© Crown Copyright/MOD

Hull's Own Air Force Station

© Crown Copyright/MOD
   

 




On the 7th January 1953 Wing Commander W. R. Beaman became the Commanding Officer of the Station and one month latter Wing Commander D. I. C. Eyres held the post.

Two teams from the RAF School of Fire Fighting and Rescue and representing the RAF, won two major events at the annual Inter-Service Fire Fighting and Rescue Competition and the Inter-Allied Services Competition that was held elsewhere on the 28th August. They successfully beat a Royal Navy in a specially devised Commando Fire fighting exercise, finishing with a time of 164 seconds against the Navy's 211 seconds. The Inter-Allied Competition was in the form of a relay race fighting in turns a series of fires of different types using hand extinguishers. The RAF Team defeated the Royal Canadian Air Force and the United States Air Force.

As well as the weekday morning Parades held on the Square, two more ceremonial events were held annually, one to mark the formation of the RAF on 1st April and the other on 15th September to commemorate the Battle of Britain.

To further mark the 13th anniversary of that battle, RAF Sutton on Hull was "At Home" to the Hull and East Riding public between 2pm and 6pm on Saturday Programme - Battle of Britain Day19th September 1953. The necessary invitation was published in the Hull Daily Mail and a fully manned RAF Fire Tender displaying placards announcing the event was driven along the Hull city roads to encourage the public to "COME UP AND SEE US."

For the prospective visitors, there had been arranged numerous displays in the air and on the ground. The admission was free but with the proceeds going to RAF Charities, numbered Souvenir Programmes were available for the price 1/- (10P). Purchasers were urged to retain them and to remember the number as a Hull Ladies Hairdresser had offered a 3 Permanent Wave to the winner!

A very descriptive report of the afternoon at the Station was published in the Hull Daily Mail for Monday 21st September 1953, which without, the story could not be told and it is fully acknowledged by the author.

Credited to an unnamed Hull Daily Mail Reporter it vividly related the thrills galore for the visitors under a headline of;

"Sutton's imposing tribute to 'the Few' 10,000 Meet the RAF's Minor Diplomats."

Some visitors travelled by bus and train ending their journey on foot, those in cars, on motorcycles and cycles waiting until the appointed time resulted with traffic jams on the narrow country lanes around the Station. The RAF Police and the local Constabulary soon sorted out the tangle allowing the RAF to receive their visitors with assurance, tact and diplomacy suggesting that;

"the airmen were all disguised as butlers and minor diplomats."

After acknowledging the fact that the Station was where the RAF Firemen were trained it was expressed that naturally displays with fire and rescue themes was expected it continued with,

"Casualties" were rescued from a blazing tower, foam extinguisher technique was demonstrated in a supposed (sic) blaze of oil and old airplanes were set afire that they could be "saved" before the crowd's admiring gaze. Admiration was deserved, too, for the trainees moved with that precision and complete assurance which is necessary in a fire-fighting team above all."

Noting the public's voracious taste for flying display and complimenting the organisers the writer described the aircraft that flew over the Station and the reaction from the audience was described as;

"The afternoon's "oohing and aahing" began with low-level runs over the ground by six Lincoln bombers and by four Canberra jet bombers and a breathtaking display of acrobatics by a Meteor jet, apparently unconcerned with the force of gravity. Later, in a more stately fashion, a Chipmunk trainer of Hull University Air Squadron disported over the Airfield (sic), faintly reminiscent of an elderly terrier rolling with dignity of his years, in the grass."

The surprise arrival over the Station of a prototype Blackburn "Beverley" Transport aircraft no doubt interested the spectators because of its local association of being built and flown from nearby Brough Airfield. The paragraph relating that event in 1953 contained sincere feelings;

"There was some especial satisfaction in the reflection that this masterpiece on engineering skill was made not with the intention of blowing people to pieces with bombs, but that it might fetch and carry in the service of development and construction, as well as for the men of war."

The 'Beverley' was described as the largest aircraft when it entered service with the RAF in 1956 and it continued as a transport until 1967. Almost forty years later in the 2006, what is believed to be the last surviving example, can be seen in retirement at Fort Paull, Near Hedon, East Yorkshire.

In the old Balloon Hangars, static displays of equipment were offered dealing with aircraft engines, aircrew safety, radio, photograph and fire fighting. Youngsters could climb upon fire Crash Tenders but possibly they did not bother to look at the Mobile Dental Surgery! The Hull Daily Mail reporter was taken by the Aircraft Armament display and wrote;

"Small boys, pop-eyed and sticky fingered, swung round alarmingly in a Boulton Paul gun turret, squinting through the sights and rat-tat-tatting furiously. The air sea rescue launch was clambered over, admired and stuck up with dropped ice creams."

Amongst the buildings that could be viewed were the Airmen's Barrack Rooms and Dining Hall, Education sections, libraries and training classrooms. The more energetic visitors could visit the Gymnasium, as did the reporter where there was;

"A young and lithe instructor wearily spent the afternoon extricating small boys from punch-bags and dissuading them from ill-advised gyrations on the parallel bars."

The place to enjoy a sit down with a cup of the legendary NAAFI tea, was the Corporals' Club which was described as being comfortable and tastefully furnished. When visiting the airman's barrack room there was espied;

"Mothers of airmen, one suspects, were those women prodding beds and fingering sheets. They were comforted, for the room was admirably furnished, and the beds sufficiently soft. The Flight Sergeant who brings the morning tea was not, unfortunately, in attendance."

The Station Cinema was showing continuously a programme of documentary and training films and for those interested of spell in the RAF there was still time for a visit to the recruiting display. There posters announced that vacancies existed for Aircrew candidates between 17 and 25 years and further information regarding of RAF and Women's Royal Air Force was available at the stand.

The members of the No. 152 (City of Hull) Squadron of the Air Training Corp marked the end of the Open Day at 6.0PM by the lowering of the RAF Ensign.

The final quotation from the brilliant Hull Daily Mail report contains some very thoughtful words, which should be remembered;

"So, with flying, inspecting, with drill by ATC cadets and with hoopla-ing in a large fun fair, surprising discovered in a hangar, the afternoon was passed. It was arranged as part of the RAF's tribute to "The Few," emphasising Byron's words in another connection that "These deeds which should not pass away and names that must not wither." "

On a lighter theme there was a dance at the NAAFI in the evening. Admission was 2/6d (12.5P) and after it, there was transport back to the Hull.

The Commanding Officer was very brief in his Log with; "Pleasant weather - some 20,000 attended with 900 cars parked on the station."

However, who won the Perm?

The following day the 20th the RAF was joined by the band and members of the ATC when a total of 200 marched from the Station to St. James Church in Sutton for a Battle of Britain Service of Remembrance. A bugler of the ATC provided the calls of the Last Post and Reveille at the wreath laying ceremony.


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