Saturday, September 6, 2014

ROYAL AIR FORCE History of George Edward Martin (Service Number 536418) 1919-2011

In October 1936 I was working at the Daily Express newspaper in Fleet Street, London as a commercial artist and, because it was a newspaper, work started after lunch.  My father was unimpressed by the work I was doing but I thought it was most interesting and managed to meet many newspaper celebrities who had previously only been names.
During the second week in October 1936 Dad had to go to the Air Ministry, then located at Ad Astral House in the Kingsway, London, WC2, and asked if I would like to go with him.  On the way to London I was subjected to his thoughts on my future and the main theme was that I should ‘learn a trade’ and did I fancy joining the RAF.  Dad had been a pilot in the RAF (and an observer in the Royal Flying Corp), was commissioned and was the Adjutant and Armament Officer of No 23 Squadron before he retired.  So it was first stop in the Recruiting Office where Dad had a chat with the Flight Lieutenant in charge about what trades were available and it seemed that the RAF was short of wireless operators who could also become wireless operators and air gunners on selected squadrons.  “How did I view the idea of flying?”  At my young age I thought it would be a better life than going up to London by train, (an hour each way), and getting home late at night when the newspaper had ‘gone to bed’.  “Would I like to do a brief maths test?” “Well, yes.” It was really simple arithmetic and scored 100%.  Thinking how marvellous it would be to fly I agreed to enlist for six years, received the ‘King’s shilling’ and suddenly my whole future changed.  In retrospect it was the best thing that Dad ever did for me.
I was given a railway warrant and told to report to Royal Air Force Drayton, Middlesex to be inducted but on arrival I was a few days short of 18 years old and was sent home for a week and so finally joined the RAF on the 23rd November 1936.
At West Drayton I and 19 other airmen were kitted out with our uniforms of blue serge and pantaloons,‘Fox’ brand puttees, sturdy boots and the blue webbing and packs with a kitbag showing my name and number 536418.  It was strange living in a communal life style with a motley collection of men from all over England, Wales, the Orkneys and with one Canadian.  There was one Londoner, Eric Mader and we became firm friends as our interests were similar - he was also destined to become a wireless operator.
We stayed at West Drayton for five days and were subjected to a series of lectures on the formation of the RAF, ranks and Air Force Law.

Our military training was at RAF Uxbridge where we were incarcerated until we were fit to be allowed outside the gates without bringing disrepute to the RAF.  Basic training was scheduled for three months and Uxbridge was a forbidding place in November.  There were eight large barrack blocks named after places in World War I and I lived in “Arras”.  There were 20 of us in one room, ten per side with a ‘bedspace’ which consisted of a sheet metal slatted bed joined in the middle so that it could be folded away during the day.  The mattress comprised three ‘biscuits’ of brown canvas stuffed with horsehair, and blankets, (no sheets), which had to be folded in a specific manner.  The pillow was a bolster and I had a Welshman on one side and an incomprehensible Orcadian on the other.  For washing there was a communal set of basins and two showers.  A blue locker was placed at the foot of the bed.
The floor was polished brown lino with a set of fire irons and a bucket which were burnished steel, ceremoniously laid out in front of a round stove which was totally inadequate to warm the room in November.
A corporal was in charge of the room.   It seemed he was invested with powers of life or death and if he spoke to us we had to jump to attention and stare into space with a shouted “Yes, corporal”. 
We were all vaccinated and inoculated with what was referred to as ‘Scheik and Dick’ and in a few days my left arm was most uncomfortable and I was running a temperature so I was excused from rifle drill on the square and sent to the cookhouse on ‘fatigues’ which was well named and consisted mostly of cleaning huge tins.  Otherwise there was a daily round of rifle drill, lectures on hygiene, conformation of the RAF and physical training which was essentially ‘Swedish Drill’ in shirt and shorts on the parade ground.  There were church parades every Sunday and every morning on the main parade the Church of England padre said prayers but not before the order was given “Fall out the Catholics and Jews”, who were banished to the edge of the square. 
Fortunately, after one month we were sent to RAF Station, Henlow, for completion of basic training.  There the barrack blocks were comparatively new and life was much easier because at that stage I was allowed home for the weekend which was from 4pm Friday to 10pm Sunday.  There we were introduced to parades, with officers included and the Henlow Band in attendance.  Many years later I would be one of the officers parading on the same square.  At the end of the three month period we had a ‘Passing out Parade’ with the officer commanding Henlow, an Air Commodore in charge.
Henlow brought back memories because we had lived at Clifton a few miles away and Dad had been stationed at Henlow and flown aircraft there.
On the 26th February 1937 we all dispersed to various training schools and I was sent, with several others, to No 1 Electrical and Wireless School (E&WS) at RAF Cranwell, in Lincolnshire.  Cranwell was a strange mixture.  It was originally a balloon centre during World War I with big black hangers in East Camp.  The officer cadets had their own college, a rather magnificent building and they flew from an adjacent airfield.  Across the main road at East Camp was the Apprentices’ Wing with their own parade ground and the cinema.   Adjacent to that was the railway station, which was on a spur line, the Church of England church which was housed in a converted hanger, the Station Commander’s residence (he was an Air Commodore), complete with stables for his horses.  At West Camp was the Station Hospital, ‘barracks’ for the airmen, (which were wooden huts), another square for drill, Station Headquarters, and four large hangers for aircraft maintenance, huts for the E&WS and a gymnasium.  Another feature was an enclosed running track complete with stands.
 Life at Cranwell started with the inevitable ‘fatigues’ which comprised unloading 1 cwt flour sacks from a railway truck and piling them to the ceiling in a large store.  I am convinced that several days of this damaged the muscles in my back and since then they have been a problem. 
At the E&WS we had two instructors.  One was really a school teacher who grounded us in the theory of wireless and mathematics.  The other was to lead us into the mysteries of circuit diagrams and more practical aspects of all the radio transmitters and receivers in use in the RAF.  We also had to learn transmission techniques and that included the Morse code, which is really a system of dots and dashes, and our aim was to be able to transmit using a Morse key at 25 words per minute, where a ‘word’ was counted as five characters/letters, so there were 125 characters in a series of dots/dashes per minute.  I must confess that I had problems initially with learning the Morse code and was threatened with being thrown off the course, but I went to extra classes.  Suddenly, it all clicked into place and is something I have never forgotten.
 After four months of training in tuning an airborne transmitter and receiver and having sufficient proficiency in the Morse code, we were sent for ‘air experience’.  We were kitted out in helmet, coveralls, boots, gloves and parachute and climbed into a Westland Wapiti aircraft, stowed the removable parachute, linked ourselves to a ‘monkey chain’ to the floor, checked with the pilot that the speaking tube was clear, taxied out and took off.  When the aircraft levelled out we had to wind out the aerial (connected to a lead weight), turn on the radio and contact the ground station to prove our ability to communicate using a fixed phrase.  That didn’t take long, so having wound in the aerial and switched off, it gave me a chance to look around and I discovered that we were flying into the teeth of a gale and were almost stationary above the College so there was no great thrill of speed but it was quite a first experience and memorable.
There was always a church parade on a Sunday with cadets, airmen and apprentices, each section with its own band and we all assembled in the Church of England church (hanger) with the cadets’ band playing for hymns and responses.  The church held about 600 people and the singing was good although the sermon made no impression.  I’m sure a lot of cathedrals would like a similar congregation each Sunday.  The non-conformists and Catholics had their own church parades but I don’t remember what happened to the Jews as there was no synagogue nearer than Lincoln.
I loved the sporting facilities and a Physical Training Instructor, Cpl Brown thought I had some potential for javelin and hammer and took me under his wing.  He was an excellent instructor and it enabled me to win events in both mediums at a later date when I represented the group.
During the summer, the hutted classrooms became almost unbearably hot as we had to wear our serge uniforms.  It was difficult to concentrate on complicated electrical circuits.  On one occasion an instructor, a civilian, was sitting at his desk going through a diagram and his voice tailed off as his head lowered to the desk and he was asleep.  We kept very quiet and didn’t disturb him until the bell went for a change of classes.
Apart from the technical knowledge we needed to absorb, there were military aspects, with parades and lectures on the RAF.  Hut and kit inspections were weekly and a medical inspection once a month which was particularly degrading where we had to stand on our kit boxes with our pants and trousers at half mast while an officer, poked at our genitals with his cane to see if we had tinea cruris!
We went to the Camp Cinema occasionally but we could spend evenings in the Naval, Army and Air Force Institute (NAAFI) where we could buy a mug of tea and a cake for a few pence and the necessary cleaning materials for our webbing and boots.  There I was introduced to a half pint of beer.  I couldn’t tell if it was doctored in any way but after drinking it I felt very muzzy and was put to bed by my friends. 
Pay parade was held on Friday mornings and we all lined up in a hanger in alphabetical order.  The officer would sit behind a table covered with a blanket and accompanied by a Pay Account NCO.  The Drill Sergeant would call out our names and we would step smartly forward to the table, salute, say our names and numbers take our pay in our left hand, salute again, turn left and march off.  Our nominal pay was ten shillings a week but sixpence was deducted for a haircut and two shillings retained for payment when we went on holiday, so we had a total of seven shillings and sixpence. But we were encouraged to send some money home and I allocated three shillings a week which was paid monthly to Mum and banked in the Post Office.  This actually carried on until I married in September 1940 and I was glad of a little next egg to start married life, but effectively I lived on four shillings a week – there was nothing to spare and life was frugal but agreeable, with interesting work and lots of sport.
Our final exams took place early in April and on the 13th I was graded as an Aircraftsman 1st Class and was most disappointed at achieving 78% when 80% would have graded me as a Leading Aircraftsman.  We were all excited and partly apprehensive as to where we would be posted.  I suppose I was lucky in a way as I was posted to No 13 Army Co-operation Squadron based at Odiham near Basingstoke.  At that stage my parents lived at Worthing on the South Coast where Dad was operating his School of Air Navigation from Shoreham Airport.
Odiham was a new RAF Station built in 1936 and was such a pleasant change from Cranwell.  I was put to work in ‘A’ Flight and serviced all the radios.  All the aircraft were Hawker Hectors which were nose heavy with Napier in-line engines and prone to tilt on to their nose when landing.  I volunteered to be an Air Gunner/ Wireless Operator and flew with Sgt Pilot Bishop (more of him later); whose grandfather was Captain Billy Bishop of World War I fame.  Three months later I had my aircrew medical and was rejected for aircrew duties because of a slight defect in my left eye (which most probably saved my life as the pilot I flew with was killed in France together with his wireless operator).  At the time I was most disappointed.

Summer saw two of us sent to work with the Royal Artillery (RA) on Salisbury Plain.  Our task was to listen to the pilot who would watch where the shell bursts landed and send Morse to us for correction of the aiming point of the guns.  We would pass on the details to the Battery Commander but we only had a small receiver and had strips of white oilcloth to use as answering code to the pilot, which was devised by a Group Captain in the 1930’s at Singapore.  It was all very martial.  We would travel out in convoy with our RAF vehicle but had to stay in it until the Battery Commander gave the order ‘dismount’, which was a hangover from when the Royal Artillery had horses.  The guns or Howitzers would be lined up with the crews reporting “No 1 gun ready, Sir”, etc... No 1 gun was the ranging gun and we were ordered to place our little receiver 10 paces behind the gun.  When the aircraft arrived we would put out our signal strips and No 1 gun would be given the order “Fire”.  The noise was appalling and our receiver would leap into the air from the concussion.  I would then have to do a frantic re-tune before the pilot sent his message.  All very amateurish and I could never understand why we couldn’t have a transmitter/receiver working on the same frequency as the aircraft.  Living with the Army was very basic compared with the RAF and we were always pleased when we could return to base after two weeks absence.
A month later we were sent to Jedburgh, just south of the Scottish border, to repeat firings with the Royal Artillery (RA) based at Catterick.  It was cold and wet and I was so pleased to have a weekend with Harold and Eve at Feltham, at the end of the exercise.
Following these exercises I thought about my future and volunteered for another year at Cranwell to become a Wireless/Electrical Fitter which effectively was a higher grade tradesman.  So I was off to Cranwell again in 17th February 1939 for a nine month course, living in barracks at East Camp and learning radio servicing (as opposed to operation) and also elements of electricity, blacksmithing and carpentry.
On the 3rd September 1939 while on this course, I was listening to the radio in the barrack room when Chamberlain made his famous broadcast and suddenly we were at war with Germany.  Would there be trenches like World War I or what would happen?  I and the others on my course had no concept and there was a margin of apprehension.  The course was slightly curtailed, we took our exams and I was promoted to Leading Aircraftsman.
Initially I was posted to Evanston in Scotland but that was cancelled after two days and on 18th January 1940 I was sent to No 21 Aircraft Depot near Nantes in bitterly cold France.  This was really a holding depot and we lived in appalling conditions in Nissan huts with no beds.  We slept in our clothes on a groundsheet on the wooden floor, had one blanket to keep us warm and froze.  Water for shaving came from ice on a pond which we thawed out on a miserable fire with coal briquettes.  Food was rudimentary, bully beef and biscuits and I longed to be back in the reasonable conditions of Odiham.  If we complained, the answer was always the same, “There is a war on!”
The French Air Force Trials Dept flew from the Nantes Airfield.  One sunny, though frosty afternoon, two of us were working on the fringe of the airfield when a new Dassault aircraft of very modern construction was being tested as a fighter and we were enthralled.  It was fast, very manoeuvrable and eventually came in to land.  Whether it was an airframe weakness or what, one leg buckled, and the aircraft somersaulted and burst into flames.  Horrifying!
I was at 21 Aircraft Depot for 10 days and then posted to No 4 (AC) Squadron situated on a grass airfield at Monchy La Gache on a little hamlet midway between Peroune and St Quentin.  In World War I the Germans occupied Monchy La Gache and they were well remembered by the inhabitants and pretty well despised.  Our Headquarters was in mobile caravans, the Signal Section operated from a mobile workshop, the receiving and transmitting operations were in two separate vehicles and Flt Lt King, the Signals Officer had a van to use as an office.  The Signals Network comprised communications with Group HQ and all messages were in Morse code.  The operations continued throughout the 24 hours.
Our billet was an old disused house, previously used by the Germans and it had remained derelict in the intervening years.  So the problem was to make it weatherproof and attempt to make it habitable.  It was always damp and cold as the sole fireplace disliked burning the coal briquettes and we had to scrounge for dry timber in the woods.  Our beds were wooden petrol tank cases nailed together and a canvas palliase filled with straw as a mattress.  Our meals were taken in the Village Hall and the cooks operated from a mobile cookhouse and did wonders with the inevitable issue of bully beef and local mutton.  A bathhouse was set up at the end of the village and we were able to bathe in large tine baths (communal) filled with hot water from a boiler, but this facility was only available on Fridays. 

A small shop provided a few extra items such as shaving gear and biscuits. It was run by a small wiry man who had been injured by the Germans, and his sister.  He had a smattering of English and I was happy to improve my schoolboy French as my grammar was not too brilliant anyway.
The Signal Section was run by a Warrant Officer (WO) Pfiel (a German name?) and Flight Sergeant (FLT Sgt) ‘Darky’ Robinson.  Darky lived in our billet and we often had a chat in the mornings as we used the four hole toilet in the yard.  I don’t know why but we usually coincided with our functions!  A Sgt Legge was in charge of the receiving van and on one occasion we were sent about 50 miles away to practice setting-up the facilities and communicating with base and Group.  I think the nearest town was Montelimar.
Laundry was always a problem until I discovered that the village blacksmith’s wife was happy to do it for a few francs.  However, we were issued with a tin of 50 cigarettes a week with a brand name of ‘Martins’. I didn’t smoke and was only too happy to give her the tin in exchange for my laundry but she was so delighted that I didn’t have to pay and in addition, I always had to sit down and while the crepes were cooking, the blacksmith always gave me a huge glass of rough red wine!
The winter was cold!  When the snow disappeared we had to wear gumboots because of the liquid mud and balaclavas, scarves and leather jerkins were the order of the day.
The airfield was about a mile away and we shared it with my old Squadron No 13 and I knew all the Signals people.  The aircraft were Lysanders and had TR9 transmitter/receivers and if anything went wrong with the sets I was usually called in to correct the fault.  There were three Flights and each Flight had a dugout at the edge of the airfield to which I was delighted to escape to out of the cold.  Sitting in the pilot’s seat once I noticed that it was so cold the liquid in the compass bowl was mushy.

Inevitably, we had an accidental crash and a young Pilot Officer and his Air Gunner died, so we had a military funeral at the local cemetery.
Spring was most welcome as the days became warmer and we all wondered why the war was stagnant.  I often thought it would be superb to be home again.  I wrote to Eve every day and in early May I was given two weeks holiday with a ship from Boulogne to Dover, a few days at Feltham and then off to Ayr where my parents lived at the time.  One of the disadvantages of going on leave was that we had to take our kit with us - a heavy kitbag, all our webbing, a gas mask and a gas cape - an unnecessary encumbrance as we went back after leave.  Dad asked if there was anything I would like to take back with me.  What we all needed in the billet was a small radio so that we could listen to the BBC.  Dad kindly bought a radio but unfortunately it was much heavier than I had bargained for and I struggled to carry the heavy thing in its package all the way from Dover Railway Station to the docks and again in France, but my roommates were very pleased when we rigged an aerial and switched it on.
My friend, Laurie Mathers, who worked with me on the Headquarters Unit, was very pleasant and we got on very well.  Out for a walk one afternoon, we heard some shots and were very suspicious.  Germans?  No, it was Flt Sgt Robinson out with a .22 rifle getting rabbits for the pot, but he looked rather sheepish when he saw us.
Eve was very curious to know where I was in France and all our letters were checked so we devised a code so that my next few letters would start sequentially spelling out the name of the town at the start of each letter.  But Eve could not find Monchy La Gache on the map of France and was no wiser until I went on leave and we looked it up on the map of France.
Each Saturday, a four ton Bedford fitted with benches went to Peronne as a ‘liberty wagon’.  I thought it would be nice to send Eve a photo so I went into Peronne to a photographer and had a portrait taken of me in uniform.  Next week, the result was especially good and I was most pleased, even more so when the photographer and his wife drew my attention to an enlargement framed in the window.  I wonder what the Germans thought of it?
Listening to the radio we all knew that the Germans had bombed Poland and had instituted military rule and later that they were massing on the Dutch and Belgian borders and we often wondered when the real war would commence.  April was a month of ‘stand-to’ early and late and there were numerous exercises with the Army to keep us busy from dawn to dusk.  To my astonishment, I was allowed to go on leave early in April but found the same state of readiness on my return.
One afternoon early in May, a German Heinkel circled the airfield and left a circular smokescreen around the perimeter, so it was an immediate ‘stand-to’ ordered by the Commanding Officer (CO) Wing Commander (Wg Cdr) Charles.  Also that afternoon we had a spate of ‘secret’ messages in, hurried meetings for the officers and the order was given to pack everything for a move. 

