Me on the left with Phil Hamilton during the opening week at RAF Swinderby
A few friends have asked me to write about my Royal Air Force days after reading this article http://hereiamattheedge.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/guardian-angels.html#.UrXca9JdXDM
I decided the time is right to start to write about my service life.
This was the beginning of a six-year period which had fun moments as well as scares.
The story of my six years in the Royal Air Force began on November 6th, 1974, when an eighteen-year old Alan Place turned up at the recruiting office in Bristol. From the moment I took the oath until I finished my tenure, six years later, I officially became a number and as any service man or woman will tell you, “You never forget your number.”
I joined up with five other lads from Bristol, Pete Brewer, John Amos, Brian George and two more whose names I cannot remember. Not long after leaving the office I had the first of many encounters with service humour, I was asked by Pete, “What was I going to be?”
After many years of taking photographs, some of which my late father said were good-that was a real compliment as he hardly had a good word for me- fate destined me to carry on in the trade during my tours, “Photographer,” I replied to Pete’s question.
John decided to change Photographer to Pornographer, then-fortunately- decided they couldn’t call me Porno; so I got nick-named Pernod. The name stayed with me through basic training and trade training and it wasn’t until my first posting the name got dropped and I wouldn’t hear it again until a few months before I came out-but more about that in due time.
We got on the coach to Temple Meads train station and got our train; which was heading to Lincolnshire. And from there a bus to the camp to start basic “square bashing.
This journey was the first time I had been on a major train journey and the longest trip since our family left Yorkshire in the winter of 1963. I was on edge from the beginning,even if I was travelling with other people.
Things went to plan until we had to change trains at Nottingham and then the wheels came off the trolley. Pete saw a young lady and went to chat her up, making us late for the next connection from Nottingham to Grantham. Fortunately the schedule wasn’t too rigid and the missed train didn’t matter too much, as we had to wait for some lads from Scotland to arrive before we set off in the back of the lorry for “Swinders” or “Swinditz” as the camp was joking re-named by our group.