93rd Entry R.A.F.Halton
John B Wray
Visiting a friend in Lincoln last July, I got talked into an 11 mile hike on the Lincolnshire Wolds. There was about a dozen of us brave souls and I found myself talking to all of them during the walk. One fellow about twenty years older than me was striding out purposefully but mostly on his own. Our conversation turned up the fact that we were both ex brats. He was John R Craddock (Joe) from the 39th entry and now living in Beckingham, Lincolnshire. His RAF number was 575771 and he lied about his age to get in. He saw the war years out and ended up in India for a spell. When his contract was up he went into Civvy without any hesitation and never looked back. He told me he did not particularly enjoy his RAF career and when he left he did not want anything to do with the establishment. He did try and contact a few buddies quite recently but was told they were either dead or had dementia.
He started up a commercial kitchen appliance manufacturing and sales business in Lincoln and the first years were damned hard work. He was nearly insolvent. Anyway he got a couple of breaks on the way and things started to get brighter, as they often do. Then an American company bought the company and he retained several million shares and sits on the Board. OK so I was walking with an un-assuming multi-millionaire!
He finished the walk in better shape than I did and explained that he usually did not walk such a long distance but he walked every week without fail. He would not stay for a cup of tea because he had left his wife at home and she was in a wheel chair and needed care. He explained that his walks were his only outing now and kept him fit. He gave me a date of 19th January 1939 but I am not sure whether that was his joining or graduation day. He also wrote his contact details in my little book.
Well Joe brightened my afternoon up and I forgot all about my aching bones in the time I spent with him. There was a good old fashioned afternoon tea spread in the church hall by walkers partners and club patrons. I had put away five cups of tea and had my fill of cakes etc, when my joints seized up. I was still feeling the effects of that walk several weeks later. I trust that Joe got home safely and slept soundly that night.
Dennis and Janet Williams enjoying a day with the Red Arrows at R.A.F.Scampton.
From Trevor Rowe
An excerpt from one of the chapters in my book "Another Day, Another Dog". Details are on my web site at www.trevor-rowe.com
The Faith Healer
Of all the good things about the house sitting “business”, the chance to stay in a wide variety of other peoples’ houses and to share their magnificent gardens, outlooks and views was the most interesting. As we love the countryside and its history, it gave us a real chance to explore other parts of the country. One particular house in the Yorkshire Dales was among the best in this respect. One balmy July evening we sat on the patio looking south over the river Ure, which meandered gracefully through the valley below towards the old market town of Middleham and its historic castle. We marvelled at the fact that it was not costing us a penny to be there. Similar accommodation would have cost the earth if we had rented it on holiday.
This particular time we were on another five-week “assignment” while the owners were away on a trip to Australia. Our charges were an ageing Labrador called Ben, a young Labrador named Josie, a sort of wire haired Jack Russell and two cats. Oh, I must not forget the fish. A small stream ran down one side of the garden and had been cleverly diverted through a pond in which lived some sizeable gold fish. The garden was enclosed on three sides by a traditional dry-stone wall, built by the son of the owner.
From the garden we could see the gallops on the tops of hills far across the Ure valley where, often just after dawn, we would see strings of horses from the famous stables of Middleham exercising in the early morning mists.
Each day during our stay we took the dogs for walks along the banks of the river. Whilst Ben would walk slowly and with some difficulty behind us, Josie, full of the excitement and energy of youth, would chase rabbits and hurtle in and out of the river after ducks and other water birds. Sand Martins dive-bombed us as we disturbed their natural habitat and water rats scurried back into their holes as we passed.
It was always difficult to exercise young and old dogs together. So, on occasion, as we did at other locations with dogs of vastly differing ages, we would leave old Ben behind in order to let Josie have a real run and a much longer walk.
Ben the Labrador had advanced cancer and was in quite a bad way. He was on medication and had had several bad turns. His condition was so serious that his owners did not expect him to survive during their absence. In addition to the usual telephone numbers left for us, i.e. vet, plumber etc, we also had the number to ring if Ben died so that he could be buried in the right spot on their property.
A bit daunting really, but we’d seen nearly everything before (or so we thought) so we took it all in our stride and waved the family goodbye. We could tell by the tears, particularly from the children, that they really did not expect to see Ben again.