The Heinkel He 113 was a supposed Luftwaffe fighter aircraft of World War II, but which existed only as a propaganda and/or disinformation strategy.  In 1940, Joseph Goebbels publicised the fact that a new fighter was entering service with the Luftwaffe. The plan involved taking pictures of Heinkel He 100 D-1s at different air bases around Germany, each time sporting a new paint job for various fictional fighter groups. The pictures were then published in the press with the He 113 name, sometimes billed as night fighters (even though they did not even have a landing light).
Next morning we were off in convoy.  We had no idea of our destination but ended up at the airfield at Lille, a city on the northern border of France.  Lille adjoins Bethune which is in Belgium.  So we were instructed that this would be our base and in order to find the highest point in a very flat area for our wireless station we set up in the ramparts of a Napoleonic fort within easy reach of the airfield.  It was very picturesque and the object of some curiosity by the French.  Lille was an industrial city and we managed to see a little in our off-duty hours.  (We had a 24 hour rotation).  There was a bit of night bombing but the biggest raid we experienced was on the city of Lens, a few miles away, and Sgt Legge was anxious because he had a girlfriend there.  Each night we had to patrol as sentries and I was issued with a Smith and Wesson .45 revolver and six rounds of ammunition.  I wondered what we would do for extra ammunition if we had to defend ourselves.
The Squadron had many sorties over the Maginot Line and the Lysander aircraft were very slow and sitting ducks for the German Messerschmitt ME 109’s, so gradually over two weeks we lost several aircraft.  One Flight Lt I had flown with occasionally was killed and his Wireless Operator also died, so I thanked my lucky stars that I had been taken off flying duties.  When the German invasion actually started in May we were at the centre of a pincer movement as the invasion avoided the Maginot Line, came in through Holland and Belgium and also through the Ardennes which was difficult terrain for tanks and therefore totally unexpected and an area with very limited defences. 

On the 21st May we had six Lysanders left out of 25 and the Squadron was ordered to withdraw to St Omer for reinforcements.  We were packing our vehicles when a Frenchman and his wife came with their black Labrador and begged us to shoot it because they were refugees and couldn’t cope with the dog.  There was no way that I was going to shoot the animal but Laurie Mathers said he would do it and put his revolver to the back of the dog’s head but just as he pulled the trigger the dog moved its head; there was a huge bang and the animal took off totally uninjured but its ears must have been ringing.
The Lysanders which were unable to fly were torched as were the vital stores except for items which could be carried in the lorries and off we set for St Omer in convoy with the transmitter and receiver vans at the rear of the convoy.  Laurie and I travelled in the transmitter vehicle and when we had travelled about eight miles, the receiver van in front of us sustained a puncture so we stopped as well to help change the wheel.  Meanwhile, the convoy had gone on, and although we tried to catch up it was most difficult with refugees on the road.  People trundling carts, some motors, some just walking carrying children and bundles, old people in wheelbarrows and handcarts; it was quire heartbreaking and at one point a Messerschmitt ME 109 came along the road using its machine guns on defenceless people.  So very callous!  We were lucky not to sustain any damage and eventually arrived at the St Omer airfield.  It had obviously been bombed very heavily and most of the buildings were burned out and there were several Fairy Battle aircraft burnt out too and leaning at drunken angles.  There was no sign of the convoy.  We were rather nonplussed and had no means of communicating with the convoy.  In retrospect I suppose we could have set up the wireless station and asked Group for orders, but that would have taken an hour or so.  At that time an Army Captain came along on a motorcycle and we flagged him down and he suggested that we made our way down to the coast at Dunkirk as Boulogne had been cut off by the Panzers.
By that time it was beginning to get dark so we went on a few miles and pulled off into a wood which had some cart tracks, to bivouac for the night.  We were very worried that the Squadron had disappeared with no means of communicating with Group Headquarters or the UK.  We didn’t think to set up the wireless station and contact Group to find out the Squadron’s destination, so the only alternative was to have a ‘brew up’, consume some of our iron rations and settled down for the night.  I was sleeping in the back of the transmitter vehicle but was rather restless because of the distant shelling and other rumblings during the night.  I woke up just as dawn was breaking and looked out to see some German tanks about 200 yards away and it appeared the crews were asleep in their sleeping bags underneath.  With my heart in my mouth, I crept out to wake the others and advised them not make any noise.  There were no electric starters on Bedford vehicles and they had to be swung by hand and thanked God that they both started at the first swing of the starter handle and we were off as fast as we could go back down the track, followed by a fusillade of shots!  Apart from a few holes, no one was hurt but Sgt Legge, Laurie and I had palpations for a while.
We came to a subsidiary road, turned right which took us onto the main road where we turned left to take us to Dunkirk.  There were so many pitiful refugees, burnt out vehicles and broken carts.  Some dead animals and what looked like some newly and hastily dug graves were by the roadside.  The land was flat with no real shelter, interspersed with dykes and a few trees but most of the houses seemed to be in ruins.  All the way along the road we heard the sound of gun fire and the drone of aircraft with the crump of bombs exploding.
When we were about 10 miles from Dunkirk, the engine on the Receiver vehicle broke down, and we couldn’t find the problem.  Soon after an Army major came along in a car with a few soldiers so we flagged him down and told him of our predicament.  Thinking we had run out of fuel, we tried to beg some petrol from them but they were short too.  He said that the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) had been ordered to put up a rearguard action; that the French had capitulated as had the Dutch and Belgians and that the German Army was fairly close.  They offered us a lift into Dunkirk.
So we abandoned the locked vehicles, the radio that Dad had provided and our kitbags and went off with the Army.  They stopped once for about two hours and we helped carry shells for the ack-ack (anti-aircraft artillery) guns.  There were fairly sustained bursts of firing at JU 88’s, Heinkels and Messerschmitts before we were told to pack up and move to the perimeter of Dunkirk.
Dunkirk was ablaze when we arrived.  A pall of smoke hung over everything and there was a strong smell of oil and abandoned vehicles all over the place.  The sound of gunfire was horrific and there was a trail of soldiers going down to the beach so we joined them.  They were from the 5th Division and had been fighting in Belgium and as the Stukas came in they fired their Lee-Enfield rifles at them in defiance. Calais had been overrun and it seemed that we were cut off.
It was horrifying really with damaged vehicles and buildings, bombs and rifle fire.  A ship had been sunk by the mole but there was still a queue of soldiers waiting to be picked up from that ship but mostly there were orderly queues on the beach.
The smoke haze was over the sea as well and as we got onto the beach it was quite an amazing sight with ships of all sizes at sea, some Navy but mostly commercial ships, lifeboats, trawlers and a variety of cruisers, yachts and anything else which would float.  The sea was shallow at Dunkirk with a fairly wide beach and there were strings of men in orderly queues going into the sea up to their armpits waiting to be picked up.  Small craft came inshore and picked up the men and ferried them out to the waiting ships.
There were wounded soldiers and quite a few dead - some had been buried in the dunes but a lot had not and it was an awful, sad sight to see the British Forces in this dreadful state because the other countries had capitulated.
The first night was spent trying to get some rest and keep warm as the queue gradually edged forward into the sea, but it was a very slow process.  The Germans were overhead at dawn and we all ducked for cover but the queues reformed afterwards and no one took advantage of a new position.  Food was scarce and the only water I had was in my water bottle which held about a pint.
Slit trenches had been dug in the sand and when the JU 88’s and fighters came over everyone dived for cover and people were hurt or killed.  The RAF came over when the Germans had gone and we were subjected to a lot of vilification from the Army – “Where was the RAF? Why did the Spitfires come over only after the Germans had been?  Why weren’t there more of them, etc.”  We explained how we had started with 25 Lysanders and crews and only six had made it back to England.  Of 250 Hurricanes sent to France only 10% survived and how the Fairey Battle had been sent out as a light bomber when it could only carry a small bomb load and was very much under-powered.  Anyway, the Army had not covered the Ardennes and it was significant that the German Panzers had come through at that point and reached the coast at Calais to cut us off at Dunkirk!

We were lucky I suppose as we were picked up about 11:00am 25th May 1940 after spending two days on the beach.  We waded out into the sea with water up to our armpits before we were picked up by a launch.  There were about 14 of us on board. The crew looked hollow eyed and exhausted and we were taken out to a Navy frigate or destroyer.  I’m not exactly sure but I remember seeing H18 painted on the hull.

We were packed in like sardines on the desk and alleyways were crowded.  The injured were taken into the Sick Bay which was overflowing but at about 2:00pm we took off.  We had a couple of scares as bombs were dropped near us but I was so glad to be going back to England.   We docked at Folkestone Harbour mid afternoon.  My uniform was damp, I had only my tin hat to wear and strapped to my waist I had my revolver.  I reeked of oil as there had been a lot in the sea from sunken ships, but I was very happy to be back in England, safe and sound.
It took some time to disembark and as we walked down the gang plank to the dock we were shepherded by Military Police away from canteens and food set up on tables – ‘Officers Only’.  It was at that point that I vowed that one day I would be an officer.  We were so hungry and thirsty – but we were back home!  We were all herded down to Folkestone Station and onto a train where we were loaded into 3rd class carriages and after about an hour the train moved off.  We had no idea where we were going but about 7:00pm we stopped at Larkhill Army Camp on Salisbury Plain, allocated beds and taken to the dining area where we had our first food for over 48 hours.  Then to blissful bed!  Next morning I had to put on my disgusting uniform and after breakfast managed to send telegrams to Eve and my parents to say that I was home again.  It was only later that I found out that a telegram had been sent to my parents reporting me ‘missing believed killed’ from the Air Ministry.
The Army people at Larkhill were very kind and after being ‘processed’ – name, rank, unit, trade, pay book and identity card, I was asked where my home was.  Mum and Dad were at Ayr in Scotland and it was too far to go in 48 hours so I went to Feltham to see my Eve.  I felt rather self conscious walking across Waterloo Station in my ‘battle bowler’ and stained uniform and had to put up with a few stares, but when I got to 28 Cromwell Road, Feltham and my Eve answered the door I was overwhelmed by Eve and her Mum.  I had to wear Eve’s dressing gown as all my clothes went into the wash and we had a delightful 48 hours before I reported back to Larkhill.  Bliss!
I was at Larkhill for another 24 hours before they were notified by the Air Ministry that the Squadron was regrouping at Linton-on Ouse, a Bomber Command Station in Yorkshire, just north of York.  When I reported there I was greeted by Warrant Officer Pfiel, “Where the hell have you been?  Where is your toolkit and all your clothes?  You know you will have to pay for the missing items.”  But I never did!
We had to set up a new Headquarters and a wireless unit and because there was a lack of RAF vehicles we had two removal vans to wire up and refit with transmitters and receivers.  The Squadron had new Lysanders and pilots and we were very busy during the day.  At night, because it was Bomber Command, the Whitley bombers took off at dusk and came back in the small hours.  They were slow aircraft and were eventually withdrawn from service. 

When the Squadron was up and running again we were given a week off as compensation for all the trouble in France and I went back to Feltham again for three days and then went to Ayr.  Eve and I went into London one day and on the way home, as the train was just passing Wandsworth Gas Works, I asked her to marry me.  She said, “What an elegant place for a proposal of marriage!” But I got an affirmative and we planned to get married in September, date to be arranged.  I don’t think that Louie was too pleased as we were only 20 and I know that a couple of years before she had warned Eve, “Don’t you get mixed up with those Martins!”
Eve was in the Civil Service which was one of her aims in life as she had gone to Clark’s College in Putney for a year in order to make sure she was capable of taking the examination and once in it was a job for life.  There was a minor complication as, when women married, they were expected to resign, however this rule was relaxed when the war started.  Her department was transferred to Blackpool (it is now the home of UK Veterans’ Affairs) and lodged in a large hotel on the sea front and Eve and her friend Elsie Kennedy were billeted with a charming Lancashire couple that made them very welcome.  There were occasions when I managed a weekend pass and went over by train so that we had some great weekends on our own either strolling on the sea front, going to the cinema or dancing in the magnificent ballroom at Blackpool Tower.  Blackpool was full of Polish Airmen being trained in the ways of the RAF and learning some English but I believe they were more interested in the local girls.
Harold May (Eve’s brother) had joined the RAF at this stage and was training at Cosford near Birmingham.  Louie was living on her own at Feltham and she was earning her living as a dressmaker and in fact she made the dresses for the wedding – one bride and six bridesmaids, no small task as Joan and Sheila were at Ayr and she had to get all the measurements.
Linton-on-Ouse was a fairly new Station and we were very busy reforming with Lysanders and setting up workshops and all the other facilities.  In order to build up the manpower we had several reservists sent to us and I was given the job of bringing them up to scratch with all the wireless codes and procedures.  One of them was named James Shaw, a six foot tall, pleasant, bulky Yorkshireman and we were friends with him and his wife for some years.
In July 1940, Eve came over and stayed at a pub in the village for the weekend.  I couldn’t get permission to stay out at night ‘in case of emergencies’ so I reluctantly had to go back to camp on the two nights.  The pub owner told me I was a fool and should just have stayed out, but someone would have reported me missing.  We went to York and wandered along the banks of the River Ouse and planned the wedding, so it was a blissful weekend.
Shortly after that the Squadron moved to Clifton Airfield on the outskirts of York and we were thoroughly busy yet again transferring and setting up our facilities all over again.  We were still an Army Co-operation Squadron and I had difficulty understanding the mentality of proliferating the idea of slow aircraft (sitting ducks), searching out targets for the Royal Artillery and flying up and down.  In France we started with 25 aircraft and only six made it back to England.  Wing Commander Charles was the Commanding Officer and he had a Royal Artillery Major as his Second-in-Command.  The Major was a great one for discipline and drill and loved to get us all on parade which, we were convinced, would not win the war.
On one occasion I was the duty wireless operator on a night-flying exercise and it was my job to signal to the aircraft with an Aldis lamp – green to take off, then red, don’t land yet, or a green, you may land.  The Major was in charge and giving me instructions.  Two aircraft had landed down the flare path and the third signalled a request to land.  The Major was talking to the pilot so I gave a green light to the aircraft and was promptly yelled at, “I’m in charge – I will say when the aircraft can land.  You will not use your initiative!”  I promptly expected to go to prison for the next five years!  Happily the aircraft landed safely and taxied off to its parking place.  We were just packing up when a low-flying German aircraft dropped a bomb and damaged our telephone exchange.  We didn’t do any more night flying for a while after that.
Our wedding was arranged for 14 September 1940 and by then the London blitz had started.  All leave was cancelled.  I put my case to the Signals Officer, who would not give me permission to go on leave, so I had to see Wing Commander Charles.  My parents were in Scotland and they had arranged to travel down – and I stressed that Dad was a Flight Lieutenant and my two sisters were bridesmaids and everything had been arranged – reception, clergyman, flowers, etc., so he kindly relented and gave me the weekend off but I had to report back on the Monday morning.  I felt very elated and sent off a telegram to Eve that all was well and to expect me.  It never arrived!
I caught a train out of York in the late afternoon and it took twice as long as normal to get to Kings Cross.  Trains on the Underground were scarce and the platforms were crowded with families escaping from the bombing.  Eventually I got to Waterloo – no trains to Feltham.  After ¾ hour wait, a train was put on and I was so thankful and it very slowly made its way – destination Windsor.  At 11:00pm we had arrived at St Margaret’s Station and it was a case of “Everyone out – there is a bomb on the line.”  There were no other forms of transport so it was a case of walking eight miles to get to Feltham and it was 1:00am when I knocked on the door of No 28 Cromwell Road, very, very tired.  Eve opened the door and threw herself into my arms.  “I thought you were not coming after all!”  “Didn’t you get my telegram?” “What telegram?”  Eve and Louie were sleeping in the ‘Morrison Shelter’ in the dining room.  There were bombs falling and for safety I slept by the piano under the keyboard overhang. 
The Morrison shelter, officially termed Table (Morrison) Indoor Shelter, had a cage-like construction beneath it. It was designed by John Baker and named after Herbert Morrison, the Minister of Home Security at the time. It was the result of the realisation that due to the lack of house cellars it was necessary to develop an effective type of indoor shelter. The shelters came in assembly kits, to be bolted together inside the home. They were approximately 6 ft 6 in (2 m) long, 4 ft (1.2 m) wide and 2 ft 6 in (0.75 m) high, had a solid 1/8 in (3 mm) steel plate ‘table’ top, welded wire mesh sides, and a metal lath ‘mattress’- type floor. Altogether it had 359 parts and had 3 tools supplied with the pack.  The shelter was provided free to households whose combined income was less than £350 per year.
To follow the convention that the bridegroom should not see the bride until she arrives at church I was hustled out of the house as soon as I was dressed and had had a quick breakfast, with strict instructions – “Be at the church at 11:00am”.  Gus Channing was deputising for Harold as bestman because Harold was overseas and couldn’t get back.  So Gus and I walked to the Vicarage in Lower Feltham to advise the Reverend PD Godfrey that the wedding was on again, as Eve had cancelled it.  So we dawdled back and were at St Catherine’s Church, Feltham on time.  Eve arrived on the arm of Uncle Ernie and, of course, looked very beautiful, with three bridesmaids, Barbara, Dorothy and Harold’s girl friend Amelia(?).  Joan and Sheila were stranded at Ayr as my parents refused to travel to London because of the bombing.  We had lots of friends there and the church was full.  Eve looked so lovely coming down the aisle.  We were almost through the service when the sirens went and the Vicar rather hurried the rest of the service but had time to give us a homily about attending church regularly and bringing up a family as Christians.  I took umbrage at that as I had been in his choir at St Dunstan’s Church for several years and was going to remind him at the reception but he had scuttled off home.
The reception was a happy occasion except for the fact that none of my family were there but it was rather as I expected - but we missed Harold. 

We had booked a room in a hotel at Windsor for the night, so at 7:00pm we set off by train amidst a flurry of confetti and couldn’t believe our luck that we had a compartment to ourselves.  The train was rather slow getting to Windsor but when we arrived we found a taxi to take us to the hotel.  When we arrived I was rather surprised when the taxi driver said he would wait while we booked in.  However, at reception I reminded them that we had booked six weeks before and was told that they were so sorry but the hotel was full of refugees from London and had nothing.  Totally dismayed I went back and explained to Eve and we did a tour of all the hotels.  The only thing we were offered was a mattress on a landing!  The only recourse was to go back to Feltham and we were lucky to catch the last train, arrived at 11:00pm and then it was a case of switching beds all around so that we could have our first night together.  Not a very good start to our married life!
Off to York the next morning without incident where we had taken a room there for a week before Eve had to go back to Blackpool.  We found that my friends had ‘fixed’ our bed with a bell and the usual ‘apple pie’.  We had a blissful week and although I had to report in on the Monday morning I was given a lot of time off by ‘Darkie’ Robinson so that we could be together.  It was sad when Eve had to go off to Blackpool.
In October 1940 the RAF decided that they would like to share guard duty with the Army at Buckingham Palace and asked commanding officers for smart candidates and to my horror I was ‘volunteered’ by the Major and was sent off for training for a month with the Scots Guards at Chelsea Barracks in London.  We were viewed with great suspicion by the inmates who thought it degrading that the ‘Brylcreem Boys’ should deign to think of taking over their tasks.
Its popularity with Royal Air Force pilots in World War II led to their nickname, The Brylcreem Boys. This is the title of a 1998 film about downed pilots interned in the Republic of Ireland. Ironically, Tony Gibson, the model shown in RAF uniform to advertise Brylcreem during World War II, was an anarchist and conscientious objector.
My first job was to see if I could live out at Feltham and this was granted so Eve got leave and came down. At first we were rather a ragged lot but with all the physical training and drill by the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) and sundry drill instructors, we thought we were rather good and wanted to show the Army that the Junior Service made the job look easy.  Little did we know!  I was there for a month and was so fit, but getting to the Barracks by 8:00am every morning was a trial.
Came the day when we had to show off our prowess - similar to Trooping the Colour, complete with RAF ensign.   10:00am on that auspicious day we were assembled on the square for inspection by an Air Marshal and the Colonel of the Scots Guards.  They retired to the dais and the Scots Guards Band started, orders were given and we went through all the marches in 3’s and in line.  When it came to ‘advancing in line’ the wretched band started to vary the tempo, all very deliberately, so the lines were wavy and it was a shambles.  The Army had won and we were all sent back to our units.  Strangely, at the next parade at Clifton, the Major called me out and I had to give the orders as an RSM – but at least I had learnt something from the Scots Guards and that was how to project my voice.
Having had a lovely month with Eve, she decided that she would resign from the Civil Service and come and join me at Clifton.  Louie was rather distressed at Eve giving up her job but was understanding.  So I got some rooms at a house near the airfield and we went to live with Mr and Mrs Brown, a super couple who made us most welcome.  We also enjoyed the company of several members of the Squadron, one of whom took a great shine to Eve and would bring her flowers  - I had to warn him off!  But we had some great parties and used to spend a lot of time at Betty’s Tea Rooms in York.  We also went to evening classes, spent time on the River Ouse and really enjoyed life.  Eve smoked at that time and it was most difficult to buy cigarettes so I had to buy the papers and tobacco at the NAAFI.  We were at Clifton for my 21st birthday and to my chagrin I was detailed to be in charge of the guard that night.  I was livid and went to see the Station Warrant Officer, a little ignorant pig of a man, but he would not let me swap with another corporal and told me, “There is a war on – get on with it!”
One of our friends was Flight Sgt Hitchcock VC.  He had been in the Sutherland Highlanders in the Great War and earned his Victoria Cross taking out a machine gun nest.  He had a lovely Scottish accent and a Sgt Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) girlfriend.
Eve did not want to be ordered to take a job, which was the norm at that time, so she got a job with the London North Eastern Railway at York and had to deep a tally on the movement of trucks.  She was happy with it, good working conditions and the pay was reasonable, in fact, more than she earned in the Civil Service.
The RAF differs from Army and Navy units in that the complement of units changes, so on the 16th June 1941 I was posted to RAF West Malling in Kent on what was called the Headquarters Flight, again being responsible for the well being of the Station’s Radios for communication.  West Malling was one of the ‘front line’ airfields during the Battle of Britain.  Eve came with me and we got rooms in an ex-pub in East Malling, so it was a case of ‘on my bike’ every day but we got Eve a bike too and just in case the Germans invaded England we went to German classes at Maidstone.

