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Last updated on 24 July, 2023 at 10:43 AM
Danny Boon said in an email on 27 July 2008:
May I say how much I've enjoyed reading the emails about ye olde tymes... it has triggered all manner of memories, as I'm sure it does for us all in one way or another. I thought it would help me to go right back to square one - and then work my way forward... but I'm somewhat lost on the post-apps period! Spending so long in UK somewhat restricted the amount of intermingling so many of you have had... I'm even convinced that a few months on Gan would have made a pleasant change from North Lincolnshire... I did see quite a few ex-apps at North Coates and Buchan, but it would have been nice to have sat under a palm tree somewhere warm, with a cold beer! Whatever - I still remember that first day at Locking, being shown into hut 351, along with Ken Griffiths, John Moncur, Fred Inges etc., and the introduction to what passed for reality in meeting LAA Kermode!! Fred Inges sat on his bed when the rest of us were instructed to stand to attention - Kermode went purple and demanded to know who the hell Fred thought he was... 'I am a flight sergeant in the Air Cadets' said he... oh dear, Kermode's instant re-ordering of rank and relativity was really funny - but I don't think any of us had the guts to laugh out loud at that point.
Wally Galea was in that billet as well - really nice chap. He quickly solved the problem of always feeling the cold in UK by wearing his pyjamas under his uniform all day... being so slim, it didn't show much - until one morning on parade Stringy Cord spotted a bit of blue and white striped material sticking out of the trouser cuffs over Wally's boots... oops! Now, Stringy was either very tough, or he knew where the billets were beginning to rot away - one day while we were having a smoke break outside a hut, Stringy was telling us how he could fell an ox with one punch, or something along those lines, when one of the lads poo-pooed that claim. Stringy made a fist, showed it to all of us, and proceeded to punch a very neat hole through the wooden side of the hut. We were impressed, believe me.
Does anyone remember an RAF Regiment sergeant who drew the short straw which had him teaching us all about what to do in the event of nuclear attack? (Remember those tedious films showing animation of sandwiches covered in dancing coloured dots? No, I don't think I'll eat those, thank you) I can only remember his nickname which was Nagasaki, based on the unfortunate way he pronounced that word (with lots of loose dentures and saliva sounds). I seem to remember he had a metal plate across his scalp from some earlier posting with real airmen somewhere violent. He steered us through a brilliant summer camp near Lulworth Cove, on one particular day organising two squads of rifles sweeping down a slope towards the target hut, while the bren gun team provided covering cross fire during the rifle squads' advance. Snag one came when (I believe it was) John O'Keefe(?) fired a blank from just behind, and over, Nagasaki's head. OK, blanks are fairly harmless, but not at five feet. We learned an impressive new range of phrases that day - once Nagasaki had retrieved his beret. Snag two was a little closer to me than I would have wanted... Bob Greenhill and I, being bigger than most, were on the short list (of two) for being the bren gun team. We took turns each day to carry either the gun or the case of ammo. We were detailed to make a run for a small copse to one side of the field in which this farce unfolded, and take up a position from which we could protect the rifle squads with crossfire. Being bren carrier that day, I was determined to do it with panache and enthusiasm, throwing the gun ahead of me as I reached the chosen point so that I could do a forward dive and slide gracefully up behind it, ready to win an Oscar. As I slid forward, I detected something sliding across my face and into the top of my denims... it was the biggest cowpat I have ever seen, and most of it was inside my clothing. I have never trusted long grass ever since...
When we got back to the camp, a chap who had been on light duties or whatever that day laughed for a long time at my 'camouflage', until I reminded him that he had lent me his spare denims that day as my spare set were still in the wash... I may have the name wrong, but 'Jack Mullen' comes to mind... should you be reading this, Jack, thank you for the loan...
I think it was Stan who recalled my plight on guard duty at summer camp - I can't find that mail just now, but I do remember the event... didn't things seem so important at the time then!!
Another summer camp trick I recall was when a couple of us hid a small flat magnet in the peak of Ray Atkinson's baseball-style cap... his job that morning being to take compass bearings, which involved peering into the thing so one's cap rested on the glass... we were last group home that day. For me, the best bits of the camp were swimming across Lulworth Cove and the visit to the Tank museum at Bovingdon.