Along with the medication, some of it homeopathic and the strict diet and exercise instructions, we had been amazed to receive a request to take Ben (a Labrador, remember) to a faith healer twice during our stay. Remembering Jason, my twelve and a half year old Labrador who eventually had to take the one-way trip to the vet some years ago, I could sympathise with the “try anything” attitude of Ben’s owners. Still, it did seem rather strange, particularly as Ben’s owner was a vet, and we looked forward to the appointed day with great interest.
In the meantime we followed Ben’s owners’ instructions to the letter, took him for limited exercise and showered him with all the care and attention due to a respected senior citizen. We were glad to see that his condition did not deteriorate and, indeed, some days after our arrival his coat improved, he was walking with less discomfort and he was generally more cheerful. He was always pleased to see us and, increasingly, he enjoyed his food.
As his owners had told us that he had had a bad spell after his last visit to the faith healer (I shall call her Madame X) we were more than apprehensive that his next visit might do the same.
The day came. We helped Ben into the car and set off further up into the Dales for his treatment. We drove northwards down winding lanes through the beautiful Yorkshire countryside in the height of summer. Away to the right we could see the coast with the sun sparkling off the sea and the commercial buildings and chimneys of Teesside. Only the distance involved softened the harsh views of the nuclear power station and other heavy industrial plants of this stretch of coastline.
To our left, the Dales rose away eastward into the distance. This was real James Herriot country. Dry-stone walls marched across the rolling fields as far as the eye could see, punctuated only by the occasional stone-built barn and solid looking farmhouse built to withstand the strong cold winds of winter that raked across this, often bleak, landscape. It all looked as though this had been the scene here for hundreds of years with little change. It probably had.
Hardy, hefted sheep dotted the sloping windswept fields providing a good measure of contrast with the green of the grass, the grey stonework and the deep blue sky. There are not many places on earth that match the quiet beauty of the Yorkshire Dales and I include the countryside of Africa, New Zealand, North America and even Scotland in my comparison.
Not that I am from these parts. Far from it. I was born a man of Kent or a Kentish man - I can never remember which. Maidstone was nearer my place of birth than Gillingham, if that means anything to those well versed in Kentish folklore. Perhaps someone will let me know.
I digress. We found our destination with little trouble and learned that Madame X provided her services in an upstairs flat in a large and beautiful old country house surrounded by mature gardens. Next door was a village cricket pitch and a quiet patch of woodland.
We had to park outside the garden gates, as there was only a green footpath leading up to the house, no drive.
Madame X ushered us into her consulting room as if Ben’s visit was quite a normal procedure and as though she had been treating dogs all her life. There were the obligatory reference books, colourful curtains, oriental rugs on the floor, crystals in the window and Madame X herself was dressed in flowing robes and earrings. In the corner was a couch obviously for the use of her clients.
Trying to be helpful, as ever, I offered to lift Ben on to the couch for his “consultation”. She glanced at me, gave me a withering, scornful look, reserved no doubt for the unbelievers, and said that, “Ben would be all right on the floor, thank you very much”.
Sue did not help the situation by asking, “Do you do people too?”
“I do people,” she said, haughtily.
Suitably chastened, Sue and I sat down. This was a whole new experience for us.
“You are quite welcome to stay in the room”, Madame X said, “but please do not interrupt, whatever happens. Ben must have absolute peace and quiet and be as relaxed as possible.”
“OK,” we mumbled and sat as still and as quiet as we could, on some very uncomfortable wooden, three legged stools, I might add, while Madame X started her “treatment”. It began with several minutes of meditation whilst Ben simply lay quite still on the floor, breathed heavily and slipped off into a deep sleep. Well, when you are the human equivalent of about ninety-ten years old, you’ve had your pills and a good breakfast, a walk, an hour’s drive in the car on a warm summer’s day and you’ve been invited to take a lie down you would, wouldn’t you?
The meditation over, Madame X gently laid her hands on Ben’s head for a few minutes and then on his swollen stomach where the cancer was quite evident. The old dog did not stir.
Next, she held her hands palms down about an inch or two above Ben’s head and moved them slowly, without making contact with his coat, down the full length of his body. Then carefully and with a definitely artistic, demonstrative flourish she slowly wrung her hands in the air behind Ben’s rear end.
Being relatively astute people, we realised immediately that this was getting rid of the evil demons in Ben’s body and that it must be well worth the money and the travelling to have this carried out every two weeks.
This exercise was repeated several times and she crossed her hands occasionally with different degrees of artistic hand movement and “rinsing”. You could almost feel the pressure building and I was sure something magical was about to occur.
Sure enough, it did. Ben gave a big sigh and let out a huge, satisfied fart.
