Frank Moreton Cook 1950

**This page first appeared on

Frank Moreton at Cardington (fifth from the left on the back row). *

* Do you recognise anyone in this photograph of Flight B taken in early 1950? If so please get in touch.

Phil Collins - Cardington 1958

"I received my call up papers some time in 1958 and I had always been very interested in aircraft from being a very small boy. I was born just before WW2 and was 6 when the war ended and so I remember all the war time aircraft passing over my home. This spiked up a strong interest in aircraft for me. All through my school days this interest never left me and I was always reading about aircraft and making models to fly and hang in my bedroom. When I received my papers the call up was being slowly phased out and I was 19 when I received them. It came to my knowledge that the number of National Service men was being reduced and I was determined to join, so I volunteered to be a regular serviceman in the RAF and in due course I was waived off at Birmingham railway station by my parents. I was joined on the train by another lad from my local town and we travelled together and arrived eventually at Bedford railway station.

phil collins 1

Phil in uniform shown here with his mother.

phil collins

Phil (left) with friend Dave Pettite at RAF Boulmer in 1960.

Below are a few extracts taken from an account by Mr Colin Crane in the BBC WW2 Peoples War archives recounting his childhood memories of RAF Cardington.
''RAF Cardington - My home (a fairly new council housing estate of 1937/8 on the Cardington Rd) was located en route and very near to RAF Cardington and it was usual and very common for us lads to stand in the street waiving to several very large canvas back lorries that were often full of military/RAF personnel being transported to and from RAF Cardington. This was the case well in to the early 1950’s.

Other grey/blue lorries transported extremely large ‘Gas Bottles’ that the local kids always believed were ‘bombs’. RAF Cardington was a local base where enormous barrage balloons were made and repaired/tested. The gas bottles were used to fill these barrage balloons.

This base was also a major local civilian employer, many men and women from my area were employed at ‘The Drome’ (Aerodrome) as RAF Cardington was known locally. I cannot remember anyone owning a car and all people I knew would cycle to and from work , many came home to lunch too as most workers did of that era.
Cardington ‘Hangars’ Planes and Parachutes - Formations of several planes still flew overhead, sometimes ‘bombers’ from East Anglia as well as other planes, as often seen in old films these days. Spitfire style prop planes also flew to and from RAF Cardington and the local boys watched in awe. We would sometimes walk or cycle to the boundary fence to watch the balloons being winched or planes taking off etc.

My schools (Kingsbrook School for 7-11 year olds) also the Silver Jubilee infants and secondary schools were suitably located just a mile, as the crow flies from RAF Cardington and we would sit in classes and spot parachute drops from tethered balloons, also prop planes flying to and from the grass runways at Cardington several times a day, every day.''

These must have been very exciting times for young boys back then!

His particular flight was 22b and he was billeted in a hut on the camp near the square where drill practice took place. His corporal in charge was a man called Blakeman who made a small fortune by selling all the new recruits buttons for their uniforms. The recruits also had to pay for the hire of a radio if they wanted to have music in their billetts - which often led to discord when their corporal wanted to listen to classical music and the younger men wanted the more modern

Les Nicols  Warrant Officer Driver 22Bflight Dec 1

Tough man W O Driver


The Warrant Officer in overall charge of his flight was WO Driver who used to say to new recruits “I’m Driver the b*****d!” On one occasion when on sick parade with a foot problem Les was ordered to clean WO Drivers bunk which had to be spotless. He noticed that there was a half crown by a wooden table lamp next to the bunk bed but wasn’t tempted to take it and found out later that it was stuck down and wired to electricity! He also remembers an older recruit called Bill East who had lots of medals and had joined up to escape his wife who turned up at the camp one day in an effort to speak to him – which he refused to do.

Les went on to be a Wireless Mechanic with the RAF.

Thanks to Les Nichol for these memories - his photo of Flight 22b is shown in the Peoples Gallery section RAF Servicemen 1945 - 1960

Once again if you have any memories you would like to share with us please get in touch..

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