RAF Halton Apprentices 74th Entry 1953 to 1956

Two Griffins holding a 74th shield. "Main Point" (Archive 37).

Main Point Newsletter Archived 20th March 2014.

Current Newsletter of News, Views, Comments and Articles.

Tony has sent the following Report.

Tony Pulford.

It is my sad duty to inform you of the sudden death of Tony Pulford on 20 Jan 2014.
The funeral will take place at the Kettering Crematorium, Warren Rd Kettering, NN16 8XE, at 12:45 on Thursday 13 February.
Yours Aye

Wing Commander Anthony "Tony" Coles, BA. RAF.

Deceased (21-11-13) A 74th Entry Dambuster!

The North Chapel of the West Herts Crematorium was packed with family and friends making their farewells to Tony at his funeral on the eleventh of December 2013. There was standing room only at the rear of the gallery!

Tony, the son of an RAF officer, and his elder brother Geoffrey, were keen to follow in their father's footsteps so they joined the Air Training Corps and subsequently sat the Halton Apprentice entrance examination in which both brothers were successful, however due to the age difference Geoffrey was first to start, with the 72nd Entry, Tony following some months later when the 74th arrived at Halton in April 1953. Three years later in March 1956 Tony graduated, 75th in the order of merit, and 588637 Coles A, became a Junior Technician Armament Fitter. His first posting was to RAF Hullavington. After some time as an armourer Tony remustered to an electronics trade. The ambition instilled at Halton kicked in and in 1960 he was accepted for training as an AEO and subsequently commissioned as a Pilot Officer.

Newly commissioned, Tony was posted to Scampton where he flew in the Vulcans of 617 Squadron. Promotions and postings followed, eventually to the rank of Wing Commander with service in the British Embassies in Jarkata and also New Dehli, after which Tony decided to retire from the RAF at the age of fifty. There followed ten years with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, somehow he had managed to find the time to study with the Open University obtaining a BA in Sociology in 1980. Tony had also studied music and after his retirement had played double bass with local orchestras.

Tony will be sorely missed by his widow Margaret, who he met during AEO training, his two sons, daughters in law, grandchildren and also his three surviving brothers. During the Funeral ceremony a string ensemble comprised of daughter-in-law Sarah, violin and grandson Benjamin, viola, and other friends performed Mozart's Ave Verum.

Two Sad Messages from Tony, 74th Entry Coordinator.

It is my sad duty to inform you of the death of
1. NZ 75186 Cyril "Birdy" Laidlaw of the 74th Entry on 27 August 2013.

2. And more sad news that 588588 Graham "Mothballs " Napthen, died 8th Oct 2013. We must thank Michael Anderton for the following report on his life.

Graham Napthen (74th)

Graham passed away at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on 8th October 2013 after an illness of about 5 months. At Halton he signed on as an armourer and with the name of Napthen being so close to Naphthalene, it was inevitable that he would get the nickname of Mothballs. He was also allocated the unique service number of 588588, another memorable attribute that most of his fellow apprentices remembered. Before passing out he became a Sgt. App, was keen on sport and was selected to represent RAF Halton in the boxing team.

However, he left the service shortly before completing his 12 years and joined the Norfolk Constabulary to take advantage of the housing and other benefits offered. He remained a Norfolk policeman for the rest of his working life. He had a very good memory of his time in the service and was an active member of the Norfolk Branch Old Haltonians. At heart, he was a true Norfolk countryman.

The 74th at the Triennial 2013.

Photographs from Tony.

74th: The Coronation Entry

People celabrating.

Lt to Rt: Mike Lewis, Tony Dovner, Tony Merry, Bill Ford, Ken Pearn, Barry McLenning Tony Pulford, Mike Hodson, George Hinde, Alan Smith, John Davis, Bern Goodenough, Ian Newson (Peter Chappelle had escaped!)

People posing.