Sue looked at me as if to say (remember, we were sworn to silence) “Was that you?”
I shook my head violently and we both had great difficulty in suppressing guffaws of laughter. Madame X appeared not to have heard and carried on as though either nothing had happened, or that this was a perfectly normal occurrence. We had the feeling that, indeed, it must have happened before.
Still dead to the world and, seemingly with a smile on his face, Ben passed wind again but our unmovable practitioner carried on oblivious to the sounds, and the odour!
At last, the session came to an end and we took our leave. Madame X asked us if we were going to pay for Ben’s sessions but we responded that we had not been asked to do so by his owners. Madame X would therefore have to submit her bill to them on their return. During this exchange we found out how much she charged for her services and we realised immediately that if we ever became really hard up we had found a new career that we were now fully qualified upon which to embark!
Ben didn’t seem any worse, or better, for his experience and as we walked through the garden to the car I said, perhaps a little too loudly, “What a load of mumbo jumbo.”
Not that I have anything against faith healers for people you understand. I just think that for dogs…. Well, surely you know what I mean!
On the way home we stopped by a stream for Ben to do what old male dogs often have to do and we were delighted to see that he was strong enough to go into the water and actually swim around for a while. Maybe there was something in faith healing for dogs after all.
On our next visit to Madame X two weeks later I was politely asked whether I would care to remain in the garden during the treatment! She even offered me a spade to do some digging, “If I felt like it.”
Politely, I declined the offer and spent a very pleasant half hour sitting in the sunshine soaking up the atmosphere in that beautiful country house garden. Breathing the pure north Yorkshire air, listening to the birds and the insects humming I thought, as I often did, how much more pleasant this was compared to risking my life in the rush-hour traffic of Riyadh each day. Similarly, it certainly beat driving on the M25, that concrete car park that passes for the motorway surrounding London.
Sue was permitted to sit in at the second session, however, and later assured me that much the same thing had occurred as on our previous visit.
By the end of the five weeks Ben had improved markedly and was jumping up and running around almost like a puppy. He was walking longer distances and with greater ease. On their return, his owners were amazed and delighted at his improvement. Whether it was the faith healer, our care and attention during that five weeks or a combination of both, we’ll never know.
This all happened in the July of that year. Sadly, we had a call from Ben’s owners in September advising that he had died peacefully. On many occasions afterwards we stopped by Ben’s grave whilst walking the other dogs on subsequent visits and remembered with affection our brief acquaintance with a fine old dog – and the strange faith healer affair.
Ian McKay and M. Fulton on route
93rd ENTRY ANECDOTES.(1)
I think I will jump on the band wagon after offerings from Joe O’Niel, Chunky Rayfield, Ian Mckay
and Rick Gifford. I do not know whether to start with an ejector seat tale or a tale from being up the ‘sharp end’ while on QRA (or ‘Battle Flight’ as it was affectionately called on 92 Sqdn)at Gutersloh in
I think it will be an ejector seat tale.
In ’67 while at Geilenkirchen with 92 Sqdn., (The Blue Diamonds), one of the Lightning Mk 2’s was bought into the hanger for some minor rectification, I’m not sure what. I was asked to go and do a couple of minor jobs while convenient. I approached said a/craft, climbed up the access ladder, paused to check position of ejector seat pin, top of cartridge while in hanger-Ok, proceeded to step into cockpit and place right foot onto seat pan. As I placed my foot on the seat pan, the seat went down and the vertical part of the seat came forward. I did not stop to think why this happened, I was out of the cockpit and jumped off the ladder and hit the ground running to a safe distance from a/craft. Unbeknownst to me, the seat had been unattached at the rear of the cockpit for, I think, for armourer type checks, the job was called seat hinging. I had to retire to the bog to check for ‘accidents’, but all was well. I would have thought there would have been a warning to this effect.
I did not report it, as I felt like a bit of a ‘wally’
I always checked that the seat was secured afterwards.
