Terry (Taff) Blackburn

First posting after Cosford was HQBC at High Wycombe. Tagging along with me were John Cadwallader, Dave Rose, Taff Pritchard & Robin Johnson (I think). Had a great time there as a young airman in the middle of the flower power era.

The fun ended abruptly when I was posted to JCC Bahrain in September 1967. Hopped onto the BOAC sooper dooper VC10 at Heathrow complete with going away party hangover. Did the journey in the company of Steve Atha & Dick Barton.

Bahrain was the pits. Muharraq was our parent unit but we were billeted with the army at Bahrain Garrison. Our billet was right next to the office of the Garrison Sergeant Major, who put the shits up everyone as he was a Guardsman about 8 foot ninety tall, complete with waxed moustache.

JCC was situated at the RN naval base, HMS Jufair. There never seemed to be a quiet moment at work what with Aden going full tilt. We seemed to be up to our ears in tape most of the time and I recall that moral amongst the troops was rock bottom. Someone told me that an army guy threw himself off his balcony (upper floor) a few days before I arrived.

As Aden was closing down, 22TSU relocated to Masirah. A notice went around JCC asking for volunteers to join the unit. There was a mad rush by all the telegs to put their names down. I was one of the lucky ones & ended up flying down on New Years Eve 1967 along with Dick Barton, Steve Atha, Gerry Dowden, Dave Amos and Ginge Clegg .

Masirah was a good crack. Dave Amos & I were detached to the commcen as they were understaffed. Meanwhile 22TSU relocated to Sharjah, leaving Dave & I behind. One of many good memories of the island was the NAAFI manager who on checking his stock of tins of lager that had been brought up from Aden decided that their sell by date had expired and so dumped the whole consignment in the oggin just off the jetty in 2 metres of water. Snorkeling immediately became the most popular sport on the island.

In May 1968 our unit realised they were two guys short, so Dave & I left our island paradise and off to Sharjah we trotted. My only regret about Sharjah is not having any photos of my time there as we all looked the biz on 22TSU with our desert cam landrovers and arab headdress - Lawrence of Arabia would have been proud of us.

Two other telegs I remember at Sharjah with us were Dennis Rock & "Kit" Kitchen, both of the 302nd Entry. By the way, does anyone remember the Tree Restaurant in the town???

All in all, my year in the Gulf was ok as it was evenly split between Bahrain, Masirah & Sharjah. I think that if I had spent the whole year in Bahrain I would have cracked. I'm sure I met Bob Mace & Maxie Maxwell at Muharraq the night before I flew home,

Back to High Wycome in November 1968 (now HQSTC). Two years screened posting this time. Ginge Clegg & Gerry Dowden were there as well. Yes Gerry, I do remember your Mini !!. I bought an Austin A40 van for 25 (my first car) but its roadworthiness didn't last long. It ended up in our car park as the resident passion wagon.. Ginge Clegg married a Wraf called Pauline in 1970 in Manchester with yours truly as best man. I also tied the knot in 1970 & moved off camp to a bed sit next door to a pub (handy) near the village of Lacey Green. Best memories of Wycombe were the Henley Royal Regatta, a great venue for the quaffing of copious amounts of Wethered 's of Marlow bitter & the USAF base at Dawes Hill where the booze was ridiculously cheap.

Jan 1971 & off to Gibraltar. The border was closed & the Rock being isolated, made its own entertainment. Recreational & social clubs sprung up overnight. Social life was really good. I was working in the Flight watch Centre inside the Rock & accessed via the naval Base. I lived in a hiring in town so had little to do with the RAF camp, most of my free time being spent with RN & Civvy type people. A few names for you telegs. Our Flight Watch Boss was Sgt Jim Duckworth (ex Cosford instructor) assist ed by Cpl Pete Conlan . Other names I remember from Gib were Dave Newman of 303, Jimmy Ford (309th) who was also at 38gp with me and the (in)famous Cpl Norman Thorley who all Telegs must remember as one of their Instructors at Cosford.

Left Gibraltar in July 1973, posted to 38GP TCW at Benson. Met up with, amongst others, Al Joplin, Mick Atkins (who for some reason forgotten by me was known as Frankie Abbot) and Phil Hill who had reached the dizzy heights of Cpl. Mick Atkins was never keen on flying and when we took him to Brize Norton to catch his flight on being posted to Hong Kong, he refused to board the aircraft and so was placed in cells. Mick ended up in the looney ward at RAF Wroughton. They used to wire him up and sent him aloft in an aircraft to try to figure out the problem. Eventually they gave up and medically discharged him. Last I knew he was working for the Medway Port Authority.

By the summer of 1974 I came to the conclusion that the RAF did not intend to promote me in the foreseeable future, so bought myself out and having made a lot of contacts during my stay in Gib, I decided to head back to the Rock to see if I could make a future there.

For two years I managed a café during which time my daughter was born (1975). The marriage broke down and I went walkabout during 1976. I spent a short time working on yacht renovation on the French Riviera.Got a free lift back to the UK by assisting in bringing a yacht back overland. Caught the ferry to Jersey and worked as a barman for 3 months before going to doss down with my brother in Brighton. Couldn't find suitable employment for the life of me and then one day by a sheer stroke of luck, I spotted an old freighter in Shoreham harbour and recognised it from Gibraltar. Found out I knew the Skipper & 1st mate, so scrounged a lift back to Gibraltar in November 1976.

Worked in construction and met Sheila in 1977.Tied the knot for the second time in 1980. No 1 son, Andrew, was born in 1982 & is currently studying at Southampton University. I started my own property care & pest control company in 1983. Got drunk at a Burns Night Supper in 1992, the result being nine months later the birth of my second son. No choice but to name him Robert, after the Bard.

Had a few heart attacks during 2000 which resulted in visits to Intensive Care and Two trips to St Mary's hospital in Paddington for angioplastys. Took the doctor's advice and kicked the 40 a day habit.

Only 303rd'ers I've met since leaving the RAF were Clive Anstis when he was in Gibraltar around 1983. Met up with Ginge Clegg when he was on holiday on the Costa del Sol and visited the Rock for a day. Also met Dave Males in the mid eighties via my father in law, Flt Lt Bill Peden who was stationed at Reindahlen. Dave if you read this, regret to inform you that Bill died 11 May this year.

Well guys, that's it from me. I've promised Gerry Linstead that I'll try to find some old photos. Gerry, if you want to put my ugly mug in the Rogues Gallery but you can't remember what I look like, on the Entry photo, I'm 8th from the right, back row, between Mick Baker & Taff Pritchard.

Will visit the site regularly to see if any more of the Entry surface.

Best wishes to you all

Terry (Taff) Blackburn
June 2002