The "Burmese Brats"
As well as the UK, the original 357 apprentices of the 69th Entry also included 18 from the Royal Pakistan Air Force, four from the Royal Ceylon Air Force, and 25 from the Burma Air Force.
This photo shows the Burmese contingent of the 69th and 75th Entries at RAF Halton, assembled in front of the No. 3 A Wing Dining Hall/Mess. In the centre of the front row is the RAF liason officer, Flight Lieutenant Bishop.
Khin Myint, one of the 69th Burmese Brats (seated fourth from the left on the second row from the back) wrote about the group's sporting prowess: "Most of us played football. I was the only Burmese Aircraft Apprentice to fly glider up to the solo stage. Ba Han was good in Judo. Outstanding Burmese boxers were A. W. King, Charlie Turner, Aung Than and Kyaw Khin Gyi. They all represented the station".
The 69th in Burma
On the 15th March 2004, 69th Entry ex-apprentice Tony Parrott and his partner May undertook a visit to Burma. There they met five of the Burmese 69th Brats - Ben Minus, Hla Thwin, Khin Myint (also featured above), Htoon Thein and Maung Ni, pictured below right. Below is Tony's report on the visit.
With May, I visited Burma (now called Myanmar) on a British Legion package trip during March. We travelled to Rangoon (now called Yangon) via Bangkok as there are no direct services from the UK.
There was of course the conundrum - would I assist their government by going, or would it be better to visit, ascertain the truth, and return with information about the current situation. I chose the latter.
Our group departing from Heathrow consisted of our guide, Colonel Piers Stone-Pugh, plus 13 others, six of which were ex Chindits [special operations units]. Later we collected two Americans in Bangkok, with two Australians and one from Brunei joining us in Rangoon. This made a total party of nineteen.
On arriving in Rangoon we were transferred to the Inya Lake Hotel which was modern and of a high standard. As I had previously informed our 69th Burmese friends of our itinerary, within an hour of our arrival, and 50 years since passout, we were welcomed by some of the 69th Burmese and their wives. It was a moving experience. We were due to fly to Mandalay the next day, so the meeting ended after a few hours with a promise that we would see them again on our return to the hotel.
Following our eight day trip up country to Mandalay, and to various places significant to ex-Chindits, we returned to our hotel in Rangoon. The following day we were able to have lunch with some of the 69ers.
During the visit we met Khin Myint (electical), Maung Ni (instruments), Hla Thwin (airframe) and their wives. We also met Ben Minus (airframe), Htoon (electrical), Ko Ko Gyi (electrical). Additionally we met a friend of theirs, ex Burmese Air Force, who we made an honorary 69er. I was presented with a Longi - a long kilt - which I was told must be worn minus items similar to Scottish kilt wearers!
All of them were pleased and grateful to hear that Khin Myint had been made "The Benevolent RAF Halton Aircraft Apprentices Member for Burma", courtesy of Deputy Chairman Group Captain Min Larkin. They will now receive magazines and news regarding ex apprentices throughout the world. They have not been forgotten.
Just prior to our departure at the airport, I met an ex 75th Burmese who asked "Can we organise a trip from UK to Burma for 69ers and 75th lads? Any takers?
- RAF Halton and the Brats
- The RAF Aircraft Apprentices Scheme
- The 69th's Graduation Review, 1954
- The Senior Entry - a graduate's letter, 1954
- A full list of 69th Graduates
- Summer Camp, RAF Formby, 1953
- The 69th and the Queen's Coronation, 1953
- The Burmese Brats
- Halton days: stories from the Brats
- Dispersal: into the RAF
- Pen Portraits: 69th careers
- Tributes to Halton and the Brats
- The 69th's commemorative windows
- 69th Entry Reunions