Parades made up a big part of life, while in training as a nursing assistant at RAF Halton. Every few months, we would have the ‘Air Officer Commanding’ Parade and recruits and trainees like us were roped in to attend.
Everything was expected to be polished and ironed steamed and brushed. Any negative remarks from the parade commander about our appearance was NOT a good thing!! I was always on the end of a parade, due to my height as parades were organised by height smallest in the middle and fanning out to the tallest at the end.
The person on the right of the photograph, jaws clenched, anxiously awaiting the officers’ inspection is me.
The Air Officer Commander Parade – May 1966 RAF Halton
RAF Halton a large camp included the Princess Mary’s RAF Hospital on its grounds. It catered to the big RAF population on the station and the local civilians. Many babies from the surrounding towns and villages were born at RAF Halton and during our training period, we spent a few hours a week there to observe and learn.
Christmas 1966 was spent at RAF Halton and what an enjoyable experience. The food, once again superb as you can see from the menu below. One of our duties as trainees, the day before our Christmas dinner, we had to prepare all the vegetables for the meal. I and another girl prepared mounds of Brussel Sprouts all morning! We actually enjoyed ourselves.
The Christmas Menu at RAF Halton, 1966
In January 1967 our course was over and our results posted. We had all passed! I cried tears of relief because I never thought I would pass the exams. We had our official photograph taken with our tutor, Sgt. Constantine in the centre.
I am in the front row on the left of Sgt. Constantine.
The Medical caduseus badges were issued which we proudly pinned to each side of our collars on our ‘Best Blue uniform and on our nurse’s uniforms.
My Medical Pins with The Kings’ Crown, on top.
Our Sgt. Constantine’s had King George VI crowns on his pin signalling he was an ‘old soldier’ At the end of the course, he gave them to me! I still have them. Made of brass, and once again, I had to polish well before photographing!
I started life in the Women’s Royal Air Force, as an ‘ACW’ (Aircraft Woman) however, after this nursing assistant course, I became an LACW (Leading Aircraft Woman) and in the future, I could take additional courses for further advancement. I ended my career as a SACW – Senior Aircraft Woman, nursing assistant.
We had a ‘going away party’ in the local pub with our Sgt. Constantine and the group. Mrs C is sitting front left and I am on the right, with my hand on Sgt. C’s shoulder.
Now, we waited to be posted to another RAF station and start our careers as nursing assistants. Where we would be posted we did not know yet, so once again goodbyes were said and another wait for our next postings which came a few days later.
I was to be posted to the Medical Centre, at RAF Upavon near to the ancient monument Stonehenge in Wiltshire England. RAF Upavon was built in 1912, It was a grass airfield, military flight training school, and administrative headquarters of the Royal Air Force.  and was where I met my future husband.
My RAF romance will be told in Part Four…
Dear Miss Bulford, basic training in the WRAF, can be read here: https://genealogyensemble.com/2020/01/02/dear-miss-bulford/
Dear Miss Bulford – Part Two can be read here: https://genealogyensemble.com/2020/04/22/dear-miss-bulford-part-two/
A Brief History of RAF Halton
Princess Mary’s RAF Hospital Halton was opened in 1927 as a large military hospital and as an institute for pathology and tropical medicine Before that it was a temporary hospital set up for training nurses during the First World War. In 1940, it became the first hospital to use penicillin on a large scale soon after its discovery and introduction into clinical medicine by Flemming, Florey and Chain.
In 1945, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain shared a Nobel Prize with Alexander Fleming Penicillin is one of the most important discoveries in medicine. When peace was declared in 1945, the hospital was kept as a training unit using the best facilities and medical specialists. It later became a specialist burns unit, employing the skills learnt to help victims who suffered during WW2 and the medical units grew alongside the main RAF base.
The hospital closed in 1995 because the MOD (Ministry of Defence) wanted one centralised unit to train military nurses, making the Royal Hospital in Haslar, at Gosport in Hampshire, their main base and the RAF Halton site will be completely closed by 2022.