Basic Training, RAF Swinderby, May 1966. First day. 'Stand by your beds.' Cpl. Petrie, Drill instructor, immaculate kit, swagger stick, god. 'Any hard men in here?' Not a peep from anyone. New kit, shirts with collars studs, . Buy Brasso, polish, spray starch from NAAFI SHOP. Bull boots till they shine like black moons. First night away from home for some, a lad shouts out 'Mam!' in the middle of the night, but nobody says anything. The night before the first inspection sleep in bath but bed pack still gets thrown out of the window by the officer. Drill, classes, drill, firing range, drill. Second weekend let out in uniform. Lincoln pubs, some young lads get legless. Later bump into someone from my flight in the street and hug like old mates. First home leave, strange feeling, want to get back. New intake arrives, awkward-looking lot, feel like an old sweat in comparison. Get marksman badge for .303. Imagine myself as a future sniper. Passing out Parade. Bit envious of those whose parents attend. Time to leave for Trade Training in different camps. Intense camaraderie has built up in such a short time but I will never see these lads again. Can't remember names now, just shadowy faces from 50 years ago. Incidentally, I met Cpl. Petrie a couple of years later when he was doing a guard overseas - top man.
Catterick 1949 - RAC regiment - 17/21st Lancers - we weren't allowed out in uniform until after basic training so it's true - boys in light blue were pampered! Ooooh - that'll set the hackles rising! After that posted off to Egypt and after a few months more off to Libya. Lots of memories and a few I'd rather not have.