Ken Pearn - 588677 - 74TH Entry RAF Halton - Nav. Instruments.
Following graduation from Halton 1956 posted to RAF Honington, Suffolk. Joined the E&I section servicing the Mk14 Bombsight and various other Navigational Instruments. Involved in setting up one of the first Electronic sections which was being built at Honington. The senior NCO in charge of E&I was a Flt. Sergeant Bennett himself an ex Brat of war time experience. Mid 1957 seconded to RAF Watton to 199 Squadron - Avro Lincolns involved in Electronic counter measures (ECM). Late 1957 the Lincolns were replaced by the Vickers Valiant, 199 Squadron was disbanded and relocated to RAF Finningly becoming No 18 Squadron. Our role in Bomber Command as it was then continued to be Electronic Counter Measures. Finningly was a good posting, the town of Doncaster was only a few miles away and the town had some good cinemas, dance halls and a variety of pubs. It also had a lot of pretty girls who frequented the dance halls on a Saturday night, and it was at one of these that I met Mary the love of my life and married her in Doncaster on April 30th 1960. Shortly after this I received notice of my first overseas posting, RAF Changi, Singapore. We flew out in a Brittania in August 1960 stopping off at Istanbul and Bombay finally landing at Paya Lebar some 24 hours after leaving the UK.
The Changi Murals.
I Took These Photos in 1961.
The murals are painted on the wall of Block 151 at what was RAF Changi. Other 74th members who were stationed there will remember them.
For further information see the CHANGI MURALS online or (and) simply use Google.
I was attached to ASF - Servicing Hastings, Valettas, Shackletons and the occasional visiting aircraft that may have required our services. For us Nav Instrument fitters there was a lot of flying involved as many of the on board Instruments of that era required calibration during an air test. Whilst at Changi along with a few others from ASF I spent a short detachment in India, we were billeted at a Ghurka barracks in a place called Chouringee a few miles from Calcutta. Some sort of incident between India and one of its neighbours I believe. Any how our job was to turn round the Hastings of 48 Squadron who were bringing in supplies for the forces engaged in the operation. I recall going into Calcutta when we got the opportunity of some free time and found the poverty of some of the local population beyond belief.
Singapore was a superb posting, we lived in a Bungalow in Frankel Avenue with wild Orchids growing in the garden. The night life in the City and surrounding areas was great, who can forget dining and dancing at the Ocean Park Hotel, eating out in Boogie St. And Bedok Corner, wonderful food served by friendly people. We travelled a lot during leave, up country into Malaya and visited most of the Islands off the coast. Sadly it came to an end in January 1963 with a return to the UK and a posting to RAF Wattisham to join 56 Squadron sourced with English Electric Lightnings. What an aeroplane! Noisy and bloody fast, a rate of climb that was unbelievable. We were the RAF Aerobatic team for a while known as the "Firebirds" this meant travel all over the UK doing displays and a couple of trips to the Paris Air Show to show the rest of the world how it should be done. Good times.
Second overseas tour 1965 to Cyprus, 15 months tour at RAF Akrotiri. E&I section once again servicing a variety of Instruments and electrical components both for resident aircraft and a multitude of transient aircraft. Also involved in Photo Recce camera servicing for the Canberras. Return to the UK September 1966, posted back to RAF Wattisham but this time to 111 Squadron also sourced with Lightnings. I had a decision to make, my 12 year engagement was coming to an end and to go or to stay needed to be addressed. In the event I decided to go and left the RAF in January 1967 having enjoyed my service but looking for a new direction.
Joined British Oxygen Co. (BOC) February 1967 as an Instrument Engineer responsible for servicing and calibrating Gas meters, Flow meters. Pressure gauges and Pressure regulators. Promoted to Test Engineer and involved in the testing of various pressure control systems, medical control panels and the inspection and testing of pressure vessels and gas cylinders. Further promotion followed (circa 1971/72) to Chief Inspector responsible for an Inspection department overseeing the manufacture of gas pressure equipment and manifolded gas cylinder systems. Eventually moved into Senior Management becoming Workshop Manager of a BOC engineering works (circa 1975/76).
Remained with BOC in Management until the opportunity to take a redundancy package arose in 1988 upon closure of the branch of which I was Works Manager. However that was not the end of my contact with BOC as for the next 6 years I worked as a "contracted consultant engineer" for the company covering a variety of Inspection roles. When that contract ended I worked as a self employed Quality Consultant for a further 5 years before finally retiring at the age of 62. (1999)
There is no doubt that the "Halton Experience" kitted me out well for life post my RAF service and for that I am eternally grateful.
588677 Ken Pearn (74TH Entry - Nav. Instruments).