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Unit History: RAF Bridgnorth

RAF Bridgnorth
RAF Bridgnorth was a Royal Air Force Station, created on 6 November 1939, at Stanmore, to the East of Bridgnorth, Shropshire, England. However, as RAF Stanmore Park already existed in Middlesex, it was named RAF Bridgnorth. Although during its existence, various static aeroplanes were displayed as Gate Guardians, RAF Bridgnorth never had a runway.
 
The first unit stationed there was No.4 Recruit Centre. Their role was to carry out the basic training of new recruits in the RAF. In 1940 spare accommodation at Bridgnorth enabled it to be used as a transit and kitting out centre for troops returning from France. In 1941 the Station was renamed No.1 Women’s Auxiliary Air Force Depot involved with the training of W.A.A.F. recruits. 1942 saw another change of name to the No.1 Elementary Air Navigation School. Other changes subsequent took place as dictated by the needs of the war effort.
 
Post World War II
 
Only after the war ended in 1945 could the Station revert to its original task of providing basic training to recruits, as the No.7 School of Recruit Training. It retained that name until closure in 1963. The unit badge carries the motto “This is the gate, the walls are men.”
 
On Armistice Sunday 6 November 1949, a massed parade of 3,400 men supported the Mayor of Bridgnorth. In April 1950 the Borough of Bridgnorth granted RAF Bridgnorth the Freedom of Entry to the town. It was the first RAF Station to be granted Freedom of Entry in the U.K. On 7 June 1951, RAF Bridgnorth exercised it’s right for the first time* to march through the town, via the North Gate, with bayonets fixed, drums beating and colours flying. A Lancaster flew overhead. That was only possible after the RAF Service had received the Kings Colours on 26 May 1951.
 
Tens of thousands of recruits passed through Bridgnorth for their initial eight weeks training or ‘square bashing’ as it was called. Very few remained unaffected by the experience and many, even sixty years later, remember it well. For many it was their first time away from home and it became their first step into the wide world. Former recruits and Permanent Staff are now found scattered throughout the world.
 
The Station closed down on Friday 8 February 1963. A Commemorative plaque was unveiled on the former ’3’ Wing mess hall / cook house chimney on 28 May 1994. That’s in the part of the former RAF Station that’s now a Country Park.

Memories of RAF Bridgnorth

(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)

RAF Bridgnorth in 1954

Written by Peter Went

I was posted to Bridgnorth around July 1954, to work in the Station Sick Quarters as a Medical Orderly. I had responsibility for a Ward. I was medicine deliverer, cleaner and general dogsbody. I cannot imagine anyone got well on that Ward!
My main memory in Sick Quarters relates to our Senior Medical Officer, a Squadron Leader (D.L Stoker) I can still see him warming his hands on a radiator before examining a patient. That minor event has lived with me down the years. I still wonder what happened to the doctor and whether he is still alive. Does anyone know?
My home town was Wolverhampton. When not on duty I would travel back and forth, by bus in the winter and by bike during the summer. I would often bike ride with a chinese lad from Wolverhampton, his parents ran a chinese laundry. Does anyone remember him?
One of the worst results of an accident I saw happened at a local Riding School. I think the lad had been pushing a horse from behind when the horse kicked out and smashed the lad's face in. He was in a horrible state. His face looked like nothing more than pulp. Months later he came back on the Stationwith a well stitched face. I wonder what he looks like now!

Basic Training ,RAF bridgnorth 1960 in 1960

Written by Geoffrey Pallett...changed name to Powell after leaving raf.

I remember going to Cardington like a lot of others and being kitted out, after about 14 days I think undergoing aptitude tests and various interviews ,we were prepared for the journey to recruit training at a place I never heard of called Bridgnorth ,and I remember I had been employed on the railway as a porter and I had a thing about creases in my trousers , so when I went to bed at night I put them folded under the mattress and when I took them out from underneath the mattress in the morning they were impressed with the pattern of crossed wires from the wire bed. So much for that I could not wait to get some sort of crease in them which occurred at Bridgnorth.I got my parents to post an electric iron, Yes I remember well the packed sandwiches in heavy grease proof paper and the passing countryside on my way to Bridgnorth, it was october 1960 and I thought the journey would never end. Ever since I came out of the service I have pressed my trousers three times a week, despite being married 40 yrs I have never had the wife do them.About Bridgnorth like a lot of others we arrived on a bus from the station and I thought I had entered a lunatic asylum banging the sides of the vehicle shouting etc.escorted to a billet, I thought certainly in later years looking back the huts were not decimilar to a prisoner of war camp.However we settled in, and soon made aquaintences,fused solid friendships as like the TITANIC we were all in the same boat, looking back I do wonder how I got through it but I was never so fit as when I left there, I remember also the fatigue duties in the kitchens, and when I am doing the veg preperation at home my mind drifts back, About square bashing we had a corporal who seemingly was cross eyed and he called me out(SEE PHOTOGRAPH ON BRIDGNORTH SITE) and three others stepped out and were promtly ordered back in line, he gave me sixpence and told me to fetch him a fizzy drink at the double, I did this and on my arrival back I handed it to him and he gave me another sixpence.I said I dont want that corporal , its a pleasure ,to which he replied ,its not for you ,you idiot fetch another one for my mate, I thought you B......, but did as I was told and put it down to experiance and that is when I grew up.I remember the innoculations and giving blood, I collapsed on the parade ground shortly after and was put in sick qts I needed The blood putting back I think,but it never was. The music I remember was played every night while bulling our kit was Elvis ,Its now or never ,I thought how appropiate, after 8 weeks I went on trade training and joined a Bomb Disposal Sqdn 5131 to be exact, and went to Goldsborough north yorks and worked out in that bad winter 62 clearing the area of UXBs and variants which is now Fylingdales .I am now 66 , anyone who remembers me I am SAC Geoffrey Pallett, hut 206 18 flt B sqdn RAF Bridgnorth. Oct 1960, other stations were Holbeach lincs, Lyneham Wilts,I think the RAF days were wonderful and it gave me an education and on leaving I went into the medical profession ,private practice and just retired after 40 years.so thank you RAF for putting me on the right track. left 1963.anyone out there do send an email ..many thanks.... geoff

, , , raf bridgnorth 3 flight a squadron in 1960

Written by hylton sleightholme

i remember brian allison breaking his rifle on parade in manchester
i was in hut 42 i think on arrival cpl french was drill instructor but was posted for kicking a recruits boots he was replaced by cpl akeman cpl french played guitar with cpl nolan

, raf bridgnorth 3 flight a squadron in 1960

Written by hylton sleightholme

i remember brian allison breaking his rifle on parade in manchester

, RAF Bridgnorth in 1960

Written by Ian Cheal

I remember my second evening at basic training, we were all in our hut bulling up our brand new kit when a police corporal came in and asked for me. You can imagine it, new recruit being wanted by the police, what is this all about? Anyway he took me outside and would you believe it, his oppo was only my former workmate in the garage where we had both been apprentices! He was a bit older than me and was doing his national service in the RAF police. We had a good old chat before I went back to the billet.
When I did go back in all the lads wanted to know what it had been about and they hardly believed me when I gave them the answer! That was the last time I saw my mate, don’t know where he is now!
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3

Active From: 1939 - 1963

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