My RAF Days

Restoration of one of the first type of Helicopters

By Edward Hanby

I was born in Laindon, Essex in May 1936. I lived and went to school there until I left at the age of 16 in 1952, to join the Royal Air Force, as a boy entrant.

Photo:The Leighs - New Century Rd

The Leighs - New Century Rd

Daphne Eldridge

The bungalow I was born and raised in was built of wood, consisting of two bedrooms, a kitchen and a lounge (sitting room).
Photo:Family Gathering in the Pavilion at the Leighs

Family Gathering in the Pavilion at the Leighs

Daphne Eldridge

We had a large wooden shed in the garden, which was used for doing the weekly washing, as a bathhouse and also for family gatherings. There were five of us living there, my Grandfather, Mother, my elder sister and elder brother, until the end of the war in 1945, when Daphne my younger sister was born and our Father came home from the Navy. The bungalow was then rebuilt with bricks.
Photo:New House - 1965

New House - 1965

Daphne Eldridge

That took place while we still lived in it. We all lived in one half while the other half was built with the bricks.

All the time our home was built with wood, we had no water laid on to the house, so any water that was required was collected from a standpipe in Railway Approach. This was about 200 yards from the house. On bath days and washing days it was quite a task for my brother (mostly until I was big enough to help out) to fetch the water in buckets. The toilet was a bucket in a little hut in the garden, which was emptied by our Grandfather, usually once a week.

Photo:George Wallis 16, Edward Hanby 17, Alan Wickens 16

George Wallis 16, Edward Hanby 17, Alan Wickens 16

Daphne Eldridge

When I joined the Air Force, I trained at RAF Cosford. After training, I was posted to Yorkshire where I served on a maintenance unit travelling from station to station repairing damaged aircraft. After five years, I was posted to Germany where I worked on photo  reconnaissance Canberra PR 7s. From there I was posted to the RAF training camp Halton.
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'My RAF Days' page

Daphne Eldridge

During that posting, I helped build a First World War aeroplane along with my brother and a couple of civilian instructors. That led to my brother and I being employed in the restoration of one of the first type of helicopters (called the autogyro) that the Science Museum wanted restoring to its former glory. It now stands in the Science Museum in London and I along with my brother and two other instructors were invited to the reopening of the museum and the positioning of the newly refurbished autogyro.

I also took part in the Royal Tournament while at Halton.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'My RAF Days' page

Daphne Eldridge

I was also involved in the presentation of the new RAF Standard when the Royal Air Force became 50 years old. We had to train for the parade at RAF Uxbridge and the parade took place in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. On that day, the parade formed at the nearby army barracks then marched to the grounds of Buckingham Palace, taking the same route as they do for the changing of the guard.

Christmas 1965, on Boxing Day, I had to report RAF Insworth where I along with many others, were fitted out with KD and jabs and on New Years Day, found ourselves out in the warm sunshine of Bahrain. My wife never knew where I had gone until I was able to write home. I spent four months out there and on my return home was told that come August I was to be posted to Aden for one year and that was all in the space of five years of my posting to RAF Halton.

I have been on many other postings in my 39/40 happy years spent in the RAF, but really that is not much to do with the history of Laindon. I do however still have connections through my family.

This page was added by Ian Mott on 04/05/2011.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Hi Edward. It was nice to read your article. I once lived on New Century Road as a lodger at Regeta Villa, run by the owner Ivy. Sadly, she was murdered by one of her lodgers after I had left. The murderer was known but could never be found.

I was also in the RAF and, like you, joined as a Boy Entrant at RAF Cosford with the 44th Entry. I am now a member of the RAF Boy Entrants Association (RAFBEA) and edit the association's Newsletter. If you are interested, we can be found at www.rafbeainfo.org.uk.

Kind Regards.

By Tom Brown
On 12/12/2013

Brilliant article, your just a wee bit younger than my Dad, he was born on 29th Feb 1936, a leap year baby!!! He was in the Royal Signals, stationed in Nicosia Cyprus, around 1956.

By Terry Steward
On 24/11/2011

I have so any memories of "The Leighs" having lived there when my mother was hospitalised. Daphne and I were very close as youngsters and I always remember Ted very fondly. The house was wonderful (in my memories) and I always remember the inflatable raft we used to soak in during the hot summer days. My memories of the heat come from the confined spaces due to all the shrubbery around the garden. I also went to Markham's Chase School for a short period although my memories are very vague of the time spent there.

I do remember the Charlsleys who had the shoe store on Laindon High Road. I live in Canada now but miss "The Leighs" very much!

By Gerry (Gerald) Ward
On 19/07/2011

Hello Edward. I really enjoyed reading your article, particularly that your home was originally wood and then rebuilt by the 60s - very similar to my own. I then realised that your sister Daphine and I were in the same class at Markham's Chase school. I have a vague recollection of you coming to the school to pay her a surprise visit while on leave - I hope I have got that right. I also believe our mothers knew each other, hardly suprising as Laindon was a close community in those days. Best wishes - Nina Humphrey (nee Burton).

By Nina Humphrey
On 05/05/2011
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