In Defence of the Realm

ISBN 1-903953-35-9
RAF memoir
  • softback
  • 224 pages
  • monochrome photos

by Peter Voyse


An erk-some account of the author's RAF National Service from 1954-56

In this entertaining memoir, Peter Voyse remembers his National Service days as a Royal Air Force ‘erk’, spent mostly underground in the network of bunkers that provided Britain's air defence at the time:

"The snow flurried down onto an already white land. The yellow-grey sky gave a promise of more to come. The Lancashire countryside looked like a Christmas card, with the exception of a large rectangular-shaped mound that protruded from the ground like some ancient burial site. On a levelled piece of ground at the side of the mound stood a number of parked vehicles; three lorries, their canvas backs sagging under the weight of snow and three utility-looking coaches. Just in front of one of the lorries stood a signboard which bore the words ‘Royal Air Force Police Dogs Patrol This Area’."

This was RAF Longley Lane, one of a chain of underground operation centres used in the defence of Great Britain and part of a wider system which formed the ‘eyes and ears’ of NATO air forces. The year was 1956 and one of the airmen working inside was Peter Voyse – now nearing the end of his two years' National Service.

In common with many others who served in the post-war era, Peter looks back on his years in uniform with great affection and considers himself fortunate to have experienced the camaraderie and humour of fellow servicemen with whom he shared the ups and downs of military life.

Delivered in an easygoing style that is always entertaining to read, his reminiscences will evoke nostalgic memories among members of his own generation, many of whom will have had similar experiences in their own National Service days.