Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Just tell us anything about you, Bawdsey and what happened after you left. 


From Ray Shakeshaft.  Pay Accts. (1952-56).

I had been in the RAF six months (Hednesford and Duxford) when I arrived at Bawdsey (1st May 1952).  First morning at breakfast the SWO came in and said "I would like about nine of you to come on parade please. There will be no inspections.  Now come on, I have not seen any of you lot on parade for ages" I sat open mouthed - this was not the RAF I knew? My new colleagues declined his kind offer on the basis that he had said something similar before and they HAD been inspected so he could not be trusted...and we did not go on parade! It was that simple! (Things changed a little when the camp got larger and for a time we were in grave danger of becoming a military establishment but it passed....)

There were about a hundred of us on the camp.  All the airmen fitted into the 'Block' with room to spare - no huts and prefabs in those days.  WRAFs lived somewhere behind the Sergeant's Mess, Station HQ was the ground floor of the Manor, Officer's Mess was first floor, Airmen's Mess was in 'the Stables' and the NAAFI was a large shed like construction over the road from the Block.  There were two compounds where people played with 'tubes' and bits of wire etc.- a complete mystery to us paper warriors of SHQ. We only rated a Sqdn Ldr as CO - a Mr Gilding - a very nice guy (How many servicemen can say that of their COs?)

I married LACW Yvonne 'Von' Curtis (Sick Quarters) on 16th October 1954.  She died in 1997 and will always be sadly missed.

I was demobbed from Bawdsey in Sept 1956 - I had joined the RAF "to see the world" - I saw Felixstowe and Woodbridge.

Names that quickly come to mind are Jim Taylor (my good friend & Best Man), Tony Mulcock, Denis Lambert, Ron Cox, Alan Saunders, 'Phil' Phillips, Ryan Coe, (All Pay Accts), Don Fish, Eddie Renyard, John Mortimer, 'Bop' Fennell, Chris Hurrell, Roy Clarke (Barber). W/O 'Jock' Turnbull, WRAFs - Jeannie Sinclair from the Shetlands, 'Jake' Mouatt, Pat Borrie, 'Frankie' Stanton, Joan Booth (Orderly Rm)....I can still 'see' many faces but I cannot remember the names. They were good days.

Ammendment - Since the above was written I am pleased to say that  have made contact again with my ex-Sgt. Ryan Coe who still lives in Suffolk and also I have to report that ex Pay Accts colleague Alan Saunders passed away in 2007.


From Dick Barrett

(Dick has a lot of technical and historical  stuff about Bawdsey on his excellent website)

Please feel free to use anything you like from my Bawdsey page at http://www.radarpages.co.uk/oral/dbarrett/bawdsey.htm to help your site
along.   I'll put a link to your site on my links page at http://www.radarpages.co.uk/links/links.htm

Best wishes,

Dick Barrett


From Bob Newstead.  (1950/53).

I was posted to Bawdsey in 1950 after a basic radio course at Yatesbury. Some names I remember from the CH Radar course are Bill Coton. Tom Ash and Mac' also a chap from Bungay Suffolk. I did track down Bill Coton and I have always kept in touch with Louis Debono as we were posted everywhere together eventually to RAF School Hill Portlethen Aberdeen! I also traced Eric and Jean Cruse also at Bawdsey in 1953 when I was posted back to finish my time there before demob in 1954 with a £20 suit!

 

I ran the camp cinema in 1953 and played Scottish music during the intervals. We also found a colony of bats nesting in the rafters so I hooked them out and took them to the nearby woods for safety!


Tony Goodacre.(1956/58) Now a Country and Western singer, has an excellent site on which he writes this about his days at Bawdsey.

"1956 - Helped form The Tigers Skiffle Group whilst serving in the Royal Air Force at Bawdsey in Suffolk. After working local pubs like the Swan Inn and The Crown in Alderton, and the Ferry Boat Inn in Felixstowe Ferry, bookings were obtained at the Sergeant's Mess at the local U.S.A.F. bases at Woodbridge and Bentwaters. It was the American servicemen here who lent Tony and the band recordings by country artistes like Hank Snow, Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams. Soon many country songs were included in the repertoire of the Tigers Skiffle Group. Tony's first solo professional engagement, booked to sing 'Country & Western' music rather than just skiffle was at the Cavendish Hotel in Felixstowe in September 1956 - and he's been singing country music ever since!!

1957 - Thanks to the recommendation of Tom Lewis, landlord of the Swan Inn (and a former theatre manager in Llandudno, The Tigers were booked to appear at the Ipswich Hippodrome on the famous Carol Levis Discoveries Show. Two full coachloads of support from R.A.F. Bawdsey ensured that the 'clapometer' went off the edge of the dial, and it was no surprise to those present that the group were declared winners on the night. As a direct result of this success, the manager of the Ritz Cinema in Ipswich booked the Tigers for a full 6 days of appearances in order to advertise the film of The Tommy Steele Story which was due to be shown the following week. The group did a short 20 minute show, sandwiched between the two films being shown - 2 'X' rated films 'Quatermass II' and Bridget Bardot in 'And Woman Was Created' ……..and the band never did see either film all the way through, as they had to get the last connecting bus from Ipswich to Felixstowe, Felixstowe to the Ferry, and then the last ferry to R.A.F. Bawdsey. It's tough at the top in showbusiness…and even tougher at the bottom!"

More details about Tony on http://www.countrymusic.org.uk/tony-goodacre/bio.html


The URL is Ryan Coe's memories of what happened when we were hit by the floods in 1953. He was Sergeant Ryan Coe of Pay Accts in those days and I believe he held some kind of record of being at Bawdsey for about seven years.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/suffolk/dont_miss/floods/eye_witness_accounts/ryan_coe_bawdsey.shtml

PS.  I met up with Ryan Coe again in June 2003.  After taking a 'Golden Bowler Hat' offer from the RAF he rose to become Chief Executive Officer of Ipswich Building Society but is now retired and still living in Suffolk. - Ray Shakeshaft


From Mike Shaw, (1950 - 1951)   He has also sent some pictures from that period.

* There was the time during an exercise I was sent up the receiving mast for a visual on an 'aircraft' being plotted flying slowly at 2000 feet. They thought it must be a balloon.  It was a fishing smack.  At sea level. The plotting team (using the rotating aerial on the first CH tower - its name escapes me now) did not live it down for a long time.

*  There were the many occasions after a very late duty exercise (finishing at 2am) we'd all go for a swim in the sea ... Starkers.  Men down one 'groyne', WRAFs down another groyne, meet in the middle. The water was fluorescent and so everyone looked like glowing ghosties.

*  One WRAF - Joan Smith, was a corporal when on the station. Two years later when I went on Z (or G?) reserve to a hole in the ground at Deal,
it was an all male camp. But, 'down the hole', showing an airman on one of the PPI tubes, was none other than Joan Smith. I strolled over and
whacked her on the back with a 'Hi Joan!' (we had been good buddies). Then I noticed the stripes on her shoulder ... And an icy stare.  After
finishing with the airman (with the rest of the team covering their sniggers), she called me out to the office. It was a great two weeks from then on ... But "Don't slap me on the back in front of the men again, please!!)

*  On my demob do, early December '51 (I think), the whole camp except for a very few on duty, went to the Ferry Boat Inn to celebrate. I knew
everyone from the CO down, because I ran the camp magazine - the 'Bawdsey Express'.  The CO and his wife were there too.  The last thing I remember was asking who all the pints on the table belonged to, and being told they were mine.  Next day I was told that, on returning to the camp (via Maurice, the ferryman - who also shared a pint or two with us) I led the camp in a carol singing session outside the CO's house (just along by the river). He told me it sounded beautiful and harmonious. Hmmm. The mechanics (8 of us) had 'acquired' the room on the roof of the Com block as our 'billet', and I was told I stood on the duckboards on the roof asking people to throw fire buckets of water over me to sover me up, and that two WRAFs had undressed me and put me to bed. The only truth I can vouch for in that part of the story is that my clothes were soaking wet the next morning. That was the last time I ever got that soussed.  Wouldn't want to miss out on that kind of occasion again.

*  I was on the station as duty CH mech in the transmitter block when Sir Robert Watson Watt and the government team made an inspection, during the assessment of the award he was to be given for his invention (radar, of course).  I, and the othe rmech on duty, horrified the gov officials with our 'party trick' for visitors ... Removing the aerial feed rod whilst transmitting to display the corona skipping up our arms and round our bodies.  It was only later I was told that playful action could sterilise you.  Only, it didn't, as my five children will testify.

I could ramble on, but I guess that's more than enough.

I'd sure as hell like to meet up with some of the other mechs, and some of the WRAFs too - Cynthia Kelly, Eileen Shaw, Renee Watson, Jock
Mitchell, Bette Dunne, Jean White, Pam Parker, Jacky Mouat...

Those were the days!


From Mike Faraday (1954 - 1955 'A' Crew)

I have a list of the 'A' Crew chaps who were demobbed ahead of me and the dates too. I lost touch with them all eventually; at Cambridge I kept up friendship with two or them, but we drifted apart soon afterwards. I saw a bit of Clive Robbins when I was back in Bristol. Tried to contact Jack Collier but he didn't reply. I worked for Shell for a while and ran into Lennie Mellon in their London Head Office.
 
A bus ran from the Ferry Boat to Felixstowe; some of us were on it straight after duty on Saturday morning for a trip to the pictures. Splendid old chap used to drive while addressing us all behind him. (This would be Albert - RS)
"Yew see Teeown play Sa'dee? Play mahkble weow" .  Ah'm gooin Saxmundham nex Sa'dee".
 
I recall we had a bookies' runner on the camp, there ostensibly to organise the laundry collections. My introduction to the county's historic sport.
 
There was an AOC  inspection due and the corporal in residence in the barrack block thought the paintwork in the corridors looked grubby and got us all out of bed at midnight to give it a scrub. In vain did we warn him that it wasn't paint but distemper. And the result was that it was stripped off in patches; looked dreadful. I don't know how he squared it with his superiors. He must have done because he was later commissioned.
 
What I most liked was being on camp when everyone was away on a '36' on a crisp winter morning, going for a walk over the marshes. Just the birds, the water, the horizon and me. 
 
We used to have sing songs in which our old Trimley Heath anthem featured. I never heard it updated for Bawdsey.  Trinley Heath had been No. 783 Signals Unit, so we sang a version of "Old King Cole" ("Our Wing Co etc " the rest was pretty obscene), But it ended; "There's none so fair as can compare with the boys of Seven Eight Three!"  

Odd memories                                                                                                                                                      

I recall my brushes with Mr Cunnick, Sergeant Parker and Corporal Quinlan. The first was always trying to get me on fatigues; I was CCA on 'A' Crew and my immediate boss, Flt Lt Clifford, used to bawl out Cunnick for trying. Cunnick got his revenge; found me with a manky cap-badge on one of the very few parades that I failed to skive off, so I was on a fizzer.  AOC's inspections; painting the coke green and sweeping up the leaves in the woods because in Autumn fallen leaves looked untidy (Cunnick's idea).  'A' Crew "P.U."s at the Ferry Boat and the drunken scenes on the ferry afterwards. The drunken young officer who rode his motorbike through the main airman's block and was reported to Cunnick by one of our corporals whose sleep had been disturbed.  The NATO air defence exercise which was accompanied by a ground attack on the station by some Army outfit; one of our chaps pinched a sten-gun from them and there was an almighty row.  I was demobbed during a railway strike, fortunately someone had brought his car and we lost no time. 'A' Crew always gave its demobbees a march-past and general salute outside the airman's block. It was the only mark of respect I ever got.

