Oral Histories

Military Service in the RAF

Peter Rowe

Peter: 16, 17 something like that oh 17 it was because I had to stay back one year. Some left early because they went to work, I think Bernard Hawken left early as he had a farm out at St Kew, John Lethbridges' uncle. Then of course I got called up, went in the RAF and worked in the stores.

Interviewer: So were you 18 then.

Peter: Just 18 yes.

Liz: Where did you go

Peter: Padgate to begin with then down to Wiltshire and then onto - Padgate was the initial area where everybody went to get kitted out and that's where I learnt I was colour blind, I didn't know I just thought I was ignorant because I couldn't tell the colours very well you see, brown, red and green. Here's another little story in the school certificate I was quite pleased with my drawings and my painting, somebody was there to tell me what paint to use and when it was time for school certificate to finish, the teacher, Miss Radcliffe, rather a severe lady, walked around and came to me and she looked at me and said 'are you trying to be funny Rowe' she said quietly. I didn't know what she meant, didn't have a clue, I was very pleased with my foxgloves and Margaret Honey oh Margaret Tucker lives up Trefreock, she was sitting right behind me and she was a year younger than me because she caught me up, much brighter, she tapped me on the shoulder and said you got brown leaves and stems, so I thought oh its too late now. I failed that but I was very pleased with what I had. Anyway I was called up went for medical and in those days you stripped right off naked about two or three hundred men all in a great long queue going around to different desks and picked up clothes and you had various tests as you went along. I came to this desk and he had a book, right he said call out the numbers you see, so I called out the numbers I seen, right he said you are red green and brown colour blind, next, I said pardon, he said you are red green and brown colour blind, come on move on move on, next, and I said goodness I didn't know that no wonder I got it all muddled up, it wasn't that I couldn't remember it, because I used to swap the damn things with a box of paints, you had to remember which was which so that was no good at all. Anyway that proved it and I was quite pleased and I was put in the Stores. There is very little trade you can do without seeing colours, you can't think of anything really, not engineering to electrical work to design work its absolutely amazing how it pulls you back. Anyway I was in the Stores and quite pleased with that.

Liz: And you were based it ....

Peter: And then I went to South Wales, St Athens, huge camp, 22,000 men, east and west. Anyway I arrived at St Athens, it was a really foggy old day and went to the bus stop and said I want the bus to St Athens and he said which one, east or west, I thought oh it must be west, everythings west so I went west. When I got there a guard came out and said number, name and rank and I said I'm looking for 4SRT. You've come to the wrong side he said you want the other side of the camp. He said follow this line here and that will take you half way there and you should pick up another one, now this was where aircraft land and take off and I could hear the roar of this aircraft, I couldn't see anything, it was foggy and I was carrying all this gear but eventually I got to where I was supposed to be and everything was alright then. I had quite a good couple of years.