This tale, although about my National service, is very much related to my Marconi apprenticeship. I completed my apprenticeship October 1954, after having spent the last year in Transmitter Test in building 46.
During my first eight weeks training I was urged to apply for a trade test when I got to my next position. The Air Force had realised that it was better for the recruit to follow his civvy occupation if possible, rather than for example give a chef the job of a clerk.
I was posted to RAF Locking near Western-Super-Mare. I found myself in a billet with air radar mechanics. I passed my trade test and had six weeks familiarisation at the end of which I would get my rank of Junior Technician (ground wireless fitter). I was allowed free access to the library and was given a list of manuals for the equipment. For my practical work I had to check with the instructors which labs were not being used by the other trainees.
I must explain the layout of the station. It was built on a gentle slope, the main entrance, the parade ground, admin offices and the canteen at the top, the residential huts further down and all training facilities at the bottom.
Each morning I would wait for the air radar lot to leave for their classes. Then make my way down to the classroom that was mine for the morning.
One Thursday instead of the footsteps gradually fading away they got louder. I looked out of the door and saw that everyone was marching up to the parade ground. I quickly grabbed my cap and managed to join the last squad as they passed my billet. They were none too pleased at my joining their ranks, but as we ended up at the back of the parade I wasn’t noticed. I expected to hear that some great emergency had occurred. World War Three? Wednesday afternoon was set aside for sports. That Wednesday the station rugby team was playing a crucial game against local rivals. The Station Commander was a keen rugby fan and was annoyed that there were only a few spectators on the touchline. For those who wanted to swim, a coach was run to the pool in Weston, the coach was always full. He sent the SPs to see how many airmen were in the pool. They found just a handful, all the rest were down at the seafront amusements. So that was why we were called out on parade!