From Mike Critchlow. (1973/4)

I met and made friends with several people, who I have sadly lost touch with, including Dave Fanshaw and John Moss. 
 
I can vaguely remember an incident with a firework sometime in December or January and involving the officers mess.  The officers got away with whatever happened, it was put down to "high spirits"!  I know that if it had been one of us erks we would have been hauled over the coals PDQ. 
 
I used to really enjoy crossing the river, in that big old ferry boat, and heading off to the Chinese restaurant in Felixstowe, before descending on the Kings Hotel for several pints.
 
I was billeted in one of the huts at the bottom of the hill.  There was never any hot water at bath time and what water came out of the taps was always a rusty brown.  One of the blokes in a hut further up towards the mess had a tropical fish tank in his room.  He must have been a permanent staffer.
 
Those were the days!
 
My only regret about my time in the mob was that I never got to see close-up, let alone touch, an operational aircraft.  I saw thousands on radar, but none in the flesh.  What a waste.  I visited the Yorkshire Air Museum the other week and finally touched the skin of a Lightning.  It was the shell of an 11 Squadron fighter.  I used to assist the fighter controllers with them from Neatishead and Staxton Wold.
 
Any way, enough of my ramblings.  I'm in the Civil Service now in Leeds.  Please feel free to use my email address

From Colin Gompertz. (1959/60)      

The RAF Bawdsey blazer badge .

The badge was designed by a small "committee" of the Education Officer, ( I think his name was White) Gerry Clarke and Baz ? from the drawing
office, and me in my Air Publications and Forms Store (APFS) next door about 1959. I think we had to get approval from Group or Fighter Command and of course the Station C.O. so it was an official badge. I have no idea how many were made or sold, but they were not too expensive for even this National Serviceman. I last saw Gerry Clarke on the TV with his paintings at I believe was Warwick Castle.  He did many RAF station badges in East Anglia while at Bawdsey.


From Colin Gompertz (1959/60)

What a fantastic "blast from the past"   I now well remember Roy (Clarke) - the story comes back to me now. A very pleasant bloke. I used to put the bets on for him if he was busy haircutting downstairs. I remember one day my boss Flt.Lt.Blackburn was making a rare visit to me and the phone rang and it was the bookie. Blackburn pointed to Roy's list and said "Make sure that one gets on, its mine!. Carry on Gompertz"  Flt Lt Blackburn was an Ops Controller, ex Navigator and very pleasant. I used  to have to find him to get his signature on the monthly forms order (in quadruplicate)  Every time he used to ask if I was getting enough passes. " Bring me a pad for me to sign" He used to sign the lot! That could only happen at
Bawdsey.  He was always grateful that I kept APFS out of his hair. They all had extra supervisory jobs and hated it. He knew I kept it in order as all his colleagues got all the forms and pads they needed in the control room. They very rarely had them before - another Bilko creep!


Bob Jones has written a series of articles for magazines over the years dealing with his Bawdsey days during the War years and the camp in general. Since the articles have pictures embedded in them I have put them on the site as .zip files.  The first one deals with a WAAF named Peggy that he met during the War at Bawdsey, . Then there is some info on early RAF Bawdsey days  and a tale about a sea launched German attack on Bawdsey during the War. All really interesting stuff. Many thanks Bob. RS.


BOB ATKINSON.  Bob was posted to Bawdsey in the late 1940s but remained after his RAF service as a civilian Transport Controller until it closed down for the first time so he was around for at least twenty years. Sadly Bob died in 1991 but Phil, his son, would like to hear from anyone who knew his father. He also wonders if anyone knew his Dad's friends Nev and Jock on the picture.  phil.tina@ntlworld.com


From ex-SAC Steve Thompson, (1973/4)

Well, thats who I used to be in what seems like another life.I was an Aerospace Systems Operator {ok,a Scopie} at Bawdsey from getting posted in on permanent staff in 73 to mid 74.What a great place.I already remember a couple of people on your site.Mike Critchlow and Dick Barret. A few more names, Dave Harris, Keith Full, Tony Oliver.
Bawdsey was the best. I must be malnourished because I remember the cheese toasties in the Deben club. The D.D tops. Bob Claytons Black Widow disco as mentioned by Dick Barret. The no- mans land between the TV rooms and WRAF lines.
I think I was a bit of a jerk in those days, sorry, but it was some of the best times I have had in my life. The people were the best, incredible folks.
I live in the U.S now where I work as a Deputy Sheriff in Colorado, assigned to firearms training and SWAT. All the best to old friends. Steve.


From ex-LAC  Francis Hookham 1950-51

I remember well the phosphorescent bathing on the way back from a night bind

Does anyone remember my one handlebar bicycle ?

Did anyone accompany me to the music classes which must have been in Woodbridge - the lecturer demonstrating change of note by blowing across a bottle filled with water as he drank the water gulp by gulp ?

The pig swill boiler

Was there a full or near full moon at Christmas ¹50 because I remember climbing the CHEL tower very late on Christmas eve or night and seeing the
wonderful golden road of reflected moonlight on the waves right up to the edge of the cliff

Collecting field mushrooms and taking them to the NAAFI to be cooked for supper

Badminton in the Hall

Crewing a Firefly for one of the Flying Officers - tricky water in the mouth of the Deben - we were 23 of 90 in the Firefly Championships in Poole
Harbour in ¹51

It all seemed to be a waste of time at the time but I am glad I did not miss National Service

Where are they now ?


From ex LAC Pete Dulley (1950 - 51)

I was generally pretty law abiding but my only digressions occurred on night watches at ‘T’ Block.  I was once put on a charge by Corporal Bell for making toffee apples in the rest room.  Next day he relented and let me off with a reprimand.  Nearer the end of my time there I had taken my brand new Velocette motorcycle into the block and was busily cleaning it on the coconut matting between the highly polished transmitters when the CO walked in.  He didn’t even mention the motorbike but chatted away trying to persuade me to make the RAF my career!

 

I spent my last 6 weeks working under the Station Warrant Office in the PSI gardens.  At that time there were somewhat derelict green houses around the walls and my job was to take glass out of those at one end and use it to glaze those at the other end to make them usable.  I’m not sure what he grew in them afterwards but I got quite handy with a glass cutter!

 

I recall being on watch with Mike Shaw when the telephone rang.  He answered it and was asked if the CO was in the block.  ‘Who wants him?’ asked Mike.  ‘Watson-Watt here’ came the reply!

 

Also from Pete

 

............I have come across a couple of programmes for performances by the RAF Bawdsey Theatre Club which may be of interest and serve to bring back a few names from the past. 
 
The first was 'Rookery Nook'  played on 15/16 & 17 August 1950.  The cast is listed as Sylvia Wightwick, Margaret Beetson, James Browning, Raymond Canning, David Herd, Pamela parker, Leonard Trolley, Grant Davidson, Bette Dunn, Gwyneth Klee and Mabel Harrison.  Off stage were James McInnes, James Hardwick, Les Norbury, Peter Broyd and Frank Gaunt.
 
The second 'An Inspector Calls' played on 19/20 & 21 March 1951 by Terence Short, James McInnes, Winifred Avery, Winefred Howard, Maisie Horsfall, Douglas Cobb and David Herd.  Behind the scenes and not acting was David Rawe.
 
As I remember the Theatre Club  was very good - mainly made up of Fighter Plotter personel.

From Mike Shaw (1950-51)

 

I remember Jimmy Reilly well, especially for his excellent rendition of 'La Mer', which he sang, in French, at the drop of a hat. And, as I recall, hats
were dropped pretty frequently just to hear it...

I vaguely remember you telling us about the Windsor knot incident (picked up by SP's for the 'wrong' knot).  I think it may have even made the gossip columns of the Bawdsey Express. (My biggest regret is dumping them all - a great pile of them - when we moved house umpty-nine years ago. They didn't seem to be important any more. What a story they'd tell and what memories they'd hold now, though).

My biggest embarrassment - and best kept secret (till now) - occurred one day when I went into the R-Block early to run the gear up and then do the weekly routine maintenance 'behind the PPI cabinets'. It was an all WRAF watch, and they came into the ops room not realising I was there working at the back, and they started discussing ... 'things' ... I became so embarrassed at what I was hearing I didn't have the face (guts) to suddenly appear before them with a sheepish grin, so I stayed still, quiet as a mouse, for the entire 8-hour watch. I couldn't even slope out during the
duty change-overs. Luckily(?) my 'date' at the time wasn't on that watch, so my name never came into it - but what I did hear no fresh young innocent airman should have ever been privy to.  Women can be quite explicit when they start discussing ... things! When I finally emerged after the watch was over (and they'd all long gone), the other mech on duty (who was that?) wanted to know where the hell I'd been skiving all b---y  day.  I think my 'education' took an almighty leap that day.


From P.S Lyford   (National Service and 144 Signals Unit R.A.F. Bawdsey 1956-58)

I was one of the lucky erks who was pre-selected for O.C.T.U. before being called up for National Service. Consequently, on Thursday 19th January 1956, when I walked through the rain down that long road at R.A.F. Cardington from the Guardroom to the arch bearing the legend "Welcome to the Royal Air  Force", I was able to look forward to a more privileged National Service life than most National Servicemen, who felt anything but welcome in that place !

We must have been one of the first intakes to be pre-selected, for our Corporal announced that he wasn't sure just how to approach us "You might
just come back one day and be my officer". So he arranged for our uniforms to be issued on the following Monday, which meant that they would not be tailored until the following Wednesday, which meant that we would not be able to do coal fatigues. Oh dear, what a pity, never mind! He was also extremely apologetic about Reveille each day - "Sorry to wake you up, gentlemen!"

During the course of that week we were issued with our number ("Sir,  2784234") pyjamas airman, boots ammunition and shoes airman, brushes hair and brushes shoe, underpants, socks, towels and housewife (pronounced "Huzzif" - "the only woman the Air Force will give you for free,
 gentlemen"), we were shorn ("the Royal Air Force does not care what you have underneath your hat, gentlemen, but we do not like to have anything
showing"), we had our photographs taken for the 1250 identity card, sitting in pews with our numbers on boards before us like convicted criminals. We were confined to camp and spent most of our spare time trying to get the tortoise stove to stay alight long enough to give out some heat, shrinking our berets airman into a better shape than that provided by the manufacturers and producing that see-your-face-in-the-toecaps shine on our boots airman with spit, polish and a red hot teaspoon without burning the stitches! Why did those boots have to be made with knobbly leather instead of nice shiny leather?

One week after arrival at Cardington, we entrained for Liverpool, where we spent the night on straw-filled palliasses in the most miserably depressing Crimea Barracks in Crosby, which must have been built for the army at the time of that war. Threlfalls Bitter failed to induce any sense of
well-being. The following day we embarked on the Isle of Man Steam Packet for Douglas I.o.M., where we entrained on the narrow gauge railway to Ramsay and thence by road to R.A.F. Jurby, which was to be our home for the next three months.

