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Two Griffins holding a 74th shield. The Spirit of the 74th.

Short Wave Radio Surprise at Sutton Bridge.

A Lad in the RAF.

58 MU RAF Sutton Bridge.

Sketch: Entrance to a RAF camp showing a small guardhouse and some billets and hangers in the background

In late 1956 my first posting was to No 58 MU at RAF Sutton Bridge. The camp is 16 feet below sea level - at least it would be if anything ever happened to the dyke.
I joined a section called Derwent Engine Field Servicing or D.F.S. which literally carried out complete overhaul of Derwent 8 and 9 engines in a field (but in a large hut in a field really). My interest in maths (yes really) got me into trouble for writing differential equations in chalk on the engine boxes that we sent to 32 MU St Athens (I think, but I could be wrong).

Tuning in on Shortwave Radio.

Having been interested in the subject since a child and having built crystal sets, I bought myself a short wave radio for £15. There were no objections from the powers that be and so I trailed an aerial between two barrack blocks and got excellent results. Two occasions should remain in my memory forever.

The Hungarian Uprising.

I stopped turning the tuner when I heard frantic voices in English but with a European accent. "This is Radio Hungary " proclaimed a mans voice. " I can see the Russian tank at the end of the street and it is turning towards us." The lads in the room gathered around me to listen without comment. The voice continued to describe the approach of the tank as it got nearer. "It's approaching the radio station and so I must say goodbye to our listeners - looks like we are closing down at any moment - goodbye." Then silence except for the crackle of the short wave set. I tried re-tuning to the station but there was nothing!

A trillion to one chance that I should tune in at that moment. I checked the wave length and was convinced that it had in fact been from Radio Hungary.

The Special Goon Show for Our Troops.

A less dramatic but exciting occasion a few weeks later during my Christmas duty. I had volunteered to look after the camp (with a few others, mostly Jocks and Geordies) during Christmas in exchange for leave during New Year - which I preferred.

Goon Show music on the short wave? What's that about? "This is the General Overseas Service of the BBC. This program is specially dedicated to Her Majesty's Forces Overseas, and to the Trans-Arctic Expedition, the Falkland Islands Dependancy Survey Teams and the Royal Society Expedition at Halle Bay, and Mrs. Rita Body. Greetings from the Goons." That was Greenslade. Then we heard "Operation Christmas Duff", Geordie and Jock shouted for me to turn it up; which I did.

Sopwith Camels Bomb Plumb Duff in Chatham Docks.

" A story of land, sea and air. And in some cases, both. The date: the 23rd of November, 1956. Christmas was coming, the geese were getting fat. Someone spent a penny in an old man's hat. But one problem lay heavily on Parliament's conscience." That was Peter Sellers. "Owing to the shortage of civilian contractors, they cannot supply sufficient christmas-type Duff for our forces overseas."

"Why don't the services all combine in the building of a giant Christmas pudding." The show goes on involving many units of the Forces and many military location. The pudding is made in the dry dock at Chatham and Fairey Gannets of 824 Squadron swoop low over the pudding dropping in the ingredients. Sopwith Camels of Bomber Command dropped delayed brandy bombs, and set the pudding alight. Get the Idea?

I can't really do the programme justice but keen Goon fans can read the whole Operation Christmas Duff script for themselves.

The IRA Scares.

After Christmas, it seemed, there were constant IRA scares. So I spent many a weekend's piquet locked in the Armoury playing cards. Nothing happened except I lost money. You may recall, or not, that there were reports in the news about raids on military units so we did take the matter seriously at the time.

Joe Bosher (74th).


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