No 29 Squadron’s COr Wg Cdr ‘Cats Eyes’ Cunningham was at West Malling with Beaufighter night fighters directed by radar installed in the aircraft.  Who should be responsible for the radars - Harold, Eve’s brother and I.  We had a great time together when we were off duty.  Eve also used her Civil Service training by working at the Employment Exchange in West Malling.

No. 29 Squadron received the Beau in November 1940 and operated it until May 1943 as a defensive night fighter unit. The squadron was based at RAF Wellingore, Lincolnshire (UK) from 8 July 1940 to 27 April 1941, and at RAF West Malling, Kent (UK), from 27 April 1941 to 13 May 1943.
Most of the wireless work I had done was at High Frequency (HF) but with fighter aircraft all the radios now worked at Very High Frequency (VHF) and the frequencies were controlled by interchangeable crystals, so I had to do a quick conversion course and get up to date.
In September 1941 No 1452 Flight was formed at West Malling and I was transferred from Station duties to run the radio section and was promoted to Sergeant 1st November.  No 1452 Flight was a bit odd.  The aircraft were Havoc’s, built in the USA and a searchlight was built into the nose of the aircraft and power for the searchlight was provided by a bomb bay full of lead-lined accumulators.  Each was fitted with radar and the searchlight was called a ‘Turbinlite’.  The operational role as a night fighter was that ground control (radar) would direct the fighter on to a German aircraft where it would be picked up by the aircraft radar and the operator would then direct the pilot to adjust direction in elevation and azimuth and when the aircraft was within 1,000 yards the pilot would illuminate the target with the Turbin light and the target would then be shot down by a Hurricane flying in attendance on the Havoc.  It was one of the more crazy ideas perpetrated on the RAF.  No 29 Squadron Beaufighters were more easy to operate at night and there, as usual, the pilot was vectored onto a ‘Bogey’ by ground control, picked up by the Radar Operator and the pilot would take on a visual contact and operate the aircraft’s guns.  No secondary aircraft was required and the system was foolproof and worked very well.
We were sent to RAF Hunsdon in Hertfordshire to learn about the system.  Two Flights were formed, one stayed at Hunsdon but 1452 Flight returned to West Malling in Kent and we settled to doing daily inspections in the morning with any maintenance, had a very quiet afternoon and went operational at dusk.  There were training flights and we lost a Sergeant Pilot and the Sergeant Radar Operator when the aircraft crashed in daylight in some woods near West Malling.  I went out to the site to retrieve sensitive equipment and the saddest thing I saw was one flying boot standing upright near the fuselage but the bodies had been retrieved.
Night after night in good weather we ‘stood to’ but it seemed that when the German raiders came over we were not used, because the authorities wanted to keep the Turbin Light a secret.
West Malling was one of the forefront RAF Stations in the ‘Battle of Britain’ and was often used for refuelling and re-arming before squadrons would go off on a ‘sweep’ across the Continent.  We made a point of checking serviceability with each pilot and one I checked was Squadron Leader (Sq Ldr) Douglas ‘Tin legs’ Bader DSO DFC who was very well known.  He had lost his legs doing a foolish roll of the aircraft at under 600 feet and was retired from the RAF but managed to rejoin as a pilot at the commencement of hostilities.  He was well known by Air Marshals ‘Stuffy’ Dowding and Portal and used his influence with them to get back into operational service.  He was eventually caught by an Me109, found that his left leg was trapped so that he couldn’t use his parachute, crash-landed and spent the rest of the war in a Prisoner of War (PoW) Camp.  Once the RAF found out where he was, a special flight was put on to parachute a spare pair of legs into the PoW Camp for him.  Some officers managed to escape but because of his difficulties he was finally released at the end of the war.

The Commanding Officer of 1452 Flight, a Sq LdrKennedy had a black Labrador dog (Nigger) which followed him everywhere but would stay in his office until he landed.  Off on a test flight one day, the dog sat and howled, his master had killed himself flying round his home and had apparently misjudged the height as he hit the house and ploughed in.
I was promoted Sergeant at West Malling and it felt great to be able to use a separate Mess and have a room allocated to me.  Shortly afterwards, a Sergeant Pilot whose parents lived in West Malling, was killed in action and brought home and they asked for a military funeral.  I was a new Sergeant and was one of six to carry the coffin, draped in the RAF colours.  Afterwards we were asked to their house and I felt awful when the mother asked me if I had known her son but I had to tell her that he was from another Station and, with regret, I had not met him.

By March 1942, the ‘Turbinlites’ had been used and the sum total of their efforts was one Manchester and one Wellington shot down and it was generally recognised that the Unit would be shut down.  However, on the 22nd April 1942 the Adjutant came into the office – “Sergeant Martin. I’m looking for volunteers for an RAF Commando Unit which is just being formed.  Are you interested?”  “No, Sir, thank you.  I have my wife in East Malling and would prefer to stay here.”  ”Ok” he said and went off.
Twenty minutes later, the Corporal from the Orderly Room came to me and said, “I hear you have volunteered for the Commandos.  Here is your clearance chit and you have to be at RAF Fairlop no later than 5:00pm tomorrow.”  I said, “I haven’t volunteered for anything and I will go and see the Adjutant.”  He had left the Station, neither was he available anywhere the next morning before I had to leave because I would have done him a great mischief.  I just could not believe what had happened and poor Eve was devastated.  The Commanding Officer regretted he could do nothing for me and I had to go.
Late afternoon 23rd April 1942 saw me at RAF Fairlop near Ilford where I reported to the Commanding Officer and was told briefly that I was now in 3201 RAF Commando and I just had time to get to the Stores and draw my Army type kit from big boots through to beret.  I was confused and disoriented but there were other NCO’s who gave me some information about what we were and what was expected of us.
Commando Unit 3201 trained in the UK and landed in North Africa on D-Day at about H + 60 minutes and reached Maison Blanche airfield at 9.10 hrs. When not involved in assault landings they worked alongside aircraft recovery units. They were in Sicily in 1943 and Corsica in January 1944. Their CO throughout the 2.5 years was Flt. Lt. H Webster who made this critical comment... the unit was misused after Sicily, no one on the staff knew its capabilities.
 Basically, we were to form a unit capable of fighting our way into an enemy held airfield, save what facilities were available and prepare the airfield for friendly aircraft to be refuelled and re-armed and to hold the airfield until a normal RAF unit arrived, whereupon we would go off and find another enemy airfield.  Charming!
I just had time to sew chevrons on my new khaki uniform and put it on before we were given a quick meal, put into lorries and taken to a special train.  “Where are we off to?”  “Inverary”  “Where is that?” “In Argyllshire”.  So we travelled through the night and arrived as Inverary at 10:00am 25th April 1942.  There we marched with our kitbag and rifles on to the dock by Loch Fyne and found we were to be billeted on a P&O ship named the ‘Ettrick’.  We were accommodated up the ‘sharp end’ and issued with hammocks for sleeping.  From the ship we could see the turreted home of the Duke of Argyll and almost next to it was a hill to which we were to become well acquainted in our physical training sessions.  “15 seconds to the top – go!  You have taken 16 seconds, do it again, go.”

From the start, we were initiated into Commando life and expected to live up to the ethos.  Rather difficult at the beginning because quite a few of the airmen had been used to a fairly sedentary life.  But we had lectured daily and learned how to operate at night, take out sentries and drive armoured vehicles.  We had lorries issued and had to fit them out for special duties; how to manoeuvre tanks on and off landing craft.  There were long route marches and my Army boots were excruciating, but we went up and down hills, through marshes and woods, got to be hugely fit and always wondered what we were training for and what was our final destination.  The CO had a conference with the NCO’s and told us North Africa but not a word to the airmen!
When we were asleep some nights, the alarm bells would ring and it was a case of get fully dressed and armed, up on deck, down the scramble nets and into the ‘R’ boats operated by the Royal Navy.  The ‘R’ boats were very fast launches which held a platoon of men under the charge of NCO’s and were designed for landing mobile troops very quickly onto a beach where there may or may not be an enemy reception committee.
On one occasion, the alarm went off at 2:00am and we were in the ‘R’ boats about 20 minutes later.  It was a bitterly cold, frosty morning with plenty of ice around.  I was in charge of one ‘R’ boat and was briefed by the Royal Navy skipper that we were going south, would be landed on the beach at North Troon and were to advance about five miles inland and capture a grass airfield.
It was hellishly cold and we all huddled together for warmth and wished we were in the Navy with thick duffle coats.  Came the dawn and we could see land but it was another 20 minutes before we got to the beach.  When we touched the beach the Navy Ensign backed the ‘R’ boat off slightly and we were off, up to our waists in icy water and wading to a pebbly beach with ice and some snow in evidence.  I checked the compass bearing and then we started across the moor, often in marshy conditions and the five miles took an age, taking cover from Naval aircraft, crawling through mud and scrub until finally we arrived at the ‘airfield’ at noon to be met by some small arms fire, so we fired off our blanks and the Umpire said, “Well done.  There is some food and drink over there.”  Food turned out to be a chunk of bread, margarine and plum jam with a pannier of tea.  So I very carefully spread the bread, found a small hummock to sit on and was just going to sit, when a Naval aircraft came over, dropped a sea marker at my feet which effectively was a canister of aluminium dust and I was showered with the stuff – including my bread and butter!  There were no more rations left and I was very hungry so I thought, Commandos are taught to live off the land – where is the nearest village.  Off I went and was joined by a friend and we trudged off down a track and eventually came to a whitewashed cottage where a woman was outside feeding some goats.  “My word, what have you two been up to?”  So we explained we had been on an exercise, were wet and cold, very filthy, hungry and looking for a shop.  She explained that it was about a mile away and invited us indoors where we managed to shed most of our clothes to dry at a peat fire.  Her husband was there and he gave us a lot of whisky (my first ever) to keep out the cold and the dear soul did a huge fry-up for us which was most welcome.  We tried to leave some cash in recompense but they wouldn’t hear of it.  Lovely people. 
 By 3:00pm lorries had turned up and we were off back to the ‘Ettrick’, so the rest of the day was ours and it took that long to clean up.  One thing I was delighted about, my Army boots had been saturated but had dried to a better fit and I was so thankful.
The next day, after running up and down the hill, we were unloading stores from a lighter.  One lorry was full and there wasn’t a driver in sight so I got in and reversed the vehicle about 50 yards out of the way down the dock and moved another into position.  I had never driven before and was pleased that no damage was done.
As the last days came we had a series of proficiency tests and were declared fit to wear the Commandos badge but not the green beret as we had our own blue ones.  The Commando badge was red on black and represented the three services and I think that we were all proud to wear it after our gruelling experience.
Our next port of call was RAF Hawkinge in Kent and all our equipment had to be transported by three ton lorries.  We didn’t have enough drivers and the CO asked for volunteers.  “How about you Sergeant Martin, I saw you driving one of the vehicles.”  And that is how I learnt to drive - all the way from Inverary in Scotland to Hawkinge in Kent.  It was a two day trip and I was anxious at times but arrived safely, having commanded the convoy all the way.  The others went by train.
At Hawkinge, training resumed but we also had a lot of visiting aircraft for refuelling re-
arming; went for route marches and were told to keep away from Canterbury when the Germans made one of their Baedeker raids and did so much destruction.
The Baedeker Blitz or Baedeker raids were a series of Vergeltungsangriffe (‘retaliatory raids’) by the German air force on English cities in response to the bombing of the erstwhile Hanseatic League city of Lübeck during the night from 28 to 29 March 1942 during World War II.
 North Africa was an anti-climax.  We embarked on a troopship at Southampton and travelled through the Bay of Biscay with a number of U-boat scares.  The landing was reasonably peaceful and we made for the nominated airfield but the Germans had gone and a few booby traps were cleared by an Army bomb disposal unit and we were soon in business with visiting aircraft.
Five days after we landed the Commanding Officer sent for me.  A signal had arrived and a few hours later I was off by air to England where I found myself at RAF Tangmere and working in the Sector Operations Room (SOR).  To this day I have never really understood why I should have been trained for the Commandos and then returned to the UK.
The SOR was initially situated in the St James Infant School in Chichester with the situation war board in what was the assembly hall with WAAF’s with croupier type sticks moving symbols around the war board which showed southern England and part of France.  The symbols showed either friendly or hostile aircraft, height and estimated number of aircraft, the direction of the plot and a board which showed Squadrons available with their state, such as 12 airborne.
The Op’s Room was presided over by the Chief Operations Officer assisted by a GSO(A) who was an Army Captain, a Meteorological Officer, a Duty Signals Officer, a WAAF Officer in charge of all the WAAF on the floor of the Op’s Room, an NCO WAAF taking information from the Direction Finding Stations who gave triangulation fixes on the RAF aircraft, with another RAF Officer who was in touch with each SOR, Group Headquarters and Fighter Command.  Also around the War Situation Board were tellers, passing information to other Sector Operations (Op’s).
As Duty Signals, I was responsible for all radio communications, the Wireless Communications Room, the Teleprinter Room and the WAAF operators, and for liaising with the Resident GPO Engineer on the allocation of the many land lines to the various Headquarters, OP’s Rooms and Radar Stations.  The Signals Officer was a dour Scot, Sq Ldr Ackroft who always seemed to be available in his office.  A WO Wootton in the Signals Section was a good organiser and a rapacious WAAF chaser!
One of my tasks was to organise technical training for the WAAF and male operators so they could pass examinations for upgrading in rank.  This was an onerous task in organising lectures which did not interfere with watch keeping duties, but it did mean a lot of repetitious work to a strict syllabus.
In case we were bombed out, there was a subsidiary Op’s Room set up in a commandeered chapel the other side of Chichester and I was responsible for weekly checks for serviceability.  After several months, it was obvious that the facilities at St James School were insufficient.  Larger premises were available at Bishop Otter College as all the young ladies had been evacuated.  The school hall became the Op’s Room with three tiers behind glass so that the controller could work without interfering with other personnel.  I had a position in the first tier with a great view of the War Board but the communication aspect was considerably enhanced.  When I was doing my 24 hour watch, I was responsible for 15 teleprinters and operators, the radio room with six operators and staff operating a three watch system over the 24 hours.  If all was quiet I had a little room off the teleprinter room with a bed in it where I could relax for a while.  The chance of actually sleeping there was very small indeed and it was used to a great extent by WAAF feeling off colour!  This was my first experience of dealing with women and their trials, likes and dislikes.  “Please, I’ve had a row with so and so, can I change my watch duties?”  I had one WAAF teleprinter operator who typed out a message posting herself to North Wales and I had heard beforehand that her husband was a corporal there.  So I just told her that it was a nice try and destroyed it.  She grinned.
I was allocated a room which had been in the Staff Quarters and kept most of my RAF kit there but seldom slept there as Eve had come down to live and we shared a house in a little village near Tangmere, but it wasn’t very satisfactory and we found a furnished bungalow owned by a pleasant lady in Bognor Regis.  It was very comfortable and reasonably priced but there was one snag – it was five miles from Chichester, so it was a case of ‘on my bike’ come rain or shine.  I was astounded how the wind changed daily so that it was always in my face whichever way I was riding.
At that time Dad was stationed at Brighton doing aircrew selection for a lot of aspiring Australians and Canadians who wanted to be pilots.  He came over to stay most weekends as we had a spare bedroom.  Eve was always uncomfortable with him probably stemming from the time I took her down to Worthing where they were living at the time.  When I announced at dinner that we were going to get engaged, Dad said, “Whenever you feel like that, have a cold shower!”  Not exactly a helpful remark but typical of him.  He was always happy to come and stay with us at Bognor Regis but in September 1943 Eve became pregnant with Graham.  She stayed at Bognor until March 1944 and then went to Feltham to her Mother’s as she was booked into a Twickenham hospital for the birth of the baby and also to be near her mother.
It was at this time that Hitler commenced sending V1’s over England.  These unmanned monoplanes were directed by gyroscopes onto their targets with the engines operating on a timer basis.  The engines were very noisy but when they cut out there was an awful silence as the V1 went into a dive and then a huge explosion.  The V1’s were code-named ‘Diver’.  During the day, fighter aircraft were sent up to shoot them down but the pilots found that if they could close in at about 250 mph and use their wing to go underneath the wing of the V1, the pilot could then lift the wing tip sufficiently for the gyroscope to topple and the V1 crashed.  The V1’s were flown from ramps on the French coast and were attacked by Bomber Command but the bombing was insufficiently accurate.  The ramps were semi-mobile and well camouflaged, so fighter aircraft using cannon and rockets were employed with more success.  During the campaign, about 200 V1’s were loosed across the English Channel and it was inevitable that some would get through.  One night in March 1944 about 9:00pm, I was on duty in the Operations Room when a ‘Diver’ crossed the coast and although it was attacked by the Army I was horrified as I watched it track up towards Feltham.  Eve was not on the phone but I asked the Observer Corps where it had landed and was told “Feltham in Middlesex”.  Next morning I was off duty for 24 hours, rushed off to the Railway Station and arrived at Feltham about 11:00am.  Eve and Louie had been sleeping in the Morrison shelter erected in the dining room and were frightened but okay.  Two windows upstairs had been blown in and some tiles were missing from the roof and later the Fire Service arranged a tarpaulin to cover the damage until repairs could be made – about a week later.  I wish I could have stayed on but had to return to Chichester.