Warrant Officer Paddy Webb and his bicycle were our constant companions on Course 50 Red One. We learned all about QR's and ACI's, we learned Section 40 by heart ("conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline" - "he threw down his rifle and said 'I will serve no more, you may do what you wish' or words to that effect. I therefore charged the accused") We bulled our boots and the billet floor, but we drew the line at burnishing the drawing pins on the notice board and probably lost many OQ's (Officer Quality Points). We froze under canvas on the beach at the Point of Air in a howling gale in March. We had char and buns in the bus which appeared every evening in the road outside the station. We wore our Jurby caps when out of uniform in case we bumped into Flight Lieutenant Tull, or Thacker of The Regiment. We were very envious of the Short Service Student Officers because they were paid a guinea a day, whereas we National Service Officer Cadets could only draw 4 shillings a day from which was deducted 4 shillings a week for the Soldiers,  Saillors and Air Force Association (SSAFA), leaving us the princely sum of 24 shillings to spend on haircuts and carousing in the Mess.

Practical jokes abounded. W.O. Webb had his bicycle hoisted to the top of the flagstaff. We were summoned from our beds to the Astra Cinema one night at 2a.m. to hear a lecture from the Commandant. When he did not arrive, one keen Student Officer took it upon himself to telephone the Commandant to remind him - no OQ's for him that night! After three months, we took our final exams and most passed. Those who didn't pass were mostly re-coursed and went through the whole course again, this time in more clement weather! Those who passed out were inspected by Lord
Sempill and marched off with bayonets fixed and band playing. My pay rose to half a guinea a day (10/6d or 52 pence in new money!) as an Acting Pilot Officer. Our postings came through and of course the Royal Air Force did its best to get them wrong. Qualified accountants who had asked for the Accounts Branch were posted to the R.A.F. Regiment. Would be Rockapes became accountants. I was unusually lucky - I asked for Fighter Control and Bawdsey as my first choice and, against the odds, I got it!

We had several Warrant Officers on the course, including W/O's Jim Gresham and Bob Willis, pilots from the Station Flight at R.A.F. Northolt. After passing out, they persuaded their fellow pilots at Northolt to send up a flight to bring them back down to civilisation. The flight plan was filed
"to collect Lord Elpus from R.A.F. Jurby" - unfortunately the CO Northolt heard of the flight and turned out the Welcoming Party. Sadly for the CO,
and for Bob and Jim, Lord Elpus was not on the flight!

A short attachment at R.A.F. Langtoft in Lincolnshire was followed by the Fighter Control Course at R.A.F. Middle Wallop in Hampshire. We attacked the incoming Red Squadrons on plotting table exercises. We actually flew Practice Interceptions (P.I.'s) in Prentices (?) flown by 242 Squadron (nicknamed The Bad Boys' Squadron as, rumour had it, they had all committed some dreadful misdemeanour). One Flying Officer WRAF was rather disconcerted when her pilot turned 1800 by doing a half-loop and roll-off-the-top instead of the usual Rate 1 turn. She made a comment to the pilot who said "Say again" and thumbed the RT transmit button. Into the cabins down below came her dulcet tones "Please don't do that, it makes me feel all funny!" We actually had a Radar which, it was rumoured, had been used in the Western Desert during the war - it reminded one rather of part of an abandoned chicken coop!

My pay rose to fifteen shillings a day (75 pence!)!

And then to Bawdsey. After checking in with the Adjutant, Flying Officer Doreen Jarrett,  I went up the drive to be confronted by the extraordinary
first sight of the grey stone front of the Mess. Just inside the front door was a table on which I left my cards (one for the PMC and Officers, the
other for the Commanding Officer). Corporal Scotty Scott, the Bar Steward then took me to my room. It was all very civilised and rather like a rather exclusive country club!

Next day I went down the Hole for the first time. I left my 1250 in the Guardroom and went down the stairs and along the upper corridor to the Chief Controller's Cabin. I was on A Watch with Flight Lieutenant Crawshay-Williams ("Crasher Bill") in the Chief's chair. First, and most
important, was a visit to the Officer's Rest Room and coffee and introductions to the rest of the Watch and the first of many time-wasting
games of Cribbage. 


Who was stationed at R.A.F. Bawdsey?

The C.O. when I first arrived was Wing Commander "Hawkeye" Wells, who had distinguished himself on night fighters during the war. Sadly, by this time his eye was not so hawkish and he had to view the Ops board from the Chief Controller's cabin through a pair of binoculars. Nevertheless, he was extremely popular and his Dining Out was Memorable! After a game of cricket in the Ante-Room, during which several windows, used as wickets, were broken, he was towed off the Station in his car. He was followed as C.O. by Wing Commander Norris-Smith.

Senior Administration Officer, Squadron Leader Taylor, I remember as Duty Officer one day visiting the Airman's Mess and receiving a complaint that the fish had bones. He sat down alongside the complainant and filleted the fish! What service.

Senior Operations Officer was Squadron Leader "Knocker" Noyes. Accounts Officer Flight Lieutenant Angus McLeod, who enjoyed his beer and
whisky, could always be relied on to win a crate of beer or bottle of whisky in any Mess draw. All I managed to win was a pair of plastic coat hangers in the Sergeants Mess draw - they broke when I first hung my coat!

Others included:

Fighter Controllers Vic Southon, Dave Riordan, Ron Brunt, Fred Penny who had flown Spitfires in the war, Derek Day, Dennis King, newly returned from 2nd TAF, Ron Alenius, Frank Fauchon (a large man with a very small Austin 7 Ruby)

Radar Supervisors Barbara fForde, Kay Dunn and Pam Klein (so keen on flying that she had an altimeter and air speed indicator in her car), John Simpson, Andy Andrews

Andy Anderson was our resident and very Scottish Rockape, assisted by Corporal Denyer, who did everything by numbers, even opening the Armoury door for the A.O.C.'s Inspection by numbers (Hand in pocket two three, take out keys two three, insert key two three, open door two three.....)

Geoff Moseley the Education Officer went walking in Yugoslavia and nearly caused a Diplomatic Incident by getting himself arrested by the Yugoslav Authorities on a charge of Spying!

John Barker was the C.O. of the VHF transmitter station across the water at Trimley

At the risk of breaking the Official Secrets Act (I'm sure the Russians knew anyway!) we had a rather ancient Type 7 metric radar with its large and
inaccurate banana-shaped blip, a Type 14 centimetric with its bog of Permanent Echoes and Type 13 nodding height finder which was usually
unserviceable; fortunately we also had an American FPS-6 height finder which was far more reliable. The Type 80, with its greatly improved performance, was only just coming into service and had not made its appearance at Bawdsey before I was demobbed. The four great 300ft-high Chain Home towers still stood, although the arrays had long since been removed. The view from the top of the towers was amazing!

At that time the R.A.F. was well up to strength and there seemed to be no shortage of aircraft to control. Among the squadrons we controlled in 11
Group were 111 with Hunters at North Weald, 64 and 65 with day and night Meteors at Duxford, 54 with all-weather Javelins at Odiham, 513th and 514th Fighter Pursuit Squadrons USAAF with F86D Sabres at Manston. The Americans had so much (for the time) electronic wizardry in their aircraft that they used to abort at the slightest malfunction. Navigation was a problem for them if place names were not accompanied by country - "Paris where?" "Paris France". "Ah Roger!" They were great characters and invariably brought suitcases full of their duty frees when visiting us - our bar profits suffered but we did not. On one occasion we celebrated Kay Dunn's 21st birthday with them in great style. Some weeks later I was controlling a pair of F86's and one pilot asked "How are you off for Wheelbarrows?" This was not one of the usual codes, such as "Gravy", "Jugs", "Angels" etc and I had to ask the Chief Controller to translate. He didn't know and passed it up to Sector who passed it to Group who passed it on to USAAF who gave permission to transmit in clear. By this time everyone was listening in. "Do you remember that great party when we wheeled Kay Dunn downstairs in a wheelbarrow?"

I had one of those never-to-be-forgotten moments one Sunday afternoon, controlling a Spitfire and Mosquito from the Civil Anti-Aircraft
Co-Operation Unit (CAACU) doing PI's - I could almost smell the nostalgia!

We introduced the United States Air Force to Dining In and Guest Nights, inviting officers from Bentwaters and Woodbridge. Low-flying and
High-Cock-a-lorum they though GREAT and demanded to go round again, despite painful close encounters with the Mess furniture. Anthony Eden was at this time having his problems with President Nasser and the Suez Canal, and petrol was rationed and in very short supply. We envied the Americans with their enormous gas-guzzling cars and their drivers parked outside the mess all night, engines running to keep the heaters going! We were invited back to their Officers' Club and were somewhat surprised when their CO removed his clip-on bow tie after dinner and laid it carefully alongside his plate, followed by all his officers. R.A.F. Horsham St Faith presented them with a ceremonial cannon made from a beer crate and length of drainpipe. It was wheeled into the Officers' Club with great ceremony and a thunderflash was fired from its barrel. Our transatlantic friends thought this GREAT and the Duty Officer was despatched to the armoury to bring  further supplies of thunderflashes. A bag of Maltesers was dropped into the barrel after the second thunderflash and produced a peppering of holes in the rather insubstantial Club wall; this the Americans thought GREAT and the Duty Officer was despatched again to bring in further supplies of Maltesers from their PX. By the time they had run out of thunderflashes and Maltesers, there was little left of the wall but everyone thought the evening had been GREAT!

What an incredible place Bawdsey Manor was and, indeed, still is! Built in the 1890's by an industrialist named Sir Cuthbert Quilter, it was bought by the Air Ministry in 1936 for £24,000 and became the first R.A.F. operational radar station a year later in 1937, after the early Watson Watt experiments up the coast at Orfordness. It had some 104 rooms - I held the mess inventory but never counted them. Very few rooms were on the same level and every external aspect of the Manor was different - Gothic, Victorian, Elizabethan, Flemish, Oriental. It was said that the architect committed suicide when he saw what he had designed! Running along the cliff face was a path with tunnels and alcoves looking out over the North Sea. The sunken garden at the rear of the building was said to be haunted and certainly it felt very eerie on a full-moonlit summer night. We had a full-sized billiard table, a small Chapel, the holy-of-holies cipher room where the Orderly Officer had to compose a secret cipher each evening telling Group of the state of the warning lights on the Chain Home Towers! Some secret but it was good practice! If Bawdsey had a drawback, it was that it stood on the wrong side of the Deben Estuary - a night out in Felixstowe necessitated the use of the Bawdsey Ferry, an open fishing boat which stopped running at 2245 and was bitterly cold and wet in winter! An enforced stay overnight at the Ferry Boat Inn was not recommended!

Bawdsey Manor is now Alexander's International Language School and water sports activity centre. They have recently opened guest accommodation not only in the Manor itself but also in cottages in the grounds which are available to rent throughout the year -their website has all the details  at http://www.bawdseymanor.co.uk.

The RAF Bawdsey Reunion meets for lunch in the Manor each year, thanks to the owners of the Manor and Squadron Leader Frank Fear. 


SAC Tony Humphreys – 1969 – 1971

 

After my basic training at RAF Swinderby, I was posted to RAF Bawdsey to train as an ‘Areo Space Systems Operator’.  On completion, I was posted to the site as permanent staff.  I can honestly say it was the best two years of my life.  My bunk mate was Jerry Wainwright and as a couple of 17 year old likely lads we had a whale of a time.  Does any one remember Pedro?  He was the camp mystic.  Other names that spring to mind are:  Dusty Fogg, Fraser, Liz Longstaff, Jackie White, Flt Sgt. Fen and off course my first love, Penny Lewis.  Where are they now?

