Royal Air Force Greatworth

962 Signals Unit

Reminiscenses of RAF Greatworth in the early fifties. page2

The Early Years, continued:-

To amuse and lighten our duties in the hall, we had a resident cat. This moggie's domain was in and around the immediate environs of the transmitter hall. It never ever appeared in the domestic area, where its quality of life could have been much better if it had only realised this fact. It was a young lively cat when it appeared on the site, a good mouser and very playful. When the wooden scaffolding mentioned earlier was erected over the transmitters, this was considered a good reason for the cat to climb up them. It seemed to get some delight in gingerly sniffing the feeder lines, which made it jump when they were live. But it kept doing this until it got fed up with this sort of fun. One day someone alerted us all saying ' The cat has just crawled into the power supply of one of the SWB 11s' Just before we got to the power supply, a lot of scuffling noises emanated from it followed by a yelp and the power supply tripped out. To our great consternation we thought that it had met its demise. But no, a second or so later it scuffled from under the equipment and literally hot footed up the hall at high speed with its fur smoking. We followed it but failed to find it. After some hours it appeared slowly walking down the hall and stopped at the control cabin door to be let in. On examination, there was quite a burn on its shoulder and its front paws were quite inflamed, no doubt it was feeling sorry for itself, but careful nurturing restored it back to health within a day or so. It never ventured inside the power supplies again. Being a nocturnal creature, it lazed about the place until night time, then it livened up and did what cats do at that time. It was a very affectionate, it knew when it was on to a good thing, after all it was fed on the same diet as we had from the canteen and that never did us any harm, did it!!!

It didn't happen very often, but when it did, a local storm could be quite spectacular in the hall, particularly at night. It didn't have to be a storm with lightning absolutely over the aerial field. It could just be a sultry weather condition where atmospheric electrical discharging was taking place down the feeder lines. If flashover occurred between the output coupling coil of the transmitter and output-tuned coil, the transmitter would trip out. We had a few channels of transmission that carried both slow and fast Morse keying. That meant the carrier was commutated on and off. We used to hang a neon bulb on one side of the feeder lines on these channels and they would flash with the signalling. There were a couple of 1509 TXs half way up the hall that these types of channels were used for plus some of the SWB 3s also. During stormy condition at night time, the feeder lines could glow blue and the neon bulbs would stay on for some seconds at a time. No QSYs were allowed during local storm conditions. The following picture is the path from the domestic quarters to the transmitter site, many times trodden during my time there.







The Living Quarters.

That is enough about the transmitting hall. All that is left to describe is the domestic quarters. The domestic quarters were during the cold winter somewhat Sparten. I had an end bed by the entrance door to one of these huts. There was one coal stove in the middle of the hut. For me by the door this didn't exist, as the heat never seemed to reach me there. During the summer being by the door was know problem and there was a window adjacent to my bed space which cheered up that part of the hut. The only other window was half way down the hut on one side. In full daylight the rest of the hut was quite gloomy. The pictures below show a view at the front and rear of the accommodation huts.

The Front entrances

Then the rear of the huts.

Social life and domestic quarters

 Temperature wise these huts would be like an oven in the summer or a fridge in the winter. There were 3 sections to the domestic site. The accommodation huts, the canteen\social rest area and the ablution area. No! There weren't any ablutions in any of the huts. Can you imagine having to relieve ones bodily functions on a wintry night when the toilets were some 30 yards away, with no heating in there either.

The canteen and NAAFI \ social building, shown below, was quite a pleasant building on the inside to spend time in. It was laid out sensibly and the décor was good. It made up for the rather austere rest of the camp. It was always warm in there, a most welcome change from the rest of the place in winter.

In spite of all the trials and tribulations thus described I still enjoyed my time there, even if I haven't given that impression. This was mainly due to the friendly atmosphere afforded by all the lads who shared these conditions. There was discipline, but it was sensible discipline, there was never any need to harshly apply it. I think it safe to say that all personnel in the technical side of military life were, dare I say it, a cut above the average. Most of the lads were to be involved in technical professions on leaving the RAF as indeed I was too.








Old Comrades


Strangely I can only remember two names of people that were there at the same time as me, they were Stan Mendham and Derek Rimmer. I believe Stan is the 2nd from the left in the picture above. The rest of their names escape me.

I hope this small presentation has given you an insight as to life at RAF Greatworth. in the 50s

Bye for now.

Derrick R. Savage

Derrick Savage served part of his National Service at RAF Greatworth during the summer of 1954 untill March 1955. His pictures illustrate beautifully, life, in the post war years of the RAF. Despite his concerns over the quality of his photographic equipment of the time, it demonstrates strongly the oldest of photographic cliches "It's the photographer that makes the picture, not his camera!". These are the earliest known pictures of RAF Greatworth.





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The tuning of mind and machine

   Aston  Martin  Racing.

Are situated in the messes, naafi and accomodation buildings.

(where Triple 8 (888) once ocupied)


Tim Samways occupy the central end and east wing of the `T' in the TX Hall.

Restoration and garaging of classic/historic sports cars.

(Visitors only by apointment!)


At the northern end Of the TX Hall.

Angus Watt's Campers.

VW Campers's in the Centre Hall.

Close by the old Nissen Hut's site

and the CO's Old House site there is

Home Nurseries 

Off Welsh Road. Here, you can

buy plants for hanging baskets

and patio tubs etc.

01295 768 141