Navy personnel join the RAF

Today my Dad’s memoirs see himself and other Navy personnel joining the RAF at Royston.

We got our travel warrant to Royston in Cambridgeshire and on arrival were trucked to the RAF Station at Bassingbourne some 3-4 miles North Of Royston. Bear in mind sailors were like snailes in that they carried their “home” with them . Each of us sailors was laden with a full kitbag, a hammock in which was fastened mattress, blanket, mattress cover (and any items of clothing which did not fit in the kitbag) an attache case and a new item now that I had qualified in the Safety Equipment trade a wooden tool box and contents. Four items in total which has to be carried in one go otherwise risk them being stolen.

Thus we arrived at the RAF Station where were given a late supper and allocated somewhere t sleep. This meant a dormitory in a purpose bulit brick block two stories high. One dormitory on the ground floor and one of the first floor each accommodating about 20 upper and lower iron beds. Here we found sheer luxury in that the beds had what were called “biscuits” three in umber each about 2 foot 6 x 2 foot which when laid end to end formed a comfortable mattress. There were two pillows to each and bed and blankets and sheets!! Also a decent sized wardrobe/locker to put our clothes in! Luxury indeed.

The RAF Brylcreem boys were pampered. Without doubt, the RAF had a more comfortable lifestyle and a less rigid discipline than the Royal Navy. I spent about 4 months with the RAF and enjoyed the more relaxed lifestyle whilst I was there.

On the second day there we had to do a joining routine. We were given a card which contained a list of different departments but first of all we were each issued with a black sit up and beg bicycle whihc we retained throughout our secondment. The RAF Station including its airfield covered a vast area with different departments scattered around its perimeter. Armed with bicycle and joining card I spent most of the day visiting the various listed premises where the officer or NCO there had to sign that I had reported. It became clear subsequently that the reason for this was that if I had been issued with anything from a particular department the man in charge would be able to claim it back when I completed the reverse process with a leaving routine. Apart from the bed sheets and the bicycle I was issued with nothing else but nevertheless still had to have a full card of signatures.

The joining card fully completed had to be returned to an RAF Officer best described as an adjutant who was responsible for the Naval personnel on the camp. I never saw him again until I did the leaving routine 4 months later.

On the following day I commenced work in the Safety Equipment section. The person who was in charge of the day to day running of the section was a WAAF Sergeant. We six sailors more or less doubled the size of the section which until then had numbered three WAAF and two aircraftmen.

The sections’s duties consisted of care and packing of parachutes and the maintenance of dinghies. These duties did not occupy the whole time and we therefore involved in internal and external cleaning of aircraft on King’s Flight which was located here.

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