A few days later, an order was issued by the Air Ministry.  “All leave was cancelled until further notice.”  This was necessary because the 2nd Front landings were imminent amid a veil of secrecy and it was imperative that no one in the Forces should be able to talk to their families about future operations.  In retrospect, just the fact that all leave was cancelled was evidence that something was afoot.
On the 7th April 1944, Eve went into labour and Louie took her by taxi to the Twickenham Nursing Home, but it was eight hours before Graham was born.  Louie sent me a telegram to announce the birth and I asked for permission to go home for a couple of days.  The Signals Officer, Sq Ldr Ackroft, couldn’t help me because of the ‘no leave’ edict but arranged for me to see the Station Adjutant, a Flight Lieutenant.  His attitude was, “This is an Air Ministry ruling, and in any case, what can you do now it is all over.  Not granted.”  Severely upset I asked to see the Commanding Officer, a Group Captain who was very sympathetic.  He said he had children of his own and “Yes, you can go when you are off watch, for 48 hours, on the understanding that you will return on time.”  What a relief!  It was the next day before I could go to the Nursing Home and Graham was four days old but my lovely Eve was over the moon and cuddling her baby.  It was delightful that we had a baby at last, nearly four years after we were married and were beginning to get a little worried that perhaps it would not happen.  We were also worried about the future, the bombing, our possibility of survival and a future of rationing with the ever present fear of invasion.
The 1st June 1944 saw us on high alert in the Operations Room.  Squadrons were being moved down from the North, the teleprinter room was busy with masses of encrypted messages for the cypher officers and there was a great feeling of expectation.  The ‘War Map’ showed a lot of shipping moving from the West into ports near the Channel and Bomber Command was busy with raids over the Calais area as a diversion.  The War Map showed massed movements on the 5th June 1944 but due to storms the landings were postponed for 24 hours but even then, the weather was poor and the seas quite rough.  Eisenhower gave the order to go and soon all shipping was moving across the Channel to the Normandy beaches – an edifying sight.  We had been on 24 hour duty for the 4th and 5th June and yet another 24 hours for the 6th June 1944 – ‘D-Day’ found us all quite exhausted but jubilant.

We had directed the RAF Squadrons diverting the Germans into thinking that the landings would be in the Calais area and had controlled the aircraft towing Horsa gliders and those carrying the Airborne Forces.  Further raids were made on the V1 sites but Hitler loosed a barrage before a lot of the ramps could be wiped out.

Earlier in the war, news had filtered back from Sweden that Hitler was building rockets at Peenemunde on the Baltic Coast and 100 bombers were sent to cause some devastation.  However, work went on elsewhere and just before D-Day the V2 rockets, with a four ton warhead were arriving at supersonic speed in London and the East Coast.  The design of the V2 was masterminded by Werner Brune (who eventually ended up in the USA at NASA) but a number of his staff had been killed in the raid.  The V2’s could be fired from a simple base and many eluded detection.

July 1944 saw me transferred to the RAF Unit at Beachy Head where an operations room had been installed underground in the massive chalk cliff but the entrance was a small brick building staffed by RAF Police.  I was responsible for all the electronics and also for a VHF Forward Relay Station , a VHF Direction Finding station and liaison with the Chain Home Low (CHL) Radar Station used to control ‘sweeps’ of squadrons across the Channel and in France.

I was not very happy to spend Christmas on duty but managed to get home to Eve for New Year.  I was billeted with two old ladies in the Meads area of Eastbourne.  They were immensely kind but the food was poor due to rationing.  After breakfast every morning I had to walk up to the station which was at the top of the cliff – and I was very fit!  This was my first with radar.  I was fascinated by the concept and spent a lot of time quizzing the engineering staff until I realised that my future would be with radar if I could take the appropriate courses.  However, as a Flight Sergeant (Flt Sgt), there were not many openings on radar courses which disappointed me.
RAF Beachy Head was a Royal Air Force (RAF) base and one of the many Chain Home Low radar stations, being situated near Beachy Head and Eastbourne in East Sussex, England. It featured a Type 16 radar that was monitored from RAF Kenley. RAF Beachy Head saw much activity in World War II covering the area from Brighton to Hastings from ten miles out to sea, but began to decline in importance in the 1950s.
 My staff at Beachy Head were a curious mixture.  A general duties airman kept the VHF transmitter in good order. He was a poacher in civilian life.  At Christmas, he wondered how we would manage for Christmas lunch.  I tried to get some extra rations from the RAF on the grounds that we had a 24 hour watch but had no luck.  On Christmas Eve, my airman went out at night with a sack, and came back with six dead chickens from the local farm.  He said the farmer had so many in his flock that he wouldn’t miss them.  A likeable rogue!  Most mornings, after I had climbed the hill, he would have tea ready and breakfast with rashers of bacon, sometimes with mushrooms.  When I quizzed him about how he got the bacon he told me that he got it through the ‘black market’ and not to worry.  Later, it transpired that he had a girlfriend in the ATS who worked in the cookhouse of the local barracks.  She had stolen a side of bacon and given it to the airman.  Nevertheless I had to strongly veto any further transactions.  It was a good Christmas Day and the Unit had a party which went on to the small hours with piano and the WAAF’s had all dressed up in civilian clothes.
My VHF Direction Finding Station was run by Corporal (Cpl) Jo Coles who was not only very efficient but had a huge range of bawdy songs.  I was quite staggered!  But she was great fun.  Sq Ldr Ackroft came to visit us on one occasion and we went out to Eastbourne with the staff that were off duty and had a rather boozy evening.
Eastbourne was rather a target for German light bombers.  They would fly in low to Stirling Gap, use our VHF aerial towers as markers and fly over the cliffs using the green cupola of the Town Hall as a target.  An aircraft dropped a bomb on one of the towers and blew it up and we had to jury rig the aerials until the lattice mast could be replaced.
Our telephone facilities to Group and Sector were becoming inadequate and Tangmere arranged for an additional cable to be put into the GPO Exchange.  A crew of GPO workmen turned up with a gadget similar to a plough, a drum of cable which fed the cable through an orifice into the plough and into the ground. We studied the plan of cables which had already been laid.  The GPO engineer was happy with the proposed location of the new cable and assured me that all was well.  The ‘plough’ started, the cable began to run out, did about 20 feet and cut through our communications cable.  We were off the air for a day and several officers turned up to see what had happened and the GPO engineer had a rough time.  In fairness, the original plan was misleading but the damage caused an operation over France to be cancelled.
Sometime after, the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) came to Britain and were involved in daylight raids over France, Germany and the Low Counties.  They wanted to take advantage of our radar facilities which were more accurate.  The CHL radar stations were effective out to approximately 120-150 miles but were inefficient at low angels.  The CHL Station at Beachy Head operated on a much higher frequency and was designed to give good definition at low angles – effectively a good ‘fill in’ to the CH stations and with greater accuracy in location of targets. When a Wing of RAF aircraft were involved in a ‘sweep’ over enemy territory, the controller at Beachy Head was able to detect enemy aircraft and vector the RAF aircraft to intercept.
If any pilot had to jettison from his aircraft over the Channel, he would SOS on his VHF radio.  The bearing would be picked up by my Direction Finding  (DF) operator and other DF stations to give a ‘fix’, by triangulation, in order that the Air, Sea, Rescue Service knew where to pick up the pilot in his inflatable dinghy.  The actual triangulation was achieved in the Tangmere Sector Operations Room.  We also had lines to the Biggin Hill and North Weald Operations Rooms to relay bearings.
Eve had a friend, Elsie Kennedy, who was in the Civil Service and shared accommodation with her at Blackpool   Elsie eventually joined the WAAF and became a DF operator at a station in the Kent Marshes.  The station reported bearings to Tangmere and for some unknown reason Elsie failed to pick up an SOS.  In the ensuing ructions I was ordered to put her on ‘report’ for disciplinary action.  What a quandary!  If I caused her to be punished what would happen to the relationship between Eve and Elsie?  I tried to be diplomatic, made out the report but never sent it in to Headquarters.
The USAAF sent a VHF mobile station to Beachy Head to use the radar facilities for their daylight raids.  We were, frankly, very astonished when they arrived.  The crew were one Master Sergeant and four Sergeants, no Privates.  The Master Sergeant contacted me to find out where to put his aerials masts, located three vehicles (two transmitter, one receiver) and how did he get into the GPO lines to Sector, etc.; having decided all that they set about erecting the 25 foot masts using a gantry.  The masts were of a composite material and they managed to break both.  We then had to help with the repairs and final erection of the masts, connection to the telephone lines and tuning the transmitters and receivers to their operating frequencies.  I must confess that their equipment was infinitely better manufactured than ours but had the same performance.  The men were a nice bunch and were very free with their rations so we were introduced to cookies, peanut butter, apple jam and coca cola - such a change from our dreary rations.
On 15th January 1945, the war in Europe had spread beyond the reach of our radar and I was recalled to Tangmere and put in charge of the Servicing Echelon of No 1 Squadron.  It was very satisfactory to be associated with real aircraft again and the Squadron was equipped with Supermarine Spitfires. The Servicing Echelon comprised a variety of tradesmen and was totally responsible for the serviceability of the aircraft in all forms such as engine fitters, airframe fitters, electricians, armourers and radio fitters - a motley crew.  Each aircraft had a Form 700 which recorded major and minor inspections, any unserviceability and remedial actions and the Daily Inspection (DI) which was a check for fitness to fly. 
Each aircraft was fitted with a VHF transmitter/receiver which was crystal controlled and for special activities the crystals needed to be changed, causing a flurry of activity mostly to meet the time of take-off for the aircraft.  VHF transmission and reception was mostly limited to line of sight, but I was once involved in an experiment to increase range.  I would transmit a message to a pilot who would re-transmit the message on another frequency to an aircraft flying at a much higher altitude to give an enhanced range.  An answer would be repeated back, sometimes garbled, and it reminded me of the Boy Scouts test of passing a message from one person to another and causing much merriment at the final result.
The Squadron was moved to Manston, in Kent, and the CO announced that Manston would be our permanent base so I rushed out to find some accommodation for Eve and Graham and managed to find a flat above Charles Pearce photographer’s shop in Westgate and had just got them installed when the Squadron was moved to Coltishall, near Norwich.  It was most unsettling and I was thinking of finding accommodation near Coltishall when I was posted overseas to Egypt on the 14th February 1946 and wasn’t too upset as families were allowed to join their husbands after a few months.
We (I and about 100 airmen) crossed the English Channel to Bologne by boat (on what was called the MEDLOC route), transferred to a train which took us overnight to Marseilles where the P&O Ship ‘SS Australia’ was waiting to take us to Port Said, in Egypt.  On one occasion, the train stopped at a village in France to take on water and we were besieged by French people, adults and children, all begging for food and blankets, such a pitiful sight and very distressing.
The ship was reasonably comfortable.  We all slept in hammocks and the food after rationing in the UK was good and plentiful.  I chummed up with another Flight Sergeant who was a bridge addict and that was how I learnt the basics of ACOL, the bridge system.  We couldn’t find anyone else who was interested, so played two hands each.  Three days out we ran into a storm and it was uncomfortable as we couldn’t go on deck.  Seasickness was rife but it eased off as we passed Malta and we had a good run to Port Said.  As we anchored, all the little colourful boats arrived selling fruit, eggs and bread and souvenirs of Egypt.  Before we could go ashore and transfer to Port Tewfik a riot broke out with Egyptians shooting, burning and looting, so as we disembarked we were issued with rifles and ammunition to defend ourselves if attacked.  We were also warned that the Egyptians were master craftsmen at stealing and the rifles should be taken into our beds.  It was noisy with rifle fire and yelling but we managed to get some sleep and the following day we were transported by train through fertile areas with palms and fields of grain, etc., to Ismailia, then by lorry to the Reception Centre at El Hamra.  There the Sergeants’ Mess was a marquee and sleeping quarters were tents in a very arid area.  It was hot and dusty and that night there was a sandstorm.  The sand had blown in and my blankets were covered.  It was all in my hair and I was glad to get a shower.  It was cold at night but hot during the day and similar to the best of summers in England.  Because it was winter we still wore our blue serge uniforms but during the day were issued with khaki-drill and spent some time with the Arab tailors who were quite expert, made the uniform fit and sewed on the necessary insignia.  El Hamra was situated by the Great Bitter Lake which was bisected by the Suez Canal and there were ships queuing to travel either north or south.  The lake was such a bright blue in the sunlight and in the small port were a series of boats, pensioned off after the war and used as accommodation for married families.  It was quite a delightful spot.  I heard of one party there where there was a degree of drunkenness and the incumbent decided to go fishing by dropping a grenade over the side – which blew a hole in the wooden hull and the boat sank!
After a week at El Hamra, I was posted to the Headquarters Unit at Abu Sueir.  I can remember my father talking about this Station when he was a pilot under training there for some months, got his ‘wings’, fell off the back of a lorry and was invalided home.  He had a batman (servant) named Abbas Abassi, an Egyptian, who pleaded to be taken back to England when Dad went back, but it wasn’t possible.  When I was shown to my room in the Mess and introduced to my fairly elderly batman, I asked his name.  “Abbas Abbasi”, he said.  Such a coincidence!  He remembered Dad very well – “Lovely gentleman but a little bit wild!”
The Commanding Officer (CO), a Group Captain, called me for an interview and we both had the same hobby - water-colour painting and chatted about techniques for half an hour.  There was no Station Band and he asked me to see if it was possible to broadcast military music on the parade ground for the ‘March Past’ etc..  I subsequently managed to find an old turntable and three Tannoy speakers rigged them up by connecting them with telephone wire and we were in business.  The CO had some records and I played the music, the troops marched past and I didn’t have to go on parade!  A great blessing.
With the onset of summer, the sports facilities were excellent - swimming in the Great Bitter Lake and playing hockey on very fast pitches.   With a couple of friends we went to Ismailia and also had a weekend in Cairo, playing hockey at the Gezira Sports Club, saw the Nile River and the pyramids and watched belly dancing, with some fascination, as I had no idea that various parts of the female anatomy could be made to contra-rotate!  The hotel was fine but it was my first introduction to bed bugs!  We moved the next day.
In spite of the activities, I was very lonely and longed to have Eve and Graham out.  Contrary to the information I had been given in England, the waiting list for married quarters was lengthy and I would need to wait for about 12 months.  I couldn’t believe what I heard as I expected them to join me after three months – a year was intolerable and we were both very distressed.
The Adjutant sent for me.  “Sorry”, he said, “there is an urgent posting, can you go tomorrow? A replacement is urgently needed.”  Next day I went off by air to Shallufa, near Suez, reported in to the CO, and explained that I was the urgent replacement.  “Rubbish”, he said, “the signals officer won’t be going for three weeks.”  Then, to my surprise, told me that a Lincoln bomber aircraft was going to Luxor for a week and I was free to go.  Off I flew next morning with the crew and we booked into the best hotel at the RAF’s expense.  I don’t think I have ever had such a fascinating experience.  We toured Luxor on the Nile, went to Karnak and saw the magnificent temple with the Hypostyle and temples, the obelisk which is a duplicate of the one on the Embankment in London, the Colossi of Memnon, the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut and the crowning glory was the Valley of the Kings.  We crossed the Nile in a Felucca, then had donkey transport for about a mile into the desert to an embankment like a cliff where many of the Egyptian Pharaohs had their tombs.  Tutankhamen’s tomb was open and we had to carry candles to illuminate the passages underground.  There were funerary objects still there and a truly magnificent sarcophagus with gold and lazuli which was the outer sarcophagus of three which held the body of the 19 year old king who was thought to have been poisoned.   I was so pleased that we had seen the tomb before it was commercialised.  It now has proper lighting and tar macadam roads with coach parking. 

In Luxor, a series of temples had been excavated leaving a mosque untouched in the centre.  The town was apparently untouched for centuries with people living in dark interiors, whitewashed houses with flat roofs.  Ploughing was done with a wooden plough drawn by oxen and water for irrigation was either an Archimedes screw or a bucket system.  Many years later, when Eve, Andrea and I were returning to the UK from Australia, we went to the Cairo Museum and saw Tutankhamen relics, including the sarcophagus in a thief-proof chamber.
The Nile, a fairly fast-flowing river was populated by feluccas with huge lateen sails but now has fleets of cruise boats to accommodate the tourists.
Flying back to Shallufa, I reported in the next day and described what a fascinating trip it had been. The CO said, “There is another two weeks before you take over, and there is an aircraft going to Akrotiri in Cyprus.  Would you like to go for a week?”

Off I went again and had another outstanding week, staying in Limas sol, going up into the mountains, visiting monasteries of the Greek Orthodox Church.  The Turks are a backward race and were hated by the Greeks but my visit preceded the Turkish invasion where they took over the northern part of the island.  The Crusaders were mostly in the north and there was a stunning castle at St Hilarion.  The Romans had built villas along the southern coast and are now just remains with some mosaic relics.  However, although there were so many lovely places to visit, funds were running out so I was most content to swim and laze on the beach.  The crew and I went into Nicosia one evening and called in for a drink at one of the bars.  Three ladies came across and tried to get us to buy them drinks.  They were out of luck but we would have been pleased if they had bought us a drink.

Back at Shallufa, the green of Cyprus had been replaced by desert with no redeeming features.  I took over my responsibilities from Flt Lt Davies and settled down to work starting at 6:00am and finishing at 1:00pm when it was too hot for anything.  We had an airborne ‘K’ dinghy at Kabrit at the southern end of the Great Bitter Lakes and had much fun swimming and sailing but the best swimming place was the Blue Lagoon.

Shallufa had a sprinkling of Italian prisoners and I got one of them to make me up some frames and canvases for oil painting.  I started to do a painting of Graham from a photo and Wg Cdr Oxley saw it when he was on one of his inspections.  Next followed a quizzing – “Where had I learned to paint?” “At Art School” etc. and within two weeks I was running an art class.  I was given funds and went into Suez to buy materials.  Some Egyptians in their fine robes came and sat for the life class and we eventually had an exhibition of all our efforts.
Then I was asked to design an RAF badge for Shallufa.  Wg Cdr Oxley sent it off to the Air Ministry where it was accepted and I was quite pleased but it was rather embarrassing when at the monthly parade the original coat of arms for the station was on view and I was called out and thanked.
Hockey was my favourite pastime.  Wg Cdr Oxley, Flt Lt Edward, Flt Sgts Frith, Robb, Williams and I played for the Station.  We won all our matches, progressed to playing for the Canal South Area and went on to represent the RAF versus Egypt’s Olympic Team, which we beat 2-1.  Great jubilation!

Shortly afterwards Wg Cdr Oxley asked me if I would like to be recommended for a commission as he would be glad to recommend me.  I thought that as I was half way through my tour of duty in Egypt, that, if I passed the Selection Board, I could be back in England within three months - anything to get back to my Eve, so I agreed and later attended the Selection Board who recommended me for a commission into the Signals Branch.
The date was 24th August 1946 and on the 26th the Air Commodore at RAF Fayid, Headquarters for RAF Canal Zone South called me to his office and congratulated me on passing the Board with no abstentions.  “You will probably be called up for the next Signals Course”, he said.  Nothing happened.  When I asked the RAF to expedite Eve’s travel to Egypt I was told that I had passed the Board, and it was not possible for them to join me as I would be returning to the UK soon.  The recommendation was put on my documents but after that nothing happened.  It was to be eight years before I was commissioned and that was after attending a second Selection Board.  I have no inkling of what went wrong or why it took so long – who lost my papers?
Twelve weeks after the Board I was posted to RAF Station Fayid and was pleased to move from the arid desolation of Shallufa, the constant change bombers (Lincolns) coming in from bombing practice on the range on the other side of the Suez Canal.
Fayid, as the Headquarters Unit was much more comfortable with an adjacent POW Camp, with German inmates of a distinctly higher IQ than the Italians.  The Signals Officer was Flt Lt Enwright, whose knowledge of electronics was rather limited.  Almost the first task I was given was to erect a VHF D/F station outside the perimeter, with a telephone cable and electricity underground from Fayid.  I was instructed to put the cables into iron pipes and objected as the metal would affect performance of the D/F equipment.  My objections fell on deaf ears and when the work was completed it was obvious that there were deviations/aberrations in the D/F measurements.  Telephone lines were then put in overhead and a diesel generator supplied the power.  All seemed well and the D/F operators were there overnight.  When I went back the next morning, the generator had been jacked upon wooden billets, the wheels removed, with camel tracks going off into the desert!
The Officers’ Mess had a squash court but it was seldom used so I asked if it were possible to use it when the officers were not playing.  Permission was given and thereafter a friend and I played for an hour every day.  After a month I had lost 20 pounds in weight and never felt so fit.  I was also playing hockey regularly, swimming and sailing and was a member of the rifle team - anything to relieve the ache in my heart from being kept away from my Eve and Graham.
I thought of nothing else but when I would go home and the chance came on the 24th July 1948 when I was ‘tour expired’ and on the way home, again by ship and disembarked at Liverpool.  The all night train finally got me to Westgate with the morning papers and I was home for a month’s leave.  A very happy reunion!  A week after I arrived home Graham was rude to his mother and I asked him to apologise.  “Do I have to do what this man tells me Mummy?”  he said.  The perils of enforced separation but home was bliss.
On 3rd August 1948 I was posed as supernumerary to RAF Henlow and then, at my request, was posted to No 2 Radio School to learn all about the Ground Control Approach Radar.  I arrived at RAF Yatesbury 15th December 1948.  No 2 Radio School was a motley collection of wooden huts for lecture rooms and laboratories.  The food was just tolerable but the technical aspects were fascinating.
The Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) System consisted of two trailers, a diesel power supply and an operations vehicle.  The system was designed by Gilfillan in California, USA and gave the ability to talk aircraft down the glide path onto the runway in almost ‘non-visibility’ conditions.

