My Dad & the RAF Regiment

My Dad, Gilbert voluntarily joined the Royal Air Force in February 1939 and was posted to Port Talbot to do his basic training of 2 months square bashing and learning not to call Sargeants "Sir". During this time he was ear marked as being suitable to become an air gunner and was discovered to be a bit of a good shot with a Lee Enfield 303 rifle.

After his 2 months basic he was sent home on leave and told he would be recalled soon - everyone by then had worked out there probably was going to be another war!

Eventually he was recalled to duty in September 1939 and once again posted to Port Talbot, where it was quickly discovered that he was actually no good as an air gunner (suffered from vertigo) but was still a damn good shot on the ground, was a good driver and good at fixing things. So he was sent to Musketry School (I kid you not....that is what it was still called in 1939) to learn all about all sorts of hand held weapons including machine guns, tommy guns, rifles, pistols and revolvers.

When he qualified from Musketry School in early 1940 he was kept at the Port Talbot base (he said it was coincidence that he a) loved the beer and b) was winning the local pub darts league) and was assigned to the airfield protection squad. He quickly rose to be a Corporal in charge of part of the airfield. Airfield security at that time was handled by ordinary members of the RAF who had been given infantry type training (at the School of Musketry).

Dad continued in the Airfield Security role until late 1941 when 2 things happened that are no doubt linked - he got busted from Corporal and did not join the RAF Regiment that formally came into existance on 1st February 1942. The RAF Regiment was specifically formed to provide Airfield Defence and took over the duties of the local airforce personnel who were doing this - including my Dad.

Dad survived the busting down and eventually ended up as a Sargeant and got re-trained to do another vital, but dangerous airfield job - he was a fireman and had to rescue pilots from crashed and burning aircraft, but more of that in another article at a later date.