 

BFN became the focal point for me and I enjoyed many a happy hour spinning the wax or relaxing in the lounge area.  I eventually left RAF Bawdsey for Hong Kong and RAF Kai Tak, but the memories of Bawdsey will remain with me forever.


Excerpt from ‘Maid In England ’.  Author - Nadia Simpson (nee Kelly)  Published 1998.  

            So. I made my way to Bawdsey. A train to Felixtowe and then a ferry ride across the mouth of the River Orwell right into the grounds of Bawdsey Manor.

            Nobody had told me about Bawdsey Manor. I suppose I expected an operations set-up similar to Neatishead. 

            Because confusion seems to abrogate the memory function I can’t recall that first ferry ride. Maurice the ferryman, and his small motor-boat became familiar over the next months because we needed him to take us across to Felixtowe.  Also there was a pub across the water (The Ferry Boat Inn) that we would go to sometimes. Very daring! I drank cider and felt common. Mum always said that only common women sat about in pubs!

            The first thing I recall is walking up a long drive and suddenly seeing a huge building that looked to me like a castle.  Someone took pity on my lost look. It was all right. This was the place.

            Formalities over, I was escorted up to my new digs at the top of the White Tower . Can you blame me for feeling as though I’d landed in the middle of a fairy tale?

Two more girls, Tommy and Jackie, (girls I swear), shared that glorious room at the top of the tower where from the window, you could see forever. A magical place.

            Along a winding dusty path through some trees, we walked to the operations room.  We could use bikes but I walked.  Canada , (Gerry Knight) always claimed a bike. She came back from leave once with a mangy black canine. Caused a bit of a stink but when it blew over she still had her dog.  It sat on the handlebars of the bicycle as she cycled to ‘K’ site. His name was Bobby and he fainted a lot. One second he would be sitting up at a table in the N.A.A.F.I. and the next he was on the floor in a dead faint. He didn’t seem to hurt himself or mind hitting the hard floor because in a minute he’d jump back onto his chair.  Perhaps he got bored and kept falling asleep?  Whatever, we got used to it and his peculiarity hardly forced a comma in the conversation.

            The tall transmitting and receiving towers stood sentinel over the complex. There were three types of equipment for tracking high-flying aircraft, medium, low flying and shipping. The three blocks were set a good distance apart. (Along with several other silly young things I climbed the highest tower. Coming down was the worst. A very dangerous stunt).  I seem to recall it was three hundred and sixty feet high with a six-foot swing at the top. But don’t quote me on that!

             Sir Robert Watson Watt and his brilliant team of scientists had developed radar at Bawdsey. By 1940 they had established a sufficient ‘radar curtain’ along the south east coast of England in time to meet the German air attacks, and this put Britain in the forefront of radar development.

              All the young men and women who had the good luck to be sent to Bawdsey shared an unreal, magical time. We had a mile and a half of private beach at the bottom of huge cliffs. We ran like gazelles along the cliffs or down the steep winding paths to the beach, young and strong, a little wild with not a care in the world.

             The house had been built by a Sir Roger Quilter,  as a wedding present for his wife. (Roger?). It wasn’t very old, mid nineteenth century, but had the atmosphere of a much older building. The grounds were well kept and the original gardens still maintained to a tidy if not perfect degree.

            The sunken rose garden was a lovely place to sit quietly and read or just be on one’s own for a while. A swimming pool, empty, was in a bit of a state. Broken bits of tile thrown about and grass growing between the cracks in the concrete. A few of us offered to tidy it up and see if it could be filled and used again but nothing came of it.

            Not least there was an arbour. Long and leafy. Dank and eerie. Its cover made of climbing roses I think. Or a grape vine. Its length thirty or forty feet. It was (still is for us who knew her) the bower of The White Lady. She stands at the far end. Alone. Headless. A fearful place to be after dark.

            On nights when there is a full moon, her marble skin reflects a white light all around her and it is well recorded that she walks, minus her head, around the garden looking for same before settling back on her plinth to await yet another full moon.

            Sometimes, if we remembered, we would tip-toe as close as we dared and hide behind the bushes and wait with breath held, eyes bulging, in the hope that she would go walkabout. At the slightest noise or movement we fled in all directions screaming and laughing hysterically.

            Forty-six years later I took my husband to see Bawdsey Manor and we found a security man at the gate-house. He let us inside the grounds but only far enough to allow us to take a picture. He told us that it was a bad day for visitors unless you were part of a group of wealthy Arabs who were viewing the manor because it was going for auction in the near future.  He told us that the government had finally decided to sell it after allowing it to stand empty for thirty-five years. I asked him if the White Lady was still there.

            ‘Yes!’ He said,  ‘and the tales of her moonlit walks.’

            I’ve never wanted a lot of money but when I heard that I wished I had the million and a half pounds to buy the house and grounds, then some more millions to restore it and some more millions to enable me to live in it.

            I would leave the White Lady without her head but I expect some non-sentimental filthy rich Arab will remove her and in her place will stand some vulgar, extravagant flapdoodle. Gold plated I shouldn’t wonder. You see how unrelentingly British I am?

 

Nadia Simpson.   Sunshine Coast.    Australia .     Dec. 2004 


From Keith ('Alfie') Bass. (Bawdsey 1967)

In my 22 years in the RAF I spent most of my time mis-employed in drawing offices in and not has an ADO/ASOP. One of the things I would do was to paint a cartoon representation of each unit I served at. The one I painted for Bawdsey was called Bawdsey Hare Hops (approx 3' x 2'6'') and depicted the every day antics of the station run by members of the Royal Hare Force. The  attachment will give you an idea of the characters, unfortunately the other attachment explains what happened to it and I believe that Grp Capt Rhodes died in an accident in the Far-East shortly after leaving Bawdsey, so I have no idea what became of it.

rod1.jpg (232740 bytes)              harexw.jpg (501381 bytes)  Click on thumbnails.


From John Holland (1952 - 56)

Ex-boy entrant, 17 years of age, RAF Yatesbury 1950-1952.
Fond memories of my arrival at Bawdsey, greeted by carnival bunting fluttering across the road in Felixstowe, while waiting for old Albert's bus outside of the station. Then the surprise of having to cross the River Deben in Morris's boat.  After having checked in at the guardroom, the walk up through the tree lined track up to the accommodation site was a touch of sheer wonderment after the austerity of RAF Yatesbury.
 
Made a point of staying on 'duty'!!, my first Christmas (1952) at Bawdsey.  The fun on Christmas morning being served with tea in bed by the wonderful WAAF girls, then Xmas dinner being served in the building forming part of the Manor.  I still have the menu, signed by many on that day.
 
Back to Yatesbury, between Sept 53 and June 54, for the radar technicians course.  On completion things changed back at Bawdsey, no longer the carefree walk to the CHEL site but a slightly more formal walk to the new rotor (hole in the ground) site.
 
This CHEL site - the 'shack' beneath one of the four 360ft metal towers, one end of the shack housing the radar equipment (NT277, now on display in the Science Museum!) the other end equipped with a couple of radar screens for the plotters to use.
 
By then the old NAAFI, adjacent to the accommodation block, had gone and I was then located in 36J, one of the new accommodation buildings, although strangely I do remember returning to the original accommodation block six months or so before departing Bawdsey. 
 
My biggest surprise about Bawdsey that I have recently learnt is its' historical importance in regard to the development of radar, I would have liked to have known that all those years ago.
 
My thoughts are now of where have all those Bawdsey people gone & what have they done with their lives.  But what is so good, is the knowledge as seen on Ray's website, that so many of us still retain a special warmth when our thoughts turn back to such a delightful period that we all experienced those many years ago.

From Barbara Adams. (nee Williams)  (1967 - 1969)

 I was an Air Defense Operator, 'B' Watch, 2 Squadron Ops. from 1/1967 thru end of 1968, then transferred to Headquarters for the last 4 months of service to Accounting & Payroll. I married an American in 2/1969 and demobbed in March 1969 emigrating to the States in Sept. 1969. I was an Air  Force wife for the next 23 years, traveling and living all over the World, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Iceland, Hawaii, and all over the States, Mass, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Arizona, and California. I settled in Santa Rosa, Ca. (43 Miles North of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco) in 1987 and went to work for  the Federal Courts for the next 14  years. I have two wonderful grown sons my eldest is in the American Army. He is a 1st Desert Storm and Iraq war veteran. He took after his mom going into RADAR and now Finance. I have one 3 year old Grandson, Austin, who is in Clarkesville, Tennessee (5 hrs south from me.) I decided to take an early retirement from the Courts last year and move to beautiful Rising Sun,  Indiana on the Ohio River. (pop. 2500) its a very picturesque, quiet friendly small town on the river. I love it here great place to enjoy my retirement. I'm having fun trying to locate ex Bawdseyites on your web sites.


From Bob Newstead (1950 - 1954)

 I was demobbed in 1954 after five years in the RAF and left Bawdsey to settle in Aberdeen where my wife and her parents and brothers and sisters lived. I joined Marconi Marine Ltd to build and test Marine Receivers and Echo Sounders for the  Aberdeen fishing trawlers. After a couple of years I joined the Ministry of Civlil Avation and became Officer in charge of their Area Cover Radio Station Butser Hill which was near Petersfield Hampshire. some eight years passed and in 1965 I moved to a maintenance unit near Glasgow where I spent three years going all over Scotland in charge of monitoring the Radio Beacons serving the Airports in Scotland. I was 'in at the change-over from Renfrew Apt to Glasgow Apt in 1966 which kept us out of bed till well after midnight that night!!  Eventually in 1968 I went to Aberdeen Apt and stayed until another 'demob' retired me in 1992!
 
I never heard from other RAF pals I met at Bawdsey like Tom Ash and 'Mac' but still keep in touch with Dick Palmer (who married a local lass near Felixstowe) Bill Coton and of course Louis Debono who was recently at our Golden Wedding. I was able to contact Jean and Eric Cruse whom my wife and I met in the last year of service at Bawdsey Novenber 1954.
 
One other pal name of Ted came from Bristol way....near the Clifton Suspension Bridge ...I remember Bill Coton and I went to his parents house for tea one time when we were off duty from Yatesbury in 1950.

From Ray Shakeshaft  (1952 - 1956)

I left RAF Bawdsey and initially remained in Felixstowe then we moved to Ipswich but the company I worked for sent me back to my native West Midlands as the manager of their Stourbridge store. I became a full time trade union official (USDAW) in 1960-69 and finally left the National Union of Gold, Silver and Allied Trades in 1979 to become a Trade Union Studies lecturer for the TUC at Solihull College. I also spent many of those years in politics until 1995 when I took early retirement from the college too.

Throughout my post Bawdsey days I have been associated with the music world playing folk music on banjo, jazz on tenor sax, and various drums in samba bands and I now teach ukulele. I have also seen a bit of the world such as the Soviet Union, Tibet, China, Syria, Jordan, Ladhak, Nepal, Egypt, Costa Rica, Cuba, India, Morocco, Thailand, USA and a lot of Western Europe too.

I inevitably lost contact with friends of my service days but I am pleased to say that in 2003 I did meet up again with my ex-Sergeant, Ryan Coe. I go back to Suffolk about every three years because it holds some very dear memories of happy days.


