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RAF Days part 2

My days as an RAF apprentice in 1970 continued.

By Len DaviesPublished 4 years ago 4 min read

My adventures at RAF Cosford in early 1970 continue with anoither excerpt from my biography 'Do or do not".

404 entry were a smaller group, and seemed to be a lot more amicable which suited me as 217 had a few unsavoury characters. Military life is designed to be uncomfortable in order to mould you in the image they want you to be, and that includes marching you up and down a parade ground many hours a week, insisting that your boots and brasses are shiny, uniform razor sharply pressed and your hair short and neat with NO whiskers showing through. At least once a week you’d be on your hands and knees scrubbing the bathroom, corridors and polishing the wooden floors of the billet. Every morning you had to make your bedding into a specific exhibition that the billet corporal would inspect, and you would be personally checked on parade by Sgt Geraghty who enjoyed such little comments as “Did you use a mirror when you shaved this morning lad?”, “Yes Sergeant”, “Well next time use a razor it’s sharper”, and the classic from behind “Is your hair hurting you Davies?” “No sergeant”, “Well it should be I’m bloody standing on it”. Being honest these guys were chicken feed compared to the US Boot Camp Drill Sergeants, but my 16 year old mind didn’t enjoy it so much as I wanted to concentrate on the subjects.

Air Experience Flying was the title on the schedule and none of us knew what it was about, until we arrived at the airfield and saw several small Chipmunk dual seater propellor aircraft waiting for us. We were fitted into a parachute that basically became our seat in the bucket of the aircraft, helped into the front of the plane, fitted with a helmet with headphones and a microphone and the canopy slid over. The Pilot introduced himself and the aircraft and gave some basic safety rules as the engines started and we began taxiing to the runway. Before I knew it we were airborne, and after we cleared a couple of thousand feet he tried to make me unhappy by explaining the control surfaces and throwing the aircraft around, but I was loving it. Suddenly the engine stopped and he went “oh oh I think we have a problem here, it won’t start again. We’ll have to bail out. Pull the canopy back as you’ll have to go first” I was shitting myself never having parachuted before, but I pulled the canopy back and he pulled it the rest of the way. The wind was strong through the open canopy, and he told me to unbuckle my seat belt and raise myself up, which I did, then he started the engine, told me to sit down and fasten myself in and close the canopy. He had been testing me to see if I had what it took to jump, and apparently I did although I was PETRIFIED. He let me fly the plane for a while and explained how to head back to Cosford, which I did, and he started explaining the approach procedure and I’m thinking he’s going to let me land this, but he took over in the last few hundred feet and we touched down safely. After we had disembarked he shook my hand and said I had the aptitude, which I somehow already knew but have never been able to exploit.

I did several things during my stay as extra curricular activities, I joined the Church Choir, The marching band as a bugler (which I wasn’t very good at) and a band called 'Phoenix' on Bass Guitar (which my parents had bought me, a beautiful red Hofner Solid Body Bass). We had a couple of performances at RAF parties playing the hits of the day mainly, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Canned Heat, The Beatles and so on.

Amplifiers were always a problem until we found some at the electronic stores and persuaded the officer to let us use them if we kept them maintained. Memorable moments occurred when my parents came along for an open day and we wanted to demonstrate how the band sounded, so we set up in a vacant office on the second floor of the block and started playing “All right now” by Free at top volume, only to have a raving officer come up to tell us to shut down as he was interviewing in the office below. My mother was laughing her ass off when I went back downstairs looking somewhat sheepish. The marching band were invited to perform at a military exhibition at Earls Court in London and I must admit I enjoyed being a part of the event even though my Bugle playing wasn’t the best. The funny thing was the group ‘Blue Mink’ had just had a hit with the song ‘Banner man’ and for some reason that became the song of the trip as it played a couple of times on the bus radio and we ended up singing it rather loudly on the way back.

veteran

About the Creator

Len Davies

Len Davies was born in Wales and grew up in the 60’s heavily influenced by the music and TV of the time. He is a DJ, Actor, Musician and Producer in the entertainment field. with 52 years in the industry he now lives & works in Los Angeles.

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    Len DaviesWritten by Len Davies

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