The Spirit of the 74th Lives On.
The Best Years of My Life.
Photograph of the Website author, Joe Bosher (me), at his first posting to RAF Sutton Bridge 1956. The start of a fantastic but very short stay in the Royal Air force. I left in 1961 but enjoyed every moment of my time with the RAF all those fifty years ago - but that's what memory does for you.
Welcome to the 74th Entry Website.
If you are wondering what it's all about: we are ex-Aircraft Apprentices of the 74th Entry, No 1. School of Technical Training, RAF Halton. That was over fifty years ago but the spirit of the 74th lives on.
It all started for us in April 1953 when we arrived as sprogg brats to begin induction, kitting out and three weeks full time square bashing, after which we enjoyed three years part time square bashing, senior entry bullying, lack of good food, interspersed with bouts of technical training and education. Our off-duty hours were spent pursuing sports, (avoiding sports), hobbies, charping on ones pit and visits to the Tank or the Astra. Remember the tanner crush?
Three long years of Workshops, Schools and learning to live together, Bulling everything in sight and cursing the D.I's, filled our working hours.
28th March 74th Entry passed out. 233 plus 41 recoursed from previous, 35 retained for further training, 43 discharged, 137 passed out.
Technical terms used in the above text.
On the off-chance that you are not an ex-RAF Apprentice here are some usefull definitions of words and expressions used on this page. Many are unique to Halton Apprentices others in common use in the RAF.
- A very raw recruit.
- Name given to any Aircraft Apprentice - more correctly Trenchard's brats after Lord Trenchard who founded the aircraft apprentice scheme in 1922.
- square bashing
- Marching and drill on the parade ground or square.
- Dozing off on ones bed in the barrack room.
- A bed.
- The Tank.
- The NAAFI Canteen at RAF Halton. Term used uniquely by apprentices at Halton. Origin much debated.
- The Astra
- Cinema on an RAF camp is always called the Astra.
- tanner crush
- A rough queue formed at the side of the Astra where admittance was only sixpence (tanner). Much jostling and barging in from senior entries.
- Polishing everything that moves or stands still. Boot toecaps like mirrors. Much of our seven shillings and sixpence a week pay went on cleaning materials.
- Drill Instructors. Always memorable. Gave the apprentices gentle encouragement with what they would do with their Pace Sticks.
Website Accessibility is Important.
This website is designed to the standards of the World Wide Web Consortium Guidelines for Accessibility and should be capable of being read by any visitor to the site, including the blind, visually impaired and other disabilities.
These pages can be used by most assistive technologies such as braille readers and screen readers in general. That is why there are no tables for design on the site and no Flash animation and where video is used a meaningfull text alternative will be provided. All graphics have alternative descriptions.
Web Standards Compliance.
- All pages validate to the major Web standards of the W3C. This requires an element of personal judgement as many accessibility features can be measured, but most can not. If you have any problem with access to the Web pages please contact me .
- All CSS style sheets validate as CSS 2 standard.
- All pages on this site are WCAG Level Double_A approved, complying with all priority 1, 2, and 3 guidelines. Again, this is a judgement call; many guidelines are intentionally vague and can not be tested automatically. I have reviewed all the guidelines and believe that all these pages are in compliance.
- All pages on this site validate as XHTML 1.0 Transitional. This is not a judgement call.
After many years I've now given up writing for other people's Websites (except friendsofbeamish.co.uk which is a voluntary organisation) and decided to have a Site of my very own to do what I like with. I was looking for a theme for the Website. So after the wonderful experience of meeting fellow ex-brats from the 74th entry on the occasion of the Golden Graduation Reunion I knew that I had to dedicate the Site to the spirit of the 74th Entry.
Fortunately I was able to register the unique domain (Website) name of 74th.co.uk and went on from there. Having a shockingly bad memory the only two numbers I can never forget are my Entry number and my service number. At the same time this name was so easy to remember that it made for a rather simple email address of joe at 74th.co.uk.
A Personal Project.
This Website is a personal project for anyone to enjoy, but it is proudly dedicated to the lads of the 74th Entry. Especially to those Engine Fitters.
Over fifty years ago, as a fifteen and a half year old, I joined the RAF as an Aircraft Apprentice in the 74th Entry at No 1 School of Technical Training, RAF Halton, near Wendover, Buckinghamshire. This was a long time ago and although I didn't stay long at Halton, leaving in the second year, I like to believe my experience with the 74th influenced the rest of my life in a good way.
A Sentimental Journey.
The Entry recently held its Golden Graduation Reunion at Aylesbury. It was the first time I had met these lads in fifty years. Felt like only yesterday.
I soon realised that the Reunion wasn't a recognition of service in the Air Force but a celebration of the wonderful comradeship we had built in those early years and had survived the passage of time. Some had served many years in the Air Force, others, like myself had left early, to take up successful careers in civilian life.
The Master Plan.
The spirit of the 74th lives on. I believe that this spirit has given me the strength and fortitude to have led a life full of adventure and variety. I hope to build up this website (hopefully with the help of other ex brats) into a light hearted cocktail of topics, interests, hobbies and jobs that I have been involved in over the past fifty years. My memory is not what it used to be so I can only promise the stories as I remember them not necessarily as they were. I will be adding my own sketches and paintings to illustrate the site. Another challenge for me.
A Website Motto: Never let facts stand in the way of a good story.
Thanks lads. Meeting you all those years ago gave me a great start in life.