& Dedication of the 223 Entry Window at St George’s Church, RAF Halton
years after forming 223 craft entry at Royal Air Force Halton, 25 of the
original members returned to rekindle old friendships gained in the days of
‘glam’ rock, Brut aftershave, Sta-pressed trousers and Crombie coats. The
reunion was the brainchild of entry member, ?? Bob Rodham, who managed to find
all but two of the original 98 craft apprentices, including those that had
failed to pass out.
group of middle-aged ex RAF apprentices and their wives started the reunion with
an overnight stay at the Bull hotel, Gerrards Cross.
The main reason was the dedication of a window depicting the entry’s
crest (a black scorpion on an apprentice wheel, with the motto “small but
deadly”) in St George’s church, RAF Halton.
The motto refers to the entry starting with 98 recruits in 1971 and with
46 passing out two years later in 1973.
of the 223 entry have exemplary and dedicated service with the Royal Air Force
and two of these 16 year olds that joined in 1971, are still serving with the
RAF. Wing Commander Don Tanner is
based at Yeovilton and F/Sgt ‘Geordie’ Fishburn at RAF Odiham. Between the
members of 223 entry, they have clocked up over 500 years service in blue.
The dedication service at St George’s church followed a march up and down the Halton hill to one Wing, with many of them having ‘flashbacks’ of marching up and down the hill to get to the workshops for trade training. Some could even hear the skirl of the bagpipes wafting on the breeze from a pipe band of over thirty years ago. The RAF Halton museum was opened for the visit and everyone suddenly lost thirty-one years as we were transported back to our apprenticeships.
service was outstandingly simple and encapsulating the spirit and friendship of
these old friends from a time of innocence and £4 a week apprentice pay.
The window joined the others already in position and stands in pride of
place, to the left of Trenchard for those who want to check it out. It had been
bought with the generous contributions of the 223 entry and was the first craft
entry to conduct a service of dedication. During
the service, two readings were given by two members of the entry.
The first was by Dave Squires, who read a passage from the bible and the
other was read by Ian ‘Pompey’ Hovey, who immersed the congregation in waves
final act of the reunion was a chance to talk over a pint at the RAFA club on
the airfield, a place that many had spent helping Flt Lt John Potter get his man
powered gossamer aircraft “Jupiter” into the air.
success of the reunion and dedication is due to the great bond of fellowship
that exists between those who drilled, cleaned and studied together, in the true
tradition of ‘Trenchard’s Brats’ and the other reason is due to the much
appreciated efforts of Bob Rodham (ex Sgt) in bringing so many of the entry
together from as far a field as Wales, Scotland, Germany and Canada.
When this modest man was asked why he had spent so much time, money and effort in bringing old friends back together, he simply said “When you spend two years working, eating and sleeping side by side with strangers who become close friends, you have a feeling of loss when you are no longer together”.