Technically, the system comprised an ‘S’ band (10 cm) search system and an ‘X’ band (3 cm) approach system.  The ‘X’ band system comprised antenna in elevation and azimuth, mechanically operated to ‘sweep’ the approach path showing the aircraft position in relation to the approach glide path so that the controller could relay minor corrections to the pilot.  Simple and totally effective in operation, the ‘S’ band system was a hover and reflector system rotating through 360o and operating out to 30 miles.  The azimuth and elevation waveguide were mechanically operated to give a varying waveguide width changing the feed to the multiple dipoles and causing the beam to sweep through the required degrees.
Azimuth and elevation are angles used to define the apparent position of an object in the sky, relative to a specific observation point. The observer is usually (but not necessarily) located on the earth's surface.
The CO of RAF Yatesbury was Wg Cdr Jennings who had been one of the officers masterminding the ‘Great Escape’ from a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany where 50 officers were subsequently shot.  Jennings had been wounded in the leg and was unable to attempt to escape but his presence at Yatesbury was omni-present as he prowled the area with his Alsatian and his swagger stick.  Any minor misdemeanour was punishable and he was generally hated.  Thankfully, he had only the administration to oversee and not the technical.
During the course we had a general lead-in to the history of radar and details of all the systems in operation in the RAF from the CH stations, CHL, ASV (Air/Sea) and Oboc, Loran, H2S aircraft systems.
On 28th July 1949 I was posted to the Central Servicing Establishment at RAF Watton in Norfolk, where I was in charge of the maintenance and servicing of all GCA units in the UK.  We had a van kitted out with spares and could be on the road in 30 minutes of a call-out.  Inside the workshop I had a dummy rig built containing all the units of the GCA, making servicing easy.

To my joy I was allocated a married quarter, a three bedroomed semi-detached house.  I must confess that Eve was not too happy about giving up the flat in Westgate which had been home for so many years and it meant switching schools for Graham.  However, we packed up the furniture and travelled to Watton in the back of the removal van – sitting on our settee.  The married quarter was smaller than the flat and when we had finished sorting out on the first day, we sat on the settee in front of the fire and Eve said, with tears in her eyes, “I’m not very happy about this; you can hear the people next door salting their chips!”  But Eve was a gregarious soul and knew everyone in the married quarters very soon and we became involved in parties and dances.  The oven was heated by a fire and was very much out of date.  So I went into Watton, bought a Baby Belling electric oven, plugged it in and blew the fuses in the whole area.  A thin metal nail, instead of a fuse, soon cured that and then we were fine.
We bought Graham his first two wheel bike and for a long time I ran round the perimeter track on the airfield until he could balance and steer.  It took ages!
We made friends with Ron and Eileen Milnes, who came from the north of England.  Ken was a Sergeant Pilot and flew Avro Ansons and Airspeed Oxfords for the Calibration Flights.

We needed to install a GCA at RAF Chivenor in Devon (near Barnstaple).  There were no drivers available so I had to drive the lorry and GCA trailer all the way from Watton and then install it.  After that, the GCA had to be calibrated and Ken flew down in an Anson.  The calibration was fine so I handed over all the papers, and got into the second pilot seat beside Ken.  We took off in fairly cloudy conditions and set course.  We chatted on the inter-com and then Ken asked me if I had piloted an aircraft before, which of course I hadn’t.  “The compass is there, the air-speed indicator there, the altimeter is there.”  “Put your hands on the wheel and feet on the rudder bar”, he said, which I did.  It seemed easy to maintain all of those things and I could feel him watching me for a while, then he went quiet and I concentrated on the steering, suddenly realising that he had gone to sleep!  An hour later he woke up, had a look around, took over and descended through the cloud – and there was Watton airfield!  Quiet an experience but I cannot remember ever wanting to be a pilot as my father was – too many of his friends were killed in ‘accidents’.

We enjoyed life at Watton.  Norwich was near for shopping and we went in by bus.  We wanted a car but after the war they were in short supply and very expensive.  Eve wanted another child and Andrea was born on 25th May 1949 at Watton.  The local midwife came in for the birth and I was banned from the bedroom and busied myself doing useless things.  I could hear what was going on in the bedroom.  Finally, the midwife shouted down the stairs “It’s a boy!” and to be frank I was rather disappointed as we had hoped for a girl.  Five minutes later she called, “Sorry, I made a mistake, it is a girl.” Andrea Louise had been born and we were naturally delighted.  Our plans for a complete family were fulfilled.  We had two years at Watton and then disaster struck. 
A ‘crew chief’ was required at RAF Chivenor and on 23rd June 1951 I was sent down on extended detachment.  I was there until 19th June 1952.  Chivenor was an Operational Conversion Unit and there had been several crashes on approach to the airfield in rather suspicious circumstances.  I checked and cross-checked the calibration of the GCA and found nothing wrong. Pilot error?  Mechanical failure in the engine?  We never knew.
My left eye had been causing some trouble with focus and was admitted to RAF Halton Hospital for treatment on the 17th July 1951.  The muscles of the eye were re-adjusted by an operation and I returned to Chivenor on 2nd August 1951.  At that stage we had been forced to evacuate the married quarter and had searched the Westgate area for reasonable accommodation but the only thing we could find was a mews flat, a cold miserable thing we agreed to take until we could find somewhere else but the winter had gone before we found a ground floor flat at 112 Canterbury Road, Margate, owned by the wife of a friend of Eve’s, a baker, who died when we had lived there for a while.  We became very friendly with the Winslow’s who lived next door.  It was tedious travelling from the West Country to Westgate every weekend but I travelled back on the night train from Paddington, arriving at Chivenor just in time for breakfast.
My tenure at Chivenor was short-lived however, as I was sent to No 2 Radio School at RAF Yatesbury and at this stage I had been promoted to Warrant Officer on 7th April 1952.  The course was for an AN/CPN-4 Bendix GCA, a much improved version over the Gilfillan GCA.  I enjoyed the course, I was slightly nearer to home and I got a distinction with 85.2%.
After a month back at Chivenor I was posted to RAF West Malling on the 8th January 1953 and arrived to find a hangar full of boxes with stripped chassis.  I was told that a crew would come from the Radio Engineering Unit (REU) at Henlow to put the AN/CPN-4 together.  I had a full complement of airmen, two engine fitters and six radio fitters and we set-to and assembled the whole unit, and arranged for hard standings to be installed by the runways.  When it was complete, the Senior Flying Control gave me permission to take the GCA out onto the airfield and out we trundled.  Using local aircraft for calibration purposes, we were ready for operation in three days and two officer controllers had been pasted in.  To get an official calibration I phoned my friend Ken Milnes and he got official sanction to do a calibration run for us.  I spotted him as a ‘blip’ on the screen and talked him down to a ‘spot on’ landing on the runway.  He did two more runs for us and then we were operational.  I reported the fact to the Station Commander a Group Captain, and he agreed to let us commence work.  A week later a party of airmen and a Flight Lieutenant arrived from REU Henlow to build the CPN-4.  He had no experience of GCA and was glad to be given a copy of the calibration details and went back to Henlow.

The Group Captain and King Hussain of Jordan came out one day to watch us working and I gave a detailed run down on the GCA.  Hussain was only about 5’6”, spoke good English, (he had been to Sandhurst), and seemed impressed by what we were achieving.  The next day I was called by the Adjutant.  The CO wanted to see me so I toddled off to SHQ.  He congratulated me on the Hussain visit and had I ever thought about taking a commission?  I told him about the previous recommendation at Fayid in August 1946 and thought the Air Ministry had lost my papers.  “Leave it with me” he said.
Two weeks later I had another Board in London, passed, and on the 4th December 1952 I was on my way to No 229 Officer Cadet Unit at RAF Jurby in the Isle of Man, as a Technical Cadet.

Jurby was cold and wet and situated near the north of the Island at the Point of Ayre.  There, we were taught how to be officers and gentlemen, Air Force law, how to run parades, measured for our uniforms, harried from reveille to lights out, attended dining-in nights and learnt sword drill for ceremonial occasions.  The latter was a bit of a farce.  It was raining so we had the sword drill indoors.  When I brought my sword up to the ‘salute’ the point of the sword stuck in a wooden beam across the hut.  Everyone seemed to think it was funny!  Eventually, having worked very hard, I lost the Sword of Honour by one mark and was very chagrined.
Eve came up for the Passing-our parade.  She had stayed the night with Barbara (Eve’s cousin) and her husband Leslie and caught the Isle of Man ferry the next morning.  It was wet and blowing half a gale.  She had a new straw hat – it wilted in the rain!  When I met her at Douglas the poor love was looking very green but she hadn’t been sick.  She was very worried about her new outfit but the people at the hotel were very good and helped her out.  Unfortunately I had to go back to camp for our last dining-in night but met there the next morning, which turned out bright and sunny but rather windy.  Eve sat in the stands while we did all the marching and counter-marching and listened to the talk from the Air Marshal.  Her outfit was thin and she shivered but finally it was all over, we went back to our rooms, took off our airmen’s dress and put on our officer’s uniform.  We then went to the Officers’ Mess for cocktails and lunch – a notable day, 17th June 1954 when I finally got my Commission.  It had been a long wait from Fayid!  The Permanent Commission was as a Flying Officer, Technical (Signals) Branch of the Royal Air Force.  Coming up from Warrant Officer I missed out on the rank of Pilot Officer (which meant a bit more salary).
Myself and another ex-cadet, Flying Officer Geoff Marshall were detailed to attend a course at an off-shoot of GCHQ Cheltenham (General Communications Headquarters) which was held at a beautiful house in Leicestershire. The course was more of a briefing into GCHQ activities which was intelligence gathering world-wide by the interception and de-coding of signals at GCHQ and sub-stations located at various points in the world.  Fascinating work, which of course was very hush-hush!  After three weeks of indoctrination I learnt that I was posted as Commanding Officer of the listening post at Okinawa, an island in the Pacific which was mainly populated by the American Army.  I thought that I could put up with that as my experience of the US Army Air Force was that they were friendly but inept.  Eve and the children would probably enjoy the experience, but I was casually informed two days later that it was an unaccompanied posting.  My feeling was one of outrage as I had already completed 2½ years in Egypt (unaccompanied) and I thought it was very unfair.  So I immediately requested a posting elsewhere, firstly that I had recently had an unaccompanied overseas posting, and secondly that the Okinawa posting was for a Signals Officer and I was Radar trained.
So it was home for a blissful week and then three weeks at the Air Ministry Unit, Ruislip awaiting a posting which finally came on the 15th July 1954 to the Radio Engineering Unit (REU) at Henlow, in Bedfordshire which was responsible for the installation and commissioning of radar units throughout the RAF in Europe, the United Kingdom and overseas.
An officers’ married quarter would have been available in the area but Eve and I discussed our future and that of the children and decided that if the pattern of postings prevailed then we would be fairly constantly on the move to the detriment of their education.
What a change!  The last time I had been at Henlow I was a raw recruit living in a barrack block.  Now I was living in the Officers’ Mess with a room to myself and a ‘batman’ to look after me – starting with a cup of tea at reveille, having all my clothes cleaned and pressed and living in a very congenial atmosphere.  Dad had been at Henlow and had made enough money playing bridge to pay his monthly mess bill.
As a junior Flying Officer I had to visit the homes of the senior officers and leave my card which meant that the wife could demand my presence over a cup of tea to examine me on my back ground/school etc.  Thankfully, I was never invited back for dinner.  I also had to ‘make my number’ with the camp commandant who was an Air Commodore.  He was a pilot, I was an engineer and an inferior species and our meeting was brief!  My next port of call was to the Group Captain commanding the Radio Engineering Unit.  Strangely, he was also an ex-pilot and was rather stern in his manner – hardly the best of starts as I was beginning to feel definitely unwanted.  But the Adjutant was pleasant, briefed me on what my extra-curricular duties would be and sent me across the Depot to the Aeronautical Inspection Service (AIS) where I was to work and there I was greeted with open arms as they were so short of officers.
The AIS section was run by a red-headed Flight Lieutenant who was great fun to work for.  He gave me a resume of my duties which apparently was to work with various civil contractors installing radar units around the country, to verify that their work met all the contract requirements.
So it seemed as if I would be away from Henlow much of the time and to fulfil my duties I needed an official stamp to apply to all sections of the contract as the clauses were completed.  It seemed that I would be given a lot of autonomy and I was severely warned about the practice of receiving ‘backhanders’ from contractors anxious to finish a contract as there would be dire results, both to the operation of the radar and to my future in the RAF!
Firstly, I needed to be inducted into the mysteries of the AIS, so off I went to RAF Kirkham, near Blackpool, where I completed a four week course as an Aeronautical Inspection Service Officer and successfully passed the course.  On completion I was given a selection of stamps and invited to make my choice, which was ‘symbol ‘Z’ - AIS BVM’.  This was the nearest I could get to stamping BUM on all the contract requirements.
Back at base, I was allocated a Vanguard car for my trips around the country and was more than pleased.  The Vanguard was rather basic and fine in the summer but had no heating for winter travel and we froze.  ‘We’ was my team of three senior NCO’s and I.  As each base for the radar was excavated and the ‘footings’ put in, we supervised every aspect of construction and finally demonstrated serviceability to the station staff taking over the radar.

The radar stations extended from Hope Cove in Devon to Ayar Uig in the Hebrides and to a unit in the Shetlands near the Muckle Flugga lighthouse, the most northerly point of the British Isles.  On the continent there were three type 84 radars, at Schaswig, Paderborn and Metz, capable of operating in excess of 100 miles over the horizon as early warning radars.  Each was a massive construction where the antenna was 70 feet in width and weighed four tons.  Rotation was once per eight seconds and the antenna was mounted on a turntable with two inch tall bearings.  Output from the transmitter magnetron was 11 kw of radio frequency power into the ‘S’ band waveguide.  The Canadian Air Force operated the Type 84 at Metz (near Luxembourg) and I went out with Marconi and Curran engineers to lift the head and replace the ball bearings.  For this task we needed a special crane capable of carefully lifting the head without causing any distortion.
It happened that the Canadian Senior Air Staff Officer had finished his tour of duty and was returning to Canada.  The Canadian officers organised a ‘Sasofest’ with German brass bands and unlimited beer from free steins which were given to us as we entered.  We finally got to bed with the dawn!  As a corollary to the Sasofest I now have a general dislike of beer – and a wary acceptance of Canadian invitations!  Finally, we obtained a special crane from Germany and the whole task took 15 days – I was glad to get home!
Control and Reporting (C&R) Stations were situated at intervals around the coast and most consisted of an underground Operations Room and Machine Room with information being fed from ‘S’ band (surface) rotating radars.  My favourite stations were at Sandwich and St Margaret’s Bay which allowed me to live at home during the servicing periods.  Wartling and Hastings allowed me to get home at the weekends, but most of the stations from Norfolk to the Scottish border were under construction so my ‘parish’ stretched over a considerable distance.  I was also required to attend parades and ‘dining-in’ nights at Henlow.
My Flight Lieutenant Section Commander owned an old car.  He lived at Finchley in London.  Once, going round Marble Arch he was hit on the wing by a car and he was so pleased to have a new wing that he tried several times to get someone at Marble Arch to collide with the other wing to give him a new set.  Once, at Troon, in Ayrshire, in a snowy winter, I had a Flight Officer and two senior NCO’s as passengers.  The Vanguard was very cold but we left the boarding house, moved onto the main road and had gone about 100 yards when an ice-cream wagon came out from a side road and slid across the road, hitting us amidships.  No one was hurt but it meant going all the way back to Henlow to change the car.  The CO was not pleased.  I remember the boarding house well as it was so cold and uncomfortable and we had a lot of minced beef and potato.  Alnmouth, north of Newcastle, had a good boarding house and we spent a lot of time there at the station as Boulmer was a major unit and was growing fast.  One of my Sergeants was always pleased to be there – he had a happy liaison with the landlady.   One of the most interesting places was the new station being completed at Fylingdales near Whitley.  It was the latest early warning station and very ‘hush hush’ and all the up-to-date equipment was being installed there.
Further south at Bridlington, the C&R station had a Group Captain in charge.  There was accommodation in the small Officers’ Mess and the Group Captain and I would have dinner on our own.  I felt very junior and he was a great ‘port in the Stilton man!’
On the 17th June 1957 I was promoted to Flight Lieutenant and was given the task of liaising with Standard Telephones and Cables at Harlow on the development of fibre-optics.  This was in a very early stage and consisted of trying to pull long strands from super-heated crystals.  The engineer in charge had a huge dish in his back garden which took up an enormous amount of space and he spent his evenings trying to bounce a radar signal off the moon.  Eventually, it was possible to manufacture fibre-optics and transmit signals at the speed of light.
In January1958 I was attached to the Director of Radio Engineering at the Ministry of Defence and briefed for a special task which would take me to Tripoli and Akrotiri in Cyprus.  For this, I was attached to Headquarters 90 Group at Medmenham in Surrey in a huge building overlooking the Thames.  Essentially the task was to take special radar out to the Middle East and conduct performance tests.  Marconi at Chelmsford were building the new ‘S’ band radar and the task was to fit the radar into a Beverley aircraft for transportation.  I spent three months at Chelmsford and was then attached to Headquarters 13 Group before transferring to Head Quarters Middle East Air Force.

