Clubs, Societies and the Sporting Life at Halton
Each working week at RAF Halton consisted 20 hours of technical training, eight hours of general education, nine hours of drill, games and physical education, with the remaining time given over to general barrack duties, inspections and "preparation for technical or educational subjects".
RAF Halton barrack room, c. 1920s, by W H Christmas
As well as compulsory sport for everyone on a Wednesday afternoon, Halton also provided apprentices with many ways to take part in hobbies and activities, from Scouts to sailing. The following is a sample of sports reports and Halton Society activites as reported in the May 1953 edition of the Halton Magazine, when the 69th Entry would have been heading towards the end of their second year.
The School XV has had a fair season and under the leadership of C/A/A Pascoe the players have derived a great deal of enjoyment as well as useful experience from their games. The highlights of the season were drawn games with the Army Apprentice School at Locking. Both these games were very keenly contested, and at Locking, where we lost a player after only ten minutes, only our opponents' splendid tackling kept us off their line.
The Halton First XV Rugby Squad, including the 69th's Tom Faulkner, top left on the back row
Our annual matches against the Public Schools Radley, Stowe and St. Edward's were rather disappointing as we lost all three, although at St. Edward's it was only by the narrow margin of a try. Victories were recorded twice against the Vauxhall Apprentices and against the Army Apprentice School, Aborfield.
Many players of the School XV have also represented the Station, C/A/A Pascoe and A/A Chowns having done so regularly. The second XV has played only three games this season. The first was a no-score draw at Radley and the second a 6-3 win at Stowe. Later in the season we lost to Berkhamsted School (normally a first XV fixture) in a very exciting game which ended with the score at 28-9.
The Juniors have had a great season. They have lost only two games, both of these to teams whose players were two or three years their seniors. The Yatesbury Boy Entrants were defeated twice, as were the lads of the Old Barton Youth Club. The H.M.S. Fisgard match has still to be played but we are confident that the School is sending the strongest team for many seasons. The Junior captain, L/A/A Thomas, has also represented the School First XV in all its matches and A/A Harriman in all matches except the first two.
The B.K. games were left until the end of the season and the firm, hard grounds made the games very fast and caused the loss of large patches of skin. 2(A) Wing won the Senior Competition and shared the honours with 3(A) Wing in the Junior Section. Next season's fixture list will include more matches with Public Schools and the University Colleges. The Juniors. too, will have many more engagements than any previous Junior side and there will be the introduction of a Junior "A" XV. This new policy will, we hope, abolish the frantic searches for new stars that were customary at the beginning of each season and will ensure that newcomers to the first XV have that little experience that is so valuable.
This Easter we say goodbye to C/A/A Pascoe, who has done so much for School Rugger for three seasons and to the rest of the 65th Entry. May they continue to enjoy the rugger that was nurtured at Halton.
Other sports at Halton - a Wing round-up
No. 3(A) WING
We started the Spring Term with a very bleak outlook with the Wing and sports fields under a thick layer of frozen snow, but as the term progressed, so the conditions improved, until by the middle of March we were having an early summer with our spirits and achievements reaching a very high level. Apart from sweeping aside nearly all opposition from the other Wings to our B.K. superiority, there have been few incidents of note in the past term.
Our Wing has been the "Guard of Honour" Wing and on two occasions the 69th Entry have been called upon to fulfil this important function. Each squadron provided a third of the guard and it first appeared for the informal inspection of the School by the Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Technical Training Command, Air Marshal Sir Victor E. Groom, K.C.B., C.B., D.F.C. On this occasion it was commanded by C/A/A Walter and C/A/A Gordon.
For the 65th Graduation the Guard of Honour were once again on parade for the reviewing officer. The Secretary of State for Air, The Lord de L'Isle and Dudley, V.C., and this time it was commanded by S/A/A King and C/A/A Gordon. All concerned are to be congratulated on the hard work that has been put into rehearsals and the high standard of turnout and drill that was achieved.
The spring term was our most successful sports term for many years and in the B.K. games we won nine trophies out of a possible fourteen, and these comprised Senior Hockey, Boxing and Basketball, Junior Hockey, Boxing, Basketball, Soccer, Cross Country and Shooting. In addition, we shared first place in the Junior Rugby and won the deciding game for the award of B.K. medals, and came second in the Senior Rugby, Cross Country and Soccer.
