The 86th Entry of RAF Apprentices was formed on 10th May 1957 at Royal Air Force Halton  with an original strength of 283 members.  After three years of intensive training in the practice and theory of a variety of aircraft trades the Entry graduated on the 13th April 1960, with nearly one third lost by transfer to junior Entries or to lower trade levels.  The Entry included the 30,000th Apprentice to graduate since the scheme was set up by Lord Trenchard in 1920.  Apprentices were known throughout the RAF as "Trenchard's Brats".                  <<< Click on the Badge to hear the "Halton Bear" >>>


Halton Aircraft Apprentice - 86th Entry Association

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Last Updated - 05.Jul.2017




I have received an email from Bill Hardwick wishing everyone "A Happy New Year". He also mentioned that he had recently visited the website but had found no mention of the rumoured plans to close the whole of RAF Halton in the near(ish) future. Bill saw an article about this on the Forces TV channel and has sent in the relevant link.

Rumours of this event have been circulating for some time. The only thing that seems almost assured is that the Airfield will/has been sold off for housing development. The main site seems to be a different matter particularly because of the legal resposibilities of the government regarding (in particular) Halton House. The reason I haven't published anything on the matter is simply because I have no idea as to what will actually happen.


A friend of mine sent a note saying that a chap called Al Alcroft has been trying to contact Bill Briggs. Unfortunately, the only information I have regarding Billy Briggs is that he was an Engines Fitter who resided in 1(A) Wing and was posted to Lindholme on graduation. Do any of you 1(A) Wing lads, or any other Engine Fitter, have any memories or post Halton information regarding Billy?

Forces TV  - Closure of RAF Halton.
Billy Briggs (Love the rakish angle of the SD!)



Dave Skill. (ITF. May 1957)


I have recently learned from Dave Hunter (via Chris Russ) that David 'doc' Skill has invested a great deal of time and effort over the past few years designing, constructing and testing a man-carrying aircraft powered solely by means of an electric motor.

David has kindly forwarded details of his project's progress along with comprehensive technical details of the work involved. These I have included in an item which appears on the BackChat page.

It would seem that our very own David Skill has been the driving force behind a quite remarkable project. After reading the article I am sure that, like me, you will applaud his efforts and determination.




From this in 1959....


... To this in 2013.



Rod Whitehead noticed the missing name in the Airframe Worksops photo. It is in fact Al (Hank) Hancock who, like Rod, graduated with the 88th: they were both posted to Marham after graduation. Thank you Rod for taking the trouble to send me that info.


David 'doc'Skill in the Engines workshop.
David Skill taxying VOLTAIR 86.



You will recall that in February 2015, Dave Hunter had to undertake a wheels- up landing in the Cvjetkovic CA-65 (Registration G-CFVJ): an aircraft he built himself. It must have been a very disappointing experience after all the hard work he had put into the project. One thing that Halton taught us was to keep on going when such things happen. Being a particularly good example of the breed, David did just that and has sent this email:

"I thought you might like to see the end result of the work on the Cvjetkovic CA65. It is now just awaiting our engineering dept. to issue the first full Permit to Fly. (Soon I hope).I think you will agree that it is quite a professional operation. Never known a project drag out this long however . All the best, Regards, Dave."

Click on the link to view the Flight Test Report.

From Ron Bean:

Hiya Pete: Perusing the 'Back-Chat' columns I read the article composed by Pete Ellis; he listed his RAF history but omitted the compulsory 3 Wing boxing bouts during initial training. Pete and I were paired-off and a 5 minute slog ensued. Do you have any recollection of the occasion? His photo shows no facial damage so obviously I missed the target. (I recall trivia but not 'Boyles Law'.)

Ron: Not only do I vividly recall the 'boxing bouts' during ITF, I actually ended up as one of Harry Beany's Boys (he was the 3Sqd.3(A)Wing discip.Sgt. you may remember, who trained the 3(A)Wing boxing team). Although this entailed early morning runs on the hills, we also enjoyed a few compensatory bonuses -including extra portions at our late breakfasts and excused Saturday morning parades. Not sure if it was worth it though - as I still suffer from the odd nosebleed now and again.


Cvjetkovic CA65 - Flight Test Report.


Peter Ellis
Ron Bean



From Bernie Horton:

I recently finished reading a book by Russell Millar called “BOOM - The Life of Viscount Trenchard, Father of the Royal Air Force". I was hoping that there would be a chapter or at least a paragraph or two on Halton and Apprentice training. Sadly I was disappointed; only one sentence on page 248 - ‘Another Trenchard initiative was the Apprentice Scheme, a three-year course to train boys between 15 and 17 as technical ground crew, at RAF Halton, formerly the estate of Alfred Rothschild'. Following this was a long paragraph on Frank Whittle. Min Larkin is included in the acknowledgements.


