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50th Anniversary

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Reunion 2018

Where Were You? 

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Gallery 2 



                     Idle Chatter

     If you have anything relevant that you would like to share with our members then please let me have it, ideas, photos, stories, experiences 
     in fact anything we can publish.
 Would you all please ensure that if you have a change of address,
 telephone number or email address you let me know so that Entry 
 records can be kept up to date.   
      I look forward to hearing from you ALL.     Rip 


Catch up with the latest details for this years reunion, on the Reunion 2018 page.

Here is a little poem that came to light at this years reunion. How many of you recall it from the distant past?

...................................................................THE DUAL RELAY VALVE

When e'er the pilot wants to 'brake',
A pull on lever he must make,
And by this action he is able,
To strain upon Bowden cable.

This makes the Transverse lever rise,
Which takes the Push-rod by surprise,
And this in turn, to fit the scheme,
Will act upon the floating beam.

Now pivot point of beam, you'll see,
At Elevator rod will be,
So fluted plunger has to drop,
Until it comes against it's stop.

This means Exhaust Valve has been closed,
And it can rightly be supposed,
That air, which soon will enter here,
Will not escape to atmosphere.

Then pivot point, it may seem strange,
To fluted plunger end will change,
So Elevator rod must shift,
And cause the Inlet Valve to lift.

The air comes, in the pressure builds,
So regulator barrel yeilds,
Whilst this goes on the Pivot point,
Is where the push rod makes it's joint.

The Floating beam thus downward goes,
Allowing Inlet Valve to close,
And when it's seat it rests upon,
We can, with truth, say "Brakes are on".

..................................... ...............Anon.



The ‘Old Haltonians’ 12th Trienniel Reunion was staged at RAF Halton on Saturday 24th September 2016.
The day dawned bright and comfortably warm. The 1 Wing ‘tank’ was the venue for the initial ‘Meet & Greet’, with the 90th onwards upstairs and the remaining entries below. The bar was open at 10am as I arrived! Those attending from the 82nd were Harold Holmes, John Hester, Sid Siddon, Mick Stracey, Ernie King, George Wade, Mick Simmonds, ‘Ginge’ Dyson, Pete Scott and I. Some endured the overnight Barrack Block experience and survived.
After initial ‘hello’s’, most of us then went ‘walkabouts’ to old squadron lines, Trenchard Museum,  Kermode Hall and the like. The ‘Golden Oldies’ Pipes & Drums also gave a display and musical programme, later in the morning, on the square, playing many well remembered tunes. Some met again for lunch at 12.45 in Henderson Mess, feeling quite at a loss with no personal mug and ‘irons’ in our possession. The food was good and the whole deal well organised considering the mass being fed.
We next assembled on the road in front of Henderson Mess at 14.45, with our original banner made by the Mother of Hank Francis, mounted on new poles, in preparation for marching/ambling onto Henderson square at 15.15. The parade Guard of Honour was formed from current recruits in final training and the Halton Colour was marched on. The parade was addressed by our President AM Cliff Spink, who thanked the hosting WRAF Station Commander and all the ex-Brats who were attending. The Sunset Ceremony and lowering of the ensign followed along with music from the Pipes & Drums.
The parade then marched off and down the hill, much talking in the ranks – unlike our time - across Main Point ( Joe Ballard was not in evidence), down past the Old Workshops and dispersed at the corner close to the original church where, if my memory serves me correctly, a stuffed life-sized ‘Snoop’ was seen to be hanging, on high, in our time. Some then went to the service at St. George’s Church and others dispersed in various directions.
Mick Simmons, Ernie King, Sid Siddon, Mick Stracey, George Wade, John Hester and I stayed over at The Aylesbury Premier Inn for the Saturday night. We had an enjoyable dinner, wine and beer and enjoyed all the by now familiar oft told stories and tales of ‘when I was at!!!!’ and enjoyed each other’s company.
Some ‘early birds’ met for breakfast and then we all went our various ways home. So, I believe a good time was enjoyed by all; it was great to meet up with those familiar faces we see on an annual basis and those we had not seen since the last Trienniel. Also to touch base with many old colleagues from other entries or who we had met in various parts of the globe when serving Queen and Country!!
Walking around our ‘old home’ I thought that in places it looked quite shabby with peeling paint, uncut grass in places and fading black and white kerbstones. The paint pots are obviously not in use quite so much as in past times!
We are told that this occasion will be the last in the current format and I get the feeling somehow that the great and proud Halton Aircraft Apprentice Training history is in danger of being greatly diluted as time marches on and general defence funding is reduced year on year and maybe memories fade. Let us hope not.


