RAF College Cranwell
A sad end to 2016
It is with deep sadness that we announce the death, on Christmas day, of Vince Yates one of 89's stalwarts. Dick Northcote, one of Vince's closest friends and a fellow D Squadron member writes ....
Celebrating 50 years since Graduation
The 31 who could make it - not a bad turn out for bunch that have surpassed 3 score + ten
Cranwellian Association Reunion Weekend 2016 23-24/ July
As usual the 89 Entry re-union was held within the Old Cranwellians weekend at the RAF College. With the demise of the Old Cranwellians, which was restricted to those who had served as "Flight Cadets" on a 2 or later 3 year course, and the rise of the Cranwellian Association which is open to all officers who trained at Cranwell, a different weekend was expected. We expected more of the younger fraternity. In the event there were very few younger Cranwellians. The turnout was virtually all the older generation with 89 Entry representing the younger end. With a bunch of 70+ year olds being at the younger end it was 89 that had to maintain a late night bar presence.
In the event the weekend was a little different with with a sunset ceremony and a Spitfire fly past. We also had a chance to find out a little more about the current state of the Royal Air Force and the College. The evening followed its normal pattern with much banter during pre-dinner drinks, dinner and in the bar after dinner. 120 Cranwellians attended including the current CAS Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier. The guest speaker was Rory Underwood who entertained us for a while with his tales of Rugby and the RAF.
Throughout the weekend Geoff Dryland acted as the unofficial 89 Entry photographer. In true 89 style Geoff arrived in his Rolls Royce, parked it on the parade ground in front of the college and commenced his unofficial duties poking his camera up many noses! Unfortunately his Rolls got up the nose of the College authorities so it had to go! Nevertheless Geoff continued ..
Signing in & afternoon tea
The dinner finished with a bit of an anti-climax since the traditional post horn gallop played by members of the RAF College band was missing. We guess that it is indicative of the RAF in the last 50 years - at our 25th reunion dinner we had 3 trumpeters, 40th 2 trumpeters, 45th 1 trumpeter and 50th - NONE. However, the disappointment did not dim or desire for a drink - we hit the bar and enjoyed the rest of the evening.
Sadly Geoff Dryland had obviously enjoyed too much gin, wine, port and beer for his assignment as 89 Entry official photographer seems to have come to an abrupt end!
The weekend continued with a full church parade the next day and terminated in traditional style with someone setting fire to the College - well at least that is what the fire section thought! - A re-run of our 40th in 2003!
Even in our 70's 89 Entry, Cranwell's best, is still on fire
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!).
2015 was a year of individual squadron re-unions
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 have 3 of our 4 squadrons holding reunions.
89A - October 2015
Ensuring that they stay ahead of the game A Squadron were first to get their re-union photos to 89 News, however, in true military tradition they kept the location secret, holding it "somewhere in England". They also kept their activities secret, but we are grateful to Tony Ware for smuggling out photographs of the event - their 2nd annual re-union. (They did supply photographs last year but again failed to supply any support information so the editor (like all newspaper editors) has just had to make up a story!)
Thanks to Tony Ware for sending the photographs (and we assume - taking them - since he's not on any)
89 B - October 2015
Geoff Dryland, who supplied all 89Bs photographs, assures us that they were first to hold a squadron reunion this year just a few weeks ahead of A Squadron. He also reported that they are definitely getting older since they all arrived in the late afternoon, did not get a cup of tea on arrival, and then had to lay down before getting dressed for dinner in a hurry!
The "B" team at dinner - (Left to Right) - Andy Griffin, Jerry Pook (Guest of Honour from A Squadron), Dick Slogrove, Mike Laundy,
Henry Middleton, Simon Coy, Nigel Griffiths, Paddy Pyper, Tony Steel, Geoff Dryland
Geoff reports that "Not many funny comments I'm afraid - Only the one came from Mike Laundy whilst taking his soup. "Waiter there's a turd in my soup". Then Jerry Pook with his napkin to his mouth "Oh my God I had one of those, I thought it was a gherkin". Considering that Geoff reported few funnies, there seems to be an awful lot of happy faces.......
The smiles soon returned to thoughtfulness when the current state of the RAF was discussed...
A few more drinks, talk of the good old days and the everything is back to normal so another successful 89B reunion!
89C December 2015
It was hoped to convene an 89C reunion earlier but with 3 of our members still hard at work (well "working") and others travelling, the earliest 89C could get together was December. Chris Saunby was the 89C whipper in and by mutual consent we chose to meet at the Haycock Hotel, just off the A! south of RAF Wittering - one of the few RAF airfields left! Like all good re-unions it started in the bar. However, unlike other reunions we chose to bring our wives since they all know each other - many from our Cranwell days. Sadly Dick and Shireen Shuster could not make it as Shireen was having treatment for cancer. We send Shireen our best wishes and our hopes for an early recovery. Keith Jackson sent his regrets that he and Sue would not be able to attend.
89C Survivors - Back row - Dave Harlow, Dave Donnelly, Brian Synott, Chris Saunby, JC Newland
Front row - Ian Robertson, Derek North, Les Quigley
Unlike our compatriots in B Squadron we were welcomed with afternoon tea and certainly did not need an afternoon kip. This despite us having less hair between us than the other squadrons. (Apart from Dave Harlow that is - and anyway we think that's a wig?)
After the welcoming afternoon tea party - 89C dressed down for dinner and set about the food and drink...
After an excellent dinner, lots of chat and a few drinks the old boys of 89C and their ladies retired for a good nights sleep. Next morning we met for breakfast and made our farewells with a promise to meet again in 2017.
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!)