Memories of what really happened in this particular case have blurred with the passing of time. However,my recollection was that an apprentice reported for admission in the dead of night and was seen by at least one inmate who noticed the urbiquitous bedpack over his shoulder. . The next morning there was no sign of him and it later turned out that he had diedat home many miles away. Eerily enough, the apprentice who said he saw the ‘spook’ was himself the victim of tragedysome years later when he disappeared one night on a ferry crossing from Kowloon to Hong Kong. He has never been seen again.
In September 1958, the R.A.F. School of Catering moved from Halton to its new and permanent home at Hereford where, in its imposing building and with its very modern equipment, it undertook for the whole of the Royal Air Force, the training of officers, airmen and airwomen in the catering trades. On 23 April 1959, Royal Air Force Hereford was granted the Freedom of the City of Hereford marked by a parade in the city centre. On 23 April 1994, the Station exercised its right of freedom of entry for the last time before the unit was handed over to the Army. The ceremony took the form of a parade by personnel of RAF Hereford accompanied by representatives of the Queens’s Colour Squadron and the Western Band of the Royal Air Force. The Station marched through the city with ’ swords drawn, bayonets fixed, colours flying, drums beating and bands playing. This must have been very reminiscent of the day in 1957 that Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Philip visited the city when my own entry alongside the others training at the time, proudly took part in a large parade in the city to mark the occasion. A plaque commemorating that day can still be seen outside city hall.
Sadly, the Station finally closed it’s doors to RAF training in 1999 when it was taken over by the Army. It now houses 22nd Regiment SAS. It will be remembered fondly nevertheless, by generations of apprentices and other RAF personnel both those trained there and not forgetting the trainers themselves. It was once the proud boast of RAF Hereford that wherever an RAF Unit was formed, there must be a man trained in the classrooms of Hereford.
This Group Of Photos Were Found On The Internet And My Thanks To Those Who Posted Them. They Will No Doubt Bring Back A Few Memories For Those Of Us Who Trained At RAF Hereford
My Name is Steve Wood and I reside in San Francisco. I’m hoping that the photo (below) will prove of interest to someone visiting your site. I am submitting this on behalf of my friend and neighbor Jack Rhodes, he is second from right middle row and served national Service 1949/50. He arrived at Hereford following square bashing at West Kirby. Jack (now 80) would like to hear from anyone who recognizes him or themselves in this picture. Jack does not have a computer so my email address is the contact address.
Trust you will find this of sufficient interest to publish on your site.
Thank you very much,
+1 (510) 414-2119 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Administrator Note: If anyone visiting this site knows Mr Rhodes please contact him via the above address
RAF Hereford, Feb. 19, 1970-1984.
– Gate guard.Doug Arnold/Warbirds Of GB Ltd, Blackbushe, 1984-1985.
Warbirds of GB Ltd, Bitteswell/Biggin Hill, 1985-1992.
– Stored dismantled, Blackbushe (later Biggin Hill).
– Trucked to Thruxton, July 6, 1989 for restoration.
– Stored partially restored, dismantled, Biggin Hill, 1992.
Dick Melton Aviation, Winchester, 1993.
Mike Araldi & Henry Stenger/Jet Cap Aviation Corp, Bartow, FL, 1993-1996.
Lone Star Flight Museum, Galveston,TX, USA, 1996-2002.
– Restoration to airworthy completed with high back, Bartow, FL.
– First flight, Bartow, FL, Dec. 24, 1999.
– Flown as RAF TE392/ZX-X.
Visit To The City Of Hereford By Her Majesty The Queen 24th April 1957
This event took place 4 days before my 17th birthday. I have been researching the occasion for some time now mainly because I was part of the RAF Guard of Honour that day along with other Admin Apprentices I must confess that some of the finer points of detail are lost in the sands of time so I am hoping that if you were on that parade you may be able to fill in a few of the gaps. I believe there was at least 1 Flight of apprentices drawn up close to the Town Hall and I was on the front row. There was a lot of noise and I think more than anything else we were concerned we would not hear the order to come to attention and present arms for the Royal Salute. In the event the parade commander’s voice came over loud and clear. I remember the Queen walking along our row and I believe she stopped and spoke a few words to the apprentice standing to my left. I had a really good look at her and recall how tiny she seemed and how flawless her complexion was. The occasion was however, over almost as quickly as it started.