From 'Henry' Cotton and Daphne (nee MacKenzie) 1954-56

 

SAC "Henry" Cotton stopped being a troglodyte at Bawdsey in 1955 and a knowledge of Ohms law gained entry to BBC Television technical operations in 1956 where I was for 25 years a senior boom operator working on programmes ranging from Light Entertainment to Opera and Drama. Ill health caused early retirement in 1988 from my last position as Senior Sound Supervisor in News and Current Affairs, where live programmes were again the norm and a chance to get out "on the road"
 
Ten years of holidays were spent touring with a Landrover, boat, wife, caravan and children from Lands End to John O'Groats, visiting many castles and monuments as well as secluded beaches en route. A main hobby was excavating archaeological sites with the Museum of London mostly in West London and drawing the artifacts for publication. I have the "B" of a BA with the OU.
 
On retiring to Suffolk I started  a project to digitize slides (going mouldy) and negatives (silver cracking) to a computer and compiling an internal web site of "Dynasty Cotton" which involves genealogy, holidays, pubs visited etc. etc - a never ending project which is now about 4GB.
 
Married for 48 years  to ex WRAF CCA Daphne (MacKenzie) with 3 children (one deceased) and 3 grandsons (one called "Nick" Cotton), is now relatively immobile and enjoying the springtime of senility.

From Francis Hookham 1950-51

I have remained in Cambridge where I was born. Half my working life following demob was working for a local architectural firm, Hughes and
Bicknell, and from ¹70 until ¹96 as a partner in a building surveying/architectural practice, Pleasance, Hookham and Nix working mostly for Cambridge Colleges. National Service trade training has stood me in good stead all my working and private life.

Interests are Rotary, Life Education (drugs education for primary school children) and computing, both Mac and PC and especially Excel. The Whipple Museum in Cambridge holds the Hookham Collection of Hand Held Electronic Calculators - all 400 different ones!

With best wishes, Francis


From Pete Dulley 1950-51

Based solely on my RAF training and experience I landed a job in radio research and development a month after my demob.  Five years later, after I had qualified, I joined The Crown Agents as an electrical engineer and remained with them until I took early retirement in 1984.  I never looked back and was able to concentrate on my other interest of leading walking holidays along the long distance paths of Britain and in many European countries.  I eventually give this up in 1998 and spend my time computing and helping the local U3A.  For the past 40 years I have lived in Surrey.

 

I lost touch with all of my Bawdsey colleagues except Francis Hookham.  We have remained firm friends and have followed each other through marriage, parenthood, Round Table, Rotary, an interest in computing and – of late – Bawdsey.


From Alan Millership 1960 - 62

 

RAF Bawdsey was my first operational station after passing out from the Boy entrant school at RAF Hereford-Credenhill on 28 Dec 1960.I arrived there on 28 Dec 1960 as a fresh faced Clk Accts-Airman's Pay.Sgt Reg Blackman was my Sgt I/c - I can not recall the Jnr Tech I/c registry or the WO or Flt Lt. I recall a Mr Mills in the civilian registry. What a station to be your first operational! Great location, good facilities, loads of female company (as the Yanks from Woodbridge and Bentwaters knew only too well). Private beach and great walks along the Orwell coast line.


Notwithstanding all this I became bored and transferred to the RAF Police trade, first with six months on the job training at'the hole' under the
watchful gaze of the RAF POLICE SNCO Sgt Dave Shields( he became Head of Security for Occidental Oil- now retired in Aldeburgh, Suffolk) and then on to RAF Debden Police school on 4 Apl 1962.I went on to complete nearly 25 years retiring on 9 Sep 1983.

 

I had my own retail business for five years in Leics then on the work for Richard Branson as a Regional Security manager in the  Virgin Megastores, on the Gateways Supermarkets in a similar role before entering the University sector as head of Security at the Nottingham Trent University, then at the University of Reading and now at the University of Bristol (living in Weston super mare). I was made a Freeman of the City of London in 2001 and appointed a JP in 2000 ( I sit on the Weston bench ). May regards to anyone that served during the time I was at Bawdsey -Dec 1960 to Apl 62.

 


From Nadia Simpson (nee Kelly).  (CHL radar operator at Bawdsey 1948).
    Before being demobbed I left Bawdsey to  join a small team of 'chosen' personnel who were to go on a tour recruiting men and women for the new reformed airforce.   My contract was for 'the present emergency'. There wasn't any emergency really by then but that's what it said in my Pay Book. Duration - present emergency. I went off to Little Sutton in Lincolnshire where I met up with the rest of the gang. I think there was one officer, two corporals, two ACW's and a couple of mechanics. I remember going on the train to Edinburgh and operating mock-up equipment in a caravan. All good fun at the time. It was the Edinburgh Festival of 1948 I suppose. Then we went somewhere else and did the same. People came looking around and asking questions. We had to answer them with enthusiasm and encouragement. The armed forces were depleted after the war because most of the serving personnel wanted out. The government were seriously recruiting. I got demobbed shortly after that.
       Back to South Yorkshire. Not for long. I met a bloke, as you do, and we went to Canada for three years. Back in England we lived near Port Sunlight. My husband worked for Unilever. We came to Australia originally for two years with Unilever in Sydney. Thirty three years later we are still in Australia but moved to Queensland many years ago. We now live on the Sunshine Coast and think ourselves very lucky people to have found this corner of the world. You can only find if you seek and I feel I've done that throughout my life, even though the old saying that you can take the girl out of Yorkshire but you can't take Yorkshire out of the girl is very true in my case. I still have my accent and I still love England and I still tell it how it is. My love to ALL the ex Bawdseyites. We were the luckiest of people to live there for a while. Please read my bit about my time at Bawdsey on Ray's anecdote site. I am 75 so I don't reckon there will be many of my era left, even less who can use a computer. We all owe Ray for putting this site together. I am not expecting to hear from anybody who knew me but I hope some of you catch up with old mates and relive the good days we had at Bawdsey. 

From Ray Shakeshaft. 1952-56

On 16th October 2006  - almost fifty years to the day I last saw him - I met up with Tony Goodacre again. We last saw each other whilst serving in the Pay Accts Office at Bawdsey. Tony has carved out a very successful career as Britain's top Country and Western singer and we actually met whilst he was on tour with George Hamilton IV and playing in Stourbridge. If you look above you will see that Tony's musical journey to fame started whilst serving at Bawdsey.  I have to say that apart from a good night out it was great to meet up again after all these years. Tony still has a great voice and looks like belting out his songs for a number of years yet.

.

Tony Goodacre and Ray Shakeshaft (16th October 2006)

Ammendment.  Tony and I met up again at the 2007 Reunion Luncheon.  Do go and see him if he is in your area. He is still very busy on the Country Music circuit and he is always happy to meet old Bawdseyites.


 From Russell Smith 1955-1957.

 I was demobbed from Bawdsey in January 1957 after serving my National Service as a Radar operator on 'A' crew. After demob I continued my apprenticeship as a printer, and in July 1957 I married Brenda Tomkies who was also a Radar Operator at Bawdsey from 1954 to July 1957. I worked as a Bank Note printer for the Bank of England until I was 35 yrs old, I then decided to train as a teacher. I studied Sociology & Ceramics at teacher training, and eventually we decided to open our own pottery & craft shop in Essex, we both ran this business for nearly 25 yrs, making our own pottery and selling crafts from all over the country. We retired in 2003 and we are looking forward to our 50 years of marriage in 2007.  (Congratulations! - Ray).


From Derek Brown, 1962 and 1965-66.

 I was an SAC ground radar mechanic working on the heads at Bawdsey. I was also a member of BFN with Gus (painter of the BFN ceiling), Dave, Ozzie, Ted, Paddy and Anne O’Donnell. Please excuse the names that I have missed. These were the best years of my service.  

After Bawdsey I went onto my ground radar fitter’s course at Locking. Passed that easily and was posted to St Athan to work on the oldest airfield radar around (I was in the first adult class to take the training on the new AR1 transistorized radar, and was top of the class). The disillusionment stayed with me as the person that I replaced went to work on AR1 and was not trained on it.  

While at St. Athan I applied for a job with International Computers Ltd. and was accepted. They offered me a new installation at the Norwich University , but the RAF would not let me out. Next was Southern Radar, detached from High Wycombe to RAF Sopley, as the only non civilian tech on site. I never wore my uniform and fished my weekdays away, (worked some weekends). This was the last year of service.  

When I got out (in 1971)  I worked for 2 years for ICL in Letchworth, but the second winter all the utilities took it in turn to go on strike so I came to Canada.  

I worked for ITT on telephony for 14 years and when they closed up I came to work for ENGEL Canada Inc. on injection molding machines. I am still working for Engel and troubleshooting equipment for a living, but on the phone these days. I came here in 1973, and love this country (apart from winter weather). I am presently living with my American wife in Guelph , Ontario , one hour west of Toronto .


WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

The purpose of this little section is obvious but I think that we needed it.  I get a number of emails from people who did not serve at Bawdsey but know people who did and we also have people associated with this site who may still have contacts that others do not know about. This may help us to establish links with old friends or you may simply be able to add more details. If anyone has information then please send it to me and I will post it and pass it on.   Thanks'  Ray Shakeshaft.

Cpl, Jim Taylor (Orderly Room)  1952-55ish.  Originally from Hull but last contacted in the early 70s living in Seamer running a fish food business. (from Ray Shakeshaft)

Any SHQ staff from 1952-56 period. such as WRAFs 'Frankie' Stanton (from Chester), Joan Booth, Jeannie Sinclair (from the Shetlands) and any of the Pay Accts staff. (from Ray Shakeshaft)

Cpl WRAF  'Jake'/'Jackie'/Jacqueline Mouatt  Ca 1953-56ish - a very lively and popular gal - about five people have asked about her (from Ray Shakeshaft).

(Interesting aside. I got an email from a USAF airman of the 1960s  who commented on one of our WRAF as still being remembered as one of the most beautiful girls he had ever met in his whole life. It is good to know that this site brings back pleasant memories. Ray Shakeshaft)


From  Alan (Bert) Weedon. (April 1963 to August 1966 and May 1970 to November 1970)
 
I think you have built a smashing website, thank you and congratulations!
 
I have very fond memories of my colleagues, the RAF station and of our debauched escapades. Remember the Navy detachment and the dance of the flaming a***holes in the NAAFI? The illegal midnight party in the old chain holme bunker. The summer beach parties. Using the canoes on the Deben. The successful rugby team led by Sgt Derek the PFI. Waiting for the Brinkley ferry because Albert was late and couldn't find 4th gear on his 1950s bus?
 
I was a Radar Fitter, billetted in 35B opposite the MT office. I arrived as a junior technician from RAF Locking and left a Sergeant. I worked firstly on the Transmitters, later spent time in the hole. In between times I retrained as a computer technician and went to Penang Malaysia at RAF Western Hill.
 
After de-mobbing from Bawdsey I went to Orfordness to observe the Russians in more detail, then after various jobs in southern England I moved to Munich in 1977. In 1989 I moved to Switzerland and I now live and work in Berne as a security guard.
 
I have been lucky and led a very happy and enjoyable life. I now have 2 ex-wives, 3 daughters, 1 son, 5 grand children and a Dutch girl friend.
 
You may contact me at alan.weedon@yahoo.co.uk
 
Thank you very much Ray, with best wishes from
 
Alan Weedon
From Gwen Arnold (Now Reading). Our Wartime WAAF from 1943 - 1945

Dear Ray,

My book is available from   Woodfield Publishing, Babsham Lane, Bognor Regis, West Sussex. PO21 5EL.The large print version was published by Isis of Oxford, but I am not sure whether it is still in print. Isis mainly sold to libraries. The speaking book is being made by 'Calibre', but I understand will not be ready for some time.
 
