Days of Old

I suppose this reminiscence starts in the early 60s. The Bristol Freighter had just arrived at the Woomera airbase and a fresh face,very naive, slightly arrogant young man (just out of his teens) stepped onto the tarmac to be greeted by a reception committee consisting of 3 or 4 RAF lads. The reason for all this attention was that I was the new replacement, which in turn, meant that a lucky (or unlucky as the case might be) individual had 24 hours left remaining of his posting to Woomera, and had to fly out the following day.

My Induction briefing consisted of the following:- this is the transit accommodation, this is the JRC (Jazza), this is the canteen, you will be in the bar at 7:30 (or 19:30 hrs as us RAF types liked to call it) and this is where you catch the 08:00 transport to No 1 A.T.U (Woomera airbase) tomorrow morning.

That same evening, settled around quite a few tables in the Jazza was the RAF detachment (all 66 of them plus a few civvies, RAAF and British Army types) giving the new boy the once over, and saying farewell to the old one. Needless to say copious quantities of the "amber nectar" flowed and later on in the evening we retired to one of the barrack blocks to continue the evenings activities. The proceedings as I remember started to become a blur about midnight, but I can recollect spending the majority of the evening trying to avoid some old curmudgeon who kept "swinging the lampshade" whilst recalling various RAF escapades during WWII.

Needless to say I slept quite well that night and awoke with the sudden realisation that the transport to my new workplace would have left a few hours ago.

I eventually arrived at my intended destination on the midday transport much to the chagrin of Alan Cooper (the Chief in charge of the Instrument Section) who had filled out an "Absent, presumed missing" report. This resulted in a quick
left-right/left-right in front of the RAF Flight Commander later in the afternoon.

You've guessed it, it was the old curmudgeon from the night before. After the two escorts had been dismissed, he proceeded to give a lecture along the lines of "Never let your social life interfere with your service life" and dismissed me with a unofficial slapped wrist.

Things then settled into a routine after that, the daily trip to the airbase (observing the fauna and "wild life" at Woomera West en route ), the daily servicings of the range air taxi aircraft (Otters and Beavers) with our RAAF compatriots soon became the norm.

Ed Chapman


(2 January 2003)

Memories 33a
Memories 33b
Memories 33c
Memories 33d

Memories of Woomera

A History of Woomera
Research Missiles
Tracking Stations
Return To Orbit
Gibber Gabber
Woomera Village
Woomera Life
Memories of Woomera

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(Last updated: 1 May, 2003)