No. 200

OSB Logo The Old St Beghian
  January 2022


Recollections of Gus Walker and John Jones

from Roy Brocklebank (FS 56-61):

“I read with interest John West’s article regarding Gus Walker’s taking the CCF Parade at St Bees. I am afraid his memory was faulty for it was in June 1962. I recall this vividly as I was his ADC for the day. I had been newly commissioned as an acting pilot officer in May and just started training as a navigator at No 2 Air Navigation School, RAF Hullavington. I was in ground school when I was called out of the classroom to be told I had been selected as his ADC. The navigation school was in No 25 Group, which was responsible for all non-pilot aircrew training. The other Group was 23 Gp. We were in Flying Training Command and that, at the time, was about my limit of knowledge. There had been some good staff work to link me and Gus as Old Boys of St Bees. Whilst I was pleased to be selected I was worried as I would also miss a number of lectures.

Anyway I went from Chippenham by train to St Bees, met Sir Gus, and he did the inspection with me dutifully following. That evening, at the end of the day Gus repaired to a hostelry at Buttermere and offered me a flight back to Hullavington the following day. I was worried that the staff at Hullavington would blame me for missing two days’ training, so I declined and set off by train. In the event I regret not accepting his offer as it was not until late the following day that I got back to base.

I next met Gus at RAF Waddington in 1968. I don’t recall his appointment at the time but it was at a visit by students and staff of the Royal College of Defence Studies. My role, I was now a flight lieutenant, was to meet VIPs from their aircraft and escort them to the Operations Block for the visit. One of my charges was Gus. I met him and his ADC, escorted them to Ops and prepared to meet my next charge, when panic, the ADC had forgotten to pick up his accoutrements, his aiguillette, medals, gloves etc. I had to commandeer a crew bus and race back to his aircraft. Fortunately the crew were resting in the aircraft having their lunch.

As an aside, back in 1962, our uniform was the same rough serge as worn by the CCF contingent and was not that hard wearing. I managed to do a deal with SSSI Smith and swapped out my worn out trousers for a serviceable pair from school stocks.

Separately I read the article about John Jones (M 59-69). Two things about John lodge in my memory. The first is that he was a runner. Everyone at St Bees was a runner but not in John’s class. One day the school visited Ennerdale and we had to climb Red Pike and High Stile. As we trudged up the 2477 foot mountain, hopelessly ill equipped, no boots and probably wearing duffel coats, we were over taken by John running up the mountain and not long after running down again. Eventually, at the top, I marvelled at who had installed the metal railings along the crag.

The second thing was that it was decided to put the sixth-formers into tutorial groups similar to university. I was one of three or four foisted on John. He was not one of my masters, and I cannot recall what I had in common with the others. I don’t think either he or we knew what we should be doing. What we did do was go out in his tiny baby Austin, woefully underpowered but it did manage to get out of the valley, to drive to a convenient cafe for the tutorial. The aim seemed to be to eat as much food as we could. Besides eating sandwiches the other memory was the smell of the car electrics which seemed to produce ozone.”



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