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Last updated on 6 April, 2020 at 2:55 PM
Whenever Apprentices get-together there’s usually talk of our dealings with the Teddy Boys but nothing clear emerges as to what went on. We all know there was trouble and that Apprentices and Teddy Boys fought on the beach but there’s no clear picture. The following extracts from the Royal Air Force Locking No 1 Radio School website and The Locking Review give a little more detail.
The Locking Apprentice Incident:
Posted May 12, 2010 at 3:30 AM
Frank Bennet from Forces Reunited sends this report from 1957:-
I arrived at Locking in late November 1957, for a 17 week ground radar course. One of our instructors told us about the Teddy Boy problem, where they repeatedly attacked the apprentices who could only go off camp in uniform, unlike us NS & regulars who were allowed out in civvies. This had been ongoing until a few weeks before our arrival when the apps went out one night wearing their webbing belts. As soon as the expected attacks started, off came their belts and they hit back, giving the teds a real good belting in more ways than you would have thought possible. I understand that while this was going on, the local police kept a low profile. Needless to say, no more trouble of this nature occurred in Weston after that. The local hospitals `Casualty' was very busy for that evening and the local papers did carry reports I'm told. (Martin)
Extract from the RAFLAA newsletter July 2004
It was considered that the ‘Teddy Boys’ from Bristol occasionally got to the point where they needed a ‘good slapping’ and such an incident occurred in my time
We were not the senior entry, maybe 89 – 90th and word went round about a young ‘uniformed’ sprog (to third term) had been ‘ill-treated’ and retribution would follow on the next Saturday. (may even have been 96th is he a current member?) The ‘directive’ from the senior entry forbade all 48’s etc. for all but compassionate grounds, and all were to assemble in the evening and innocuously congregate below the sea wall. I distinctly remember the huge increase in activity in the workshops that week, and Jan Bowen, who always overcooked everything, skilfully (first time?) attaching a length of PREN MET (?) metal braided cable, to the largest Plessey plug he could find, and with the help of several soldering irons, managing to fill it with at least one large roll of solder! This substantial monument he considered to be his ‘priest’ for pacification and conversion of the uninitiated.
The ‘day of judgement’ arrived, and WSM seemed a little more populated than usual, with not a policeman in sight, and a high concentration of ‘Teddy Boys’ being led like ‘Lambs to the slaughter’ I do not remember it being like a ‘kick off at a Football Match’, but all the ‘Sprogs’ were there in uniform, and little did the ‘Teds’ know that the majority of the civilians were in fact Apps in Mufti. We actually ended up ‘scouring the town’ to find all the little enclaves of itinerants. I remember Nig Halliwell persuading one of them to try head-butting a car instead of him, which seemed to take the ‘lead out of his pencil’ completely! We had about an hour with the complete town to ourselves (authority probably planned it that way) then all the MT section arrived & scoured the town in coaches with ‘Snowdrops’ all over like a rash, all were eventually recognised and picked up. ‘No names, no pack drill’, as the saying goes, but we all had to disembark at the Guardroom and deposit our ‘weapons’. I distinctly remember a pile of the ‘workshops finest’ piled higher than the ‘Duty CA’s table on the Guardroom floor! Needless to say life remained totally peaceful in WSM for the remainder of our tenure, just back to our normal territorial ambitions, in our ‘downtown office’, the ‘Four Rose coffee bar.’ (not a spelling mistake, immigrants couldn’t spell.)
Mike (Bernie) Furness 93rd
Extract from the RAFLAA Newsletter November 2008:
Exploits of the 82nd
From Ray Mockford 82nd.
Following Ray’s great presentation at the AGM, I asked him to write down his account of the 82nd so that every member could read it. – Ed
I started at RAF Locking in the 79th Entry but due to an accident I eventually ended, I am very glad to say, in the 82nd Entry. We were a small Entry by the time we made it to the finals. 41 sat the finals but only 37 made it to the passing out parade. We were very sorry to see our brothers FT'd. Being such a small entry I think made us a closer unit.
We were there when it all was happening at the time of the Teddy Boys. Looking back on that Saturday night is all a bit blurred but enough of the memory still exists. At about 20:55 there were several altercations taking place on the sea front not far from the bus station. The bus station was in those days on the sea front. At 21:15 when 7 buses left the bus station on route to RAF Locking the occupants of the sea front were several bodies in various states of disarray, about 4 ambulances, numerous police and Police Cars and lots of blue flashing lights. The following morning for church parade there were several apprentices showing signs of very rough usage. I myself had a very swollen right hand which caused severe discomfort for several days when holding a pen or trying to do up buttons. Nobody in the complete wing reported sick with any damage; however we were informed that several visitors from Bristol were recumbent in the WSM hospital.
For our fun and games with the visitors from Bristol, the WSM council, considered that we needed some form of punishment. This was achieved with an extra parade for the "Freedom of the City", as if we did not get enough already. Sorry guys but we were responsible for this extra parade each year till the closing of the camp. I know as my brother joined as an apprentice and followed in my footsteps some 13 years later.
Extract from the RAFLAA Newsletter March 2009:
All In It together
From Brian Colby 87th Entry
Reading Ray Mockford’s amusing run in with Teddy Boys (see above), during his time in the 82nd, remindedme of a couple of related incidents which happened to me during 1957 to 1960, and how grateful I was to be in that select band of lads, a Locking Apprentice.
There was of course the natural ever-present inter Entry rivalry, which although could get rather exuberant at times, all helped in each Entry‟s esprit de corp, but when any of us were away from the confines of camp there was an unwritten ethos that we were all one together, and it camenatural to look after our own.
This was proved to me one Saturday afternoon in Weston-s-Mare when a group of four us called into the “Fellas” coffee shop, and as is the usual way of things, got chatting to some girls on the adjacent table. Unfortunately within a short space of time the girls suddenly seemed to go very quiet, and the four of us became aware that we had been surrounded by at least a dozen of the Teddy Boy variety, “Whoops”. Unknown to us we had been talking to the Teds’ girlfriends, and it was pretty obvious they rather objected to it, I remember thinking to myself that we were somewhat outnumbered and we could all be in for a bit of a pasting.
Luckily we needn’t have worried as reinforcements soon arrived. Thankfully, a member of the “Brats brigade‟ had seen what was going on, and within a few minutes Fellas was completely chock-a-block with a sudden influx of Apprentices. With some familiar faces and others not quite so, members of all available Entry’s in the vicinity had converged on the coffee shop as soon as the word got out that we were in trouble. The Teds, realising that they were now suddenly in the
minority, disappeared rather hastily, the situation had been saved and an altercation was averted and the four of us breathed a sigh of relief.
On another occasion, whilst watching a film in the cinema that was then opposite to Fellas, there was a sudden loud shout from the back “All apprentices needed at the fairground, there’s trouble brewing” Immediately about twenty of us, from all over the cinema got up from our seats and rushed down the road, being joined on the way by others streaming out from Fellas and elsewhere. I remember being absolutely amazed at this quick response and how trouble was again averted when the gathering Teds, who had been menacing a small group of Apprentices, were now suddenly outnumbered and decided the wisest thing was to disappear into the night. It was comforting to know that there were many eyes looking out for each other’s welfare.