Boy Entrant; The Recollections of a Royal Air Force Brat

Boy Entrant; The Recollections of a Royal Air Force Brat
Carlin, Brian
Unknown (2011)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The recollections of a

Royal Air Force “Brat”

by

Brian Carlin

 

Second Edition (First eBook Edition)

 

Second Edition (First eBook Edition)
© 2011 Brian Carlin

First Edition copyright © 2006 Brian Carlin

Cover/product image design and art © 2006 Brian Carlin

 

ISBN: 978-1-4116-9433-0 (First Edition only)

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

For information, contact Brian Carlin, 12856 Texana St., San Diego, CA 92129. email address: [email protected]

 

Published by Brian Carlin (1st edition in conjunction with Lulu Press. 2nd edition as an eBook in conjunction with Amazon).

 

Product image design by Michelle Carlin, art by Allan Knox.

 

This book is based on the actual experiences of the author. The names of certain individuals portrayed in the narrative have been disguised to protect their privacy.

“You're in the Air Force now!”
Yelled the corporal drill instructor, and with those chilling words what had begun as a boyish adventure suddenly became a very serious, grownup type of situation. But, there was no turning back - certainly not after accepting the Queen's shilling - even if you were only 15 years old. The author takes us on the absorbing true story of his induction and passage through rigorous months of military training as a Royal Air Force Boy Entrant, which would mould and shape him and his fellow 15 and 16-year old “brats” into valuable service members, whose destiny was to become the “backbone” of the 1960s Royal Air Force as its future NCOs and officers.

 

 

To my daughters Michelle and Sarah, and to my grandchildren Jacob, Brenden, Lucas, Sophia and Dylan.

 

CONTENTS

 

PREFACE

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER 1
: Achieving Escape Velocity

CHAPTER 2
: The Oath of Allegiance

CHAPTER 3
: Out of the Frying Pan

CHAPTER 4
: Recoil on the Range

CHAPTER 5
: Home Sweet Home?

CHAPTER 6
: Life in the Wings

CHAPTER 7
: Farewell to the 26th

CHAPTER 8
: The Seductive Call of the Trumpet

CHAPTER 9
: The Royal Tournament

CHAPTER 10
: Coffee and Biscuits with Mr. D

CHAPTER 11
: The Final Test

CHAPTER 12
: The Passing-Out Parade

CHAPTER 13
: Manhood Delayed

EPILOGUE

APPENDIXES

 

APPENDIX 1
: Life After Boy Entrants

APPENDIX 2
: The fate of the Woodvale Spitfires

APPENDIX 3
:
Poem
High Flight
by John Gillespie

APPENDIX 4
: 29th Entry St. Athan Graduates

 

 

 

ILLUSTRATIONS

 

1
Pre-war Boy Entrants in training

2
The Elegant Lines of the Hawker Hunter

3
Off on an RAF Career

4
The
Boy Entrant Wheel Badge

5
Ready for Kit Inspection

6
Boy Entrant Trainees at Work

7
“At Home” in the Billet

8
The Dreaded Form 252

9
Testing a Bombgear Circuit

10
A Colour Hoisting Parade at Summer Camp

11
A Brave Pilot Officer

1
2 Whitsun at Barry Island

1
3 A Real Two Bob Bit

1
4 Sir George Inspects the 27th

1
5 Working on Aircraft

1
6 Taking an Oral Board

1
7 Trainee MT Mechanics

1
8 Fanfare

1
9 Group photo, 29th Entry, 3 Squadron

 

PREFACE

 

The first edition of
Boy Entrant
did not contain a preface, which many authors include as an explanation of how their book came about. In retrospect, it would have been a good idea to do so. Therefore, I seek to correct that omission with the second edition (first eBook edition), so here goes.