Overall and individually, these are very fine performances and we all heartily applaud the efforts of our teams. In victory, let us not belittle the very good opposition that we have met from the other Wings. After all, with our superior numbers in Wing strength, we have little difficulty in selecting a strong team for the many B.K. sports.
Our Wing players have provided many representatives for School and Station teams, their standard of play and sportsmanship always being of the highest order. With so many out-standing individual performances it is difficult to single out any particular sportsman for special mention, but it is noteworthy that we should record the rapid rise to fame of our road walker, A/A Haynes. In one year from taking up this sport, he has become Station champion and was fifth in the R.A.F. Championships. Another member, A/A Collen, has gained R.A.F. honours at sailing and at the moment is partaking in qualifying Olympic heats.
Next term we shall be expecting great achievements again from the Wing, not only in the summer sports, but from our Graduating Entry and Junior Entries in their work at Schools, Workshops and G.S.T. In closing, we would like to wish the 66th Entry the best of good fortune in their coming final examinations.
Clubs and Societies at Halton
As usual with each issue of the Halton Magazine we have to bid a reluctant farewell to some of our prominent members. Flt.Lt. Gilbert, who was our energetic Secretary, is now on the staff of a Pakistan Government Public School at Lower Topa in the N.W. Province. Our loss is Pakistan's gain and we wish him the best of good fortune in his new venture. We will be very interested to hear of the Old Haltonians he meets while he is there.
The Natural History Section has lost the valuable services of Sqn.Ldr. (Rev.) H. Bland, who has been posted to St. Mawgan in Cornwall. Fg.Off. A. J. White is continuing the good work. The Craft Section, recently formed through the efforts of Flt.Lt B. N. Wilson, is very comprehensive and covers everything from Plastics to Felt Toy making. The support has been admirable and we suspect that as the shopping days to Christmas decrease it will become even greater. At the moment this section is sharing premises with the Senior Scout and the Model Engineering Sections, the former for light craft work and the latter for metal work. We wish them every success.
Aircraft recognition section
officer in Charge: Fg.Off. A. E Gostling
Deputy : Cpl. Crangle
Meets At: Hut below Station Education Centre
Meets On: Mondays, 18.15 hrs.
The section is now progressing and the membership is gradually increasing. Much enthusiasm is shown by Apprentices and it is interesting to note that No. 3(A) Wing contributes half the membership of the section. We have now settled down in our new quarters adjoining the Royal Aeronautical Society but and it is hoped to improve amenities by installing stoves in the near future.
Recently the section has been holding weekly spotting competitions and a fairly high standard has been achieved. Next term it is proposed to visit airfields and later on to make the annual trip to the Farnborough Air Show. Lastly we would remind any apprentice that ability to recognise aircraft accurately is an extremely valuable asset, so pay a visit to the section and improve your spotting.
The Halton Magazine frequently published photographs of aircraft of the day to help apprentices identify aircraft. One such photograph of Vulcan VX770 appeared in the May 1953 edition. VX770 would later crash during an air show at RAF Syerston in September 1958.
Officer in Charge: Fg.Off. A. P. White
Meets At: Room 3. Block 9, 1 Wing
Meets On : Thursdays, 19.30 hrs.
The impression seems to be current with the majority of Apprentices that the geniuses of the chess world gather together weekly at Halton to pit their skill against one another. Consequently many, who would like to come but feel that their standard is not high enough, stay away. Others, who have had no contact with the game seem to think it dull and slow, the only time restriction being that beards are not allowed to grow more than 2" between moves.
A visit to the section would quickly dispel these impressions. We cater for all standards of players and beginners are very welcome. Those who think the game dull have never experienced the agony of waiting to see whether an opponent has seen one's mistake and is about to take advantage of it or whether he is so completely absorbed in some fantastic plan of his own that all else is secondary.
As far as speed of play is concerned, most players get through half-a-dozen good games in an evening and in a "lightning" tournament the rate of play (one move every ten seconds) creates considerable excitement. It is hoped to form a school team if sufficient representative support is obtained and, now that we are a section of the Halton Society with access to funds, it will be possible to afford such luxuries as visits to other chess clubs and entertainment of visiting masters.