The radar part was easy as it was a modification of the Type 14 which I had been servicing for years.  But the problem was that it weighed 10 tons and we had no crane or hydraulic lifting tackle and the base of the radar which normally stood on levelling jacks had to be at the correct height to enter the Beverley hold and to be pushed along the Beverley’s internal rollers. The answer was to fit two horizontal girders to the underside of the radar cabin and to lift the cabin onto a lorry flatbed and winch the radar into the cabin.  For this task and to run the radar I was given a Warrant Officer, two Corporals and six Radar Fitters and the object of the exercise was to transport the radar to Tripoli Airport, set up the radar and by operating with a Canberra Aircraft, check the detection efficiency by experimenting with the antenna setting to eliminate ground clutter.  We spent a week experimenting with various methods of loading/unloading and eventually two aircraft took off from RAF Abingdon.  The airmen and spares went in the first aircraft and I had the upper cabin to myself in the second aircraft.  The crew were two pilots, an engineer and a navigator and we flew off in the early morning on a route which would take us across France and down the eastern side of Spain to Tripoli.  Nearing the south of France an engine failed and with a maximum load the captain opted for the nearest airfield which was Marignane Airport at Marseilles.  The Captain made arrangements for a spare engine to be flown out and we visited the local British Consul for sufficient Francs to cover hotel accommodation for five days.  We were in uniform and of some curiosity to the locals but we went sightseeing, had excellent hotel accommodation, were invited to the French Foreign Legion base for dinner, visited the local cathedral and took in a couple of cabarets.  Great fun!
A crew flew in, changed the engine and did some ground runs, the Captain did an air test and we flew off into the dusk – straight into a vicious thunderstorm and the only way we could get into clear air was to divert over Spain in a semi-circular route to Tripoli Airport where we were met by WO Woods and the airmen.  I had to see the Airport Manager to get a site for the radar and arrange accommodation while the aircrew took themselves off to the delights of Tripoli.
It took a day to site the radar and get it operational and was warned that the Canberra would make surprise ‘attacks’ so I arranged a 24 hour watch system in the control vehicle and spent a lot of time there.  The Warrant Officer was supposed to monitor the radar transmitter but I soon learned that he was pretty useless – a good disciplinarian but not a good technician and I made a point of making checks on the transmitter to see that all was at its utmost efficiency.  We had a week of various ‘raids’ and I was very pleased that it was possible to plot the antenna diagram for reception.

Then it was pack up and off to Akrotiri in Cyprus for the next phase of operations.  Cyprus was warm and comfortable – comfortable because there were no marauding Arabs to steal anything which was not guarded or under lock and key.
The radar reporting station was situated on the tip of a small isthmus on the southern end of Akrotiri and no one knew we were arriving but I talked to the CO, a Flight Lieutenant and arranged for our radar to be out of the way of prying eyes, but with information links to their Plan Position Indicators (PPI) if they required it.  It took us 24 hours to settle in and calibrate the radar.  When we switched on and looked at the information we were receiving, I was utterly amazed.  We were looking at the coast of Egypt and seeing shipping entering and leaving the Suez Canal which was probably in excess of 200 miles away.  I had some photos taken of the PPI but what we were seeing was probably due to atmospheric reflections.  I had the angle of the search radar reflector changed to elevate the beam and give us more high altitude coverage and we had a very successful two weeks of operations.  Finally, I was ordered to hand over the radar and spares to the CO of Akrotiri and educate the radar section on the different characteristics we had embodied into the radar.
I managed a weekend in the sun and then flew back to the UK and reported to the Air Commodore at the Directorate of Radio Engineering, Ministry of Defence.  I spent two days with his staff evaluating the results, saw the Air Commodore before I left to return to Henlow, was congratulated - “on a very fine effort and I may have another task soon for you” – which was not defined.  I was rather livid when my idiot Warrant Officer was given the MBE for his ‘efforts’.
On the 4th November 1959 I was back at Henlow and pleased to be able to get home and spend some time with my Eve and children, but it only lasted for six months as in June 1960 I was posted as Officer in Charge (Radar) to No 15 Joint Service Trials Unit (JSTU), based at Northolt but destined for trials on the Bloodhound missile defence system in Australia.   I was rather apprehensive that this would be another overseas unaccompanied task but when I met Wg Cdr Easterbrook he assured me that the family could travel out too.  Initiation into the system lasted two weeks and then I learned that there would be two radars, one static (Blue Anchor), which would be designed and built by Allied Electrical Industries (AEI) at Leicester, and the other would be mobile, designed and built by Ferranti Limited at Edinburgh and code named Indigo Corkscrew.  What I did not know, was that all the radars I knew in existence were pulse radars (in that a pulse of radio frequency power was transmitted and the reflection from an aircraft or other object was received before another pulse was transmitted) but both radars were to be continuous wave and operating on the Doppler principle.  I had been nominated to (a) be on the design team; and (b) to teach airmen about the physical and electronic operation of the equipment.  Rather a tall order and I wondered if the Air Commodore at DRE had registered some influence.
I made visits to both companies to meet the design teams and then found that I would also have to liaise with Ferranti at Wythenshawe, Manchester, regarding the radar receiver in the Bloodhound missile.  I couldn’t believe the amount of work involved but decided to live in the Officers’ Mess at RAF Turnhouse, Edinburgh because I had the authority to fly on civil aircraft – Heathrow to Edinburgh, Edinburgh to Manchester as required, and also by rail if I needed to.  I must say that I took advantage of the system and managed to get home at weekends flying back early on Monday morning or by overnight train from Kings Cross.  The 15 JSTU Engineering Officer was Sq Ldr Jimmy Whitelegge.  Jimmy had a couple of degrees from Cambridge and was a great mathematician, but he left me to my own devices.  He arranged for me to report to HQ for a ‘briefing’ if I wanted to get home early.  Ft Lt Ted Crane was responsible for the design of the Launch Control Post and we needed to liaise on various aspects.
The Mess at RAF Turnhouse was comfortable and small with two WAAF Officers from the Recruiting Centre in Edinburgh and the occasional itinerant aircrew.  I had an RAF staff car to get me to and from Ferranti as Leith and I had to allay suspicions that I had been put in as a military ‘spy’ to oversee the contract and they were rather secretive about design aspects.  But it all settled down after a month and I spent my days with the design engineers.  After dinner in the Officers’ Mess I went to my room and wrote up all the design information from that day’s work and drew up the electronic circuits - always several hours work.  I also needed the information as lecture notes for the airmen and after I had been at Ferranti for 12 months and design was well under way, I had 20 airmen drafted in whom I had to teach and was allocated a classroom at the Ferranti Trials Unit.  The course lasted for six months and life was rather frantic with visits to HQ and Leicester and meetings at the Radar Research Establishment at Malvern.  The design aspects were fascinating especially as everything had to be made ‘airmen proof’.
Eve was happy about going to Australia with Andrea, but Graham was at King’s College and living in Dulwich eventually.  The problem was whether to let the house but our friend Geoff Chubb, the manager of Bobby’s Department Store died and we let the house to his widow.  We had a dachshund named Mitzi but found a chap willing to take her on if we paid for her keep and vet’s fees.  So Eve was willing to go provided that Graham could visit us in Australia.
The Unit went to Australia in February 1962 and were based at RAAF Salisbury Field with offices at the Weapons Research Establishment (WRE) and the Officers’ Married Quarters at Salisbury near Adelaide.  My trip out was delayed by a month in order to complete tests on the Indigo Corkscrew radar in Wales at the Army Firing Range with a Jindivik as target.  The Ministry of Defence had a contract with a now defunct airline to carry passengers and equipment out to Australia.  It was a case of many stops and we went via El Adem, Karuchi, Singapore, Cocos Island, Perth and Adelaide.  Andrea was unwell at Singapore but saw the Medical Officer at RAF Changi - she was fine for the rest of the trip. When we arrived at Adelaide we were met by the Adjutant, who was very apologetic.  All the available accommodation had been taken up at Salisbury and there was nowhere for us.  Dilemma!  We ended up at a hotel for the night and next day we were introduced to Alf Davison who had accommodation in Adelaide, would we like it? Yes we would and we got on very well indeed with Alf and his wife and were very comfortable.  Andrea was able to go to a local school and Eve was soon at Art classes in Adelaide.  We bought a Renault Gordini car which was small, economic and very reliable.
I spent two weeks at HQ in WRE and then went with Jimmy Whitelegg to check all the facilities at Woomera where the firing trials would take place.  The Launch Control Post (LCP) was already there and in the capable hands of Flt Lt Ted Crane.  The launch pads were almost complete at all the armament and missile sites.  This was undertaken by Flt Lt Tom Cheeseley.  Two weeks later the radars arrived and we spent two weeks installing the Blue Anchor radar and doing evaluation tests.  The radar was massive and we needed a crane to install the antennae.  It was also a case of getting to know Range procedures and how the JSTU would operate.  The Bloodhound missiles were assembled at WER and transported to Woomera where we did full operational checks at the launch pad.  At this stage, having written the technical document for both radars, I showed them to the CO Wg Cdr Easterbrook who had them copied and bound and sent off to the MOD.  They were returned as ‘Secret’ documents so I never got a copy!

Our first firing was a failure.  As soon as the air pressure from the launch pad rocked the mobile radar, the filaments of the power unit valves shattered and the firing was aborted.  I reported the failure to RRE Malvern, suggesting replacement of the valves with another type of rugged filament and was told, “Nonsense”.  After another failure, they sent a representative out who agreed with my diagnosis.  The valves were changed and all was well.