I love your beautiful pictures of Bawdsey and look at them over and over again--they bring back so many memories. Of course in war time there were only RAF and WAAF around, and very few boats on the Deben. Beyond our ferry boat only one or two fishermens boats. Our boat was 'manned' by a girl named Penny and a very large airman known as Tubby. We did not have a jetty, but jumped from the side of the boat onto the sand. Not surprisingly, there were often wet feet for those who did not quite make it--could happen after an evening at the Ferry Boat or the Vic. We booked in at a little hut at the waters edge.
 
Most of the girls had bikes because we all lived in the manor, and bikes were useful if late to catch a ferry which kept to a very strict time table. Some of the men were billeted in the married quarters (but not with wives), others lived in the accommodation block or in various huts scattered around the grounds.
 
In wartime secrecy was very important and we were very good at that. By the way, I think it is a pity that the local group are concentrating on the transmitter block. Of course the T block was essential, but all the action took place in the R block. I've been in the R block several times in recent years and can so easily imagine all the equipment there. The two RF8s, the Console, the Switch room where (ex P O engineer) RAF looked after the equipment which enabled our plots and heights to come up in coloured lights. Many years ahead of the times. Later of course came Oswald which enabled us to briefly see V2s. Even the shelf where we 'brewed up' remains.
 
One of the photos which I hope to send you is of the entrance to the Buried R. We had two RF8s in the R block, but if they were both 'off the air' at the same time, some one was sent to 'run up' the RF7 in the buried R. This entailed a three or four hundred yard sprint through the woods, taking care not to stray from the path, because the woods were mined. Once 'on the air' the rest of the crew came rushing down, and we did our best, converting all the plots manually.
 
Everyone who has served at Bawdsey must have wonderful memories of the grounds, including the cliff path with all its seats and crannies. In war time there were also many summer houses, well used by the romantically inclined. The lily pond was still a lily pond, not filled with roses as it was when I last saw it.
 
In those days the Star was the village pub--a good reserve if the weather stopped the ferry from crossing. I remember strolling back from the village one summer's evening with my RAF boy friend of the time, he carrying my hat, when the WAAF CO rounded the bend in the road. I was given two days confined to camp for being hatless and not saluting.
 
They were such happy days, and life has been pretty good to me since. I have lived on the South Coast, Wales and near Winchester. After my husband died I moved to Scotland to be near one of my daughters. Life here continues to be good--I still dance, enjoy my garden and have many friends and most importantly,  good health.
 
I'll try my hand at sending photographs in a day or two.
 
Very best wishes   

Gwen


SACW Linn Chilton (Chillie) now Schmidt

I only spent a year at Bawdsey, Feb. 68 thru Feb '69. I met and married Roy Schmidt (U.S.A.F) while there and I'm sure there are WRAFs out there that remember him better than me.  I have to say for such a short time it really shaped me as a person. People I remember are Linda Mills, Jackie Cowlin, Paddy Jay Rushby,  Trish Hayes and many faces to whom I have lost the names. Roy and I have lived happily in KY since 1969, we raise two sons and now enjoy our retirement with our two grandchildren. Our e-mail is chillie764@fuse.net


Nick Hoyle   

MTD. I was stationed at Bawdsey from Feb 67 to Feb 69 in the MT section. Sgt Bater was the man in charge, later replaced by Sgt Millard. Bob Atkinson was the civilian MT Controller, other drivers I recall are Tom Lindsay, Brian Hetherington, Alan Brame. Bawdsey was my first permanent station, I served 22 years and ended up a Sgt, but without a doubt Bawdsey is the one place I will always remember. Phil the NAAFI manageress was memorable, as were all the wonderful WRAF that I met in my time there. Recently visited the old place, so sad to see the deteriation of the MT section seeing as I spent 2 years painting it! And the loss of all the other buildings is also very sad, but at least I have my memories. nickhoyle@talktalk.net


Terry Burke, VHF Section 1958-1961
Arrived 21 July 1958 From "Cosford" Boy Entrant,still underage! ( one of a group of four ex B/E all for the VHF Section).What a start to real RAF Life. What an Education!!!  Station W/O unsure about us, rules said as we were under age we had to live /eat /sleep seperate from "Adult " airman up to 18th birthday. I still had six months to go.No chance, all billited in Hut 29c, get on with it .Soon in the real world. Enjoyed my time , very formative years in many ways!!! all those WAAFS.  Particular memories of the  long hot Summer of 1959 and the Beach activities!!! One memory I have is that I used to pick loads of blackberries at the VHF "Transmitter" site,and the W/O Cook then made Blackberry and Apple pie for the Airmans mess, a little taste of home cooking. I Met and married a local girl from Ramsholt,she worked in a shop in Alderton Village. I returned to Bawdsey to see out my last six months prior to demob end March 1971. 

Ray Shakeshaft. Pay Accts 1952-56.

Already 2009 has had some wonderful surprises for me in relation to my Bawdsey days. First I am now in touch with my best friend at Bawdsey who was also my Bestman, Jim Taylor, who was the Registry Office Corporal at the same time as I was the Pay Accts Cpl. No wonder I could not trace him, he has been living in the States for the last 21 years. Even better news is that in August we are going to meet up again!  I don't think we will drink like we did back in our service days but I suspect there will be a great celebration.

Another old friend and someone that will be well known to many is that I have connected with Roy Clark who was the Camp hairdresser (he even did my 'wedding' haircut)  in my days and long afterwards as he worked there as a civvy. Roy married SAC Sylvia Humphrey and they are both keeping well and not too far away from Bawdsey. See Below.

Events like this make running the site so worthwhile


Roy Clark. Camp Barber 54-56

I went fishing with you  (Ray) off the block house at FELIXSTOWE, and the ferry took your rod and line. I only used a cane and paternoster and caught all the fish. I shall never forget it, though I suppose it wasn’t very funny for you. We came to your house in Ipswich once. .Sylvia and I are still together.  53 years now, we got married the year Churchill retired and settled in IPSWICH .I took the contract for hairdressing at Bawdsey and Felixstowe base

I then went on and took a salon in Ipswich in 1962 and kept Bawdsey on one day a week until the close down. At the age of 74 I am still working one day a week at my old shop I sold 6 years ago. I was speaking on the phone to Patricia Thompson today,  her father was SGT Tommy Thompson from Sick Quarters; he died two years ago. He lived in Norwich for some years. I shall never forget when he phoned me at the shop one morning to tell me he had the NAAFI manager and the regiment SGT in Sick Quarters;  they had tried to row across the river after missing the ferry and they had both been drinking .They were picked up several miles out and was only just spotted by a tug master in time. All Tommy could do was laugh like a drain it seemed if it wasn’t for the Sgt bailing out all night they would have had it.Glad I found your web site its very good (January 2009)


'Bobbie' Munns Query.

I am trying to trace some information about my mother Barbara Munns (Bobbie Munns) - who served as  a WRAF during the war.  My mum died 15 years ago and I always regretted not talking to her more about her time in the WRAF,  All I know is that she worked with the man that developed radar which is why I come to you.  I would love to be able to trace someone who knew her as a young woman...

I would be grateful for anyway you can point me.  Many thanks.  Sara Holton

(Please contact me if you can help. Ray Shakeshaft).


Regarding Sgt 'Tommy' Thompson  Sick Quarters (Fifties).

Dear Ray,

 
I was fascinated, and moved to find the photograph of my father - Sgt Thompson - (Tommy)  with the Sick Quarters boys and girls on your Web Site, mentioned to me by Roy Clark whom I've known together with his wife Sylvia all these years !  We were all of a similar age, even though my Father was only 41 in 1954, so he started 'begatting' somewhat earlier !  I used to visit Bawdsey for holidays, and we almost had the beach to ourselves there beyond the woods, as opposed to the ferryside.  We all crossed over many times of course all eagerly awaiting Albert's Bus, and I was delighted to see the picture of him at the wheel.
 
I often stayed at 'The Sick Quarters Hotel' on my visits to see my Father, and I remember the 'girls and boys' in the photo', of which I have the exact copy,  Sometimes I stayed with a couple who lived in the first house on the row that faced the ferry nearest the entrance gate to RAF Bawdsey, there names were Eve and Pete Leandro,he was of course based there.
 
My Father had two separate postings to Bawdsey, in between he was posted to Ceylon along with an Officer, surname Donald, where 'Bridge on the River Kwai' was filmed and they spent most of their time on the film-set as official advisors to the film's medical unit, on how the health of prisoners of war, under those circumstances, would be affected and how to deal with it.  They fraternised with the stars of the film, and film unit, cameramen, etc.  It was a truly amazing posting.    I have a wee album of about 60 or more - I think - transparencies of the event taken by my Father.  I shall pass these on to Roy shortly.  I think he met my Father after the trip to Ceylon when he came back to Bawdsey, quite rotund, with good-living out there, whereas he had always been very thin !    I have an album of the record of his trip.
 
Whilst based at Bawdsey he met a lovely lady who ran a village store in Alderton, 'Ye Olde Shoppe'  perhaps you remember it.  They eventually married, and moved to Ipswich and he then left the RAF.  Sadly she died in 1970.   He died in 2005 aged 92!
 
Think I've rambled on a bit, but there are so many stories and anecdotes untold.
 
Meanwhile - best wishes -
 
Patricia (Thompson)

SAD NEWS!!!!!!!!!  The Swan at Alderton is likely to close.

Many of you who have gone back to Bawdsey will know that The Star pub has been a private dwelling house for a number of years (I met my wife there at SP Dog Handler Eddie Renyard's Engagement Party March 1954 - we were married before Eddie!!) but now it appears that The Swan at Alderton is also going to suffer the same fate. I believe they are looking for a buyer but otherwise it is going to become a private dwelling house.

I suspect that these watering holes played a major role in the lives of those of us who served at Bawdsey and it is sad to see them go. (I learned to drink at the Swan....I picked it up quite quickly).

I believe The Ferryboat and The Vic(toria) on t'other side are still flourishing.

Ray Shakeshaft.Feb 2009.


Hi Ray,
 
Just looked up the Bawdsey site. It gets better by the day. Here's a little piece that you might like to add to the site?
 
JIM TAYLOR. Bawdsey 1951-1953 inclusive. Cpl. Admin Office. As Ray has mentioned above, I now live in Boynton Beach, Florida. (The Land of Milk and Honey!) My wife, Cindy, had flown North to visit her daughter in Rhode Island and I was sitting idly at the computer. For some reason I typed the wonderful words "R.A.F. Bawdsey" into the Google search engine. Up came a multitude of "stuff." Then I noticed the header about "Old Comrades" or something similar. Point and click. WOW!!!!
 
The first name that started my reverie was none other than my dear friend Ray Shakeshaft! Furthermore, he even mentioned my name and that he was searching for me! Trust me, this is quite a traumatic happening. Incredulous is the word that comes to mind and I immediately fired off an email to Ray.
 
Since that time, and as my wife likes to say, we have been conducting a "torrid correspondence" with each other and have already fixed up a date this coming August, when we can meet up and re-live some of those days since we last met around 56 years ago! Thankfully, we are both in fairly robust health and no doubt we can still manage to stop a couple of beers from going flat?
 