In 2005; a year before the 50th anniversary of my recruitment into the RAF as a Boy Entrant, I began to feel twinges of nostalgia for the time I had spent undergoing the rigorous training that resulted. As I grew older, it had become increasingly clearer that those 18 months of training at No. 4 School of Technical Training, RAF St Athan, had shaped my life for the better, and in ways that I couldn’t have imagined at the time. Surely someone must have written a book about it, I told myself, so I patiently set about searching the Internet for such a tome. But after much fruitless searching, the realization slowly dawned on me that no such work existed. Yes, there were books that did include aspects of the boy entrant experience, but the few that were out there either used the boy entrant training as a backdrop to the book’s main topic, or contained only a brief mention of the writer’s boy entrant pedigree. As search after search turned up nothing that could be considered completely definitive of what it had been like to have endured boy entrant training, a small voice in the depth of my subconscious became increasingly louder and more insistent, forcing its way up into my conscious grey matter. Its message was very simple; if you can’t find a definitive work on what it was like to be a Boy Entrant, it said, you’ll have to write it yourself. And that is the genesis of this book, which on the surface was written as my personal story, but also with the understanding that it needed to speak for many. After all, we former boy entrants are a disappearing breed, and if nothing is documented about our experience, we will fade into the mists of history, never to be remembered.

Since first publishing the book in 2006 – the year of my entry’s 50th anniversary of entering the service – many former boy entrants have kindly phoned or written to me to express their thanks for writing and publishing
Boy Entrant
, which has been most gratifying and has been my main reward for undertaking the task. A recurring comment from most correspondents is that it was also their story and, in reading it, they had enjoyed reliving a part of their lives that had partially been forgotten. Many said that they had purchased copies of the book for their offspring to underscore and confirm their own similar experiences. Ironically, a few former RAF apprentices also wrote to say that the book mirrored their experiences too. Many of those who wrote or phoned complimented me on my memory of the events of those far-off days, and whilst it is true that I remember quite a lot of what happened, it still took input from the recollections of a few others, and considerable research, in order to put the whole story together, including a visit to the scene of the crime itself; 4S of TT, St Athan, which was not quite as scary my first arrival there, back in 1956.

In the few years that followed publication of the first edition, it became apparent that there was a need for some minor revisions. The opportunity to re-publish the second edition of
Boy Entrant
as an eBook has finally given me an opening to incorporate these updates. In particular, the story of the fake two-bob bits needed a considerable makeover, since one of my correspondents was actually the former boy who instigated the whole episode, albeit innocently. Even after all these years, he prefers to remain anonymous, but he did fill in some of the details of events, and explained how it all came about. In the story (chapter 10), he is identified as Henry, but that is not his real name.

Also, whilst exchanging correspondence with another former boy entrant, the individual happened to mention that he had been the 26th entry Sergeant Boy in 3 Squadron, 2 Wing. Since that was also my squadron, and the 26th
was senior entry when we moved into the Wings, it dawned on me that he was the Sergeant Boy mentioned in chapter 6, who had put Butterworth and me on our first charge after catching us smoking in the billet one morning. At the time of writing the book, I couldn’t remember his real name and so invented one for him. Also, in retrospect, my description of him seemed a little harsh. Both aberrations have been corrected in the revised chapter 6.

One other revision is the addition of Andy Wiles’ name to the 3 Squadron, 29th Entry graduation group photo at the end of the book. Somehow, his name was omitted from the first edition.

Last, but not least; since publishing the first edition in 2006, one more family member has joined the clan – my grandson Dylan was born in December of 2007 and his name has been added to the dedication page in this edition.

 

Brian Carlin,

May 2011

Illustration Credits

 

Illustration 3; this photograph first appeared in the
Northern Whig and Belfast Post
and has been provided by the British Newspaper Museum. It is included in this book by the kind permission of the copyright holder, Northern Whig Ltd, and the British Newspaper Library.

The photographs listed as Illustrations 1, 4; 5; 6; 8; 9; 14; 15 and 16 kindly provided by the Officer Commanding, No. 4 School of Technical Training, RAF St. Athan.

The photographs listed as Illustrations 10 and 13 were first published in the St. Athan Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 4 (December, 1957) and are reproduced by kind permission of the Officer Commanding, Royal Air Force St. Athan.

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