CCF-related photos are on the Gallery page.
The Wymondham College Army Cadet Force (ACF) was founded in June 1962 by Mr. K.G. Swann (Science) and an initial contingent of 100 boys. Mr Swann had been a navigator in Lancaster bombers during WW2 and once suffered had a crash landing, when, at that moment, his wife woke up with a premonition that something had happened. He assumed the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and was soon Joined by Major Staveley (Geography teacher).
The 1962 College Magazine said "On Friday the 1st of June 1962, at Wymondham College, it was possible to see a most unusual sight. The tarmacadam tennis courts [next to the MDH - Ed.] were covered, not with elegant girls in tennis attire, but with rather ungainly boys dressed in grey flannels and blazers, being shouted at by two male members of the College Teaching Staff. This was the first occasion on which the majority of the boys had ever had cause to do any Army Drill and they were doing it here, at school, voluntarily, and apparently enjoying it."
The Armoury, at the end of Hut 38 - former Hospital padded room
The small building at the end of hut 38 was used as an armoury by the original ACF and was considered a good place for a crafty smoke if you had a key (I had one). The ACF had a night exercise in the College grounds (possibly 1963), with lots of blank ammunition and thunder flashes. I seem to remember that no one told the warden at Morley Hall (approved school) about it and he was not best pleased.
Building 37 was the hospital padded cell for severe mental cases. When we opened it up in 1962 for use as the armoury for the newly-created ACF, the padding was intact, albeit yellow/brown and smelly (due to damp).
I was recently reminded by Trevor Dodd that when we, as first intake, were issued with smelly and prickly battle-dress (in the old Club building's table tennis room) there were 20-year-old dog ends in the pockets. We smoked them of course. I quit at the earliest opportunity (after a mandatory 1 year?)
I remember the ACF. Why I ever joined I'll never know! I left by mutual agreement after Lance Corporal Trevor Corless ordered me (and others) to charge the "enemy" across open ground and get "shot" ... I'm pleased to say I sat in the ditch and stayed "alive"!
Captain Swann (of the funny finger and Biology Dept.) understood my dilemma at refusing to obey such a stupid order and suggested that we should part company. Later it was useful to describe this incident to get myself off the hook at a Royal Navy interview panel. I was never meant to take orders of that ilk. Wasn't John Hambelton Armourer? I remember him well as being able to run just about anyone into the ground on cross-countries! BTW, he sat in the ditch with me! How come he got his stripe(s)?
The ACF evolved into the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) with the addition of RAF and Navy sections in about 1966. The RAF section was run by Pilot Officer 'Big' Jim 'Flo' Hibbert (Gloucester - physics and general good bloke) and the Navy section was led by Sub Lieutenant 'Spike' Millington (York - German and also good bloke). We seem to have already agreed that Captain 'Doc' Staveley (Canterbury? - geography) who ran the Army bit and who was overall head of the CCF was a good bloke too so there was definitely a pattern there!
Myself and Brian Ellis (Salisbury) joined the RAF section. I ended up as a Sergeant and passed my proficiency exams with distinction so ended up mostly lecturing the junior cadets for their exams.
We had some fun summer camps at RAF Ouston near Newcastle. The very first time in my life I got totally rat-arsed was when Ireland (Salisbury) and I went on a pub crawl in Newcastle and then staggered back to the camp. We were so pissed that we accidentally entered the camp over the fence and across the grass (passing close to a load of jets standing around ) rather than though the main gate. The RAF police saw us and we caused some sort of security alert apparently. Hibbert gave us a roasting but luckily did not report us to Metcalfe for a caning.
When I handed in my stripes so I could concentrate on getting the high grades I needed to get into Bristol, Flight Sergeant Pincott and Seeley gave me the third degree and said they expected me to go to Cranwell so would I reconsider etc. etc., but I stuck to my guns (pun intended). Pincott was a full time RAF guy who came to the College on cadet nights and talked always about the Spitfire Rollsh Roysh (see Dave Goman section) Merlin engines he had worked on in the war (his daughter Kay was a college pupil).