The "old" clubhouse, as featured in the Halton Magazine, Summer 1950
Dance Band section
Officer in Charge: Fg.Off. A. Hunter
Meets At: Hut below Station Education Centre
Meets On: To be announced
This term, owing to an expansion in the club's programme, meetings of the Dance Band Section have been held in the Toc H. in Wendover instead of the Trinity Church. The most active group in the section has been the trio, comprising D. Edwards — drums, F. Francis — bass, and M. Ballamy - piano. They have been playing regularly at the Toc H. and have gained a considerable amount of useful experience.
At the last General Meeting of the Society, a sum of money was voted to this section to enable a second-hand piano to be purchased and in the future meetings will again be held on the Station. The piano will be shared between this section and the Dramatics Section. Consequently, meetings of the dance band will be held in the Hut below the Station Education Centre. The day and time of our weekly meet-ings will be announced in due course, once the piano has been purchased.
We are still lacking in personnel and would gladly welcome any trumpeter or saxophonist who would care to join the section. We had hoped that the 73rd Entry would afford us a budding Louis Armstrong or a polished Eddie Miller but so far none have come forward. For the benefit of those who may be interested, especially those apprentices in the more junior Entries, we cater for all tastes in jazz - traditional, commercial and "bop". If you are at all interested, please do come along to our meetings. For details contact Fg.Off. Hunter, Hut B4, Schools (Ext. 128), and for latest developments watch the notice board in the main corridor in the school.
In this and in subsequent issues of the Halton Magazine there will be a series of articles on the instruments in jazz. The first deals with the piano and is written by our pianist, M. Ballamy. It is hoped that these articles will arouse an interest in jazz and will help one to realise that jazz is an art and not an unpleasant cacophony. We look forward to the coming months in the hope that the section will show an increased membership. Any instrumentalist at all will be more than welcome. Well, here's hoping.
The Piano in Modern Music
Since 1920, music has taken a twist from the comparatively thick classics to the more rhythmic jazz, swing, etc. The piano, being one of the grander instruments, has been used all the time, although it has given away its former leading part, in most cases, to become the head of the rhythm section. The solo piano is still found but it is now more usual to combine it with drums and double bass.
The development of "jazz" has taken it through "New Orleans," "boogie-woogie", "dixie," "swing" and perhaps the apparent climax, "bebop". The front-line instruments are now usually wind instruments, such as trumpet, clarinet, trombone and saxophone, and the piano accompaniment is in most cases provided by the pianist playing the various chords of the melodic form. These chords, in the last few years, have been developed from symphonic chord formations until you have modern "bebop."
Modern composers, both of classical and jazz music, have been increasingly more affected by these types of chords. Although some people sneer at the ultra-modern conception of music, there is no getting away from the fact that technically this form of music is far more difficult to understand and appreciate than earlier types of music and it is, therefore, obvious why it has so small a following.
Although Winter and early Spring in England seem a ghastly time to parade bare knees, the Senior Scout Section has continued its way undaunted (or nearly so). Our first activity after Christmas was a return visit to Chesham for a Social. After hiking to Chesham we spent an enjoyable evening in the company of many of the district's most glamorous Rangers. Several members were seen explaining the well-known fact that `Air Apprentice' is a modest way of saying `Air Marshal.' A detailed account of the social is not really necessary accounts are engraved in gilt letters in journals of many lovelorn Seniors!
Halton Scouts - Dick Hollis, Red Tidman, Jock Kemp and Ron Downing - before setting off for Oxford University Rover Crew weekend, early 1953
While most of the party hiked back on the Sunday morning, the Patrol Leaders pressed on to Chesham Bois to arrange a night game. This took place in February. That night a horrible band of cut-throats could have been seen proceeding along the road from Aldbury monument. Their progress was slow, as car drivers were protected from the sight of this appalling band. Diving from ditch to ditch to avoid cars, we eventually joined battle with Chesham Bois after much crawling across wet fields. Some time around 5 a.m. we eventually got to bed; it had been tiring but enjoyable.
Our Ambulance Course has been finished with a trio of gruelling examinations — one written, one practical, and ane 'incident' (a near-corpse in contorted position requiring expert attention, poor chap!). The Wendover Boy Scouts are being assisted by the Section and visits to a Scout in Stoke Mandeville Hospital will begin soon. An invitation from Oxford University Rovers has been accepted and four stalwart men are preparing to 'expect anything' for a week-end of peril.