Our subsequent firings were fully satisfactory and we started to explore the envelope of limitations of the Bloodhound defence system.  It was new and exciting.  Our targets were mostly Jindiviks which were flown by the Australian Air Force from the adjacent landing field at Andamooka.  Other aircraft, flying blind, were used occasionally.  A reporter from the ‘Daily Mirror’ (a UK newspaper), called Cassandra came out and was able to see us engage a Canberra at fairly close range.  The result was a hit and the Canberra disintegrated followed by a big censored write-up in the newspaper.
All firings were under the direct control of the Range.  We would set up and test the missile on the launcher from our LCP, the Range would commence the countdown, the target would be airborne and vector to the correct position at the nominated altitude, the Range contraves theodolites would be on standby to record the missile trajectory.  Finally, the Range Controller would announce the time to firing and the last 10 seconds of ‘pips’ would be broadcast for everyone to take cover.  On the last pip the boosts would be ignited and the missile would take off and be directed on to the target by the radar.  Each missile had a warhead but because of the expense of targets, most missiles were programmed for a near miss.  All the recordings were sent down to WRE where they were put through the computer and evaluated by the Officer in Scientific Charge (OISC) David Lane and Flt Lt Peter Phillips.
I also provided a radar service to the Army in 17 SSTU who were testing the Thunderbird missile and during our time at Woomera we did over 200 firings with no subsequent failures.  The Thunderbird system only used the Indigo Corkscrew radar and not Blue Anchor.
On one occasion when attempting to fire a Bloodhound the connecting cables to the launcher were blown off by the boosts and the missile stayed on the launcher and burned out although the Range Fire Service were soon on site.  The fire crews were worried about the warhead so the fire engines stood off so far that the foam didn’t reach the launcher.
Other missiles were tested while we were there.  Black Knight was spectacular and was designed to put a satellite into orbit.  It had a massive launcher with water spray to cool the effect of motor efflux before liftoff.
Blue Water was designed to be carried by the larger of the RAF bombers and was designed to skim to the target at a cruising height of about 1,000 feet to avoid radar detection.  I wondered if this were true and without consulting anyone, decided to have a radar recording made of the next Blue Water firing.  The Victor bomber flew over the Range with its bomb doors open.  The missile was released, the engine fired and the missile took off down range.  I recorded the radar receiver output and we followed the missile out to about 70 miles when we lost it in ground clutter.  I sent the recording to HQ at WRE.  No one remarked on the results but the Government cancelled the Blue Water contract a month later.
Life at Woomera was a strain in the high temperatures.  Airmen working on the launcher would have their shirts literally covered by flies.  We started the trek to Woomera Range at first light and sometimes before that and kangaroos on the road were a hazard and could cause a very nasty dent to a car – and itself!  We lunched at the Andamooka Senior Mess but the food was very plain.  Sometimes we stood down in the afternoons providing all the preparation work was complete.  The Senior Mess at Woomera was only just tolerable.  My room was in a wooden hut with no cooling or air conditioner and often in the early hours and when too hot to sleep, I would have a shower in water which had travelled 200 miles in an overground pipeline - it was always hot.  In the winter the rooms were icy and my bed had six blankets on it.
The Mess was fairly good as far as meals were concerned but there was always a problem with what to do in the evenings, so Tom Cheeseley and I played snooker after dinner.  Sometimes on Wednesday the British Aerospace representative would come up to the Range and we always had dinner together and shared a bottle of Coonawarra wine.
The village at Woomera boasted a church, a school, a cinema, blocks of flats and some tennis courts.  There was a constant battle to grow some trees and other greenery but it was a losing battle.
We had a stand-down one day as the weather was poor, so Tom and I went off in the car to Andamooka opal mines and spent the day fossicking for bits of opal.  Most of the miners lived in caves dug into the hillside and most of the mines were operated by one or two men and were very much holes in the ground with a windlass and bucket for bringing up the spoil.  One cave owned by an opal factor had bits of opal stuck all over the walls glinting different colours in the artificial light – a real Aladdin’s Cave.
Some engineers went by road to Alice Springs but the road was awful and one car broke its springs.  On one occasion there was a dance and other festivities in the Senior Mess so I took Eve and Andrea up by road – a very dusty road – to Woomera.  They were fascinated by the remoteness of the place, the mountains on the way and the way of life there.  When I got the car back to England there were vestiges of red Woomera dust which I couldn’t clean out.
On the 1st January 1963 I was promoted to Squadron Leader amongst much jubilation and then made responsible for all the engineering at the Range Flight.
Graham, who was a medical student at King’s College, London, came out with Janet to stay with us for the summer holidays. They both enjoyed themselves and seemed to have found a permanent liaison and both Eve and I were well pleased.
Going up to Woomera by air one Monday, my back gave me hell and I couldn’t get out of the seat.  So I stayed in the aircraft and was taken to the Sick Quarters at the RAAF base.  The RAF Squadron Leader doctor sent me to bed in the sick bay and said he would check me over soon.  24 hours later I complained that he still hadn’t been to see me and I was in agony.  The RAAF doctor came to see me, said that the RAF Doctor had gone off on holiday.  He checked me over and sent me by ambulance to St Andrew’s Hospital in Adelaide where Eve came to see me.  The hospital arranged for a RAAF Wing Commander specialist to see me and he operated on me a week later.  I was taken from the ward on a trolley and waited outside the theatre.  He turned up in a green cap and gown carrying what looked like a tool kit.  I asked him what it was and he shook it so that the tools rattled.  “Just what I’m going to use on you” he said. 
The Matron insisted that I was an Air Vice-Marshal and used to bring all sorts of visitors to meet me.  I shared a room with another chap who had back problems.  The room looked out over the Victoria Park Racecourse and we could see all the horses galloping round.  He suggested we have a little private bet on the horses of one shilling a time but he was much better at selecting the winners and it was some time before I found out that I was being rooked by a bookmaker!
I was so pleased when Eve came to take me home and the Matron came to say good-bye.  Home for two weeks recuperation was bliss and we spent a lot of time on the beach - all the officers came down to see me.  It was so marvellous to feel free again but in due course I had to see the Wing Commander Surgeon again and he said I should wear a surgical corset for a while.
Ah!  Where would I be able to obtain such a thing?  “Go to the corset department of David Jones in Rundle Street, Adelaide and tell them what you want” he said.  So, still in my RAF uniform I went to the store and found the ladies unmentionable department feeling somewhat abashed.  I lurked behind a row of ladies things until a female member of the staff asked if she could help me.  So I explained my predicament and she trotted off and returned with a middle-aged lady and I went through the rigmarole again.  She enlisted the help of another lady and we retired to a fitting room where a tape measure was produced.  “Drop your slacks”, one said, and I was measured in all the necessary places.  All very embarrassing and then I had to return a week later for the corset to be fitted.  Eve thought it was absolutely hilarious when I described my adventures in the corset department and nearly had hysterics when she saw me wearing the wretched thing.  I wore it occasionally until we were on our way home and threw it overboard when the ship was in the Indian Ocean.
Because I had to spend some weeks at Woomera instead of WRE, Eve attended the Art School in Adelaide, became very proficient using oil paints and did some very good oil paintings. At weekends, we would either go to a local reserve or out into the country, find a suitable landscape and paint happily for a couple of hours.  On one occasion I saw a picturesque farmhouse in a valley and did a watercolour.  Just as I was finishing, the owner came and asked what I was doing so I showed him the painting and he wanted to buy it.  I should have sold it to him because I don’t remember what happened to it.  Luckily, I still have some of Eve’s beautiful paintings.  She did a portrait of me in my yellow jersey which she knitted, and Graham and Janet have it hanging in the lounge at Bribie Island. 
Sq Ldr Jimmy Whitelegg had overall responsibility for the mathematical reduction of the firing results and we collaborated on various aspects.  He retired prematurely from the RAF when the JSTU completed its work and went to Perth University.  He tried very hard to get me to join him but I was happy in my job.  Graham was still at University and we thought that Andrea would be better off finishing her education in the UK, so I declined, but went to Perth to stay with him and his wife before we returned to England.
Towards the end of our stay in Adelaide we went out for numerous barbeques; had parties where all the officers and their wives came.  We went across to Sydney by car which was a two day trip, to spend some time with my parents who lived in Merrylands, New South Wales.  We stayed overnight at a motel and were surprised in the morning when someone shouted “Breakfast”, opened a flap near the door and pushed in a large tray with steak, eggs, rolls and tea – enough for several people!  The road from Mildura across to Sydney was only single lane and it was sensible to give way to the monster lorries who were not going to give way at all.  At one point a large brown snake was crossing the road and we ran over it.  I pulled up and went back but there was no sign of it anywhere, even under the car.
In Sydney, we spent a day with Douglas and Isobel on the beach and got thoroughly sunburnt.  The surf was quite high and we tried to swim but a ‘dumper’ got Eve and she lost her sunglasses.  John, my brother, lived quite close to our parents but his wife had left him with three small children and he had a very hard life trying to keep two jobs going to make ends meet.  His twin sister Joan lived a kilometre away but it seemed that he got no help from the family with the children.
On quite a few weekends in Adelaide we would join the other families and visit the wineries in the Barossa Valley where there was free wine tastings.  We always took some wine home as it was not only good but cheap.
Tom Cheeseley was a great fisherman and spent most Saturdays fishing off the pier at Noarlunga, south of Adelaide.  We went out shopping in Adelaide one Saturday and when we arrived home he had left four huge salmon trout in the sink - too much for us to cope with so we gave two to Jim Davison, our landlord.
Jim was a bluff ex-Army man and very kind.  He invited me to go to an ANZAC Day gathering at dawn and I went for the experience.  He warned me to keep quiet and not speak as ‘ANZACS’ were sensitive about the English who had repeatedly let them down at Gallipoli and during the Second World War.
When I was in England I belonged to the Royal Air Force Club in Piccadilly, London and the Secretary gave me a letter to the Services Club in Adelaide where he said we would be made welcome.  I was.  I saw the Secretary at the Club and had all the rules and regulations explained to me.  One was that only men used the front door of the club, ladies used the side door!  I didn’t go back.
We enjoyed Adelaide and it was to play a large part in the lives of our son Graham, Janet and the grandchildren.
We finished all the trials in December 1964 and it was arranged that the Unit fly back to the UK.  Using my back as an excuse I saw the Senior Medical Officer and said that I couldn’t sit for several days in an aircraft.  He was very sympathetic and arranged for us to travel home by ship.  So Eve, Andy and I spent Christmas with the family at Merrylands and left Sydney on the 1st January 1965 aboard a P&O ship travelling first class.  As the ship pulled away from the quayside we threw coloured streamers to the shore and could see the family waving to us.  Life aboard was quite sumptuous – a cocktail party to meet the Captain;  dinner with the Senior Engineer or one of the other officers; lazy days around the swimming pool; dances and other entertainment.  We chummed up with an RAAF Flight Lieutenant and his wife.  At the fancy dress ball his wife were a ‘mortar board’, carried an open book and Andy, Eve and I covered ourselves with a blanket, coloured our legs green and walked bent over to represent ‘the bookwork’.  It got us second prize!
Eve made friends with a New Zealand lady who turned out to be the wife of the New Zealand Chief Representative going to London for a three year spell.  They eventually invited us up to New Zealand House in London for a cocktail party to celebrate his inauguration.  Nice people!
A 24 hour stop at Aden was interesting and we were met by Sq Ldr Jim Primrose, an old friend who took us on a tour of the area with a visit to the local souk.  I was so pleased to see Jim again as we had worked together for three years before he had been posted out to Aden.  The town was very hot but we had been inured by our sojourn in Australia.  The port was interesting as there were so many ships present in the bay and the backdrop of mountains was strangely sinister.
The ship called in at Bombay (now Mumbai) and we had a trip ashore, saw the King George V Arch which commemorated his visit and bought a carved stool and a brass tray with inlaid copper and silver.  Sitting on the coach, an Indian had a basket with a cobra inside.  I took a quick photo and he was most incensed when he didn’t get any baksheesh.  The next port of call was Port Said in Egypt but the ship stopped briefly at Suez where we joined a party of passengers on a coach trip across the desert to Cairo.  We saw the pyramids at Giza, the Cairo Museum for the Tutankhamen Sarcophagus and other artefacts - a most brilliant display.  I was fascinated because I had visited his tomb in the Valley of the Kings at Luxor some years before.  The coach took us via Ismailia along the Suez Canal to Port Said where we rejoined the ship.  In a way I was sorry I didn’t stay with the ship as it travelled through the Canal as I had so many memories of Suez, Kabrit, the Great Bitter Lakes, Fayid and the Blue Lagoon at Ismailia, sailing a ‘K’ type dinghy on so many sunny afternoons.  However, the attraction of Cairo and the Pyramids transcended memories of times past and it was the only chance Eve and Andrea had to see them.
During my stay with the RAF in Egypt I had visited Cairo and its environs on several occasions and had played hockey at the Gezira Sporting Club representing the RAF. 
The Gezira Sporting Club (Arabic: نادى الجزيرة الرياضى‎, transliteration:nādī al-ǧazyrah al-reyādī) is the largest multi-sport facility in Egypt. It was founded in 1882 and was originally called Khedivial Sporting Club. It is located on the island of Zamalek in Cairo.  The 150-acre (0.61 km2) grounds of the Gezira Sporting Club were carved out of the Khedivial Botanical Gardens, which is why acacias and gardens decorated the area. After the land had been formally leased to the British military command, club rules were licensed and the land was divided into several recreational playing grounds. At first, the club was for the exclusive use of the British Army.
Naples, in Italy, was our next port of call and we had time to see the city and have a quick trip to Pompeii.  In Naples we were rather lost so we asked our way and the man took us 50 yards onto the main street and then demanded recompense for having to go out of his way!  Pompeii left us speechless.  It was beautiful and yet awesome as so many inhabitants had been killed there.  Archaeological digs were still in progress and we have a small box with a picture of a petrified Pompeian on the lid.
Down the Mediterranean and past Gibraltar where we could see the famous Rock to starboard and the African Coast to port then into the Bay of Biscay.  The weather deteriorated so much that we changed into our winter clothes and so into the Port of London on the 28th January 1965.  Eve’s brother Harold had arranged to meet us in the first class lounge but sadly we missed each other.  Eve and Andrea stayed on in the lounge until the car was unloaded from the hold and I had cleared Customs and the Automobile Association (AA).  It was cold with some sleet and we knew we were back home.  I had to get some petrol and then we were off to Westgate.  It seemed strange that the house in Hockeredge Gardens looked the same.
It was distressing to learn that Uncle Ernie’s wife, Aunt May had died in London the day we arrived back in England but we were able to go to the funeral.  The AA had provided me with new registration plates for the car.  I went to a local garage and asked them to change the plates for me but they refused point blank – obviously thought I was a car stealer but the second garage obliged and we went to the funeral of Aunt May.
Mitzi, our dachshund had been in the care of a man in Birchington and when he brought her over to us she didn’t know us any longer so we gave her to him.  He asked who would pay for future food and veterinary fees but I reminded him that it was now his dog.  We were sorry to see her go as it was a happy link with our past and I remembered her on the kitchen table giving birth to her six puppies when both Eve and Andrea were in Margate Hospital.  Andrea had an eye operation and Eve had thyroid problems so when the dog gave birth I was on the phone to the vet very quickly asking what I should do and the answer was nothing – except clear up the mess!
The widow of an old friend Geoff Chubb had been in residence at our house and we were quite upset when we inspected the place.  She had gone off to New Zealand to live with relatives, had taken all our new blankets and replaced them with worn out ones, the bureau was worm eaten and I took it out into the garden and burnt it.  The garden was a wilderness and the fruit trees had grown enormously as they had not been pruned, so all in all, it was rather disheartening, but we were home again.  We had the AGA cooker going 24 hours per day, so we were warm and settled down very quickly.
Andrea’s schooling was rather a problem as the Australian curriculum was inferior to the English version and she struggled to catch up when we managed to get her into a local convent school.
From the 28th January 1965 I was posted to RAF Headquarters Unit in Holborn, London but not required to commence work until 22nd March 1965 when I was posted to the Ministry of Aviation at Castlewood House in Oxford Street with the title of Guided Weapons Servicing 3 (GWS3).  I found that I was to share an office with a Wg Cdr Martin who was my boss.  My task was to take over the Bloodhound contracts, liaise with the contractors and institute the whole servicing gamut from delivery onwards.  There was also a Bloodhound Squadron at West Rainham and apparently I had to oversee their activities.  I was offered a married quarter at Stanmore but Eve and I talked it over and decided to keep the house in Hockeredge Gardens and not disrupt the educational process.
I knew most of the people at British Aerospace, Ferranti, AEI Leicester and Standard Telephones and Cables.  Our immediate superior was the Director General of Guided Weapons at the Ministry of Defence with scientific guidance from the Radar Research Establishment at Malvern.  I once commented to Wg Cdr Martin that I was a ‘meetings engineer’ and so it seemed, with so many companies with fingers in the pie.  My immediate predecessor was a Lieutenant in the Navy and he said to me that he was very glad to hand over the ‘porridge’ to me.  However, I was au fait with the Bloodhound system and soon settled down.  Travel was a problem.  I caught the 7:00am steam train from Westgate to get home about 7:00pm in the evening but often had to spend a few nights away from home when I flew up to Edinburgh to oversee Ferranti’s work and progress and to Bristol for British Aerospace who made the launchers.  Both Sweden and Australia ordered the Bloodhound system and in the spring of 1966 was invited to Sweden to view their first firing.  For three days I was entertained by the Swedish company overseeing the work but I was pretty cold in my city suit.  I had ordered ‘Arctic cold’ weather kit from the Maintenance Unit but they were dilatory and put it on the train to Kings Cross Station the day before I was due to fly out to Sweden.  I went to the station to collect the parcel and was shown 14 trolleys laden with parcels.  “If you can find it you can have it” said the porter – and I couldn’t.  Two days before the firing was due to take place the Indigo Corkscrew radar was unserviceable and I offered to help put it right but my help was politely declined.  They worked all night and fixed the problem and on the morning of the firing Stig Johannson arrived to collect me and we were taken by helicopter to the firing site.  I was rather amazed.  Rows of seats had been set up in tiers and all the hierarchy of the Swedish Air Force were present.  The firing was to take place just north of Jokmok inside the Arctic Circle and on the flight we passed an area of no trees disappearing into the distance.  “That’s the Arctic Circle” said Stig. 
The Bloodhound missile was already on the launcher and I had a good look at it and said to Stig that, “If you try to fire that missile the boosts will blast off the connectors and you will have a failure.  The connectors need to be strapped in with a chick elastic cable (bungee) and there isn’t one fitted.” Came the countdown there was a buzz of excitement and at zero there was a flash as the connectors were blown off and the missile continued to sit there.  I didn’t say “I told you so” but was very tempted to.  I just thanked everyone for their great hospitality and caught the next flight home.  In any case I was rather fed up with having to eat reindeer steaks! 
Just after that debacle my back started to play up again and I was sent to an RAF Hospital near Epsom where I was put into traction for two weeks.  In the bed next to me was an RAF padre.  One day he was told that he was to go to the gym and start remedial exercises and an hour later a Negro physical training instructor came in, stood at the foot of the padre’s bed, rubbed his hands and said, “it’s a long time since I had a missionary.”
When I returned to Castlewood House I was met by the appalling news that the Naval Lieutenant was dead.  I should have gone to Edinburgh for a meeting but because I was in hospital, he knew the people and the work and volunteered to go so he flew up from Heathrow.  After the meeting Ferranti took him to Turnhouse for the flight back to London but it had been postponed because of fog at Heathrow.  Ferranti took him off for dinner and back at Turnhouse was given the option of a train trip home or wait for the fog to clear which he opted for as his car was at Heathrow.  An hour later the fog was reported to have cleared and the Vanguard took off but the fog came back as they landed and everyone was killed in the crash.  He was married and had three young children.  Absolutely horrifying!
When I had completed my time at Castlewood House I was asked if I would like to carry on for another five years.  The thought of another five years of commuting was not very comfortable and I began to wonder if I should stay in the RAF (which I could up to the age of 60), or whether with all my connections with contractors I could get a commensurate job and live at home, but it would probably mean moving, with all the subsequent upheaval, but I longed for a 9-5 job where I could be at home with Eve every day.
Out of the blue came a posting to Bomber Command – I didn’t fancy that!  If I got a job with a company I could retire at 65 and if I joined them soon I could complete enough time for a company pension.  Eve and I had long discussions about the future and we thought it would be sensible to put out some feelers to see what jobs were available.  Where would we like to live?  We had lived in East Kent for so long but thought that if we moved to the West Country we would be near Wales, Devon and Cornwall.  Bristol seemed a good centre and I had been concerned with contracts for Bloodhound for so long and knew most of the top engineers involved. Was I giving up a familiar life with guaranteed stability for one which would have possibly a precarious future?  One way was to go and find out so I asked Vernon Seal a BAC engineer who had been out in WRE with us if there were any vacancies.  I got a very prompt answer – come down and talk to us!  With some trepidation I went to BAC at Filton, met Vernon and during the day I was offered four vacancies and I could take my pick as it would be at managerial level.  The choice was Rapier development, satellite experimentation, missile trials or system evaluation.  Bloodhound was out as the system was in production and I had been heavily involved for seven years.  My choice was Rapier system development and I had a long talk with Bob Chisholm who offered me very slightly less than my salary in the RAF but as I would be entitled to an RAF pension the aggregate would be more than I was entitled to at the Ministry.  It seemed that at last Eve and I would be able to live a more stable life and I would not be away from home so much, so by mutual agreement I made a request for early retirement which was granted allowing me to leave the RAF 5th July 1969.
I joined BAC on the second week in July and had to live in a miserable hotel for a couple of months until we sold the Westgate house and settled on ‘Savernake House’ in Long Ashton September 1969 just outside Bristol. It was slightly more expensive and I had to borrow £1,000 from the bank which we paid off fairly quickly.   The house was in a lane and the rear had a long garden overlooking a valley to the Mendip Hills.  The house had been owned by a Doctor and all the flower beds had been shaped to represent parts of the body.  Andrea had gone off to Sheffield Teachers’ Training College, Graham was by now married to Jan, was a GP at Birchington and  living with Jan’s parents at Kingsmead Court Hotel on the front at Westgate where they had the top flat.
We settled in very quickly, enjoyed the house and went to the ballet and concerts in Bristol.  By sheer chance/coincidence Laurie Mathers and his wife Pat lived in Long Ashton and he worked at BAC too.  Laurie and I had been in No 13 Squadron in the BEF in France and had been together at Linton-on-Ouse and Clifton near York, so we had some ready made friends but it was strange meeting again after so many years.
My work at BAC was on the radar development of the Rapier Field Standard ‘B’ (FSB) system and I worked with Ted Beaman (ex-Major) who had been a prisoner-of-war in Hong Kong.  Decca Radar was developing the radar, STC at Paignton in Devon were developing the aerial system and BAC Stevenage had the overall contract for the missile system and there was the usual round of meetings, with RRE Malvern looking after the MOD interests.  It was new and fascinating.  Ted Beaman and Bob Chisholm and their wives came to dinners and we exchanged visits.  We explored the area and stayed at Paignton when I went to STC and loved the Dartmouth area.
In the spring of 1970 we had been down to visit the Bristol Cathedral.  Eve had had a troublesome cough and when we came out of the cathedral there was a mobile x-ray unit on the Green.  I managed to persuade her to have an x-ray but strangely, we never had the result, so assumed that all was well, but in May she went to Dr Goodman who prescribed antibiotics. Arriving home after work one Friday I found Eve lying on the settee in her dressing gown and feeling awful.  She hadn’t had any food as she felt sick, so I got her dressed, packed a bag and said, “Enough, I’m going to take you over to see Graham and get you checked over.”
I had to stop the car once to let her be sick and at Westgate she went straight to bed.  Graham checked her chest, realised the problem and called in a surgeon friend who confirmed that she had cancer of the lungs; was taken into Margate Hospital and then transferred to Ramsgate Hospital.  I had to go back home after the weekend and arranged some holidays, and sorted out the house and went back to Westgate.  I visited Eve as usual but on the 31st May the Sister asked if I would like to stay and that they could make up a bed for me but I thought if I stayed she would wonder why and she was full of morphine and very sleepy so we went home.  At 8:00am on the 1st June 1970, the Sister phoned and asked us to go to the hospital but when we arrived my poor darling had gone – we were too late.  Apparently she had asked for some porridge for breakfast but had gone when they got back.  My Eve was only 50 when she died and she had so much to look forward to.  Life can be very cruel and she really didn’t deserve it.  By coincidence, her mother Louie had died of cancer when she also was 50.  I had loved Eve since we were kids and suddenly the bottom had dropped out of my world.  I just couldn’t believe that we would never have tender moments again or enjoy a laugh.
So many friends and family came to the funeral at Thaket Crematorium.  The chapel was crowded and I wished afterwards that I had gone to see her in the ‘Chapel of Rest’ at the Undertakers.  I wanted to remember her as she was – and I have regretted it ever since.  Andy, Graham and Janet were a great help but eventually I had to go back home and it was horrifying.  All Eve’s things were there but there was such a great emptiness and I was lost, totally lost.
Back at work, Bob Chisholm came to say how sorry he was, and had me in tears.  My darling had so much to live for.  She was kind and gentle and didn’t deserve a premature end to her life.  I couldn’t believe how lonely life would be without her.  Bob kept me busy and Hugh Metcalfe the Director asked me if I would like to go back to Australia as the Trials Manager.  The job would have been interesting but I didn’t want to go off to the other side of the world away from Graham, Jan and Andrea.  My parents were at Merrylands in Australia together with John, Joan and Sheila but to be at Adelaide again without Eve would have been unbearable.  Sydney was a two hour flight away.  I decided to stay at Bristol with the possibility of moving into a flat.  Most weekends Graham and Jan had me to stay but I had the feeling that it was rather unfair to be with them all the time – they needed time to themselves.
Eve had been friendly with Winifred Moss for several years and they belonged to the same Art group in Canterbury. Winifred had been divorced many years before from her violent dipsomaniac husband.  Because she and her children, Anne and Katie, were on their own they had spent Christmas with us on several occasions and we had been to parties at her house.  I had taught Winifred to play golf and we played several times together around Margate, and she was taking an Education Degree at Christchurch College in Canterbury.  Inevitably, I suppose, because we were both lonely we gravitated together.  I spent some weekends at her house and she came down to Long Ashton but there was nothing more than friendship and we enjoyed each other’s company.  On one weekend we had a long discussion about the future; we were both comparatively young, I was 50 and Winifred was 43.  The upshot was that we both thought that we could live happily together.  Anne had a job in London and Katie was training to be a nurse so Winifred would be on her own and we decided to get married in 27 July 1971 at Margate Registry Office. 
 We got married from Graham and Jan’s house ‘Old Gates’ where they had kingly arranged the reception.  All the family and our friends were there and late in the afternoon we drove home to Long Ashton where we cleaned the house and did the washing!  Next morning we went to Luton Airport, put the car in a garage for a week and flew off to St Anton in Austria. The hotel owner apologised that he had to put us in a room at the back of the hotel. It was immediately above the kitchen and rather noisy and late in the evening it was infested by insects.  Although I complained we had to spend the night there and were moved next morning to a lovely room looking down the valley to the mountains.  We swam in the lake and went for a few outings but mostly enjoyed walking in the valleys.  One day we missed our way, went up and up and eventually arrived at the cable car station at the top of the mountain!  It was the first of many pleasant holidays we had abroad.
Winifred got a job teaching at the Junior School in Long Ashton and started to put all the theory she had learnt at Christchurch College into practice.  Mum and Dad came over from Australia but Mum took a dislike to Winifred and their stay was not very comfortable.  That was followed by a visit from Mike, Caroline and Justin which was great fun and we thoroughly enjoyed the visit. I had been making home-made wine of various kinds and one night we tried various bottles and were all rather tipsy.  Caroline found that she was pregnant with the twins on returning to Newcastle, Australia and I sometimes wondered if the home-made wine had been the root cause!
Six months after we were married we had a free weekend.  The weather was fine – where should we go?  We decided to have a trip to Coventry to see the Cathedral and set off on the Saturday morning in Winifred’s car, which we had bought to give her some mobility if I was away.
The trip up to Coventry was uneventful and we had lunch and spent most of the afternoon in the Cathedral marvelling at the design and colour.  We attended a small service and set out for  home. Just before we got to Warwick a car came screaming past, swung in front of us just missing a car coming the other way.  I said to Winifred, “That idiot is going to kill someone”, whereupon he swung across the road to the right as if he was going into a turn except there wasn’t one there.  He rammed one car, was hit by two others and one came across the road, which hit us and pushed us onto the verge by some cottages. A Mercedes following us hit us in the rear.  The restraining strap had hurt Winifred’s chest and she thought she had a broken rib.  I had hurt my left knee on the steering column and my glasses were sitting on the bonnet of the car.  I have no idea how they got there.  In the other cars, two children had a broken leg and a broken neck – other people very bloody and dazed.  I was amazed when a woman came out of one of the cottages and said, “I will pray for you”.  A cup of tea would have been better!  The driver who caused the accident was on drugs, “because my wife had died a month before” and was fined £40 - five cars were written off!  When the ambulance arrived Winifred was put on a stretcher and I went with her to Warwick Hospital where an Egyptian Doctor saw us both.  Winifred thankfully was only bruised and nothing was broken but she was taken off the stretcher and I was put on it!  My left kneecap was broken and I was told that the kneecap would be removed the following morning.  I was put to bed in the ward and Winifred had to get a taxi to take her to a pub where she got a bed.  Graham and Jan had been on holiday in the Lake District and Winifred managed to contact them luckily, because Graham persuaded them not to operate and remove the kneecap. 
48 hours later we were on our way back to Long Ashton by ambulance.  Winifred was lying down as it eased her breathing and I sat on the other side with my leg in plaster.  Halfway down the motorway I decided to lie down too.  The ambulance screamed to a halt and the driver rushed round to check if we were okay as he couldn’t see us in the mirror.
I was off work for two weeks until the plaster was taken off but the office was kind and didn’t want me to feel I had nothing to do so they sent my mail down every day.
The plaster cast came in handy. We had decided to recarpet the bedroom and I used that leg to push the carpet into position and smooth it out!
Work at Bristol Aerospace was interesting and I was working with design in various departments but the Rapier we were redesigning was to give an improvement in performance from FSA to FSB.  It could only fire four missiles before a reload and as a defence system I wondered about effectiveness under war conditions, but the Army at the Ministry of Defence were calling the tune and were the final arbiters.  The design could have been so much more effective without their ‘Waterloo’ mentality.
To my surprise, Bob Chisholm asked me if I would agree to go off to Aston University, Birmingham, to do a degree course on advanced radar theory and the thought pleased me greatly.  So Winifred and I went off to Birmingham and stayed in a hotel at BAC’s expense for the duration of the course.  I had a lot of work to do but we managed to get some entertainment as well.  I had been tricked!
When I got back full to the ears of radar theory Bob Chisholm told me that I was to pass my newfound knowledge on and I was giving lectures for the next three months to 25 engineers.  Towards the end of the course, I wondered why one of the Directors from Stevenage came and sat in for a whole morning.  I found out two weeks later when he phoned me and said he wanted me to go to Stevenage and join the Systems Control Department.  There would be an increase in salary as a Senior Manager and hotel and all moving expenses would be paid.  I asked for 24 hours to think about it and discuss any problems with Winifred but apart from having to give up her teaching job she didn’t mind and I suspected that she was glad to move away from the house which Eve had planned and furnished.
I phoned the Director Sid Dunn the next morning and was asked to report to Stevenage in two weeks.  We shot off to Letchworth that weekend, went house hunting and found a delightful, reasonably new house which had all modern conveniences and backed onto a nine hole golf course.  The house was only 10 minutes drive from BAC and was fine, prince wise.  So we agreed to buy it and put down a deposit as an act of good faith.  Then we had to sell ‘Savernake House’ which took a bit longer but it went within a month and we moved as soon as the solicitors had completed their work. I had been in a hotel in Stevenage for four weeks with weekends at home and I was pleased when we had moved and settled in.  The house had three bedrooms, lounge, diner, kitchen and a small room behind the garage which also had a door to the very long garden.  There was a kitchen garden and the usual square lawn – and a little wicket gate which gave access to the golf course near the 5th green of the nine hole course.  The owners of the course were the Spirella Corset Company who, very kindly, gave us honorary membership.  The Company had premises in Letchworth and presumably made corsets for women – and surgical corsets for men with post-operative backs!  We made great use of the golf course but were also members of the Letchworth Golf Club – I was once asked to leave because we had just finished a round of golf and went for a drink in the bar – but I wasn’t wearing a tie!
We also joined St Michael’s Church in Letchworth which was a very modern octagonal edifice and ultimately was to be the setting for the marriage of Anne and Steven Allerston.  (They met through bridge.)  We joined a bridge club at Challs, a District of Stevenage and were introduced to Steve who had recently returned from a geological survey in Africa and needed a bridge partner.  Anne agreed to play with him and they got on very well indeed.  The club at Challs was at a school and was so cold in the winter that we renamed it ‘Chills’.  Andrea came to visit us at Whitsun and we were all surprised when it snowed.
At BAC Stevenage I was more involved in the system aspects of Rapier FSB with responsibility for the contracts with Decca Radar, the height finder DN181 which was a totally new addition to the system and again, work with STL on fibre-optics when there was a breakthrough into plastic extrusions and signal management.  There were trips to Aberporth for firing trials against Jindiviks.  There was one notable firing of a Bloodhound which went rogue off the launcher and landed in a field 180o off the line of firing.  The Aberporth locals were aghast.  I also had to liaise with the Director Guided Weapons at the Ministry of Defence who was a very knowledgeable Brigadier.  He had an office close to Blackfriars Bridge and we had many meeting there, with Decca Radar providing lunch at a restaurant near St Paul’s Cathedral.   Lunches out were always a problem as Winifred always had a dinner waiting for me when I arrived home.
Winifred at this time, was teaching at the Letchworth Junior School and we almost adopted a little Indian girl in her class as she has suddenly been orphaned.  We were rather upset when an Uncle arrived and spirited her away and we had no address to enable us to get in touch.  She was such a beautiful child.  Winifred adored her and we tried for many weeks to find out where she was.
I worked with Dennis Poole and he and Sheila lived about 50 yards from us.  Dennis and I shared both transport and also some work for a period.  He was a statistician and was eventually running a missile programme with the French and Germans in Paris.  We became very friendly and remain so to this day.  Ernest Ewing was also in Systems Control Department and we struck up a friendship which has also endured.  He and Patsy played bridge and we alternated dinner/bridge parties at our houses.  They lived at Harpenden and had a very bright six year old son.
Anne came to live with us for a while at Letchworth when she was working as a trainee manager at John Lewis in Oxford Street, London.  Because she had difficulty in getting to the railway station, I bought a Ford Cortina and gave Anne my old car.  Three months later she went to London as usual, and left the car in the station car park.  It was stolen and found, several months later abandoned at Reading.
Anne and Steve decided to get married.  She was married from our house where we had the reception.  All the family came, Katie was the bridesmaid and I was pleased and surprised, to give her away because her father was living in London, but was not invited to the wedding.  Steve had a house at Stotfold and they lived there after the honeymoon.  He was working for British Aerospace too but was having some problems with his managers.  The main engineering works were across the road from the main works and there was a satellite engineering project further up the road.  I had cause to go to the engineering section one day and to my great surprise, met Gordon Graves, who was a corporal on the GCA at West Malling but had left the RAF and joined BAC.  He was a nice soul and RAF Apprentice with a pronounced ‘Geordie’ accent from Newcastle, and we had a great time getting up to date on our careers.
After four years at Stevenage, the Ministry of Defence gave BCE an entirely new contract for a completely new Rapier System which would be known as Field Standard ‘C’ (FSC).  The new system would comprise a launcher capable of firing eight missiles, infra-red optical system with a height finder capability and a semi-automatic firing system after locking on to a target.  This was an approach we had wanted for some years but the MOD were tardy in arranging the contract for a system to go into operation in the year 2000.
I had finished most of the design work on FSB and Bob Chisholm came up from Bristol and asked me to go back to Bristol as Senior manager Rapier FSC/  I was fascinated by the new concept but there were problems.  Winifred would have to give up her job and we would have to move back to the Bristol area.  Again, there was an increase in salary, a disturbance allowance and complete relocation cover.  Winifred had worked a Long Ashton before and I argued that she might be able to teach there again.  Eventually, she agreed and I phoned Bob Chisholm and told him that I would take the job.  The house took three months to sell because the purchaser was rather dilatory in selling his own home.  We went down to Bristol, met all our old friends and looked around for a new home – yet again!
Eventually, we found a cottage near Weston-Super-Mere named ‘Walnut Tree Cottage’ which had lots of wooden beams, lawns, kitchen garden, greenhouse, stables and a great atmosphere.  It was the right price and although it was further from Felton than I would have liked we liked it immensely and agreed to purchase it.  Back at the hotel, we discussed what we would do to make it ours – the planning went on for some hours.  But we then began to have doubts.  The community was a group of about five farmhouses; there was no school near for Winifred to teach and it had a septic tank!  Oh dear!  Next morning we went back, apologised and withdrew our offer.
Back at the estate agent in Bristol we found a new estate being built on a hill overlooking the Bristol Channel and the Welsh Coast.  One house was available and it was situated at the end of a cul-de-sac.  No traffic?  Good views, modern house with a double garage and a sizeable rear garden on a slope.  We decided to buy the house and eventually moved in but Winifred was never very happy there.  We decided to have a fish pond in the back garden.  The builders were still active on site and I persuaded an Irishman to bring a mechanical digger and excavate a hole.  When I viewed what he had done the hole was miniscule so I asked him to dig out some more soil and went in to dinner.  When he called me out I was devastated.  The hole was the size of a small swimming pool so I paid him for his work and spent my evenings for the next two weeks filling in again to a sensible size.  Our neighbour borrowed a tipper vehicle one evening and came back with several sizeable rocks and the pond took shape and was very pleasing.  I also planted some fruit trees.  The summer holidays came and the local children used the road turning circle as a playground - and it was bedlam.  We complained to the parents but got nowhere.  Arriving home from work one evening, Winifred was very excited and took me across to 1 Edward Road South at Clevedon to view it with the possibility of purchasing.  It was a lovely house, post-war, had three bedrooms, lounge, diner and well appointed.  Winifred was obviously very happy with it so we made an offer, sold the other house within a week and moved yet again.  We settled in well, made some changes such as removing the dividing wall between the toilet and bathroom to make more room.  The rear garden was huge and although the fences were high we found we had a ‘Peeping Tom’ next door.
In the summer of 1982 Graham, Janet, Jonathan, Roderick and Sophie came over from Adelaide in South Australia and we had a really wonderful time visiting all the interesting places in Bristol, Bath and Weston-Super-Mere.  A very memorable holiday!
Just after they returned to Australia, we had a letter from my father – would we look around the area and purchase a house for them at not more than £35,000.  But it was an impossible request.  Although we scoured the area there was nothing available at that price and they were very disappointed.  I think my mother would have been very glad to come back to England.
At work one morning at Felton, I was holding a monthly progress meeting when there was a phone call from Winifred, (passed to me by my secretary).  Would I please go home straight away.  Wondering what was wrong I rushed home.  Winifred was sitting on the front step afraid to go into the house – we had been burgled!  It was a very professional job according to the detective who came.  All our jewellery had been stolen and some small items such as a collection of silver spoons we had assembled from our travels.   Poor Winifred had lost everything and I had lost some gold cufflinks and the signet ring which Eve gave me on my 21st birthday - all items which could conveniently go into a pocket.  After stealing from us the burglar had gone across the road and repeated the process.  We were insured but always regretted the loss.  Entry had been by using a bank card inserted to push open the Yale lock.
We had some interesting dinner parties but found that Bristol folk were always glad to come but very slow to return hospitality.  We played bridge and became very friendly with Freda and Hugh.  Hugh had been to Christ’s Hospital at Horsham and was very proud of his background.  We alternated weekly sessions at our homes.  One winter’s night it started to snow.  We were at their house in Nailsea and were astonished at the amount of snow which had already fallen.  We quickly decided to abandon the bridge and had a very hairy ride home in our Ford Cortina.  All was well until we got to the hill heading up to Edward Road South.  I had no snow chains; we were caught in a snow drift, and had to abandon the car and trudge home.  We were snowbound for four days and only then recovered the car.
In the spring, Tony, Myra and Renna came to stay and we had to put them up at the Walton Park Hotel which looked out over the Bristol Channel.
We joined the local Archaeological Society and had some interesting trips out but were never involved in a dig.  Winifred had been unable to get another teaching job in spite of her degree qualifications so she went to the Bristol Museum and offered her services in categorising the mass of acquisitions, which she found to be fascinating.  Her section of the museum was run by a Dr Lilley who decided to unwrap an Egyptian mummy they had in the store room.  It was done under sterile conditions and at a later stage Dr Lilley came to the Archaeological Society, gave us a fascinating lecture on the sequence of operations and produced a mass of photographs.  She also had a phial of four thousand year old dust taken from the wraps which we were allowed to sniff!  There was a slightly resinous smell but not many people had a go in case they were infected by some unknown disease.  Pharoahmania?
Life at Felton had changed for the better.  Where I had been involved in modifications to an obsolete type of Rapier Missile System, Field Standard ‘C’ (FSC) as it was then known was a totally new concept; much more mobile, capable of firing eight missiles and with an associated DN181 height finder/tracker.  My charge was to produce a lightweight system to Ministry of Defence requirements which made the system either manually or automatically operable.  The basic design for the radar was overseen by the Radar Research Establishment at Malvern, in Worcestershire and BAC Stevenage held the contract.  A Brigadier held the reins at the Ministry of Defence and both the Royal Artillery in the Army and the RAF Regiment in the RAF had strong views on what they wanted as an operational system to be in production by January 2000 - the usual homogenous group who all wanted several fingers in the pie.
The system specification was overseen by the Systems Control Department at Stevenage and was in fact to very tight limits, but so many masters.  On some occasions it was possible to play one group off against another but the Royal Artillery mentality was strictly Crimean War and very basic.
The radar, infra-red systems and launcher were designed to go on a completely new mobile trailer and to reduce weight I decided that we would use an aluminium covered basic structure.  I found a company in Birmingham that could hot-mould sheets of aluminium into a plastic form to cover the outer moulded skin for the rigid body.  Cheap and easy to manufacture and we made a model for all the interested parties to view.  “No”, said the Royal Artillery (RA), “What will happen to the aluminium if the soldiers stand on the structure?”  “Why should they ever need to stand on the launcher?”, we postulated!  We had to include two steel platforms in case the RA wanted to stand on the launcher in their big boots!
The original Rapier system had mobile generators run on petrol which were extremely noisy and prone to develop faults.  The FSC specification called for a built-in generator which could utilise any combustible type of fuel such as petrol, paraffin, methylated spirit, etc..  This gave us enormous scope.  The Americans had developed a very small, lightweight jet engine which was about 24 inches long with sufficient power to drive the electrical generator.  I contacted Turbomach, the company in the States with patent rights and asked them if they would be interested.  A week later we had a Turbomach engineer and two engines for experimental use which were totally suitable for the system.  The power pack we constructed was totally ideal and the engines were simple and easy to operate and would run on any fuel.  The noise generated was less than the equivalent petrol driven generator and we were so pleased with the results.  I organised a demonstration for all the interested parties and everyone was pleased, except the Royal Artillery.  The jet engine efflux will be picked up by an infra-red scanner, they said.  We will give you a baffle, we said, which will disperse the heat.  The arguments went on for a year.
Then we had a problem with the DN181 height finder reflector which was about 4’ x 2’6” and lozenge shaped.  To reduce weight we decided to use a carbon-fibre moulded reflector which would reduce the power required to turn the reflector to the desired heading.  We had several models made by a North London company specialising in carbon-fibre construction but each model was up to five thousandths of an inch outside specification and were rejected by the Ministry.  We argued that the beam width was sufficient to negate the 0.005 inch problem but regrettably the Ministry had the last word!
Early in 1984 I was asked to provide a Development Cost Plan (DCP) for the Bristol interest in Rapier FSC (now known as Rapier 2000).  This was to be a totally costed plan which took three months to complete, with not a lot of input from other Heads of Departments.  The total cost was a staggering £50 million for a six year development which provided models for evaluation.  I presented the Plan in October 1984 at Stevenage and explained the content.  Of the several DCP’s mine was the only one agreed and I was congratulated on its presentation. 
In the first week of November 1984 I retired having reached the age of 65.  Winifred and I were entertained by the company to dinner at Harvey’s in Bristol followed by a party for my friends and managers at Bristol with a deputation from Decca Radar.  I was duly presented with a silver mug by Decca’s and a splendid clock from British Aerospace.  It has always puzzled me why anyone retired should need a clock to watch!
At this stage we tried to plan our future.  With Andrea in East Kent, Anne in Maidstone and Katie in Gosport, we accepted that to give us reasonable access to all three, we would need to live near Eastbourne.

