It was October 1962....and I stood on the Vulcan "V" bomber "Quick Readiness Aircraft Pan" at RAF Wittering in Cambs. I was a member of a ground crew whos job it was to service the Navigation and Bombing systems ( Corporal Air Radar Fitter) ......of this enormous deadly jet aircraft.....armed with nuclear missiles to strike Russian Targets during the Cuban Crisis . Thank God we didn't go to war!!!!.......RAF Wittering ,amongst all the other airfields in the UK would have been vaporised!!! in retaliatian from Moscow.
There was a crewchief in charge of all the trades who made up the "groundcrew".He was a Chief Tech. This would be Armourers.....Airframe/Engine fitters.....Air Radar and Radiofitters....also experts on Electronic counter measures. The highly trained aircrew would turn up at the start of a sortie in their high altitude pressure suits.....to board the monster.......powered by four Rolls Royce Olympic engines....the avant-garde of technology.
Sometimes there would be action taken to rectify faults just before take off!!......and thats where I fitted in........trained to fault find problems ....Air Radar /bombing and Navigation systems....Just to think I was still in my teens.We all looked like Eskimos in our furry hooded parkas....designs to shield us from the sometimes freezing temperatures on the open runways.. tension was high....when there were Amber Alerts......A RED alert meant trouble...and prayers . These aircrews were great to work with.They were trained to fly low over the enemy terrain to avoid being shot down by ground to air missiles. There was a little Nissan hut we kept service equipment in, near each aircraft pan. I will always remember the fabulous cartoons...of crews getting sucked into air-intakes etc ....but the one that sticks in my mind read as follows.
IN CASE OF NUCLEAR ATTACK ...PLACE HANDS BEHIND YOUR NECK.....BEND FORWARD TOWARDS THE GROUND........"AND KISS YOUR ASS GOODBYE" ha!!!
So how did the formation of the group "Hedgehoppers Anonymous take place? Well ,there were four of us serving at RAF Wittering during the 60's. John Stewart,Les Dash,Ray Honeyball, and myself the singer. One member was a civilian named Alan Laud....who lived near the base at Whittlesea . Peterborough. We all met on the base and at first played in the officers mess,sergeants mess .......and then ventured over time into "The Dorothy Club", and Corn Exchange .Cambridge. Primarily, before thinking of using Hedgehoppers .....we were Known as "The Trendsetters". A local agent spotted us in a pub.....as we played in "The Prince of Wales". Peterborogh and the good old "White Lion Whittlesea.....plus many other venues such as The Winning Post....Market Deeping. Lincs. The owners of these establishments....treated us like family and I have fond memories of them all! We didnt earn much but were kept well fed.......with drinks on the house most of the time "Great" ha!
"with kind permission "