In this enjoyable memoir Ray Clinton sets out to record the realities of life in the postwar RAF as experienced by the ordinary airman or ‘erk’ ~ a far cry from the glamorous image of heroic pilots and their daring deeds promoted in novels and films.
He tells the story of the four years he spent in RAF uniform in the early 1950s, as one of thousands of young British men obliged to undergo a two-year period of National Service in the armed forces or (as in the case of Ray and many others) volunteer to serve longer if they wanted to learn a trade.
After undergoing the usual rigours of Initial Training, Ray qualified as an Electrical Mechanic, although he was soon to discover that he would only infrequently be called upon to apply his newly-acquired knowledge. Nevertheless, his life in the RAF involved plenty of inci¬dents, which he describes, in sometimes robust language, as we follow his progress through various postings, suffering the usual indignities and humiliations of forces life, from initial ‘square-bashing’ to a long spell in the Suez Canal Zone.
Along the way he introduces us to some colourful characters among his fellows and gives many an amusing insight into barrack life in the UK and abroad, with its wide diversity of conditions. We also learn how he and his fellows relieved the tedium of underemployment and what they got up to in their off-duty hours.
Ray is a gifted storyteller whose descriptions of service life provide a useful insight into the era and are related in an easygoing and humorous manner that will amuse and entertain ex-service personnel and the general public alike.