A Boy Entrant
Myself in the Initial Training Squadron
              at Cosford
                                                           
(Myself  2nd row from the front 6th from the left. This and the other formal photograph of the entry I had never previously seen until they were provided by Tony Bussey some 58 years later!)
The 22nd Entry Airframe tradesmen. (part A)
My friend Sid Cannell (left) and myself at Farnborough air show in 1955. (Sid passed away recently RIP).
The famous Avro Anson at RAF Woodvale Summer camp.
(Sadly all the remaining photo's I took of a memorable low level flight across the Mersey to Blackpool never came out. I still had a lot to learn about  photography!)
Myself at St Athan
       aged 16.
Left to right Front row.
Derek Teal, ?, Dave Ray, Ginger Turner, Roy Memott.
Left to right back row.
Vic Hallin, Jock Shearer, Mick Trescothic,Bill Pither
Sid Cannell, Eddy Summers,Tony Bussey.
Boys will be boys!
Sid Cannell & Eddy Summers
Tony Bussey & Bill Pither
Ginger Turner & Derek Teal
I think this may be the final 22nd entry passing out photograph taken at St Athan around December 1955. Myself second row far Right. Not looking very happy! The reason for that was I had failed part of my final technical examination. This meant that I was relegated to the 23rd entry for a further 3 months training. Sadly I did not take part in the 22nd entry passing out parade shown below.
The extra training was to no avail and I failed yet again to pass out with number 23 entry! By this time feeling very despondent at my lack of progress, I was posted in early 1956 as a lowly Aircraftsman to my first proper RAF camp, RAF Swinderby near Newark. Swinderby was a flying training school operating Vampire Mk'5, 9 and T11 aircraft.
I was employed on second line rectification and under the ever watchfull gaze of my mentor an elderly ex wartime Corporal I started to really learn the practical elements of my trade!
In late 1953 at the age of 15 I was due to leave my Secondary Modern school to start my working life. The County Schools Youth Employment officer told me about the RAF Boy Entrant scheme which seemed to be suitable as my ambition was to join the Royal Air Force. However there was a problem, the minimum age for joining was 15 and a half! Luckily my headmaster who was ex RAF was delighted that I was interested in joining up. He obtained special permission from the County Education Authority for me to remain at school until I reached the required age.

In the Spring of 1954 I submitted the relevant application paper work and was told to attend RAF Cosford for interview and aptitude tests. I was assessed as most suitable to become an Airframe mechanic. I wasn't actually sure what that entailed but no matter I was to be trained to work on Aircraft!

June 1954 saw me return to Cosford for my Attestation and initial training as a member of number 22nd entry.  In reality I don't think I realised exactly what I had let myself in for. I had no experience of any kind of military training or of being part of such a huge organisation.  I was unbelievably proud when I put on uniform for the first time but the drill and discipline that went with it was another matter!

After completing the initial training, learning to march, make my bed and look after my kit, I started my technical training proper. The various courses came thick and fast, Basic workshop practice, the use of tools, metal work, hydraulics, Pneumatics, wheels tyres and brakes, components, flying controls, Aerodynamics etc. Then I started the most enjoyable part, actually working on aircraft. (ground training aircraft). In the midst of all this the RAF decided that Airframe and Engine trainees would be moved in 1955 from RAF Cosford to RAF St Athan in South Wales!
The 22nd Entry Airframe tradesmen. (part B)
My Fight Sergeant at Swinderby encouraged me to take the local promotion examinations for my trade. I was delighted when I passed with flying colours!  Having settled in and made some good friends I was now enjoying my first taste of the real RAF as a Senior Aircraftsman. A few months went by and once again I had a push from my Flight Sergeant! This time he had managed to get me a place on the Airframe Fitters course at RAF Kirkham, a training unit not far from Blackpool. The course was regarded as the biggest stepping stone to overcome in furthering a technical career. Places on the course were at a premium. and passing the course meant promotion to Junior Technician.
I completed the course and to my amazement passed first time!  Within a year of failing to pass out from the Boy Entrants, I had achieved the rank of Junior Technician. Well ahead of many of the boys in my 22nd entry who had done far better than I in the Boy Entrant exams! In high spirits I returned to RAF Swinderby to continue with my posting.
(All images on this website are Copyright)
A typical barrack hut scene
Sid Cannell
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