Before I start telling of my experiences I will explain a little about the terms used, RTDF - Radio Telephone Direction Finding, which I think is self explantory.
Homer---when aircraft flew off from airfields they
would need bearings to return especially in cloud,fog etc. The word
homer describes perfectly the equipment used to guide them 'home'.
Airfields had static homers usually sited in line with runways so
that the bearings they gave would be roughly in line for landings.
In my case we had a mobile homer with the equipment housed inside
and the direction finding aerials would project through the roof.
I tried to locate my old RAF pals but without success, a pity as I have lots of photos from that time. So where do I start? I was quite keen to get in the 'mob' and was determined to make the most of it, I wanted a job that had something to do with aircraft so when RTDF was mentioned I fell for it--although it was 3 years. Not to worry I thought--whats another year with a little bit more money. I reported to Cardington where we were kitted out, got to know RAF procedures and down the pub most nights. What a jolt to the system on arrival at W.Kirby, this was early November 1954 and it was wet and cold.I was in total despair that first week and there was always the thought that if you did'nt come up to scratch--you would be back-flighted. But as you know everyone is in the same boat and towards the end you get confident and things start to look better.
Seeing that photo of the main gate reminded me of
my guard duty stint. I fell asleep in one of those boxes and in
the morning the whole camp was covered in fog. As you know you had
to give a butt salute or present arms to officers arriving in the
morning, I'm afraid a postman on a bike was very happy to get the
full works from me and I'm sure it was a source of amusement to
him coming every day and wonder how the guards would respond. Anyway
after leaving there it was a spot of Xmas leave before going to
Compton Bassett, I do not remember much of my time there other than
going down to the A4 with lots of others to try and hitchhike home
Stradishall, again not a lot to remember except being driven out to the Homer for live practice, there were a lot of aircraft there mostly Meteors and Vampires. At some point we were given a card to fill out, we had to give 6 choices of posting and my first choice was the far east then the middle east and so on until I was just left with the sixth choice. 'Put down home posting' said a sergeant. Well you guessed it I got home and my pal who had put that as his first choice and he got Hong Kong! I think they did it deliberately. Everyone looked on the map--some had got glamour postings--Biggin, Tangmere etc. I got Pucklechurch, Pucklechurch? even the sergeant did'nt know where it was, but it was eventually found and is near Bristol. When I reported there I could see hangers but no airfield (apparently it was an old WW two balloon station) Pucklechurch was a ground radio servicing station and I was told to report there but nobody seemed to know what to do with me so I just tried to lose myself and avoid NCO's.
Len atop the Homer ------------Len on the left with me right.
We reported to the tower and then had a brew-up both very shaken. Later we both jumped as the door was opened and there was the pilot who came in and said how sorry he was etc and as he left he said he could'nt help laughing as he had seen us both jump out and disappear in the grass!