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|"Welcome To RAF Marinecraft Unit 1109 Boston"|
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The year was 1957 and I had just returned to my home base Pembroke Dock, after successfully finishing a Marine/Fitters course at RAF Mountbatten.PD was at this stage winding down prior to final closure.All I can remember doing prior to being posted was security duties.Atlast I received notification of my posting to 1109.I had never heard of Boston and had no idea where it was,some of the longer serving members informed me that I would enjoy it after having had just over 2 years of camps of many hundred men.There were two of us posted to Boston,myself and Mike Cotes.I can still remember the day we left,both in uniform until Mike decided we should change into civvies on the train.We arrived at Boston railway station in the evening and made our way through the town to the dock area where we knew the camp to be.The camp was situated in front of a wood yard,the local hospital nurses home was to our right and the docks to our left.Mike and I checked in and found a bed space and settled in.We made ourselves known to the other guys and found atleast one face that we knew,Mick Scarret a ex-PD M.B.C.
The next day we had to go to RAF Conningsby,to arrive as Conningsby was our parent unit.We had been warned to stay away from the stationW.O,but
we had to see him as he was part of the sign in formalities.He found us, as I remember walking towards the headquarters building,he shouted at us like a banshee and at the same time dressed a Winco down for something or other[I understand that this W.O. was ex-detention barracks and had been brought into Conningsby to improve discipline.I also heard that his stay was cut short after he was found beaten up in a ditch.Both the W.O.and the Station CO were posted shortly after this incident].He proceeded to dress Mike and I down just for the hell of it,he was what you would call a real pratt.
We were glad to see the back of Conningsby that day.I never returned to Conningsby again until I was posted 11 months later.Boston was a dream posting after large camps ,the food was cooked almost like home cooking.There were only 24/26 of us,duties included standby at the "Top Site" which was on the dock and was a large shed which held the fitting and chippies shop,along with an office and radio room which had a bed for us to sleep on during our duty watch.Our sea duty included travelling down the river Witham, out to the Wash and patrol the danger areas near the bombing ranges,mainly to keep fishermen out.We always tried to ensure that we managed to get back to the mouth of the Witham while the water level was still high enough for us to get the launch over the bar.The seas was often rough and I can remember once being teaboy,walking from the galley aft and holding a teapot when we hit a large wave,as we went down the wave my hand shot down and the tea left the pot and I caught it on the way up.
We had two 43ft R.S.L's 1642 and 1649,[specs and photo's on photo page].To carry out slipping of the launches, we had to take them to a private slipway in Kings Lynn.This was due to the fact that the launches were too heavy for lifting gear on the dock,which had been used to beach the 41.5ft RSL's/broad beam ST's,which had served prior to the 43 footers.I had two trips to K L once in August 57 and the other in Jan 58.I enjoyed the August trip but the Jan one was unpleasant due to the cold weather which made working on the engines and prop shafts,numbing to the fingers.Both times our stay was in civvy digs and the landlady had a small terrier dog,on one stay we arrived just after some long distance lorry drivers who thought they would assist the landlady by giving the dog a haircut.The dog and the landlady was not impressed ,as it was supposed to be long haired and have hair over its eyes for protection.The pubs in K L were very friendly and the picture houses showed quite recent movies,one I remember was " The Gunfight at OK Corral",starring Bert Lancaster.During my stay at 1109 there was only one ASR call out and I happened to be on duty.We set off out to the Wash as the Aircraft a USAF Sabre had gone down in the North Sea.On our way down the Witham I noticed that there was no seawater coming out of one of the exhausts and as the Rolls engines were fairly new in service at that time I was somewhat confused,these boats used seawater to cool the glycol of the engines cooling system through heat exchangers,I could find no blockage so I said we should turn back which we did.On arrival my boss a sgt fitter Charlie? a West indian who had just arrived from either the Bridport or Bridlington,came on board to check things out.What I had not realised was that there was a bleed screw which had to be opened to start the pump action[I was most embarrased as I should have figured this out].Luckily we would have been recalled due to another launch,either from Blythe or Bridlington, had found the pilot who had ejected but who died due to the cold of the North Sea.Life in Boston was pretty good,dances at the Gliderdrome or Embassy rooms every Sat,midweek dances ,coffee bars,Cherry Corner,Copper Kettle,plus several others,loads of friendly pubs.Being camped close to town we ran dances in our games hall and the local girls used to fall over themselves to get invited.I had been told by guys prior to leaving P.D. that my single days would soon be over once I arrived in Boston,they believed the local girls honed in on any new meat that arrived and they were right as I only managed to last untiil !st Sept before I met the girl who is now my wife,Mike Cotes also married a Boston girl.Regretfully all good things must come to an end,due to the wisdom of the government the RAF was going through a time of retrenchment and the marinecraft was well up the list,units were being closed and Boston was one of the casualties.In May of 58 the unit closed down and I was posted to Newhaven.
The CO of 1109 during my stay was Flt Slim Greasley,to me he was a father figure,I was coming up to my 21st and Slim would have been about my fathers age.The time was the late 50's and rock and roll was all the rage and bright glowing socks,red shirts,brothel creeper shoes and drain pipe trousers were garb of the day,I remember signing 1524's in the office one morning after duty,dressed this way and Slim was quite shocked that I was going into town,but didnt stop me.I also remember Slim meeting us on the dockside after a very rough trip from Kings Lynn,Im sure he was convinced that we were going to sink half way across,as we approached the dock wall we saw this very white faced officer standing on the shore,he took us to the camp and gave each one of us a tot of brandy,the first and only time I may add. There was a Flt Sgt Cox's who name I cannot remember,later we had a W.O., a Sgt Cox's Benny Goodman with red handlebar moustache,Sgt Cox,R Low,a chippy Cpl Reg Agar,Sgt fitter Charlie? a West Indian,Cpl/Tech fitter Brown, Brian Benson mar/mech,Jock Walke,cook,Jim Marshall I think he was Wop/fit or Electrician,unit clerk Phil?,Mike Cotes and Paddy Yule[Bruner] batmen,Charlie Hall,Mick Scarrett,Colin Arbon,Paddy Johnson,Frank Cousins,Paddy Avington,Lac,B Williams,Lac,K Powell,Lac,M Gibson,Joe Holmes[electrician].There were also two Cpl Cox's,one I think was a Jordy Stothert? and the other I met again in Seletar,his name was as I remember Pete Whitlam.Petes claim to fame was that everytime his trousers were hung on his bedpost,his wife became pregnant.There was a M/T driver who came from Lincoln, another cook a National serviceman from Bramley in Yorkshire,he was a panel beater in civvy street.The Clerk prior to Phil was a Jew and he always had Saturday off,due to it being the Jewish Sabbath,he drove a Rover 90[upmarket at that time].
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This site is dedicated to the men of the Marine Craft branch that served at 1109 from its opening to its closure.If anyone visiting served or knew someone who did,please contact me to get your info added to the site.
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