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  • My Life and Times

    I was born in 1939 BC.
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    Luckily I survived the following events in my life, such as

    World War II, The London Blitz, Rationing, and worst of all… Archbishop Temple’s School.




    During the mid 1950s I was enjoying Rock ‘n’ Roll and being a first generation teenager, when suddenly, just like Elvis, I found myself in uniform during ‘The Cold War’…and then




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    During the ‘Thatcher Years’ I lost my hair and a lot of people lost a good deal more. My career fluctuated to say the least as I was demoted, promoted, fired and hired a number of times, but still I managed to stagger on into a welcome retirement and to celebrate 56 years of happy marriage.

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A mole ‘down the hole’ ?

Posted by Big John on March 30, 2007

raf-k-d.jpgWhen I was reluctantly ‘doing my bit’ as a National Service conscript in the RAF back in the late 1950s, I was stationed on the south coast of England, because some idiot at the Air Ministry obviously thought that I would be a major asset to the security of this country if they turned me into an ‘Air Defence Operator’ and sent me to ‘operate’ within the confines of a ‘secret’ radar station.

This radar station was so secret that everyone including the Russians, knew exactly where it was, for although the guardhouse and entrance to the underground bunker was cleverly disguised as a seaside bungalow, the surrounding area was covered in large rotating radar antennas and other assorted military equipment which rather gave the game away.

Now I don’t want you to tell anybody, but I did sign ‘The Official Secrets Act’, because only those who had done so were allowed to go ‘down the hole’ and along the long neon-lit passageway which  led to the corridors and control rooms of this ‘Cold War’ nerve centre: which meant that all jobs within the bunker had to be done by the likes of me. For example, we, the radar operators, and not the N.A.A.F.I. had to run our own canteen. We also had to man the PBX (telephone switchboard) and other communications equipment as the operators who would normally run this equipment were not required to sign this ‘awesome’ document.

Before we entered the bunker every officer and airman had to hand in his identity card to a ‘snowdrop’ (RAF policeman), who then issued each man with a numbered pass which was to be returned on leaving the complex. This meant that the guard knew exactly who was on duty below ground at any time as every man was accounted for …

Hang on a minute !  … ‘every man’ ! … ‘all jobs’ ! … So who was that little old geezer with the grey hair and the limp who used to push his mop up and down that long passageway and drag his bucket along those secret corridors ? … Didn’t he live in the village ? … Wasn’t he a regular at the local pub ?  …  and …

…      didn’t he only drink vodka ? 


8 Responses to “A mole ‘down the hole’ ?”

  1. Terri said

    Hmm, I can tell this was all hush, hush. Right down to the little ole guy pushing that mop. And here I thought perhaps you were right up there with James Bond.
    Your cruise sounds wonderful, John and here’s wishing you and your wife a GREAT trip! What exotic places to visit and of course, we all want some photos and lots of details when you return. I did my share on Paris….so you’re up next.

  2. mjd said

    The Cold War days were different days, or were they? Anyways, your post reminds me of the bomb shelters of the 1960’s. In the 60’s here in the States, some homebuilders were incorporating little cement rooms either off the basement or under the basement of homes in suburbia. The idea was if your city was bombed that you and your family could survive for a month in the shelter. In theory, if you saved enough food and water, you would be safe from the radiation from the bombing. Now, we may not have bomb shelters to protect us from the Communists, but we have homeland and airport security to protect us from the terrorists. Maybe the times are not so different; if we choose, we still can live in fear.

  3. Maria said

    Ahh the days of the cold war era. . . I remember them well and also remember having to sign a form saying that I was not nor ever had been a member of the Communist party. I had to sign this before I was allowed to teach here in California.

    Living near a hush-hush military base makes me smile and often worry about security issues. Our school was once given a gift of scrap paper from the base only to have NCIF show up on our door step demanding it back. Seems somehow we were handing out highly confidential papers to our third graders to draw pictures on.

  4. Matt said

    Hi John, sorry for the late reply to your comment..
    I’m glad you took what I said in good heart as I do enjoy reading your blog, it is an enjoyable read to get insight into the workings of an old guy..
    Obviously I can’t relate to a lot of what you say but don’t you agree it’s interesting how us ‘younguns’ usually don’t realise how different things once were…
    I hope you keep reading my blog as soon I will be posting far more regularly


  5. Jackshian said

    ‘The Official Secrets Act’ (Don’t tell anyone about our f**k ups or your nicked sunshine!) must have saved more hopeless and useless politicians than even Blair has!

    I reckon your old cleaning guy was probably George Blakes’ dad.

  6. Ginnie said

    Your “old cleaning guy” kindof reminds me of the guy who would ride his bicycle every day through the check-point during the occupation time in the war years. It was months before anyone realized that he was smuggling bicycles out of the zone !!

  7. John said

    I would leave a reply but I also signed the Official Secrets Act but I did things as an A.D.O that scarred the what ever out of my C.O in Malta. Malta was a crap posting, During an A.O.Cs inspection the A.O.C. asked me what I thought of the pay? I said it was great, He asked me what I earned, I said £3.3.0 an hour, He was surprised and asked me how I worked that out, I told him that I only worked 2 hours a week!
    I should write a book but even I find it hard to believe!

  8. Big John said

    Thanks for the comment John. Sorry that my spam blocker delayed it. So “Malta was a crap posting” was it. I nearly got sent to Christmas Island at the time of the atom bomb tests, but instead I got posted to RAF Wartling (near Eastbourne), which was known as “Fighter Command’s holiday camp”.

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