Guess Who? Pete Sage 3 Wing
Late 1955. Having surprisingly passed the RAF Halton apprentice exam, arrive for the interviews. When
asked what I wanted to be trained in I already knew that Radio, Instruments and electrical trades would
allow me in the future to sit in nice warm crew rooms and play cards while the heavies, A/F and armourers
were working on the a/c. So I elected for one of the card playing trades only to be told they were all taken.
(I think it was more to do with my exam results and secondary school education.) Asked what my long
term aspirations were I gave the stock answer, ‘Wanna be a fighter pilot’ only to be told that since my dad
was a cook there was no chance of aircrew or commissioning. So I became an Airframe trainee.
January 1956 arrived Wendover station with my schoolmate Peter Gumsley feeling very apprehensive
having left my family for the 1
time. Only memory of initial training was having continuous kit
inspections, bed tipped, cleaning brasses, bulling boots, bumpering the centre deck and watching the senior
entries push in front of the mess and NAAFI queues. Nothing I could do about it because I was a Rook.
Tried my hand at boxing because participants were given a 48-hour pass once a month. I quit almost
immediately because PTI Robinson in showing me how to punch my weight, (9 ½ stone) made my nose
bleed. Joined the choir for the same reason but after only 1 48 pass they were withdrawn. This will sort the
cream from the milk said the Padre. It did, I left the choir pronto. First half term was wonderful, seeing the
family and I had money for the 1
time, which with my uniform impressed the local girls. So depressed on
the rail journey back that my friend Peter Gumsley was considering jumping off the moving train. In fact
he found a better and safer way, he failed 1
inter exam twice and was red carded. (Sent home). Once the
entry arrived and we were no longer the junior entry things improved and the next 3 years were
mostly happy days. I do remember my room mates Trog Harvey and Taff Cooksie being real bullies to the
rooks once we became senior entry.
January 1959 arrive at RAF Cottesmore as a fully qualified J/T to work on Victor Bombers. First task
allocated to me by Flt Sgt Breeze was to sweep the hangar with the rest of the new arrivals. Certainly
brought us down a peg or two. Met Lilian my wife to be in the local hot spot of Melton Mowbray corn
exchange and were married in November 1961. As a wedding gift the RAF sent me to Aden a week after
our Isle of Wight honeymoon. It took 10 months before she joined me and I made up for lost time since our
son Richard was born in August 1963. It was like a 82
reunion out there with the late Gippo Doidge,
Peter Stark, Dan Archer, Shreddy Dalglish and a couple of other names I cannot recall but not forgetting
our life long friends Jim & Val Mc Neil. 2 years on 131 MU and I was ready to come back.
November 1963 back in the UK and posted to West Raynham where I was free from any 82
acquaintances. 1964 put on a TSR2 course but Harold Wilson had other plans. Instead off to Belfast for a
Belfast course and subsequently posted to Brize Norton and a great American married quarter at Fairford.
Only drawback was none of the RAF personnel could afford the CH gas bills so the families issued us
paraffin stoves. 1966 off to RAF Gutersloh in Germany running a Station Flt shift. Remember Flt Sgt Dan
Archer going through as an flt engineer on the flying t-t. (Argosy) Posted me to 2 sqn after my shift
managed to put the nose of a Britannia through the office window. Memories of 2 Sqn are limited to
working on the T/P of a Hunter in the hangar when another A/C 30 ft behind undergoing gun checks fired
17 30 mm rounds into the jet pipe and fuselage of the A/C I was working on. Jim and Allan Ponting will
verify this story. We only managed to destroy one more Hunter before I came back to UK and that was
when an A/C started up in the hangar and blew itself apart.
After surviving Germany was posted to RAF Chessington Rehabilitation Unit in 1980 among other things
I had to assess badly injured servicemen so I could recommend if they were fit for their particular trade
after treatment and rehabilitation training. Did not take me long to know it was not my scene and after
frantic efforts, got posted to Wittering on the newly introduced Harrier. Wish I had stayed at Chessington,
the Harrier was a pig of an a/c to service and I spent long hours during the nights as shift boss trying to
meet the daily flying quota. In typical RAF fashion I was posted to RAF Brawdy in 1973 only 9 months
after I bought a house in Deeping St James.
RAF Brawdy was to be our home base for the next 12 years during which time I took redundancy in 1976,
joined Hawker Sydley who sent me back to Wittering on Harriers for a year, (Sold our house by then) then
returned me to Brawdy on the Hawks, out to Finland back to Brawdy out to Kenya back to Brawdy as a
now BAE Company Rep. 1984 off to Indonesia for 3 years living directly under Mt Merapi. (Exploding
volcano in the news lately) back to Brawdy. All these countries were Hawk customers. Finally they
realised I needed a rest so in 1987 I was sent to RAF Chivenor who now operated Hawks. Not for long
though, I was rushed out to Dubai in the same year returning in 1990 after 3 years to Chivenor. Wonderful
time at Chivenor for 4 years before it closed down in 1994. BAe finally brought me inside to Brough. Only
to send me back out to Dubai in 1996 for 4 years. I chose to retire in Dubai in 2000 so I could spend more
time playing golf and to get away from the 5 times a day call to prayer. All my work overseas and different
postings in the UK Lilian accompanied me, I could not have hacked it without her continual support. Last
6 years I’ve managed to play lots & lots of golf but haven’t managed to get away from the call to prayer
Most memorial moment: When Jim Mc Neil brought me a drink in Germany, never managed it in Aden.
Best decision I made: Buying a detached house in 1972 for £5000.
Worst decision I made: To retire in Dubai when I did. (4 months after I retired there was a massive
redundancy of my grade).