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.
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 !
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.
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
(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!!
A/A Geoff Supple
A/A Baz Booker
A/A Dave Appleton
A/A Rog Thornton
A/A Col Welsby
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
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
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
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
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
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
Colin Munslow Airframes
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