What are the chances of spotting a letter of Air Cadet interest and in so doing, establishing communications with an ex-cadet from the 1950s? Well that is exactly what happened when the OC of 2210 (Cowley) squadron, Flight Lieutenant Nigel Furlong spotted an article in the Oxford Mail.
The letter to the paper was written by 70 year old Mr Bryan Cole, formerly of Oxford but, since 1975 a resident of Adelaide, South Australia. In his subsequent letter to Flight Lieutenant Furlong he said:
My letter came about because I was copying all my family photos to my computer to be able to copy them to a DVD. The photos of summer camp 1956 with our Squadron, Number 2210 brought back many memories of my time with the ATC at Cowley that was on Marston road opposite a church.
There were two large huts, one was for 150 (Oxford City) Squadron and the other was for 2210 (Cowley) Squadron, at the time I was only 13 years old and I always felt that 150 Squadron was more elite than ours, but 2210 (Cowley) was always the one for me, maybe it was just rivalry between the two Squadrons?
The attached photographs were taken at summer camp at RAF North Weald, Epping, Essex in 1956, which I think was a very important World War 2 airbase, there were several other ATC Squadrons from all over the UK there at the same time. The Spitfire in the background is a Mark 17, 2 seater, and whilst we were there, there was a lottery as to who would get a flight in that aircraft, as this was to be its last flight, alas, I didn`t win it, had I have done so, it would really made my day/ life, as the spitfire was my favourite aircraft, O well. During WW2 this aircraft call sign was `BONGO`
From my memory, there were several WW2 aircraft at North Weald, including bombers and jets etc, happy days indeed. Our CO was Flight Lieutenant Saunders, he came about as a very good leader, and was very approachable but the one I remember most was `Woodie` Sergeant Wood, I remember him as a very tough guy, and you feared him, but respected him at the same time, but I liked him as a person.
I do remember going to RAF Abingdon using my ATC passbook and getting to see many aircraft, mostly Beverleys, as Abingdon was the parachute training school for the RAF. We did get a flight in a Beverley, this was a circuit and bump thing, and we were placed in the upper part near the tailfin, we were strapped into our seat, and told, in no uncertain terms to remain seated and strapped in, because the rear door would be open, and parachutists would be jumping out, over Bicester I think, something that I will never forget.
We also (two of us) went to RAF Benson, where the Queens Flight was based, we were shown around, but not much at the time was restricted, but we did get an hour long flight in an Anson, and I was allowed to sit in the Co-pilot`s seat for most of that flight, I don`t recall where that flight went to, but you would not be able to that these days.