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BANGED UP IN BUCKINGHAMSHIRE

By Geoff Supple 92nd Entry Electrician

 Cartoon by kind permission of Rob Knotts 84th Entry


In the annals of incarceration it isn't up there with Nelson Mandela's 18 years on Robben Island or even Norman Stanley Fletcher's sojourn in Slade Prison, but my 10 days as a guest in Maitland Guardroom in December 1961 are still worthy of a mention.

The Crime

It was all a big mistake, honest guv! We were the Senior Entry in 1 Wing and somehow felt entitled to take a more leisurely breakfast. A Catering SNCO however, felt differently and placed us on Fatigues. Which in reality probably meant that he had stood down his own staff and needed some mugs to work in the dreaded Tin Room?
A no show seemed to be the order of the day and this led to a vexed Kitchen Wallah reporting the matter to the Flight Commander. He took a dim view of our behaviour and a F.252 saw us being granted 5 Days CC........... JANKERS !



The Celebration

                                                               

As Christmas was fast approaching there were several impromptu parties, the closest one being at the Wellhead Inn Wendover. Strictly out of Bounds, but close! Obviously being on JANKERS meant we were Confined to Camp. Someone had the bright idea that we could do the 9 pm Defaulters Parade, followed by a quick change and catch a prearranged cab at the end of Polish Avenue......destination the Wellhead Inn. An advantage of not booking out is of course that you do not have to book in. Needless to say we left the Pub late and started to walk the lanes back to Camp. Being in the festive spirit we were enjoying a good old sing song when a couple of local policemen appeared complete with notebooks.

We had completed our Lonnie Donegan songs and had just begun an Al Jolson medley when Buckinghamshire's finest arrived at the scene and objected to the music.


They took all our bogus details and accompanied us into Wendover. The mood then took a turn for the worse when they spoiled the whole evening by calling the RAF Police.

Serious trouble! 1250's at dawn, up in front of the Squadron Commander, 5 of us remanded to appear before the Wing Commander.

The Citation

I can't really remember but I would guess that it included:
(1) Breaking out
(2) Absent whilst on defaulters
(3) Being Out of Bounds in a Public House
(4) Consuming alcohol
(5) Some miscellaneous offence involving noise on a public highway contrary to blah blah blah
(6) The old service chestnut: Conduct prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the Royal Air Force

It's fortunate that the Destruction of Al Jolson's Legacy wasn't on the Statute, or they would have really thrown the book at us!!

The Committal

          The accused:

          A/A Geoff Supple
          A/A Baz Booker
          A/A Dave Appleton
          A/A Rog Thornton
          A/A Col Welsby

          The witness:

          Sgt. Scott-Picton. Aylesbury Constabulary

Our few minutes in front of the Wing Co. can best be likened to Fred Karno's Army! Sgt. Carstairs briefed us before we marched in. “It’s a large office, so just listen to my orders” Unfortunately he was outside the door shouting orders, so he had no idea what was happening. Quick march left wheel, right wheel, mark time.............. A/A Baz Booker led us into the office following Sgt Carstair's orders to the very letter. Within seconds we were marking time somewhere between the back of the Wing Co's head and the window. To all intents and purposes we looked like an out of control Conga on a New Year's Eve in Rio!

 Lots of shouting and bawling and eventually the Forlorn Five stood hatless in a row before the now seriously p'd off Commanding Officer.


The evidence from Sgt Scott-Picton of Aylesbury's finest was duly read out. As his statement used the false names which the felons furnished him with it became very confusing. With some help from Sgt. Carstairs the Wing Commander was gradually able to piece together the evening’s events. He was not a happy camper! Sgt Double-barrelled moniker surely went on to become Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police after his crime busting career in Downtown Wendover. Although I can't help but think that in 1963 he was still nabbing Apprentices when less than 15 miles away Ronnie Biggs and his cronies were relieving the Royal Mail of the thick end of 2.5 million!

I digress, the Wing Commander had heard enough, he made his judgement, called for our records (not the Lonnie Donegan ones) and prescribed the punishment for the heinous crimes …........

