Special thanks to Dave Westall – RAF Halton Triennial Reunion 2013
I had another great time at the 2013 RAFHAA Triennial at RAF Halton on the 21st September 2013 in the company of 6 other ex-210th Entry, a special thank you to Dave Westall for spending most of the 2 days with me. It was great to meet him again after all this time; he was one of the team that used to help me with my brasses for my kit inspections whilst on “Jankers”.
I was coming out of the guardroom after collecting my barrack block experience door key and as I was stepping aside to let this guy in he said “Are you Ozzy?” He had an advantage over me as he had seen my photo on the website and he knew I had turned into a fat old wrinkly but I could not recognise him as he now had a beard. He hasn’t changed much at all and after looking at the photos you will see what I mean, “Should have gone to Spec-Savers”. I waited for him to collect his key for the barrack block, when he came out with his key we were both disappointed to find we were in different blocks but as we had booked at different times we could understand it would have been difficult to arrange everyone’s accommodation in Entry’s. It might be a good idea for next year as we might need a whole floor of rooms.
After unpacking our cases we met up later and spent a quiet night in the RAF Halton Sargent’s Mess. The staff were as good as ever and the prices were even better. We were very lucky to get a lift down to the mess and another back, both were different drivers, thank you to both of them, the guy who took us back up to 3 Wing used to be a weapons instructor in the workshops, I can only remember his surname began with a “B”, must be old age or something.
Dave and I met in the RAF Halton airman’s mess the next morning, quite by chance again; I was 2 people away from him in the queue, so I guess we were destined to meet up early. After a very good breakfast we walked down to the other RAF Halton guardroom to hand our keys in and then wandered up the “HILL” to the RAF Halton guardroom to sign in for the 2013 RAF Halton Triennial Reunion. We both reminisced about the good old days marching up and down the hill but Dave had marched up and down the hill more so than me because I never used to do it that often, especially on the way down in the morning. I used to sleep in and wait until everyone had left the block to assemble on the parade square for the march down the hill behind the band to the workshops or schools. It used to be great when everyone had left as there were no queues for the ablutions. I would then go down past the RAF Halton gym and make my way along to the shop and buy my chocolate for the day and finally meet up with everyone at workshops. I only ever got caught the once and then the “Duty Screw” told me to get off to workshops and not do it again, as if. Thinking back I was a bit of a rebel but hey I wouldn’t change a thing.
Dave and I went to the museum and took a few photos of all of the items, what a collection there is; it is really worth a visit. We then went to the “Indoor Marching Hall”, that would have been nice in our day but then we didn’t mind getting a little wet. It would have been way too hot indoors anyway, especially running around with a Lee Enfield 303 above your head.
Dave Westall’s dad, Sam Westall, was also an ex-apprentice at RAF Halton, he was in the 48th Entry RAF Halton. We went over to meet 3 of the gentlemen from that entry and they all remembered Sam as he used to be a great guy and he had his own gramophone, I think they may have meant one of those wind up ones. We then saw Harry McNeil looking at the empty space that was our meeting point in the hall. He looked a bit disappointed that he seemed to be the only one there. He soon cheered up when we introduced ourselves, I met him on the last RAF Halton Triennial Reunion when there was a grand total of 7 and a late comer making only 8 from our big entry. There was only 7 this year, we’ll have to do a bit better next time or have our own 210th Reunion, which would be an excellent idea giving us more time to reminisce and even have a drink or two. There were only six of us when Dusty noticed somebody walking around looking lost but with the brilliant idea of sticking a note in his breast pocket with those great numbers “210” on it. It was Paul Smith who was with us for a short time on 3-wing before returning back to Civvie Street. He remembered he used to play squash with one of the guys from our entry and that this guy was one of the top 3 shots in the UK before he joined the RAF. Well that guy was me but time seems to have altered one of the facts. We did play squash together and I eventually became the number one player at RAF Halton for the remainder of my time there. I may have been in the top 3 shots in the UK, I do not know, but I was definitely in the top hundred as I had been in the ATC, 1908 Bootle Squadron, and we had a very good rifle team, both .22 and .303 teams in fact. I gained a “Cadet Hundred” at the 1966 Bisley Championships. I remember Sgt Maxwell who ran the shooting club wanting me for the rifle team but I wanted to play squash. Anyway I am off subject again, back to RAF Halton.
Our DI at RAF Halton this year actually said “Fall in gentlemen PLEASE” when I pointed out to him that he had said please he said “I only say it once”, I fell in quickly, time seems to have made me obedient.
I took lots of photos of the reunion at RAF Halton, CLICK HERE. I took so many that I had to compress them all. If anyone wants better quality photos just contact me and I’ll send them via email.
I also have a site called EXBRAT.COM, take a look and possibly write a short letter or send some of your old photos from RAF Halton or any from wherever they where taken.