Note on Radar – the invention which changed the world in so many ways.
Digital computers, including their power supplies, displays and memories owe a great deal to radar and are the offspring of World War II inventions.  Microwave telephones and early television networks, got critical boosts from wartime technology and made a huge impact on astronomy by opening a region of the electro-magnetic spectrum (radio as opposed to optical) which ultimately secured the discovery of pulsars, quasars and many hidden galaxies.  So too the microwave oven, common in today’s homes, owe their existence to a radar power generator invented in England in 1940 (the magnetron).
In the 14 years following World War I which Winston Churchill termed, “the period of exhaustion which has been described as Peace”, military minds looked towards the sky and attempted to envisage what future horrors it might bring in another conflagration.  During World War I, between Zeppelins and Gotha bombers, there were 103 air raids, claiming 1,413 lives with 3,400 people injured, mostly in the London area.
The Gotha G.V was a heavy bomber used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during World War I.
Hitlter had become the German Chancellor in 1934 and commenced the Nazi military mobilisation which raised grave fears in the rest of the world.
In June 1934 a young civil servant, Dr AP Rowe from the scientific staff of the Air Ministry, took it upon himself to survey plans for air defence, cross-checked 51 files and found nothing of interest but he sent a memo to his immediate superior which, in November 1934 triggered the formation of an Air Ministry Committee for the Scientific Survey of Air Defence.  The Air Ministry also offered a reward of £1,000 for anyone who could invent a death ray which would kill a sheep at 100 yards.  There were no takers!
A young Scotsman, Robert Watson-Watt was asked to calculate the amount of radio frequency power required to raise the temperature of eight pints of water from 98F to 105F at a distance of five kilometres and a height of one kilometre.   He reported that with the given available technology at that time, generating the required amount of radiation was impossible. The reaction was no death ray!
During his calculations, Watson-Watt remembered a shelved report from some GPO engineers that they had noticed a disturbance in shortwave communications when aircraft flew near their receiver.  Watson-Watt then did some more calculations which showed that an aircraft flying at 20,000 feet at a distance of 10 miles could be detected using pulse techniques from a transmitter which allowed for the return of a reflected signal before a subsequent pulse was transmitted.  This theory was submitted to the Air Ministry and a sum of £10,000 was allocated for development.
Following many experiments, an RAF Heyford bomber with an airspeed of 100 mph did some runs on a planned track and was followed with signals received out to eight miles – and a veil of secrecy was clamped on the project.  A place for an Experimental Station was found at Orfordness on the East Coast, with a disused WWI Airfield and a practice bombing range.  The village of Orford consisted of a main street, a few shops and a public house, stretching down to the River Ore, with a ferry necessary to get to the 15 mile long spit of Orfordness, a treeless windswept landscape, criss-crossed by dykes.
In the 1930s Orford Ness was the site of the first purpose built experiments on the defence system that would later be known as radar. Having proved the technology on Orford Ness Robert Watson-Watt and his team moved to nearby Bawdsey Manor and developed the Chain Home radar system in time for its vital role in the Battle of Britain.
The station sprang into life.  Two 75 foot lattice towers were erected with transmitting antennae strung between them.  A transmitter was built and a cathode ray tube was calibrated to show range on a horizontal scale.  By July, aircraft were being tracked out to 40 miles with height measured to an accuracy of within 1,000 feet.
By September 1935 the construction of five Radio Direction Finding (RDF) stations were approved and were constructed at 25 mile intervals initially, followed eventually by further stations to give coverage from the River Tyne to Hope Cove in Dorset.  But a larger, more convenient experimental station was required and Bawdsey Manor with a 168 acre estate was purchased for £24,000 and became the Bawdsey Research Station in May 1936. 
The Manor was a grand building, with wood panelled rooms, a dining hall with a musicians’ gallery and a pipe organ, a majestic billiards room, a garden with peach trees, a swimming pool, lily pond, topiary and a delightful rose garden.
Laboratories sprang up in the White Tower and the stables and Watson-Watt scoured the nation’s physics departments for young talent.  By the following August the first Chain Home Station looked out over the sea from Bawdsey, Canewdon and Dover.
Dr Eddie Bowen was in charge of the Research Station and turned his attention to the problem of installing radar into aircraft for airborne interception and had solved the problem of weight and power consumption, with the transmitter using powerful transmitting tubes from Western Electric. 
The first airborne trial did not locate another aircraft but did locate ships off the Felixstowe coast, probably due to the angle of the antenna.  So a new breed of airborne radar was born called Air to Surface Vessel (ASV).
Modifications were made to the installation in the Oxford trainer aircraft and on the 5th September, Bowen, Wood and pilot Sqn Ldr Naish took off in atrocious weather from Martlesham Heath, flew southwards and detected a naval force in the English Channel comprising the battleship ‘Rodney’, the aircraft carrier ‘Courageous’ and cruiser ‘Southampton’ attended by six destroyers.  The solo aircraft flying in and out of cloud was spotted and all hell broke loose, signal lights flashed in all directions, guns were fired and 15 Swordfish aircraft took off from HMS Courageous, their progress flaring across the CRT screen in the first air to air interception.  The significance of this flight did not escape Dr Bowen and he reported, “We had found the Fleet under very poor visibility conditions which had grounded Coastal Command and by virtually flying blind back to Martlesham Heath had demonstrated new navigational capabilities.”  A great day for radar!