RAF Halton Ex-brat Stories.
John (Digger) Davis of The 74th Entry.
[John passed out of Halton with 74th entry as instrument fitter navigation.]
68 days continuous Jankers - something of a record.
My contribution to Halton folklore was 68 days continuous Jankers - something of a record. The problem was LOVE. I was courting a maiden in Aylesbury and persisted in going out when confined to camp. Cpl snoop Slim Turner and I became closely and frequently acquainted. Needless to say, I was heartbroken when the love of my then life abandoned me for a civilian apprentice diesel fitter who was better paid than an AA.
My further crime was selling replacement groundsheets at five bob a throw (I had access to the stable store by the Astra).
First and Fantastic Tour in Singapore.
Changi followed Halton with 3 years in the infamous Block 151 ground floor. Highlights of this first tour were too many to recount. At one time, Tex Grundy and I were running Changi Radio. Tex was the lugubrious announcer while I manned the turntable.
I boxed for FEAF against the Army and entered the annual 25K Johore to Singapore racewalk each year. RAF plimsolls were not the ideal footwear and in my last race I was overtaken at the 20K marker by a 70+ year old Malay walking barefoot! Tex and I became proficient at Ronggong Joget in the Happy World downtown - 3 dances for a dollar and no touching the girls! I dimly recall one Christmas, with either Tex Grundy or Tony Dovner riding shotgun, pinching the Padre's bike, and distributing sweets from a big jar to all the kids and waifs in Changi village. I went to Japan on a Hastings as support ground crew with Dave Holcroft (our ex-HAAA Welfare Rep - sadly died 2009). Thus, ended a fantastic tour in Singapore.
Returned to UK and Began Flight Engineer Training Late 1960.
Returned to UK late 1959 aboard Empire Fowey - not so fantastic! A whole
regiment of Green Howards was not my choice of cruising companions. Spent a
year or so at Cranwell instrument fitting on the Varsity. Began flight engineer
training late 1960.
Converted onto Hastings and then did 3 tours on the whistling tit (Argosy). In 1965, someone said I had become the youngest commissioned flight engineer since WW2. If true, I can set it against my Halton Jankers record as the second of three dubious lifetime achievements.
Some Interesting Mess Games.
A tour as flight commander at Topcliffe introduced me to some interesting Mess games (helped by copious supplies of dry sherry). Examples I recall are how many people can we get standing on the mantlepiece and last one under the dining room carpet buys a round of drinks. One late evening following a successful dining in night, and before the breathalyser became law, a few of us (including Bill Kelley - Haltonian Editor) felt peckish and drove to a well-known greasy spoon near Newark. A few truck drivers appeared bemused when waiters in bow tie, waistcoat and medals gave a new meaning to roadside service!
Last Posting: Boscombe Down as Flight Engineer/Flight Test Observer.
Following a short tour on Britannias, my last posting was to Boscombe Down as flight engineer/flight test observer. Around 18 aircraft types in as many months plus a few changes of underpants (try stalling a Jetstream in severe turbulence) was the background to my last tour. We were tri-service and part of MOD where different rules applied. Where else could I be delivered and collected by Andover aircraft to referee or judge boxing matches around the UK? My last flight was in a Hunter T7 that shuddered its way to Mach 1.03 at the second attempt. I left the RAF in 1974 with regret to earn enough money to support my family. I became chief flight engineer with Air Malawi on their ex BCAL VC10. Three years later I moved to Gulf Air and became training flight engineer on the Tristar. Three years later I was a casevac out of Bahrain and thus ended my aviation career.
In 1980, my second career began and lasted for 26 years.
In 1980, my second career began and lasted for 26 years. I sold the business in 2006. I like to think I have put something back into the engineering world. Ten apprentices passed through my firm and became fully dual qualified electricians and alarm fitters - all are doing well in life. With a family of two wives (one ex), three daughters, two sons and five grandchildren, I consider myself well blessed. I am in danger of becoming a great-grandfather soon. However, we are now empty nesters and I am semi-retired. I drum for the Golden Oldies, play dominoes for the next village on Tuesdays, administer our village emergency plan, monitor the village hall committee and, lastly, continue working for my third dubious lifetime achievement - a degree in Humanities! I enrolled at the Open University the year it opened (1969) commencing with a maths module then quit to pursue my RAF activities. I re-joined the OU in 2006 and was surprised to be still registered as an undergraduate. I anticipate being awarded my BA in 2011.
So, Guinness Book of Records, here we come - "he took 42 years to get a degree!"
588543 John (Digger) Davis BA (74th Entry – Inst Nav).
Sadly, Digger died April 2018