In another email on 20 August 2008 Danny said:
I was moved from 84A to 85A with effect from January 1958, having missed most of the Autumn term. I remember you were trying to find a date for that. I was made up to LAA towards the end of 1958, (same time as Kelly). We both thought we were in for a telling off, as we had not been very well behaved in the previous month... the lads in our hut were laying bets on how many days jankers we'd get. No one would believe us when we came back from seeing the CO with huge grins on our faces!
Danny Boon also said in an email on 21 June 2008:
I was in 84th, 85th and various other bits of the RAF. Nobby Clarke suggested I contact you... (He lives in Norwich, about 20 miles from me, but we've only said hello a couple of times in 8 years...)
You might already know that I was one of the odd ones who had absolutely NO interest whatsoever in electronics, and couldn't wait to get out and do almost anything else. I was quite happy with valves - I could actually SEE them working - but I lost the plot (and any interest) with the introduction of solid state stuff! About halfway through apps, I lost a term in hospital having my nose rebuilt from an earlier accident, which meant leaving with the 85th. After Locking, I had a great year or so at Henlow, from where I worked in small fitting parties installing mods and mending things - mostly in East Anglia, where I must have worked on every airfield they had, but only for a week or so at a time... oh, and Sennen Cove in Cornwall (the view of which from the top of a Tacan tower was well worth the trip)
Then I made the mistake of specialising, via courses at AEI and Newton, on a tracking radar which kept me in Lincolnshire with 17 JSTU at North Coates for the thick end of seven b****y years. If I'd been a bedding store corporal, I might have seen the world... or at least a lot more of it than I could see from Lincolnshire. 1961 saw me married - a daughter in 1962, a son in 1963 and eventually, the beginnings of a divorce in 1968. As my children went to Sussex with their mother, the service very thoughtfully posted me to Buchan (the north of Scotland) from where I fought for a compassionate posting a little nearer to my kids… I served my last few months at HQ 11(F) group at Bentley Priory, near Stanmore. The officer who 'saw me off' from RAF Stanmore asked me if I had considered staying on a few more years... how I buttoned my lip, I'll never know! The service did prove useful to me in some ways - I've never had to employ a plumber or an electrician in my life!
Moving on, after a six week intensive warm-up at ATV in Borehamwood, I was lucky in finding a place willing to train me in what I had been waiting in the wings to do - I spent three years working as an animation cameraman, then doing my own animating, eventually running the animation department at the Royal College of Art in Kensington for about seven years, teaching post-grads. Then I was poached by the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield where, for around 16 years, I looked after animation, graphics and typographic design, again for post-grads. (I'm proud to say that Nick Park was one of my students! I have a credit on the end of Grand Day Out, his first film, which he started at the school, finished later).
1974 saw me re-married (after years of swearing never EVER again!) to Ros, a special effects camerawoman and graphic designer. After 34 years, we still haven't had a serious falling out: I always knew it COULD be done! We have a daughter who is currently sitting her A levels, hoping to go to Warwick University to study drama and theatre. From my first marriage I have two grandsons - they and their parents all living in Sussex area. Redundancy in 1995 propelled us into the craft business, doing fairs, and later, running a craft shop. We lived near St Albans for 22 years, moving to north Norfolk in 2000, where we share a rather rural space with two cats and a German Shepherd (that's a dog, not a migrant worker). My wife and I are technically retired, but Ros runs a little business on the net and I still make things like stained glass windows, stone walls, whatever... and we have a large garden to fiddle about with. At present I'm recovering from a spot of radiotherapy for some cancer, but it all seems to have gone well, and I'm following my policy of 'get on with it'. Works for me...
Trying to remember who was who is tricky for me - I can't always sort the 84s from the 85s... the named 1956 group photo helped enormously! I was never one for keeping in touch with old mates, but it is interesting to hear what happened to them... somewhere I have pics of Ken Griffiths, Percy Freeman, Mick(?) Barnes, Roy O'Connell, Copper(?) Kyte, Nick Parker, also Gary Cooper and other 85th folk - I'll try and sort these out sometime. They're in the loft - so it won't be easy..! It's more like a skip up there... I'll make myself scarce for now - but will say that, while I'm a non- starter for things like reunions, I'd be happy to throw in any info/ pics I can find. Meanwhile, all the best - I'll try and write more sometime and will send pics, but I don't open up every day - bear with me! I am still a newcomer to all this internet thing - I use a cumpooter (a Norfolk word!) for design, pics and letters - so I'm on a steep learning curve (I told you I didn't get on with electronics..!) My wife and teenage daughter are my resident experts on all things up there in the clouds - I just shout HELP!