Terry Groves writes to say that he and his wife Beth are still enjoying life in Switzerland. They recently spent three weeks in Cuba which they found to be an interesting country with a very special way of life. He seems to be keeping well but is awaiting a cataract operation. All the reports I have had regarding this procedure have been very positive, so good luck Terry.


Peter Reynolds has a new email addess. Contact me if you would like to know it.


Ned Hawksworth's daughter Christine, has sent in a couple of Photos of Ned. I have put them on the 3(A)Wing Photos page.


I have included an item on the O.A.S. page that offers some sense of the scale of preparations the United States undertook for the invasion of Japan, prior to their eventual decision to drop the two atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. This is conveyed through a series of maps along with photographs of the ships men and materiel involved.


Jim Terry contacted me, enthusing about a book he managed to lay his hands on, entitled: The Lightning Boys: (True Tales from Pilots of the English Electric Lightning) by Richard Pike. As the title suggests, it mainly covers the jockeys but also admits what a b*tch the beast was for the engineers to maintain. Published September 2011 by Grub Street, it sounds like a good read, especially if you can find a copy in a second-hand or remainder bookstore.


Frank Turner was perusing the Motorbike page recently and was reminded of the car he managed to keep stashed away on a farm at Rowsham (on the Aylesbury to Leighton Buzard road). I've loaded his tale onto the Motorbike page.


US Third Fleet
Link to Motorbike Page




RAFHAA Newsletter.
Derelict Places - Aylesbury Odeon Cinema.
Brats Historical Time-Line.


I spoke with Colin Pogue yesterday who broke the news that Terry Setford has passed away.

Terry Setford, Dave George, Colin Pogue and Pete Eldridge became good friends: all four were trained as Airframe Fitters and resided in 1(A) Wing. Terry and Colin were posted to RAF Duxford on graduation. At one point Terry was stationed at RAF Akrotiri where he worked alongside Dave George and Pete Eldridge in ASF. Terry Setford and his wife, Pauline, took Dave George's fiancée, Shirley, under their wing while she completed the requisit residency period prior to participating in their civil marriage in Cyprus.

After leaving the RAF, Terry worked for BAe(Kingston) and then ran a Golf Shop in the UK. He retired to live in Spain and passed away in February 2017. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.


Bernard Horton has notified me that RAFHAA have issued a newsletter giving more information regarding the closure of RAF Halton. I have now received a copy of that newsletter which the Association has delivered via DropBox. I have provided a link to view the newsletter which works OK: however, if you see a message appear at any time which invites you to join DropBox, just decline the offer and continue your viewing.

The internet reveals that a cinema, known by every Halton Brat, is: "Located in the Royal Air Force camp of RAF Halton, near the village of Halton, near Wendover, Buckinghamshire. The Astra Cinema was opened in January 1926. Seating is provided in stalls and circle levels, with the circle used by officers and their friends." I suppose it is rather poor form to admit that it had not occured to me in those far off days that officers might have friends.

Fondly remembered for the films viewed as well as the treasure frittered away on weekly visits, it was better known to one and all as the 'Camp Stack' (anyone know why?); however, on the rare occasions that the golden-eagle was particularly generous, many of us ventured further afield for our entertainment.

One such venue was the Art Deco Odeon Cinema in Aylesbury. Although I now much admire that style I am the first to admit that, at the time, I was far more interested in the charms of the lass sitting next me than the building we were sat in - changed days I know. The cinema was opened in the mid 1930s and was located at 1A Market Square. It was converted to a 3 screen cinema in the mid 1970's and finally closed its doors in 1999.

Hoping that you have not yet lost the will to live, I shall get to the point. For some time I have been fascinated by a website which goes under the title Derelict-Places which "documents decay" by means of photographic reports from enthusiasts. The subjects covered range across ex - military, civil defence, industrial, medical and government sites - amongst others. The particular link I have offered details the aforementioned Odeon Cinema and reveals some of its Art Deco features. If you find it interesting, why not make your way to their Home page and check out some of their other reports.




By the way - this is what they replaced it with.







I have noticed an entry on the Brats Historical Time-Line webpage from a chap in the 62nd Entry (David Gibbings) who noted the following amusing anecdote:

"At some time during my stay at Halton, the band were picked up by the Air Commodore as 'Scruffy' on parade. As they marched off, they played 'Colonel Bogey'.


Later the edict went out; 'Col Bogey' and the 'Brown Bear' were forbidden, because they were always played to or at somebody!"


There has been a link to this site on our O.A.S. page for a long time and I have repeated it here. The page is authored by Bob Rodham (of the 223rd Entry I believe): it contains some interesting information and is well worth a visit



Terry Setford (ITF - May 1957)
The Camp Stack  - Click to enlarge.
Odeon Cinema - Aylesbury (1933-1999) - Click to enlarge.
The present Odeon Cinema - Exchange Street, Aylesbury  - Click to enlarge.