After our unexpected good showing last year we have again entered the Cottesloe Shield .22 rifle competition. Practice has started and we are hoping to bring home the shield this time. Dancers End Water Works will soon be honoured again by a return visit, even if the thought of water tends to make many tremble (I've heard some even wash in the stuff). "Blue Peter", a Sea Scout Show in Reading, will provide another outing soon. Also we have a proposed visit to "Our Show 1953" at Chesham Bois. This year a Summer Camp in the Lake District is proposed and so an enjoyable Summer will be eagerly anticipated by all the Section.
Stop Press: The visit to Oxford was a great success. Arriving at tea-time, we had a hasty snack and were then bundled into closed vans. The journey was enlivened by the singing of many an Apprentice ditty. We were then deposited and told to find our way to a given map reference. This was soon accomplished after a seven or eight mile journey! We set up camp and soon crept between the blankets to find blissful oblivion. The next morning was occupied by a series of incidents, lighting fires up trees, crossing rivers, wading rivers and falling into rivers. The afternoon was soon upon us and a tired, battered and bruised company returned to Oxford and thence to "home" those delightful red brick buildings (ugh!).
Officer in Charge: Fg.Off. M. Oliver
Deputy: Flt Lt. Stallworthy
Meets At: Hut below Station Education Centre
Meets On: Tuesdays, 19.30 hrs
The section has had regular and lively meetings since January. Our Officer i/c, to whom we owe a great deal, shows unflagging interest in our activities, even when the casts do not know their lines after six weeks of rehearsing. We welcome Flt.Lt. Stallworthy as our Deputy Officer i/c: his obvious talent on the stage is an inspiration to all.
Last January, the section entered the Buckinghamshire Youth Drama Competition. We produced "A Night at an Inn" by Lord Dunsany. The adjudicator praised our make-up and choice of play, but unfortunately we failed to qualify for the second round. After our production for the competition, we had a general meeting, at which a new Chairman was elected, together with three new Wing representatives.
A visit to the New Theatre, Oxford, has been arranged, where we shall see Wilfred Pickles in "The Gay Dog." We hope to see some new faces accompanying us, in the hope that we may find interested people who might show us their potential dramatic talent. We are hoping to produce a three-act play in the Summer. If all goes well, the section should increase its prestige immeasurably. This will be our first step in the field of straight acting.
It is also hoped that in future we will produce some shows at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital. We have had a very kind offer from the Station Dramatics Society, who have said they will join us in making a big show next Christmas. This has been suggested at a meeting, where the prospect was warmly welcomed. It is a good opportunity to say that if any people would like to join us, they have only to attend one of our weekly meetings, which are held on Tuesday evenings.
Lately we have commandeered the late Aeronautical Society's hut. During the Summer, members are going to build a small stage there. Also we hope to arrange for some heating, as an extra comfort for next winter. This but should prove invaluable for rehearsing, as it is also proposed to buy a piano. Lastly, but by no means least, a word of appreciation is due to Corporal Pinkstone for his boundless energy and hard work in making our stage sets. His perpetual smile and good humour even in the darkest and dimmest times is a tonic to all of us.
Model Aircraft section
1(A) Wing Officer in Charge: Sqn.l.dr. Duckworth
Meets At: Room 4, Block 9, 1 Wing
Meets On: Every evening
During the past term, the small band of keen aeromodellers have noted with pleasure the change for the better in weather conditions and have used this to good advantage by flying whenever possible. Although our membership has waned greatly, due to the loss of our 65th members, the remainder are all working hard and we look forward with confidence to a season of successful flying. In the field of power duration, A/A Hoyland remains supreme with his Elfin 1.8 and 2.49 powered models (bombs!). Attended with better luck he should do well this season.
Our team race fans, led by A/A Roberts and A/A Cottrell with Elfin 1.49 and E.D. 2.46 powered A class team racers respectively, show great promise. Both team racers are well finished and have performances to match. as proved in their recent win over a 3(A) Wing team. Not resting on their laurels the members have new models in the assembly stage and are planning sensibly for the future. A/A Robinson remains the sole glider exponent and is concentrating on gliders to A/2 specifications but he also has a 10ft. span job under reconstruction, which is hoped to stand him in good stead for open events during the coming contest season. To conclude. we would like to wish all our 65th members, especially A/A Pickford and C/A/A Luesley, the best of luck in their new postings and may we meet again at the R.A.F. Championships.