Eight members of the 74th gathered at The Chartridge Conference Centre (in the hills between Wendover and Chesham) together with five ladies on the Friday evening. On the Saturday a mini-bus collected us for the journey to Halton then returned to Chartridge to take the ladies out for the day to The Hell Fire Caves at West Wycombe and also to Hughenden Manor, the home of Benjamin Disraeli, one time Prime Minister, later the Earl of Beaconsfield.

The Triennial 2013.

marching band.


At Halton the eight of us were joined by a further six members who were only visiting for the day. All Brats who attended will know the format of the day. Packed with nostalgia it was, as always, most enjoyable, the displays of classic vehicles on the square, The Trenchard Museum, the new Flight Centre (in Groves Mess) and of course the Bleriot in the Burton Drill Hall were all very interesting. Mention must also be made of the RAF Regiment display.

People standing.

The unveiling of the refurbished base plate on the site of the Polish Flagpole was quite moving. I had been talking with Eugene Borysiuk, a very sprightly 80 something, whilst discussing the Mayfly under construction in the Flight Centre, who told me of his and many other very young Polish lads epic journey from Siberia to Halton in 1943, ten years before our arrival: a pleasure to meet such a charming gentleman.

Following the Sunset ceremony, why is it that the pipes bring a lump to ones throat? particularly “Highland Cathedral” and the march down to church we were photographed outside Schools. As there was over an hour to kill before the mini-bus returned to ferry us back to Chartridge, most of us went voluntarily, after much urging by the DIs, into church for a bit of a sit-down! It was a moving service with a couple of good rousing hymns “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah”, it is a wonder that St Georges roof is still there!

Back to Chartridge, a freshen-up, and then by a larger mini-bus, the men and the ladies went to dine at The Old Swan at Swan Bottom. After an excellent meal the bus returned us to the Centre for a much-needed night’s kip.

Some More Photographs from Tony.

People posing.


marching band.

Some Tony Dovner Photographs.

I've managed to squeeze in these photographs but I'll add more in the next issue of the Newsletter

men eating.

men posing.


crowd of people.

crowd of people.

Outing to London

bus interior.

Sunday was spent on an outing to London for two quite different experiences: the first being a guided tour of the City by DUKW, the second a ride on the London Eye. The DUKW Tour starts near the Eye, proceeds over Waterloo bridge, around the Aldwich, into Fleet St, past St Clement Danes, on to St Pauls, The Bank of England, The Monument (to the Great Fire) and on over London bridge, thence via various streets to the south of the river to a location on the Albert Embankment, between Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges, where the vehicle enters the Thames for a cruise down stream to Westminster bridge and back to the “Splash-down” point in the shadow of MI6. The views from the Eye are stupendous, the sun managed to shine for us, particularly of our “Head Office” the MoD just across the river. The traffic coming out of London was horrendous, it took an hour from Waterloo to the A40 Westway at the end of Marylebone Rd! Whilst nattering over supper at Chartridge an interesting fact emerged that the remaining four of us chaps had all married our wives in 1957, the year after our Graduation.

I think we were very lucky with our DUKW trip as the evening news the following Sunday (Sept 29) showed such a vessel on the Thames in flames, passengers were jumping into the water wearing life jackets! Incidentally a river fire boat was soon on the scene as there is a water fire station near Lambeth bridge.

Tony Merry
74th Entry Coordinator

The Farnborough Crash 1952.

Would anyone like to contact Tony Denton about the Crash?

The email I received from Tony:

Hi Joe,

Making contact with you is something I did not expect so I am very happy to share experiences which have been bottled up for a long time. Something major like that day at Farnborough is almost impossible to discuss with anyone who did even know of the event. First I have to give you some background.

The full piece is on the Aircraft Page: DH110 Farnborough 1952 crash.

News Items and Stories Needed.

[Editor] Please send me any news items or stories that may be of interest to members of the 74th Entry Association or any other visitors to the 74th Entry Website.

Joe Bosher (74th).


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