L to R. Ginge Dyson, George Wade, Ernie King, Sid Siddon, John Hester, Mike Pond, Mick Stracey, Harry Holmes and Peter Scott. Insert Mick Simmons who went walk about for the photo.

Gathered ready for the march on to the square. - 2016 Triennial.


Recognise this place?

Believe it or not, this is the Astra Cinema at Halton, it is still in operation.

Bring back any memories, "The tanner crush at the side door and the shift back",


Those were the good old days!!!!


Can anybody help????

A plea from Jim Pinn (81st Entry).

I am trying to find out what happened to Keith Ellis 82nd, we were at school together and it was through him that I became an Apprentice!!! I lost touch with him after Halton and now would like to get in touch. Saw your name in the Haltonian magazine, good to hear you are still going strong. Cheers Jim.

If anyone can help address your aid through Mike Pond.

Interest had been shown at the reunion about POLO SHIRTS. To help you Chas Dewar is volunteering his services. If you contact him either by phone (01507 603199)  or by email   chascd@btinternet.com .   Three styles of shirt are available in all sizes priced £17 - £18 each, plus VAT and postage this will bring the price per shirt to approximately £23 - £24 each, slightly less if more than one shirt is purchased , they can be posted in the same jiffy bag. Some other products can be viewed on line at  www.prints-direct.com but Chas thinks the site is a little behind the times. Keep any orders simple.


   I enclose here a letter from Nev Goldsmith, the detail of which may be of great interest to some of our members. The letter was sent through to Jim Robson, I include ad verbatim so you can all make up your own minds if it is of interest.

    Sorry we couldn't get to this years reunion, but we had arranged a holiday in France at that time.

     The reason I am contacting you is to see if you know about the AFPG, ( Armed Forces Pension Group ) and their campaign to try and get the government to agree to grant retrospective pension rights to members of the armed forces that completed less than 22yrs service, 16yrs for Officers, and were discharged before 1975.

    I came across this organisation accidentally from a magazine article and joined a couple of years ago, and would like to make sure that all of the guys we know, who fall into this category, do know of it's existence and have the opportunity to join as well. Obviously, the more that join, the stronger the voice will be.  They are very active in the campaign on our behalf and are being led by Colin Challen M.P. who has tabled an "Early Day Motion" ( EDM 102 ) for MP's to sign up to, which will allow a debate to take place.

   I am contacting you as I know you are a central contact for all the guys and would be in the best position to make them aware of AFPG's existence, and how to find out more about them. Their website is www.afpg.info . and can be contacted at AFPG Ltd., PO Box 8151, Mansfield, NG21 0ZA. Tel:- 0113 2525150.

  I have no idea how many of our group are affected, you may be yourself, as some were able to sign on and get a pension, but many, like myself, came out after 12yrs, (or more in some cases), with absolutely nothing but a months pay to show for those years. The current membership of AFPG is about 3,000 and come from all three services, and is growing steadily as more people become aware of it. There is a one off joining fee payment of £15, but no other subscription is required.

 If you would be happy to do this, it would be great. If not, I can do so myself but I would need all the guys e-mail addresses or home addresses. I am just another member of AFPG and have no official capacity within the organisation but, like you with the " I want a Referendum" campaign, which I have also signed up to, I feel I should make people aware of it's existence. I have been meaning to do this for some time but was prompted to do so now after attending a meeting in Inverness last evening, the first contact that I have made with other members, and was able to establish more of what our prospects might be, and how really active and effective these people can be working on our behalf. They really do need as much support as they can get to get a result.

