Mike and Diane Wilson -
Free Spirit Writers
For well over two years, I spent my RAF career as a shorthand-typist at RAF Jever, in northern Germany. I had reached the dizzy heights of being a Leading Aircraftman when I finished the shorthand-typing course at RAF Hereford and managed to hang on to the rank until I came back to civvy street.
At the beginning of National Service, I spent - I think - a couple of weeks at RAF Cardington, where we learned to be non-civilians. Because I had been in the Cadet Force at Bridlington Grammar School, I was instantly made Senior Man in the billet. I don't think this did me any harm, but neither did it do me any good.
My posting to Bridgnorth in Shropshire heralded the thrills and spills of learning to march and parade. I cannot say I enjoyed it particularly, but there was a certain satisfaction in being part of a squad of men who could coincide their leg and arm movements into one coherent whole.
Skills in bull, skiving, drill, rifle shooting were not too much of a surprise as I had done much of it before in the Cadet Force. Some lads in my billet had never been away from home before and their muffled sobs could be heard after lights out.
Somehow I lasted through the basic training programme at Bridgnorth. On rare occasions, we were allowed out of camp and I remember asking for 'pikelets' in a local shop. They'd never heard of them. We bought crumpets instead and roasted and toasted them in front of the coal-fired oven in the billet.
After Bridgnorth, I spent many months at RAF Hereford learning typing and shorthand. Each course lasted six weeks. I managed to become a reasonable typist (which is really handy now on these keyboards) but shorthand didn't appeal much.
At the end of our courses, we held our breath while waiting to discover where we were to go next. I remember gasping with horror when Aden was bandied about as a likely place for our next residence. Didn't fancy that - too hot. Eventually I learned that I was go to Germany. I was in favour of that as I had a GCE in German.
I finished up at RAF Jever, in northern Germany, near Wilhelmshaven. For the rest of my National Service I worked in Station Headquarters as the Station Adjutant's clerk. I had to handle secret and top secret material too. My duties were not particularly onerous, as I typed up the Station Daily Orders and Station Routine Orders.
Occasionally there was a bit of excitement as I had to type up the results of Boards of Inquiry. I remember typing up one case in which a pilot made an error of judgement and sat his Hawker Hunter fighter aircraft on top of a German petrol station instead of the runway. Somehow I managed to 'acquire' a copy of the report, complete with photograph.
In my spare time I took photographs of the visiting aircraft to Station Flight, as well as the aircraft in 2, 4 and 93 Squadrons at Jever. Some of these are in the right-hand column and they also appear on the RAF Jever website (www.rafjever.org).
All in all my three years in the RAF didn't amount to much. Plus, I must add, I too didn't amount to much in there either. I should have made German my second language, I should have travelled through Europe instead of coming back to Bridlington on leave, I should have studied more too. But then not many of the other guys did either. But it didn't do me any harm.
North American Sabre
RCAF Avro Canada
Douglas DC-3 Dakota of the Luftwaffe
Fairy Gannet of the Luftwaffe
Armstrong Whitworth Night Fighter Javelin
North American Super Sabre
Lockheed Shooting Star