IN THIS ENJOYABLE memoir, Graham Wise looks back on an eventful lifetime of experiences in the course of which he progressed from a being an Essex farm boy to become a business manager – via a 5-year stint in the RAF in the 1950s.
Graham spent his childhood years on the Isle of Grain – a small island in middle of the the Thames/Medway estuary – including the war years 1939-45, during which Grain was on the receiving end of a good deal of attention from the Luftwaffe and V1 & V2 weapons due to the presence of a large oil storage depot on the island. Although very young at the time, Graham retains some vivid memories of his wartime childhood.
In the postwar years Graham completed his education at Grammar School and Technical college in nearby Rochester before returning to Grain to work as a farm labourer until, one fateful day, he decided to join the Royal Air Force.
A new chapter in Graham’s life then began when, after the usual initial training, he he was posted to a maintenance unit tasked with the somewhat unusual role of recovering crashed aircraft. Based for much of his 5-year service at RAF Bicester, he has many stories to tell of his escapades in uniform.
On leaving the RAF he got a job with the US-owned Mars Corporation, in their vending machine division, remaining with them for the next 20 years and working his way up to managerial level. Once again he has many tales to tell about his experiences.
His last year prior to retirement was spent working in London’s Docklands in a management position at the Millennium Dome (now the O2 Arena), where his company provided refreshment vending.
Told with quiet humour, his reminiscences provide an illuminating personal perspective on the wartime/ postwar period and the many changes that took place in the UK during those years.