I recall being posted to Bawdsey with my fellow Yorkshireman, Don Fish, who lived in Malton. Where are you Don? What a dream of a posting that was. I was lucky enough to remain at Bawdsey for the entire three years that I served and progressed from AC2 through to Corporal during that time. I recall all of the names that Ray has mentioned above plus a few others. e.g. Squadron Leader Theophilis (CO), Flt.Lt. Craig (S Ad O.), Sgt, "Chalky" White (Admin) and a host of others.
 
I recall with much fondness, being there at the opening of the Corporals Club and had the job of requisitioning the snooker table, furniture and accessories. What a great place that was.
 
I was quartered in Hut 29B for quite some time and I seem to remember that only about 10 chaps were in each hut? Most of their names escape me but the memories have started to flood back and I love every one of them! Who could ever forget the wonderful gardens, the private beach and the lovely walkways with little alcoves and benches. Many were the romances that started at this idyllic location.
 
Ray Shakeshaft became one of my best friends at R.A.F "Butlin's" and did me the great honour of asking me to be the Best Man at his wedding. A task that I recall with much pride and I remember the day like it was yesterday. I can't remember where the car keys are but I can remember Ray's wedding from morn 'til night! Weird!!
 
Thank you, Ray, for having the foresight to create this wonderful site. Just reading through the entire thing has made me realise how lucky we all were to spend a little of our lives at this haven of happiness.
 
Jim Taylor.  knifeprincess@bellsouth.net

 

Jim came over from the States for a visit to friends and relation in the UK and 18/19th August 2009 we met up again and spent a lot of time swapping stories of our Bawdsey days and where our paths have taken us since then. I loved every minute of it.   

I sincerely hope the site achieves similar results for other ex Bawdseyites.

Ray Shakeshaft. August 2009.


From Cpl John Kerry (1948/9)

At last I have got round to e-mailing you with my old friends details.   Best to do it before I get Alzheimer's!   Anyway, here goes.

 
Many years ago I was known as 2376077 Cpl John Kerry, (National Service), and was at Bawdsey in 1948/49.   I was an instructor at No 5 Radio School, neatly placed next door to the old wooden NAAFI, where Special Duties Clerks were trained, although later in 1949 the trade was remustered into either Fighter Plotters or Operations Clerks (I think - I was called that in BAFO later I'm sure).   
 
After a wonderful eight months at Bawdsey I was posted to BAFO and was stationed at HQ 46 Group, RAF Luneburg, which was controlling the British part of the Berlin Airlift (Operation Plainfare).
 
I still remember vividly the good times and good friends I had at Bawdsey, including Cpl Alan Arnold, Chris Hoare and Ted Bannister of No 5 Radio School and also Sergeant Mary Benson and LACW Viv Abrahams who were Radar Ops.   Until today I had not noticed anyone else from the Radio School, but I have just noticed AC2 Ron Mathewson is the last on the roll call, but I suppose I will be now.
 From Cpt(ret) Peter Khoo Su Seng
I was a Singapore Air Force student in the 48th Fighter Comtrollers' course from Nov 69 to Feb 70. I still play golf with many ex fighter controllers trained in RAF Bawdsey. Bawdsey Manor used to be the officers' mess and we all have fond memories of it. We will be pleased to be in touch with anything Bawdsey.

25

From 2517301 LAC Jim Young (Cook). Bawdsey Days.

       After fourteen weeks training [Yes they did train us] at RAF Innsworth School of Cookery Gloucestershire, I was posted to RAF Bawdsey from leave. As I lived on the Isle of Wight I started my journey by ferry and low and behold I was surprised to find that it ended by ferry. I arrived at RAF Bawdsey in November 1951, reporting to the Guardroom just off the ferry. I was directed to the Station Warrant Officer’s office in the Manor reporting to SW/O Snowdon and was booked in. He asked me “Do you play football’’ “Yes Sir,’’ I replied “ In goal’’. He then told me to be on the sports field at 14-00 hrs. This was my introduction to Bawdsey.

       I was billeted on the ground floor of the main block over looking the NAAFI, in with three other cooks. The Cookhouse was in the left hand corner of the old stable block, with the dining mess being around the right hand side. The camp strength was about 220, a comfortable size to cook for after the 1000 at RAF Innsworth. Being cooks we were a close community because of our shift patterns, 04-30 to 14-00hours one day and 08-30 to 19-00 hours the next day, then repeat the pattern, because of this, a lot of our time was spent working and catching up on sleep. This unfortunately put us in a position of seeing everyone of the lower ranks in the mess at meal times, but really only knowing just a few, now on reflection this was very sad.

         Soon after I arrived the Catering WRAF Sergeant was posted out of the Mess and Catering W/O Turnbull posted in. This W/O turned out to be one of the greatest N/C Officer and gentleman one could ever wish to meet. He taught me so much during my service, leadership, being the main thing and this stood me in good stead during my service and in later life. This is to say, he was not an easy man, but a fair man. I remember very well once on early shift, one of the cooks went to collect the keys from the guardroom; he came back up and told us that they could not find the key to the ration store. All of the food for breakfast was in there and after an hour the key had still not been found. Panic!  What do we do? As breakfast time was getting near. I was a carpenter and joiner before I joined up, I told the other cooks that I could get into the store and with a big knife I opened the Yale lock through the doorstop. Breakfast saved and served on time. When W/O Turnbull came into mess at 08-30 hrs. He said, ‘’I have just been handed the key to the ration store by the duty policeman, the ones they had mislaid. How did you get in?”  I owned up and explained what I had done. He told me to go to his office. When he came in he gave me a right dressing down and told me that he could put me on a charge for breaking and entering. I felt about one foot tall, with that he told me to get back to work. He came in a little later and came over and told me that I should not have done what I did, but your action saved the day and they all got their breakfast on time. All was now forgotten. That is the kind of man he was.

          I remember another time, every evening the cook house floor had to be scrubbed down, we had a large mixing machine on a wooden stand that we used for mixing pastry or mashing potato. One the cooks pulled this out of the way to clean behind it, but unfortunately it slipped out of his hands and fell to the floor. We rushed over and stood it up and found that it did not work when we switched it on. We reported this to the W/O and he told us he would report it and get it fixed. While this was out of order it meant everything had to be mixed by hand. Two months went by and no sign of anyone to fix it. I was on duty alone one Sunday evening doing the Supper, while I was waiting for people to come in, I went over and looked at the mixing machine, and thought if it was dropped on its front, what if I dropped it carefully on its back, so I turned it around and lowered down to about six inches from the floor and dropped it then stood it back up, plugged it back in and switched it on. It worked [and it was still working when I left in May]. The W/O came in as Paddy was using it and said ‘’I see that they have been to fix it.” Paddy said, ‘’No” and pointed to me. The W/O comment was ‘I might have known’. There were walled gardens to the Manor and the W/O took these over and kept pigs, this was a bonus meat supply, as we were only allowed 2/6d [12-1/2p] per day for each airman and airwomen to feed them. Being a keen gardener he also kept us supplied with fresh vegetables and flowers for the mess. He was a Tug of War fanatic and we spent a lot of time training, trying to pull the trees down on the sports field, with the W/O urging us on, we never won many events .We entered a Fancy Dress football competition against local teams at Felixstowe Football ground for a local charity, good fun.

          Being cooks we looked after the night duty policemen with good rations and this stood us in good stead, as we used to go on a 48hr pass every other week, so we were able to get our passes early on Friday morning and go on the 08-30 ration wagon to Colchester and catch a earlier train home. One bonus of being a cook was that it was a unwritten rule, that the cooks going off early shift came back at 17-30 to cook the evening meal for all of the cooks, this was really the only full meal we had as during the day it was only picking and tasting to see that everything was alright for those coming into the mess for their meals.  Our meals were quite a feast.  Early in 1952 we were going to work on the 04-30 early shift and it started to snow and by 09-30 the camp was cut off, with the road being blocked by four foot drifts. I had never seen a snowstorm like this, so much snow in such a short time. The summer of that year turned out to be good, so we had plenty of walks along the cliffs chasing rabbits also on the marshes around the Heron nesting sites. One nice evening a couple of the cooks said you come from Cowes, how about taking the station sailing boat out, lucky that I had done quite a bit of sailing, so we went for a sail up the Debden or should I say a bale, the boat had been out of the water so long it leaked like a sieve, we had to keep baling like mad to stay afloat. When we had storms, we used to go down onto the beach and pick up lobsters that had been washed up and were trying to get back into the sea, another bonus meal. We were told that there was an exercise on and that the Army were going to try to capture the camp. Some of the radar lads come into breakfast and asked for some sandwiches to take out, as they were going up the towers to be lookouts during this exercise. Needless to say the Army did not capture the camp.

         There were Officer cadets on the station, for radar training; we had to make sandwiches and a container of soup for them when they went onto the shooting ranges. I remember one time we supplied potato soup, a complaint came back, that they did not like it and returned it to the cookhouse with a request for something different for the next day. Norman Dodds, a cook of long standing at Bawdsey, heated up the potato soup and put red colouring into it. The report came back that they liked the tomato soup, could they have it again. We did not push our luck again. At times one or two of these cadets would get jankers and would be sent to the cookhouse, one in particular who was very cocky, we put in the tin room washing greasy tins we gave him a hard time. Unfortunately for us he got posted back to Bawdsey as a full officer. One day he had one or two complaints in the mess when he was duty officer and called W/O Turnbull over and started to have a go at him in front of all the diners, The W/O said,’’ Can we go outside Sir”. They met outside and the officer had a polite dressing down, for addressing him in that manner in front of all the diners in the mess, not respecting his position. The W/Os comment when he came back in was. Young whippersnapper. We were proud of the food we served up in the mess, never too many complaints, as there was always plenty of extra if required, most complaints came when we put curry on, that the curry was too hot. One orderly officer on duty picked up a complaint about this and his response was.  Curry is supposed to be hot.

          I was married at Christmas 1951 and in November 1952 I rented two rooms in a bungalow at Felixstowe end of Ferry Road and had permission to live out. This was great, until the end of  January. I walked to work as usual at 06-00 to catch the early ferry across, as I walked along I saw that the golf course was flooded and when I arrived at the ferry end, the devastation I saw reminded me of the war. Hut, boats were swept away, huts and debris had been picked and washed onto the marshes on the Bawdsey side of the river, also there was no ferry as this had also been swept away. I returned to my accommodation and phoned W/O Turnbull, he told me to pack up and take your family back home and return post haste, as once you get back into camp you will not be back out for quite a while. With that I packed up and got a train from Felixstowe and got my family to Portsmouth , where we were me, by my wife’s father, who took them home and I got back on the train and was back in camp by 17-00hrs. I was careful that I did not get stopped anywhere on the journey by M/Ps, as I did not have a pass.

         Back in camp it was straight to work, the W/O briefed me on what to expect over the coming days, no rest and very hard work, as the camp strength is expected to go over 2500 in the coming hours. This turned out be very true as we worked 24 hours a day, for the next three days, before relief cooks could be brought in. The W/O obtained a flagon of navy rum from somewhere, the good stuff that had to be watered down. The American air bases from around Woodbridge supplied us with hundreds of boxes of their C- Rations; these were stored in the sergeants games room next to the mess. Bread was arriving by the lorry load, as fast as the M/T section could get down to Colchester , where we had to get all of out food supplies from, as RAF Felixstowe Base was cut off by the floods. Four cooks were employed making sandwiches, this was a continuous task 24 hours a day, it got to the stage to keep up supplies, we had to melt the butter and put it on the bread with paint brushes. The mess was open 24hrs a day serving meals. Although we never got to see what was going on filling the breaches in the dykes, we were kept informed of progress by people coming in for meals. One fireman from the Hampshire Brigade told that they were lowering the water level by one sixteenth of an inch an hour. The W/O and his catering clerks did a tremendous job ensuring we had enough food coming to feed all the personnel.