We also had fun shooting weekends at Horsford range when we would drink gallons of beer, smoke lots of fags and then be let loose with a Bren machine gun or .303 Lee Enfield rifle which can kill at a mile and a half. Amazingly we all lived to tell the tale!
'Duckie' Hall (Gloucester - French? ) joined the RAF section for a while but just couldn't 'cut it' and was scruffier than any of the cadets so did he not last long. Flying and gliding at Swanton Morley were the great things really.
"Ducky" Hall, Gloucester, was a Pilot Officer for a short while. I remember him on a Sunday Range shoot at Horsford one Xmas - totally wrecked! Saunders (Gloucester again) was a Navy section officer. Then there was Mr Wiltshire, a metalwork teacher I believe, who got killed in car crash 1968/9. He was another Naval section officer. Finally Capt Goss. I believe he worked for Muz in hut 34, being admin staff rather than a teacher.
Yep - the Cadet Force Officers were in the main OK guys.
I can remember going on the gliding at Tibbenham with the ACF, the actual flight was free but we had to pay 5/- (I think it was) for insurance cover. Thoroughly enjoyed it but the take-off (by winch) was a bit scary!
On one of the visits to the Thetford?? range (or it might have been on the 2 day camp at Weybread) we had the opportunity to fire the GPLMG (general purpose light machine gun). We were instructed how to lie down behind it with out feet together and toes dug into the ground. The front was supported on a bipod. Interestingly, unlike a rifle for example, the MG had negative recoil and if you weren't in the correct position would pull you forwards. We only used it set to single shot, however, once the
barrel got too hot it switched to automatic fire. We were all lying in a row facing the targets which had a high bank behind with large white wooden numbers fixed to the top to indicate which target lane you were in. After several rounds of firing, one lad started his firing (on single shot) but suddenly found that the gun had switched to automatic. Being of fairly small stature he was unable to hold the gun in position and the butt of the weapon slowly sank to the ground, a stream of bullets ploughed its way up the bank until it reached the number on the top and then stopped and commenced to shred it! (The lad had let go of the trigger but being overheated it just kept on firing!) Fortunately the magazines only held 20 bullets!
The Tale Of A Jolly Little Boat (or should that be a Little Jolly Boat).
Recently I had cause to be looking on the internet for some research information and I came across a picture of an RN Fleet Tender called Cawsand (picture attached) - dim and very distant memories stirred.....Some time around 1975 (give or take a year) the Navy Section of the CCF arranged for a week's "cruising" off the Scottish Isles. Open to all, this would not be your usual namby-pamby stuff, but an experience and a chance to be learned in things nautical - of course, being RAF cadets, we jumped at the chance. Can't remember all of the bunch, but it included "Dutch" Holland, Steve Roebuck and Grant Scott. After a lengthy train haul to Greenock, we boarded our transport of delight, the doughty Fleet Tender Cawsand, which would be our home and were shown to our bunks - down in what looked like the hold, with no windows for reference (not good for those who haven't got sea legs). We also found that the crew all spoke some gutteral langauge (jock) that we couldn't understand and didn't wear bootlaces so they could get footwear off quicker if they found themselves in the sea (although half of them couldn't swim anyway). Never mind - a quick crash course in Navy-speak ("Heads", "Focs'le" etc.) and we soon got the hang of it. We chugged around the Isle of Bute, Arran, Tarbert, Campbeltown and had a great time. We learned a bit of navigation (useful for not hitting rocks and things), that working in an engine room sends you deaf (whaaat???), that the funnel makes a great mortar when loaded with spuds, that going down to Campbeltown in a Force 8 is only exhilarating if you are up on deck, and that those whistling tubes to send voice messages can really get on your nerves. I also remember Steve Roebuck standing at the front of the boat as we entered Tarbert harbour saying we were going to crash into a small fishing boat ahead of us...Oh no we wer..."CRASH!" Watching the two captains then going at it widened even our vocabulary! As for me - I was never truly convinced of the Navy's cramped living spaces - several visits to HM ships since then has not altered that view, but I've always appreciated their hospitality.
Wymondham College Remembered