First & Last, Journal of the Halton 81st Entry

Issue Number 5

November 2005

The Journal of the 81st Entry

Uploaded by Brian Spurway

Edited by Mike Stanley

Welcome to the fifth issue of The Journal.

Talking to as many of the blokes as I could at the " 50 years since we joined " reunion [ what a great evening that was ] a few things became apparent regarding the newsletter. Firstly it can hardly be called a newsletter as most ,if not all , is of derring deeds of days departed. It was also clear that many of our members were not aware that the 'newsletter' was published on the entry website, and many couldn't remember the website address.

All those who I buttonholed agreed that the newsletter was a good thing and should be supported by as many of our members as possible sending in articles . It seems that at least one article{perhaps others?} did not reach my e mail address After due judical process, assisted by pints of Worthy, [ the Bass ran out early on] and in conjunction with those suppling me with copius quantities of the aforementioned ales , the following was decided upon.

  1. Change of name viz: 'The Newsletter ' to 'The Journal'
  2. Send out the information when the latest issue of The Journal is posted on the entry website.
  3. Acknowledge all articles received.

With these changes in place hopefully there will be a greater participation of the Entry in the production of OUR Journal.

The Editor

Mike Stanley


The following speaks for all of us at the reunion.

At the risk of seeming an over-emotional and sentimental old fart,I would like to go on record as saying that I feel really proud and privileged to have been a part of the Illustrious 81st Entry and also very lucky to have been reunited with so many old friends and colleagues after all these years.

I thought that our reunion on Monday 5th September was a superb event at a really great venue.That we could get so many of us prepared and willing to still keep in contact after so many years is fantastic and a very obvious indication of the Entry Spirit that we generated.

Finally,before my poor old eyes steam up too much to see the keyboard,I'd like to say a very big THANK YOU to Brian Spurway for arranging these functions and to Mike Stanley and Willie Keays for doing such a great job with the newsletter. I've already sent 1 article and am starting another so why don't more of you contribute? Remember,what may be run of the mill stuff to you is sure to be of interest to at least some of your old friends. Keep the Entry Spirit alive!

Tony Birchenough

Four Good Things from 1955!


Brigitte Bardot


A Pint of Beer

Nelson Slice

A Nelson Slice

Vincent Black Shadow

Vincent Black Shadow

Which was your favourite?...

Our Instructors in Workshops

by 'Claves'

Engine Fitters(s) u/t in 1955 may recall some of the instructors we were blessed with in the workshops. Sgt Dubois with his aluminium rod named 'Clickey-baa'? ( after the favourite weapon of the Wolf Of Kabul's sidekick, in the Rover, my favourite reading.) Sgt Dubois taught us about the Hercules 100 14-cyl 2 row sleeve valve radial, keeping dozers awake by judicious clips on their knuckles with Clickey-baa.

Percy Roe took us for Basic. He an an excellent collection of AGS and other bits. Percy would often show us some remarkable fixing devices such as one with an Acme thread at one end, an octangonal head at the other with some significant hieroglyphics embossed into it, an galvanised finish and drilled lengthwise 1/16th inch. He would hold this sort of thing up to show it to us bullet-headed brats, clad less than elegantly in our denims ( mine were always 2 sizes too large; come to think of it, maybe it was that I was 2 sizes too small). He would extol the virtues of this remarkable bit of engineering and then pass it round for us to marvel at it. He would then retrieve it with the words 'Now I hope you've had a good look at that. You'll never see another one'. Great! Thanks Percy.

Cpl Rose took us for Elementary Pistons. We had a good look at the Gypsy Major, stripping it down and rebuilding it. This experience came in useful when I had to strip my Mini engine down in the early 60s.It seemed to have been buggered by the Avgas 100/130 it ran on. (I could have bought a new car with the savings).We also became expert at the engine fitted to the Avro Anson, the Armstrong-Siddeley Cheetah.

I think it was Ch Tech Hale who took us for Advanced Gas Turbines, Avon Mk1. He was the one who always wore his beret in flying saucer style and was rather free with F252s in his capacity as NCO i/c one of our barrack blocks. Somebody, who must remain nameless, got hold of Chiefy's beret and rubbed a very soft pencil all around its little leather band. The weather was hot and sticky and it was with considerable delight we obversed the effect of the graphite on Chiefy's brow when he came in and removed it after lunch.

I can't remember who took us for Advanced Piston Engines, Merlins. But he must have done a good job because I can still draw a sketch of the Compound Oil Relief Valve( CORV). Similarly when I myself became a Instructor at St Athan, teaching B/Es and Flight Engineers, I easily recalled, with some pleasure, all the details of Mrs Shillington's famous orifice when covering Injectors(BI-BH11s), but I can't remember who that instructor was at Halton. There's a prize for the first sooty, or any one of the lesser trades, who can tell me what those letters BI-BH11 meant. Send your answer to substituting the @ for #. (an anti-spam measure).

Who was the old boy who had the Cockpit Classroom? Was it Mr Henderson? That's where I first met a wobble pump, used for had priming the engines of this bit of Beaufighter. It was cunningly placed in the wheel bay so that when the engine fired the unfortunate operating the pump got a faceful of oil from the bottom cylinder exhaust.

Do you remember all the Swifts that were Cat 5 instructional at the Airfield? I seem to recall that Swifts had a problem that when the guns were fired, the shock waves caused the engine to surge, so they were ithdrawn from service. One the less-popular Airfield instructors cheered us all up when the Swift he was operating at max thrust jumped the chocks and pranged a hangar.

The First Airfield Phase, or whatever it was called, involved learning about picketing, crash recovery, safety harnesses, including the Type M.(yet another prize!) It was winter and marching down to the airfield through frozen puddles and getting the coke stove to work were all character-building experiences. But who were the instructors?

The NCO i/c our workshop was Sgt Diamond. He used to tell us to sweep the workshop floor absolutely thoroughly because ' my crown's there somewhere!'. I met him again as my Pilot Officer Flight Commander at Station Flight at St Athan.

The riggers used to tell us the story of one of their instructors, George Ward. A line-shooter if there ever was. One his lines was the occasion when there was some problem on the Spitfire. George explained that it could only be solved by the two best riggers in the RAF. Continuing he would say, 'When me and my brother got there……etc etc.'

If you have any comments on the articles, or just want to say 'Hi!' to old friends please CONTACT US.

Your comments will be published on our FEEDBACK PAGE.