             When relief cooks arrived the W/O told us that four of us could now be relieved. We went to our billet and slept for the next 24 hours, only waking when shaken by the Stn W/O, because we were still in bed during C/Os inspection and we were all put on a charge. When we went back down to the mess we told W/O Turnbull that we had all been put on a charge for being asleep during C/O s inspection, he disappeared out of the mess, on returning he told us that he had seen the C/O and explained the situation and that we were cleared of the charges.

     Repairs to the dykes completed and all of the drafted in personnel returned to their stations and the camp returned to normal. One of the lads from the clothing store told us that hundreds of pairs of Wellington Boots had gone missing, not returned, also the M/T section could not account for one of the lorries. We never found out the outcome of this. By this time the floods had gone down and I went on the first ration wagon to RAF Felixstowe Base where we normally drew our ration allocations. The damage we saw to houses and prefabs at the lower part of Felixstowe, was unbelievable, so much damage.

      W/O Turnbull went on detachment for 14 days and WRAF Sergeant Howard returned to take over. We had a civilian cook who worked on day shifts in the mess, he put up a board with lines on and crossed off one each day, the sergeant asked what it was all about. Paddy told her, that is all of the days you have left with us. The Sgt did not take kindly to this, but did not have it removed, on reflection, although Sgt was a hard taskmaster she was good at her job. The W/O returned and things settled down, the camp was quiet, except for the contractors doing all of the levelling work in preparation for the new buildings that were going to be put up, including a new mess, I never saw the new mess or camp. The W/O told us that the station strength would be going up to around 650. The worst part of the building work, was keeping all of the dust out of the billet during C/O inspection. We had a Corporal Cook Jock Curran posted in, after a while he got his family down into married quarters, but within a short time with us, he got posted to the Far East, and his family had to return home.

        Remembering a couple of things that happened in this quiet period. A WRAF working in the M/T section was told to clear out all the old paperwork and dispose of it. This young lady put all of rubbish on the bank by the M/T section and set fire to it.  A few minutes later a Corporal came running out shouting at her, he ran over and grabbed the hose used to wash transport vehicles, turned it on and directed it onto the bonfire, drenching the poor girl in the process. The girl had not realised that she had lit the bonfire by the petrol pumps. Another time the camp barber who had a work place at the back of the mess, came in and asked us if we would make him some sandwiches as he was going on 7 days leave. We made these up, but Norman Dodds, picked up these sandwiches and took the meat out of the sausages and mixed it with hot mustard. When the barber returned from leave, he came into the mess and called us all the names under the sun. He told us that he had opened his sandwiches in a crowded compartment on the train, he took a bite, but could not spit it out, so had to eat it Needless to say, we had our haircuts in Felixstowe. Unfortunately I cannot remember the barbers’ name.

        May had arrived not long to demob, on the 28th. We went to the pub up the road towards Bawdsey, where I had a good demob party and came and came back the worse for wear. The final few days had arrived, sadness was creeping in, had I been single I think I might have signed on. The time came to report to the C/O S/Ldr Throphillis, for clearance. “ You have been given a exemplary report during your service, especially from W/O Turnbull. You should be proud of this. Two years of undetected crime.’’ He said smiling. He then asked if I would like to sign on, this would be as corporal as you had passed your SAC exam, but with only two months to serve it was not long enough to implement. I thanked him and explained my reason for not accepting, he then asked if I would like to stay for a further two weeks, as they were looking for tall airmen to line the route for the Coronation. I declined this, as I had worked in the airman’s mess for the last 18 months, to get my kit up to the standard required would have been a daunting task

         I then went to see W/O Turnbull. I thanked him for giving me a good report. He said “ It was not given but earned, you had shown good leadership, but always remember what I told you about disciplining people, you may one day be in that leadership position’’. [Little did I know what was before me in the aircraft industry, I rose to Composites Structures Manager in charge of a 200 workforce, as well as being offered a directorship by two other companies. But that is another story]. I then shook hands with W/O Turnbull, one of the greatest men I would ever know. It was time to say goodbye, to my mates in the mess.

             With that I left RAF Bawdsey; I looked back with a saddened heart as I boarded the bus to Felixstowe Station for the last time.

       The cooks that I can remember are civilian cook Paddy Twoomy, he lived in Felixstowe, brothers John and Peter Frost from Southampton , Norman Dodds from Chelmsford , Jock?? From Scotland and cooks that I cannot remember there names one from Norfolk and two from??? But I can still see their faces.


From  Cpl.Phil Snelders (4140009) 1955-56
 
I badly needed some time in the RAF because I had just left training for the Roman Catholic priesthood, and was incredibly naive.  After the discipline of the seminary, basic training at Hednesford was a doddle. 
 
I trained as a Fighter Plotter at Middle Wallop, went to RAF Box, RAF El Firdan (Egypt), RAF Habbaniya (Iraq), then ended up in RAF Bawdsey, where eventually I trained Fighter Plotters for their SAC exams in some huts on the right, going out of the camp towards the underground radar plotting place.  I still have the sign 'NCO i/c Cpl.Snelders'  that was on the door, and have used it on my room door at University!
 
It was good to end up in a camp with as many WAAFs as Aicraftsmen, because I was hopeless at talking to girls.  Not much better when I left!  If only I had recognised the chances I had!
 
I have very warm memories of the place and the people.  I was very involved in the Theatre on the camp, and appeared in a number of farces Rookery Nook and See How They Run were a couple.  I remember in one that I had to collapse laughing on the mantle piece.  They said I looked a bit like Norman Wisdom, and my hut was in the audience, and they all laughed in the Norman Wisdom manner!  I remember the Corporal's Mess organising a trip to London to see a performance of 'The Pajama Game'.  I remember my last 'duty corporal', when in the morning over the Tannoy I pronounced 'Reveille' in the French way - which was commented on, but no action taken!  I remember the Corporal's Mess organising a trip to London to see a performance of 'The Pajama Game'.  I remember my last 'duty corporal', when in the morning over the Tannoy I pronounced 'Reveille' in the French way - which was commented on, but no action taken.  Early in 1956 I was elected Treasurer of the Corporal's Club, and periodically would sit outside the mess collecting fees.  That job was taken over by a grizzled, mustachioed corporal who had been demoted from Sergeant.
 
I remember SWO man - was his name Cunnick? - who several times tried to put me on a charge, but I wriggled out of it.  I was on Duty Corporal, and signing off in the office, when he had an SAC in there, trying to get him for some reason on a charge, and he was immaculate, so he could not.  Finally he noticed the end of his tie tucked into his shirt.  He asked him to remove it, saw that it was frayed, and got him on that.  He asked me what I thought about it, and to my shame, said, 'Nothing', instead of 'Victimisation'. 
 
I clearly remember Roy Clark, the barber, about the only name I remember.
 
I visited the camp again in 2003 with my wife, and saw the ferry, piloted by a middle aged man, and wondered if it was that little boy who sometimes accompanied his father and collected the 6 pences.
 
After my service I trained as a teacher, taught, became a College of Education Lecturer in Philosophy of Education, and then a University Lecturer. Have now, at 77, firmly retired, but sometimes think back to those days when I wrote my own 24 hour passes, and got by on £2 a week, going home to London most weekends by rail.

From (Cpl) Ray Shakeshaft   My Friend (Cpl) Jim Taylor 24 Sept 1933 15 Apr 2011 .

Sometimes when one of our old Bawdsey colleagues dies someone contacts me and simply asks me to remove their name from the Rollcall. I will be removing Jim’s but I want to put on record a little of the life and times of my dear friend of my Bawdsey days and later.  

Early in 1952 I shared a room in the ‘Com’ Block with SHQ colleagues Don Fish (Malton Yorks ), John Mortimer (Leiston, Suffolk ) and Jim Taylor ( Hull , Yorks ). We all became good friends and it was a very happy time then Don and John were demobbed leaving Jim and myself and we got moved to the newly built huts.  

The amazing thing is that I never once saw Jim dismayed, angry or even annoyed. When we got three days ‘jankers’ together and still he grinned his way through it all whilst Don and John helped out getting us on parade all spit and polished.  

31st January 1953 saw the worst flooding in UK history and Bawdsey and surrounding area were very badly hit. We all found ourselves out on the marshes filling sandbags to rebuild the sea defences but Jim still looked upon it as great fun despite being cold and wet. (He also built up a great stock of RAF underwear and shirts as we got new uniforms etc. every day)  

We had many happy hours in the Corporals’ Club where we made a reputation as a double act doing Al Read sketches. Jim always shone at darts, snooker and cards – the signs of a misspent childhood. He was the best darts player I have ever met and we won a few pints with me putting my hand on the board, fingers outstretched, whilst Jim put three ‘arrers’ between my fingers. He never hit me once.  

We remained best friends through out our Bawdsey years. In October 1954 I married LACW Yvonne (Von) Curtis and naturally Jim was my first choice as Bestman.  My father-in-law used to tell the tales of how that evening after Von and I had gone on our honey moon Jim gave the locals a lesson in how to play darts and nearly caused a riot as the local champion hardly got a look in as Jim pretended he was not sure of the rules but "Was it good to get three 'arrers' in that treble bit?" which he did frequently.

Jim was demobbed in the November of 54 and by that time I was living off the camp in Felixstowe. We kept in touch for a number of years years but we both moved the around country quite a bit so we lost touch then out of the blue he saw this website and ‘reappeared’ in January 2009 now married to his lovely American wife Cindy and living in Florida of all places!!  

Unfortunately soon after we reconnected Jim was diagnosed with cancer but nevertheless he and Cindy came to the UK in the August 2009 and stayed with me over night. He was still the cheerful bloke I had known despite his discomfort and  illness. He did all he could to live as normally as possible right up until the last few months. As he said to me a month or so before the end  ‘This growing old isn’t for sissies Mate’  

Sadly the end did come on 15th April 2011 . It was Jim’s wish that his body was given to science at Florida State University and there should be no funeral or memorial service - typically Jim.  

Three weeks before Jim died he wrote that no one should go and see him……  

I prefer you, especially you Ray, to remember that happy, laughing, devil-may-care young fellow of fifty plus years ago. My goodness, didn't we have a time of it. The tears roll down my cheeks like chromium plated door-knobs, as I recall RAF Bawdsey and all of the many secrets that we shared.  

How wonderful to be back in touch with my old mucker after so long. It simply proves that one's wishes CAN come true. 

Tatty bye,  Jim “

I feel very honoured and privileged to have been Jim’s friend and when I am back in the Bawdsey area of Suffolk in July I will raise a pint glass to a lovely human being who had such an impact on my life at Bawdsey and later.  As Jim said 'Didn't we have a time of it'.

My deepest sympathies go out to Jim's wife Cindy whom he loved dearly and his family. I share your sadness.

Ray Shakeshaft.

PS. If any of our old colleagues wish to know more about Jim's life post-Bawdsey then please contact me.