RAF College Cranwell
A year of informal "get togethers" and not a lot of action!
With all surviving 89ers now being 72 and 73 years young it is not surprising that most have slowed down a little having lived incredibly full and fast lives. Despite their ages (collectively with over 3,000 years experience of life between them) it is unsurprising that most are still actively contributing much of their time to public, charitable and business organisations as well as to their ever growing families. In addition they all still find time to enjoy life's social activities both at home and abroad. At any one time you can guarantee to find an 89er in a bar in some corner of the world. We even manage to get together at regular intervals to swop old and new stories.
89 Entry Squadron Reunions
The latest get together was A Squadron's, we now know where (Originally a secret location - just in case they were gate crashed by another thirsty squadron) but we did know when - 5th November. (The poppies and the fact that they were dodging the "fireworks" was the give away!) never the less as usual there was a good turnout. There was even an infiltrator, Henry Middleton from "B" Squadron
The 2017 "A" Squadron turn out
Report from Alan Ferguson -
Below are some photos for the "89A Chapter" . It was held on Sunday 5th November 17 at the Wroxton House Hotel, Banbury. Those attending were Black Robertson; Alan Ferguson: Henry Middleton: Barry Chalkley: Peter Squire: Peter Crispin: Ian Clark: Tony Ware: Chel Hibbert .. a fine bunch of warriors ....
This was the third 89A Reunion Dinner but the first one that has included a guest - in this case Henry Middleton from 89B.
When paying the bills before departure an ex-CAS noticed that all the drinks had been billed to Alan Ferguson but being an honest soul, as you would expect from a very senior officer this was corrected before the diners scattered to the four winds never to be seen again .. almost the 89A version of "doing a runner" ...
After many years apart - "D" Squadron have their first major reunion
"D" Squadron have struggled to have squadron re-unions over the years due to the fact that their members were spread far and wide throughout the globe. However, once they got going they did so with a vengeance. They reported that this year 8 stalwart members turned up for the re-union at the White Horse in Deddington on 12/13th October.
(Only snag is - when checking out their report I find that there is no White Horse in Deddington - it is in Duns Tew some 2 miles away - [with target identification like this no wonder they were a few missing] Still 8 members found the RV and appear to have done a lot of eating, drinking and being merry so no wonder they didn't know where the where!)
This year, in addition to informal re-unions, the range of "get togethers" included special anniversaries!
50 years ago, pre-mobile phones and internet, after being locked away for 3 years in the barren wastes of Lincolnshire, far away from one's loved one, it was not surprising that many a young Officer wanted to secure his bride before an exciting posting to some equally barren part of the world. Many did and were married even before they qualified for a married quarter - so 50th wedding anniversaries abounded!
Alan MacDonald's 50th Wedding Anniversary in the RAF Club
Chris & Kate celebrate 50 years together
89 Entry may well be yesterdays men, and a bunch of old farts,
but we still maintain that comradeship 54 years after we joined the team !
89's UNIQUE HISTORY?
The longest serving Entry ever to serve as cadets at Cranwell !
Derek North recently reminded us that, not only were we probably the best cadet Entry to pass through the RAF College Cranwell, (other Entries may argue, but just look at our charge sheets!), but also we were the longest serving Entry ever to serve as cadets at Cranwell. We "signed to serve Her Majesty" on 9th September 1963 in the exalted rank of AC2 (Aircraftsman 2nd class (AC2) - or "AC plonk" as it was known colloquially. Its members were collectively known as "erks").
In 1964 the rank of AC2 was abandoned so 89 Entry cadets were all promoted to "Aircraftsman" , a rank which we retained until graduation on 18th August 1966. Again we were probably the longest serving RAF personnel to hold the rank of Aircraftsman since it was a rank only used for airmen in training and no one in the RAF trained for 3 years, except Cranwell Cadets!
The last Entry at the RAF College to have to wear hats in civilian clothes!
Another unique feature of 89 Entry is the fact that we were the last entry to have to wear hats when in civilian clothes. This was a regulation set back in the founding days of the College. I guess it was to distinguish the cadets from others and to ensure that we were proper gentlemen, raising our hats in salute to officers and ladies. In the early 60's "Bowlers" (as worn by the actor playing Douglas Bader in the film "Reach for the Sky") and "Trilbies" went out of fashion. "Pork pie" hats were in. We must have looked like a bunch of "barrow boys from the East End" when in "civvies", especially on Wednesdays and Saturdays when visiting other sports teams, so I guess Air Commodore Lyne persuaded the Air Ministry, as it was then, to cancel the regulation! (The Air Ministry disappeared as an independent Ministry in 1964 and became part of the new Ministry of Defence.)
50 years since leaving "The RAF College"
On the 9th September 1963, 69 young men, all just 17 to 18 years old, joined the Royal Air Force. These young men had decided to dedicate themselves to Queen & Country by joining the Royal Air Force via the most difficult route possible - via the Royal Air Force College Cranwell. These young men had become "Flight Cadets" in 89 Entry!I
It was a time when young men didn't think about what they would earn or how you would earn it, they just wanted to serve in the RAF! - This was just as well as the starting pay was just 14 bob a day (70p in today's money). This would just about buy you 6 pints of beer. (Compare this with today's starting pay which buys around 20 pints!).
2017 a year of squadron get togethers
B Squadron have held annual re-unions for many years the first recorded on this website being 11 years ago in 2004. C Squadron, not to be outdone, commenced in 2005. C Squadron started their reunions with the standard all male affair but soon branched out, on a less regular basis than B Squadron, but on a more exotic basis travelling overseas with wives also being invited. In 2014 A Squadron, who needed to play catch up, also commenced holding annual re-unions. So we now had 3 of our 4 squadrons holding reunions.
50 Years on - How the RAF has changed
Comparing like with like is always difficult with historic data, as life, technology and political circumstance change, however, history is interesting and so are the statistics associated with history.
89 Entry is history, so let's examine some of the basics...
1945 - Most of 89 Entry were born in late 1944 and in 1945 when the Royal Air Force was at its peak with over a million men and women in uniform. At that time it had some 9,200 operational aircraft with over 1,000 UK bases and around 200 overseas bases. (Click here for details of operational aircraft. You can find a list of most, but not all, the wartime bases in Wikipedia by clicking here.)
1963 - When 89 Entry entered the RAF College, the RAF had about 140,000 personnel, around 2,000 operational aircraft, with 200 UK bases and 30 overseas bases (Click here for details of flying bases and squadrons) - (NOTE - All the aircraft were British designed & built)
2013 - 50 years on, from when 89 entry arrived at Cranwell, the Royal Air Force now has 37,000 personnel in uniform,. 760 aircraft*, 45 (35 manned) UK bases and 5 overseas bases. - (Note - 63% of the aircraft are British built, but only 13% are of sole British design - How times have changed!)