A Canadian In The Regiment  

The following article was published in the RAF Regiment Magazine about the Autumn of 1965.



By LAC Bacon – No. 1 (LAA) Squadron


It was a hot windy morning on the docks, Montreal, Canada. The ship, The Empress of England, which I was in process of boarding would soon deposit me in Liverpool, England. A few hours passed, then whistles blew and recorded band music came over the ships public address system. I was on my way. Thousands of streamers were attached to the dock and, as we pulled away, each one separated until the last link with Canada was gone.


The crossing of the Atlantic was fairly routine, no storms and very little fog. There was something laid on for entertainment every night, but six days of spoon fed entertainment gets a bit much.


Finally, we arrived at Liverpool. The city of Liverpool gave me the impression of a solid mass of greyness with the sun just barely breaking through the murky sky. After a month or so of knocking around Liverpool area, I decided I had better move or die from some horrible respiratory disease. This led me to take the big step and join the Royal Air Force.


I went to the careers Information Centre in Liverpool to gather some information about the Royal Air Force. The man behind the desk in the blue uniform and handlebar moustache was about the most amiable person I have ever met. He couldn’t do enough for me. He gave me information on all the wonderful and interesting trade groups that were open at the time – these were Nursing Assistant and Trade Assistant General. After looking through the prospects of these fascinating jobs, I decided there must be something at least half decent which one can do in the Royal Air Force. This is when I found out about the Royal Air Force Regiment. Basically, I was looking for something which would give me a fair bit of travel, and a fairly decent job. This the Regiment could provide, at least that is what the friendly man with the moustache told me.


After signing on the dotted line, to donate five years of my precious youth to the Royal Air Force, I was whisked off to Boot Camp. I call it Boot Camp because all I learnt was to shine footwear, press uniforms and force myself into awkward positions on the parade square. After six weeks of inconvenience, during which I remained as inconspicuous as possible to my NCO’s I passed out. I don’t mean physically but I certainly felt like it a few times.


I now had five glorious days leave, which I spent in London, seeing and doing all the things one sees and does in London. The days went all too fast and finally it was time to report to the Regiment Training Depot, Royal Air Force Catterick. All through basic training we poor gunners-to-be were always being reminded of terrors of Catterick, therefore upon arrival we were a bit apprehensive of the place.


The first week at Catterick was spent doing menial tasks while we waited for our course to begin. Finally the starting day of our course arrived, our stone faced NCO’s appeared and immediately  wanted the cement floor of our Secco hut polished. As nothing is supposed to be impossible in the forces we did so. The seven weeks at Catterick can be best summed up by quoting Thomas Alva Edison, “Success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration”, and believe me we perspired. We froze on the moors, sweated in the gym and almost drowned canoeing. The day we awaited most earnestly arrived and we passed out, all of us, which was a general shock.


Our posting came through, nearly everyone of us was going overseas. We were due to leave on January 23rd for the mysterious Far East. So after arriving in England on July 16th, approximately six months later I was on the move again, this time at the expense of the Royal Air Force.


            The trip over here was very interesting with stops at Rome, Beirut, Tehran, New Delhi, and finally Singapore. As we got out at Singapore we were knocked back by a sudden blast of hot humid air. This was our first introduction to the weather for the next two and half years. I and a few others were to go to a place called RAF Butterworth. As no one seemed to be too interested in us, we had a two week holiday in Singapore. Too much of a good thing can get rather trying, so we reported to Air Movements. With a look of surprise Air Movements had us on the next flight to Butterworth, and here I shall expect to stay for a good while.


            There are some fascinating spots for leave in this area. One can enjoy the scenery of the West Coast of Malaysia, visit the impressive city of Kuala Lumpur or just enjoy being in the sunshine. Some misguided individual make the great mistake of not moving farther than their bed space for their whole tour; this is a great folly. As far as I am concerned there is only one place for leave in this area and that is Thialand. If a man has little money he can go to Haadyai, which is just across the Thai – Malay border. In this small town he can enjoy all the exotic pleasure of Thailand at a relatively low cost. If he has saved and planned for his leave there can be no better place than Bangkok, capital of Thailand. Words cannot do justice to this city, one has to see it to appreciate the beauty of its majestic temples, the warm friendliness of the people, and the wild and mysterious places of entertainment at night.


            The Royal Air force Regiment is nearly the best of the Air Force to be in. That is, if you enjoy visiting new and exciting places, doing a type of work that usually involves little routine and receiving a wage that is adequate. Adequate, if you plan your wage wisely to enable you to see all the interesting places in whatever area you might be. Where I shall go after this tour is over, is only known by the Gods. I will have two more years to do, so I hope it is somewhere interesting. I think at the end of this five year period of my life, the desire I have to travel, excitement and unusual will be satisfied and I shall hope to return to a more static type of life back home in Canada.



'Streaky' en route to China Rock from Singapore on board 'Arromanches'