          A/A Geoff Supple 10 Days Detention.
          A/A Baz Booker - Ditto
          A/A Dave Appleton - Ditto
          A/A Rog Thornton - Ditto
          A/A Col Welsby 14 Days c.c. (confined to camp)

If only we'd had a good Lawyer we would have walked. Well, walk we did........straight down to Maitland Guardroom complete with all our kit. This was seriously not funny. We could miss the first few days of Christmas leave. Maitland Guardroom was to be our home for the next 10 days. There was no housewarming party planned and the RAF Police seemed less than friendly. Perhaps, the time had come to think of forming an Escape Committee.


It very soon became clear that the RAF Police were there to make our short stay with them as miserable as possible within the bounds of the law. It became equally clear to us as Apprentices with spirit that our job was to thwart their efforts at every opportunity. This set the scene for the next 10 days. Daily life began with breakfast in the Airmens Mess. So, no contact with other Apprentices. We became very adept at making a 20 minute breakfast an hour ordeal for our Gestapo like escorts. Cereals, Fry, Mugs of tea, toast, more tea and some WRAF watching followed by more tea all helped to reduce the time which we were in the Guardroom or doing fatigues.

The smokers were allowed two cigarettes a day allowance. But entry members dropping off keys at the Guardroom often managed to smuggle a few cigarettes or some chocolate to us. Monotonous fatigues were usually the order of the day with painting always high on the agenda. One day we were painting the Pillars surrounding the Guardroom and access was limited with the area being roped off. A young Pilot Officer was becoming frustrated finding a way in and demanded to know "How the hell do you get in here?" I told him that "Singing in Wendover on a Saturday Night, will usually do the trick". He wasn't amused.............

Dave Appleton found another loophole in the system whereby we were entitled to go to Church or Mass. So overnight we all became Born Again Christians. The Padre seemed to know the scam but was more than happy to get a few more in his congregation and we had a short period away from our tormentors, getting some religion, coffee and biscuits and endless games of table tennis.

Christmas leave and our release was fast approaching when things took a turn for the worse. A vigilant Snoop caught two of the lads lighting up a smuggled cigarette on the cooker ring. The inevitable F.252. followed and the odds were that there would be no remission for good behaviour granted. Gaol breaks were discussed, after all we'd be looking forward to Christmas Grant for a long while, and now it was all in jeopardy. Shawshank Redemption and The Great Escape hadn't yet hit the Silver Screen but we had seen Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier being pursued across Deep South Swamps by Bloodhounds. Somehow I couldn't imagine the same scenes playing out around Chalfont and Latimer!!


The Flight Commander heard the charge and despite compelling evidence to the contrary managed to dismiss the charge. He also gave us all a days remission and a Leave Pass for Christmas Grant. So in double quick time we were down at Wendover Railway Station......homeward bound. Nobody sang a note in Wendover! Lessons had been learned.

 

June 2015


BASHED BULLS

With regards to an article written in The Haltonian by Rob Knott 84th, “Memories of Life as a Trenchard Brat”, the photograph below shows the hat I was able to “Bash” permanently. As on joining with a 6 5/8 head, clothing stores didn’t have an SD hat my size, so they issued me with a Working Blue version while they ordered the correct SD hat for me. Sometime later the new Service Dress hat arrived, and I was not asked to return the Working Blue version! So it was shaved to give the impression of a Best Blue hat and bashed to look like the hats worn by those Venezuelan Apprentices we had at the time, who used to stroll around camp like someone out of a Hollywood movie. I used to smuggle the hat out of camp to wear during days out in London. But, of course, I was eventually caught and continued my rather depressing record of “Jankers”. I don’t know if Rob Knott was one of the Senior Entry who used to destroy my bed space at regular intervals on 2 Wing during our Initial Training, if he was, he never found the “Infamous Hat”



Colin Munslow Airframes
December 2010

ITINERANT ENTRY

I read the article in The Haltonian on wing reorganization with interest as I was unhappy when moved from 1 Wing, Block 10 Room 6 to somewhere in the wilderness of 3 Wing. When we moved back not that long after, back to my home in 10-6, life seemed to move on again. The photo below shows some of the 92nd with their kit on one of the moves. My note on the back of the photo only comments, “Us moving wings before half term”. The original photo is quite faint as I was into developing and printing my own snaps at that time and this is not one of my best.


Bob Wright Engines

December 2010