Memories of Shinfield 1 (edited from an e-mail to Ray Smith (26/4/10).
It will be obvious to you that we all had a very happy time especially in respect of the 1950's Group as we had not been together for about 52 years.
Our immediate friends including Eric Sage,Adrian Reddall and Mike Appleton with their wives made for a very happy weekend.
You probably would not remember Alan Kimber or Graham Marsh as those two lads at that time though known to me were probably not within your immediate circle of friends. However I think that you will agree that the lads who were stationed at Shinfield Park were as a rule a decent bunch of fellows. Of course the sporty types such as Eric and myself tended to know more personnel than some of the others did and were more inclined to take part in the various pranks which took place from from time to time. Roy Whiteman who used to work with me in the Orderly Room said that on one occasion that he and David Standon (his father became a Methodist Minister) got up one night, blackened their faces and went to a local Sheep Farm and stole a Ram . They blackened their faces so as not to be recognized and let it free shunting it through the W.R.A.F.Block front door in the early hours of the morning, only for it to start running up and down the corridors with Flt.Sgt.(W) Gale in hot pursuit hoping to catch it. Apparently the Ram gave all concerned a good run for their money before its final arrest.
Dave Standon, instead of walking down the stairs to breakfast, would jump out of his top floor window, throwing his irons ahead of him and would land beside them moments later to avoid the long walk down the stairs. When working with him in the Orderly Room I remember that he received a parcel from a firm producing Ladies Sanijoy Briefs. This was a joke played on him by one of the lads. The parcel was addressed to S.A.C.W. Slandon. He passed them on to one of the girls on the Camp and thought no more about it when a letter turned up asking for Payment. Still he obviously ignored it and subsequently received further letters each one getting more severe. Things got to the point where he received a final warning failing which he was threatened with a County Court Summons unless Payment was made within a few days to which he replied to the effect that he was not of the sex who would normally wear them and in consequence had passed them on but at the time of writing was not in a position to trace them and forwarded a Cheque to cover the cost demanded. On yet another occasion he conspired over a Sunday night to put John Comley's bed on the top of the Airmen's Mess Roof with the Notice attached " John Com.slept here". Yet on another occasion he and Roy Whiteman who had acquired some paint ,took a late night walk to the Merry Maidens Pub (now known as "The Maidens") in Shinfield Road and painted the concrete busts of the ladies who were part of the frontage of the Pub the colour red and got caught at it. I never knew the outcome of that. Still an expert painter it was thought that Standon daubed yellow paint on some of the Command Buildings during the night prior to the A.O.A's Parade for the Annual Inspection the following morning. This could be seen as we were marching past for the "Salute". In company with Roy Whiteman he also removed the Guardroom Bell and buried it. They were found out and Roy received a Reprimand as he was a Cpl. and Standon was given 7 days C.C.
Another thing which happened during my time was that there was a young fellow by the name of Mike Davies who was a real Country Boy from the Forest of Dean who received a lot of Mail from all over G.B.as a result of one of his friends jokingly writing to Tit Bits including his photograph stating that he had no girl friend and would like to make contact with a suitable girl. It was also stated that he would reply to all correspondence. This resulted in the Camp Post Room being completely inundated for several days with letters addressed to Mike Davies. On a different note on Radio Shinfield which you may remember used to be run by Roy Whiteman and Paul Hollingdale who later became well known on Radio Luxembourg and various other Radio Stations Nationally and played a Record Request for the S.W.O., its title being "Young and Foolish". Jim Ayres who was known as "Dim Jim" was the Cpl. who worked with W.O.Young so the lads had a bit of a laugh over that as you can well imagine. The last happening of note whilst I was at Shinfield concerned Roy Evans (he worked as a Clerk to the Station Education Officer) who at that point in time was to be demobbed within days of this particular happening when he was seen by Gp.Cpt.Philip Baldwin whilst wearing R.A.F.Working Blue having a cigarette lit for him while standing on another person's shoulders from the top window of a double deck bus which had stopped outside the Camp Gate. When the Charge was read out I remember that Flt.Lt. Wood nearly started to laugh. W.O.Young of course remained Poker Faced as I also had to be, since at the time I worked in the Orderly Room and was often called upon to act as "Escort for the Accused". When Wood asked Evans why he had done this he replied by saying that he wanted a light. Evans was asked how much longer he had to do in the R.A.F. He replied "One more day Sir". Wood then asked whether he would be prepared to accept his punishment, to which he replied "Yes Sir" and was told that he would be confined to Camp for the rest of his Service.
At the Reunion I made a little speech mentioning you and several others who would have been with us had they not passed away
Memories of Shinfield 2 (edited from an e-mail to Andre Francis (10/5/10).