If you were on that parade and remember any of the detail, I would be delighted to hear from you. If you were the apprentice who spoke to the Queen, again please do let me know what she said to you!
The only visible sign of that visit still on show in the City is a plaque commemorating the visit at the Town Hall entrance. Images of the event have proved extremely difficult to come by as the Hereford Times no longer has any of the negatives of those taken by its reporting staff. Also, if Vivian’s of Hereford took any pictures that day, they too will be lost following the closure of the business (whenever that was). However and the closure of Credenhill. However, I have been fortunate enough to obtain some images taken from a souvenir booklet issued by the Hereford Times and these are shown below. I have edited some of the content to show anything that may relate to the RAF participation in the event. As I have mentioned already, if you were on the parade, please do get in touch as it is always possible that a fuller picture of our involvement in the proceedings may be forthcoming.
A Ghostly Time At Hereford?
Those of you (like me) who served their apprentice training at Hereford will be interested in this e-mail exchange between Sue Mahony (nee Reading) and myself concerning apparent ghostly goings on at Credenhill in the early 50s. Although Corporal Reading may not have been involved in beefing up us lads, nevertheless if anybody does remember him, please let me know. I will then pass on your details to his daughter who would be very pleased to hear from you.
E-Mail from Mrs Mahony October 2012
My brother and I just thought you might be interested to hear about my father’s story about a ‘ghost’ at RAF Hereford. He was there as a PTI around 1953(?) and was one of the the dreaded PTI fitness trainers for the apprentices. Some may still hate him!.
His name was Corporal Reading and the bones of the story he told us was that one evening he was on duty in charge (alone) of the transit billet. i.e. none of the beds were made up but they had bed rolls rolled up on the beds, in case anyone came in to the camp out of admin. hours, so they had a bed for the night.
At the end of the billet there was a door, which went into a small corridor, which then led out to another exit door. He was sleeping in a small room at the other end of the billet.
Dad said during the night he heard a noise and he said that in those days there was a tendency, if there was broken furniture in their billet, for airmen to break in to the transit billet, and change the furniture . So he thought that some airmen were trying to get in the billet to change their broken furniture. To catch them, he rushed out of his room into the main dormitory flicked on the light and there was an airman in the billet, who ran out of the far door, into the end corridor.
My Dad ran after him and went into the end corridor after him, but the exit door at the end was locked and my Dad could not work out how he could possibly have got out. He went back into the main billet and several of the bed rolls were laid out. A strange story – and one that has probably become confused over the years.
Sadly, my father died a couple of years ago. He always maintained he had never seen this airman before and was always convinced that what he had seen was a ghost.
So, just to lay a family ghost – is there any one out there who was mucking Corporal Reading around that night?!
Hi Susan,Thanks for sending the ghost story. I was at Hereford from 1956 to 1958 but I do not remember your father personally. We did have regular contact with the gym however although I for one was not a great fan of PT as I recall !! I will certainly publish your account on our website and will let you know if anyone remembers your Dad or, was the chap in the billet on the night he thought he saw a ghost. We were a canny lot us apprentices and used to get up to all sorts of tricks particularly after dark when we were supposed to be in bed. However, there were also a lot of national servicemen stationed at Hereford during your dad’s time there so it could have been one of them.
I remember being struck down with Asian flu and as the medical centre was overfull with cases, we were accommodated in the block of huts that were adjacent to the then guardroom. These huts may have been part of the transit accommodation you were talking about. They were mostly empty and each hut was accessed via one long corridor. As a 16 year old, I found going out of my hut into that corridor to the toilets was very spooky indeed so I tried very hard to hold on to it rather than go out there alone. Happy days though! I will keep you posted.
Another Ex-Herefordian Gets In Touch
As I have mentioned before, I am more than happy to publish any accounts of life at one of our training units, submitted by non-apprentices. I have been contacted by just such a person Derek (Andy) Darbyshire (G4188004) who tells us:
‘I did my basic clerk accounts training at Hereford in early 1957 and SAC “above the line” and Junior technician courses in 1957/57 being one of the earliest Accounts J/T’s with the grand trade title of Pay Accountant. I must admit it was a great camp and following square bashing was very civilised. I enclose a photo of my course.
Many thanks Andy (the photo by the way is almost certainly by Vivian of Hereford)! The fact that Andy was at Hereford at the same time as I was albeit not an apprentice, makes his account of particular interest.