1959 Arrived at RAF Chivenor, North Devon, for probably the best three
years of my service career.
I used to forget where home was once summer arrived in North Devon; there were too many young holiday attractions around to bother to leave. I played Hockey for Chivenor, we reached the final of the RAF Knockout Cup, and was sent to Command for trials. In 1960, and 1961, I played for Fighter Command, and was selected three times to play for the RAF team in 1962. I was the reserve goalkeeper. I actually only played once, against Hounslow Hornets in London, one match, against Purley, also in London, was rained off, and the other, against the visiting India Team, I was replaced at the last minute, as it was felt the No. 1 keeper should play.
In late 1962, I was posted to Singapore, left UK on the Ist January 1963, neatly avoiding the long winter, and found myself posted to 390 MU at Seletar. It took me a whole week to obtain an internal exchange posting, so, by the 10th January. I had joined 209 Sqdn, with its Single and Twin Pioneers. The Brunei Rebellion was still going, and I quickly found myself on a little island called Labuan, just off the North West coast of Borneo. During my first visit, confrontation with Indonesia started, and half our detachment was sent to Kuching in Sarawak. My next eighteen months were spent between Labuan 6 weeks, Singapore 6 weeks, Kuching 6 weeks, Singapore 6 weeks, to repeat the cycle by going back to Labuan. Of course, during our brief visits back to base, we still found time for a Thailand Detachment; three weeks at USAF Base Ubon, and to go on leave all round Malaya. During our visits to Kuching, we often went to watch the Malaysian Air Comets come in from Singapore. Little did I know that 12 years later, I would fly as a Flight Engineer, Civil, with Dan Air Services, on these very Comets, as Dan Air bought them from Malaysia Airways years later.
After 18 months, Labuan and Kuching were made into 1 year postings, so I spent my last year as an Electrical Corporal, doing Minor and Major Services on the two types of Pioneers, As my work could be done in approx. four days of the 21 allotted, I became dogsbody to all and sundry, and became quite disillusioned. I applied to become a Loadmaster, but the Squadron Engineering Officer soon put me straight, so my application was changed to Air Engineer. I could not even spell it, and had certainly never heard of them, though we had a Beverley Squadron at Seletar, and had flown to Borneo often enough on the Hastings from Changi.
In July 1965, I left Singapore, and after leave, found myself on a temporary posting to Kinloss in Scotland. During my short spell there, I attended Biggin Hill for aircrew selection, and found myself on my way to St. Athens to start Air Engineer training in October. There we did Airframe and Engine training, I had to extend my service to complete a 6 year aircrew tour, I got married on 4th December while on the course, still with her, god bless, and then went to Newton, Notts for Electrical and Instrument training early in 1966.. June saw me at Thorney Island, where I started my training as an Air Engineer on Hastings.
Jan. 1967, and I was posted to 24 Sqdn at Colerne for nine months, during which time I managed a Caribbean Trainer, visiting several islands that most people only dreamt about. As the Hastings was being phased out, I was back at Thorney Island in September, doing a conversion course onto C 130 Hercules,
After the course, I was posted to Lyneham for a brief period, before moving to Fairford and 47 Sqdn. Although Fat Albert was not a gracious aircraft, it certainly was capable, and during my stay at Fairford, I managed 3 Caribbean Trainers, a couple of Cable Runs, down to Ascension, across to JoBurgh, across to Mauritius, then back up via Bahrain and Cyprus, numerous visits to Singapore, it was our bread and butter run, and I circumnavigated the globe twice. On one occasion, I managed to miss a "Great Thanksgiving Dinner" twice, once in Guam, and then next day in Hawaii, having crossed the International Date Line in between, and arriving in both places at about 10 at night. I was a Flt. Sgt. by this time, and became disillusioned by the RAF, I objected to snotty kids overriding my decisions, just because they had just left Cranwell, and were commissioned. There were not many like it, but enough, so when my 6 year tour came to an end, I decided to seek my fortune in the big bad world of civil aviation. But that's another story about how young ladies looked after us on the flight deck, instead of some hairy Loadmaster.