2(A) Wing Officer in Charge: Fg.Off. E. N. Harris
Meets At: Hut C, 2 Wing
Meets On: Every Evening
During the Easter term there has been very little actual flying of models in the Club but there has been a great deal of activity preparing for the coming season. The intake of the 73rd Entry has swelled the numbers of members to an all-time record, and there is a definite promise of quality with this quantity. The new Committee are definitely feeling their feet and the amount of stores that A/A Vincent has sold is proof of the enthusiasm and industry of the members.
The 2 (A) Wing Model Aircraft Club
The modern trend is very obvious. A/A French having a ducted fan D.H. Venom. A/A Jarman a swept-wing glider. and A/A Sawford an 8' span powered delta. However this does not mean that the other older interests have been neglected, and the team race field is looked after by A/A Vincent in the Class #A. A/A Jarman Class A and A/A Lloyd Class B. A new member, A/A Standing, shows great promise in the glider field.
Rubber powered models are becoming very popular in the Club, the interest being mainly in sports types. This appears to he at the expense of the speed class. In conclusion, it is certain that with the present preparations for the coming season and the full programme of competitions and visits to manufacturers envisaged by Fg.Off. Harris and the Committee that the Club is going to spend a very interesting and busy season this year.
3(A) Wing Officer in charge: Flt.l.t. Cooke
Meets At: Block 1, Room 2, 3 Wing
Meets On: Every Evening
Firstly a welcome to Flt.Lt. Cooke. our new officer in charge of the club.
Now that the first rush of enthusiasm from the 72nd Entry is over, we are able to settle down to steady work again. Flying, of course, has been largely curtailed by the weather but some good work is going on in the club-room in preparation for the coming season. Interest in team racing is still high. A/A Kemish is still pinning his faith in the steady development of his "Alfy," Class A design.
"Alfy" V came to a spectacular. if sticky, end, when it was entangled with the lines of a competing machine. However "Alfy" VI promises very well, having exceeded 80 m.p.h. with its E.D. 2.46 c.c. engine running to perfection.
Pritchett is having success in class "B", his Super-Saint having clocked 93 m.p.h. Now turning to a more scalish design for his E.T.A. "29" he has chosen the T.K. 4 racing monoplane in a hope to combine greater speed with better looks.
Team racing to the "outsider" is perhaps the most interesting of all the branches of aeromodelling to watch because it involves three or more models racing, at the same time, over a distance of 10 miles. A set of very carefully drawn up rules ensure a realistic appearance whilst still leaving the designer ample opportunity to experiment with a design and improve streamlining, engine installation. etc. Limited tank sizes mean attention must be paid to easy, rapid refuelling and starting of engines, whilst team-work between pilot, mechanic and starter must be of a very high standard.
A/A Engly is carefully building what promises to be an excellent control-line model of the "Westland Wyvern." Rubber powered models are temporarily out of favour but A/A Mathews' "Lysander" scale model must be the most notable of its class. It spans 50" and is built of the lightest construction possible.
Gliders, however, present an entirely different picture with A/A Moore leading the field closely followed by A/As Thorne, Lampon and Neish.
A/A Dove, as a break from the normal run of free-flight power models, decided to convert his sports model, an E D Bee powered "Debutante", into a free flight stunt model. Most people's models contrive the most awkward of stunts, whilst undergoing trimming, so that this must rate the first intentional model of this class.
Since Sgt. Shank walked into the club proudly displaying his superbly-finished model yacht, we have seen the standard of finished models take a turn for the better. Concluding, we would like to mention A/A Rochier's experimental designs (or would we?). We look forward to the next inter-Wing competition and the competition season in general with hope and quiet confidence.
Addendum On reviewing the last issue of the magazine, we noted with horror that Electronic Developments Ltd. made their crankshafts from old pistons! If they did we are afraid two-thirds of the club would sell out! This should, we point out, have read crank cases. As we go to press. we are grieved that Sgt. Shank has been posted to R.A.F. Melksham. Wilts. We sincerely hope that he will keep in touch with the Club. who have much to thank him for.