During my time there (at Shinfield Park) we had a young fellow from Leeds by the name of Bill Stather who was full of fun and like me for a time was the youngest lad on the Camp. He came to us as a Trainee Clerk Org (A.&S.Assistant) but was not exactly cut out for Clerical Duties. As a result he was moved to the Reproduction Section where he certainly made his mark by tearing the wrong half of the skin which had to be fixed to the copying machine. This resulted in all the typing needing to be repeated by the Section concerned. As a result he was moved from there to work in the Unit Gardens under the watchful eye of Ben Silver the Civilian Gardener in charge. Bill now being classed as an Admin Orderly and so came under the discipline of the Station Warrant Officer who at that time was W.O.Young. He had a dry sense of humour but we were always rather wary of him as he would blow hot and cold. I think that he liked Bill for his sense of humour and one day asked him what he thought of him and to give him an honest answer to which Bill replied that he considered him to be rather "Mephistophelian", to which W.O. Young asked what was meant by that. Bill replied that according to the Oxford Dictionary it meant that he could be described as being "cynically wicked". Bill used to find the longest words in his dictionary and then learn the meaning of them with the hope that he could use them at the earliest opportunity. I believe that he was trying to imitate the late Actor Leonard Sachs who used to announce the various Acts in the old T.V. Show called "The Good Old Days". On yet another occasion he was on Duty overnight as Armoury Guard which as a rule was nothing more than a "Sleeping Duty". Bill was very fond of his sleep and it happened that when his colleague had gone to the Airmen's Mess for supper that Bill decided to get his head down on his pillow and at the same time left the Armoury door ajar. This resulted in the Orderly Officer on his late night walkround entering the Armoury with ease. Bill was awakened and when asked what he thought he was up to as he was supposed to keep the door secure at all times he replied that he had left the door ajar as he did not wish to be disturbed when his colleague returned from supper. What the outcome of this was I never knew. Bill was always very smart in appearance and excellent at Rifle Drill and loved Drll Parades which most of us hated whenever they took place. I remember that on one Pay Parade which of course the Regulars were only too happy to attend that Bill put his "Best Blue" uniform on wearing at the same time boots bulled up to the limit. He was the only lad wearing his "Best Blue" on that Pay Parade. When it came to his turn to be paid he put on a performance which many of us who were there will never forget. A smart salute in real "Army Style" seldom seen at Shinfield followed for the Paying Officer, Flt.Lt.Watson to be taken by surprise for the top set of his false teeth to drop as they appeared to be rather loose fitting.
Before the Annual A.O.A's Parade there used to be a number of special Practices which Cpl.Ayres used to conduct. Being an ex Army man Cpl. Ayres was in his element. On the Camp he was known as "Dim Jim". Whether he knew this I don't know. On this particular "Practice Parade" we were taking the mickey out of poor Jim and when he thought that he had discovered the ring leader whom he thought was Junior Tech Leet, he ordered Leet to take the Parade and told us that we were to obey all Jim Leet's commands after which Leet promptly brought us to attention and said "Turn to the right" and we were dismissed with Dim Jim left on his own with us scarpering with our rifles to the Station Armoury as quickly as we could. We never heard any more about this "Incident" so I think that the Station Adjutant must have seen the funny side of the situation as we were only too pleased to do as we were commanded to do!!! I never enjoyed Parades .
I left the R.A.F.during September 1958. This coincided with my last opportunity to appear on the A.O.A's Parade which always took pride of place during the Summer. The afternoon prior to the Parade being held, the S.W.O. phoned me to ask me whether I was going on the A.O.A's Parade to which I obviously gave him an answer in the affirmative. He then told me that I was not to go on Parade after which I expressed my disappointment as it would be my last opportunity to be able to experience a Parade such as this!! By this time his patience was wearing a little thin and told that he was giving me an Order of "You are not to go on the A.O.A's Parade". He then phoned Wg.Cdr.Kelsey who was in charge of the Air Staff Registry where I worked and I was called to his Office where a smiling Wg.Cdr.Kelsey looked over the top of his spectacles and said to me "I don't think that you really want to go on the Parade do you Causon?" "I don't think that you really do, be Duty Section Clerk instead". This suited me fine as you can imagine.
This must be my last story against myself which I now will relate before signing off. In my first few weeks at Shinfield, my bunk was in the cook's corridor in Walmsley Block where they used to gamble a great deal with money chinking about into the early hours of the morning on many occasions. I never joined them but never the less I got on with them all very well.It always was an advantage to know the cooks as they always looked after me at meal times. During my time of being a Resident in their corridor they once played a prank on me by waking me up during the hot Summer of 1956 early one Friday morning when there was to be a Station C.O.'s Parade. I was awakened at about 5.30 A.M. to tell me that it was 7.15 A.M.and that I would be late for Parade if I did not hurry up and that I would not have time for Breakfast. I hurriedly got up ,washed ,dressed,shaved and arrived for breakfast only to find that the Mess was not even open. Even so I took it in good part but when I heard that one of the older lads was leaving the R.A.F.who slept in another part of Walmsley Block I asked to be moved and my wish was granted.
Photographs (click here)
© Andre Francis 2020