Perhaps you will let me know if you are happy to help.

         Regards  Nev Goldsmith





Does anyone recognise anybody on this Photo? Taken on the route to Henderson Grove at the last Triennial, Michele would love to know.

Two faces are recognised. The banner bearer on the left is Rip Kirby and John Hester is peering between the heads directly below the "E" of Entry on the 83rd banner.



TIMBERDOWN – Adventures In The Americas  

A review of the book written by Keith Pirie,  

For those members who did not attend our reunion at Cosford in 2005, and therefore did not have the pleasure of meeting the man again for the first time in 47 years, it is necessary to advise that the author is none other than our very own 681231 D. K. Pirie, better known to us of course as Doug.  

For many years now Doug has lived and worked in British Columbia . However, it will be recalled that all those years ago he trained with us as an Electrician (Air) and that he passed out top of the entry and was our Warrant Officer Apprentice. He was awarded the prize cadetship in the technical branch at Henlow. During his time at Halton Doug also made a name for himself via sporting activities, namely Boxing and Distance Running. In the latter he was following in the footsteps of his cousin the late Gordon Pirie; Doug and Gordon both grew up and trained together on the Isle of Wight .  

Doug and I were both in 1 Sqdn -1 Wing and during the reunion it was a pleasure for me to recount just a few of our subsequent experiences. After Halton of course he went on to Henlow to commence Officer Cadet training. It was here that Doug decided that he was not in fact a ‘team man’ and took total umbrage with the new regime he felt being imposed upon him.  Such was his dissatisfaction that it became his overriding purpose and aim to leave the RAF by whatever means possible. Via various sources over the years I have heard tales of a few of  his  actions and adventures to achieve this goal. They were to say the least interesting and probably deserve a book in their own right! Suffice to say that eventually the RAF and Doug mutually agreed that they should part company in the early sixties.  

Upon his release Doug decided to head for British Columbia to earn a living as a professional woodsman. Here he led a life poles apart from that which would have lain ahead of him had he remained in the RAF; working in a physically demanding profession with inherent dangers - without the book it would be difficult to fully comprehend. It illustrates just how different his life has been compared to those of us he left behind; he obviously revelled in this new world where, for the most part, he was his own boss.  

‘Timberdown’ is not a catalogue of his post RAF experiences, but relates just a few of Doug’s adventures embarked on whilst embroiled in an occupation and world so very different from that experienced by most ex-brats. It relates some of his adventures both in B.C and in South America as a professional Woodsman, I found it fascinating. Much of the action takes place in and around the Queen Charlotte Strait that separates Vancouver Island from mainland B.C an area of vast forests, glaciers and inlets. The book includes a very detailed map of the area and I found myself constantly referring back to it as I progressed through each chapter.  

Each chapter is an account of a particular experience integrated with Doug’s own philosophical view as to the state of the world in general. As with many of us, at this time in our lives, Doug has experienced some traumatic events. It is evident that his way of coming to terms with these was via a combination of meditation and living the life essentially that of a loner in a challenging and dangerous environment.  

I really enjoyed the book; once I was into it I just had to read on and on. The combination of high adventure, travel experiences and philosophical insight makes for an absorbing read. Previously, B.C was for me a very distant place, now via Doug’s narrative, it has become alive and I feel as though one day I must go there!  It’s the huge contrast of Doug’s life experiences compared with my own, preordained by aviation related technical matters, which really took my attention. For example, in the late sixties while I was doing a lot of journeying around the world with RAF Transport Command and ‘seeing’ the world, Doug was working in South America living aboard huge rafts (booms) of mahogany trees being floated hundreds of miles down the Rio Negro (a large tributary of the Amazon) delivering them to their port of departure for eventual worldwide destinations. Immediately prior to this he had been overseeing the difficult and dangerous operation of cutting down and transporting these trees through the jungle to the river’s edge.  