I was thinking to myself of our days after Halton, I’ll never forget my first assignment .It was at Abingdon F Hanger major Service on a Blackburn Beverley, I should have remembered the warning that I was given by a sage Flight Sergeant ,” forget all the shit you learned at Brat school , this is the real world “. The day I began that September there were about half a dozen of us all freshly posted from various places. I felt very proud when the Senior Tech called us all together and pointed at me as the shining example of the best that the world could offer because I had been through a three year course at Halton and would show the other idiots how things were done the Halton Way. ‘O’Neill’ he shouted, “ after lunch I want you to show these cunts how to bleed brakes, get everything together and we will meet here straight after lunch. I missed lunch and got everything I thought we needed . I remember only a month or two earlier practising on the Hawker Hunters at Halton. I put together the portable Hydraulic power pack, got a suitable length of rubber pipe and a clean milk bottle and my trusty 2BA spanner, I went over it in my mind so that I was going to shine. After lunch the Senior Tech asked me if I was ready , yes Sarge I replied, he took one look and called me a Cunt with a capital C , it was then that I found out that we needed three radios because the kite was so big , one in the cockpit to depress the pedals, One guy filling the reservoir with hydraulic fluid, another on the pump to pump the fluid up, then the fun bit, the bogie had four wheels each with two brake bleed points it was necessary to bleed off two gallons from each point and leave the cans to stand for 24 hours to lose the air. I would have looked a right cunt with my milk bottle full of bubbly fluid. A steep learning curve………………………..
What ho mates!
I was just going to clean the windows but answering this seems to be much more enjoyable! Indeed, the Vulcan was different than conventional aircraft in not having flaps and, when flying an approach, half drag airbrake was used descending the glidepath until the last 300' or so, when full drag was selected for the landing. Streaming the 'chute was a most effective was of doing a short landing and at light weights when simultaneously using maximum braking, stopping in about 2000' was possible. I have never heard of a Vulcan doing a touch and go with a streamed chute! The mighty Olympus engines did have a magnificent amount of thrust - in the 301 series un governed at a 103.5% rpm 23,500lbs thrust EACH! Of course, the drag increases in proportion to the square of the speed so the drag would have been increasing very rapidly. Moreover, the maximum 'chute streaming speed was 145 kts and above that speed the 'chute would probably shred or even become detached from the aircraft. Red faces? My backside would have bitten lumps out of the cushion doing that!
A Merry Christmas and a happy and healthful New Year!!
Very best regards
I am struggling to remember the details but one day a Huge WW II bomber painted blue was brought into the hangar to be serviced we were told it was a Lincoln . I personally had never heard of the thing .We proceeded to jack it up and put it on trestles ready to start work. We were told that it still had a small amount of Avgas in each tank so we had to dump the remainder. We were instructed to get a couple of Oil drums under each wing with a funnel . Someone switched on the fuel dump and we watched as the oil drums filled with fuel , after a minute or so we saw that the first drums were getting full so we quickly pushed under the second drums on each side we mopped up the spill and covered it with sand waiting for it to stop. It was apparent that there was a bit more fuel than had been anticipated so the word went out to quickly get more drums after getting every drum in sight we soon ran out and watched helplessly as thousands of litres of Avgas filled the hangar, it was soon a couple of inches deep and filled the entire hangar. The fire brigade were called and the entire area was under a no flames notice it took the whole day to flush it out( with us knee deep in foam )into the ditches and the No Flames notices were in place for a week. The fire brigade carried on pouring water into all the ditches around the hangar. The sequel to this story is that three weeks later and several miles away someone threw a fag end into a ditch and the ditch burst into flames lighting up the evening sky for miles around.
Another true story which I remember vividly was our Easter Leave being cancelled because of some ban the bomb march at a US Airforce Station. ( I think it was Brize Norton ) We were taken there by bus and issued with pick axe handles . Three of us were placed on the far side of the runway about two miles or more from the front gate against the fence.We were told that we had to stop the protesters because the US military police had orders to shoot anyone breaking through the inner cordon around the Bombers and this would cause huge ructions politically. Friday came and went as did Saturday, Sunday and Monday , we never saw a thing at all despite thousands protesting at the main gate , then Monday lunchtime a small group of some half a dozen hippy types came into view about fifty yards from where we were sitting down. They cut the fence and proceeded to wave their banners at us, it was then that the rage overcame us and we ran up to them swinging our pick axe handles , we were like raving madmen as we hit them , it was very violent I remember a Corporal next to me swinging at this young girl he struck her about three times on the arms and shoulder with each blow he said , ‘ that’s for fucking up Friday’ bang!! Then again ‘ That’s for Saturday’ we all joined in until they beat a rapid retreat back under the fence.I was proud of my part in this for years until one day I told this story at a dinner party and I was greeted with disgust , one lady even said that she was a proud Ban The Bomb supporter, so I have never mentioned it again until now. My own feelings about the ban the bomb crowd was simply :- Why weren’t they protesting against the Russian Bomb not ours ?
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