In summary, I recommend the book to you, it has already received critical acclaim and favourable comment and from Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Michael Palin amongst other notables.  

The book is currently doing the rounds amongst those entry members who first indicated an interest in seeing it. If you are interested please contact Mike Pond who is monitoring its overall progress.  

681675 Dave (Ginge) Ashenden  

29th NOVEMBER 2006

             Aden Veterans Association                             

For those of you who served in Aden, There is now an Aden Veterans Association, to which you can join .Their web site  , is as follows: --


                                 Veterans  Agency

The Veterans Agency in their wisdom have brought forward the dates that ex service personnel can be deemed to be a veteran, it is at the moment up to 31st Dec 1959, Consequently all of us are entitled to wear "The Armed Forces Veterans Lapel Badge" This can be appropriated by going on to their website at www.veteransagency.mod.uk , downloading the application form and sending it off to the address provided,



subject: David (Al.)Trimmer  

Hello Jim,

               I was just browsing through your entry website and noticed Al. Trimmer's obituary. Just in case nobody is aware of the circumstances of his death maybe I can help.

                         Al. (as he was known) was at 242 OCU Thorney Island with me in 1973 working on Hercules. I was a Sergeant and Al. had just been promoted to C/T (about a year). He got caught in the big V Bomber Crew Chief trap and was selected from a small cast to under go training at St. Athans. Whilst travelling on the M4 to Wales as a passenger in a car a lump of metal fell off the back of a lorry and went through the windscreen and hit his head full on. He was killed instantly. It was my privilege to be one of the Coffin Bearers on that sad day which I shall never forget. He was an extremely popular Guy with everyone and there is no doubt he would have gone far in his career in the RAF had he lived. I was very good friends with him both on and off duty.

                            On a lighter note another word for your vocab. section was the term I am told by my Uncle,33rd entry, that this word Skate was in use then and it was certainly in use during my time at Halton.

                                   Regards   Griff Griffiths   102nd  Entry.   

Hello James

You asked for input for the web site. Perhaps an Aircraft Apprentice slang
vocabulary? Here are some I remember. If we pool our memories it could be

Tank ... NAAFI.
Bog .... toilet.
Shreddies ... underpants AKA drawers cellular.
Irons ... knife fork spoon.
Bull night ... aaaahhhggggggh.
Bull boy ... unofficial valet
Trog Mac ... Black plastic airfield waterproof coat.
Trog ... A method of marching without swinging the arms one inch.
Gannet ... an AA with a gluttonous appetite.
Pit ... bed.
Reest ... smelly pit (bed).
Pom ... mashed potatoes.
Jankers ... aaaaaahhhhhggggghhhh
Snoop ... military police.
Slim ... chief snoop.
Bashed hat ... deliberate improvement often resulting in jankers (above).                                                                                                                                            Skate ....  Apprentice who was always skiving off.  
Skive ... having a rest.
Light duties ... official skive.
Bum a fag ... borrow a cigarette (gawd almighty I've just noticed a second
Gen ... good guff.
Guff ... bad gen.
Fizz ... charge?
Groundsheet? ... rain coat (cape) left-over from WWI.
ABS ... ablutions.
Thunder bucket ... see bog.

Another couple of  words that have been subscribed by our readers:-

Snag ..... the illustrious rank of Leading Aircraft Apprentice

Gonk......a pleasant way of passing time   (sleep)                             thank you all very much, are there any more?

I'm sure there are many more. In fact I have been racking my brain for the
term (of abuse) for the AA who was clean, neat, smart, clever and a swot.
Can't think of it. Maybe because such an animal didn't exist.

Best regards. Alan Hull

ROOK (also plural) , a new recruit to the ranks of Aircraft Apprentices' thus the term Rooks would be applied to groups of or the whole of a new Entry.
Happy days, all the best,
Jim Fry.

Does anyone know of such a word?