Bob emailed the following on 24 Dec 2020.
- • I arrived at Shinfield Park in January 1965 as a fresh faced 17 year old along with Mike Stephens, Larry Hopwood and Ken Sparrow - we were all boy entrants at Hereford in 1963/64. I left for Aden in March 1967. Mike and I were good pals and we picked up our friendship again in 2008 when the 2 Squadron, 49th BE Entry had it's first reunion, we have been attending every year since except, of course, this year. I can remember very little about my time at Shinfield Park other than the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It really was my real introduction to the two important things in my life - women and drink and I'm not sure I've ever come to terms with either. The only thing I've ever really been good at is making people laugh, sometimes on purpose.
- • I have only attended one reunion to date, that was in 2011 and, unfortunately, after the Friday night meal Mike and I met up with a work colleague of mine and ended up having a lock in at his local. I was much the worse for wear and missed the lunch at the Black Boy! I was still a little hungover on the Saturday night but I'm still glad I attended. I was due to attend this year's and, if the 2021 reunion goes ahead I hope to be there
Andre replied on 24 Dec 2020.
- • It was great to see your email.
- • I would like to add you to the Personnel page on our website after seeing the information you sent on your RAF time. However, I won't do this without your agreement.
- • We seem to have lost contact with Larry Hopwood. I spent some time with him organising a horse race betting scheme... but we ended up losing money! I returned from Aden in late 1965 and we were doing 24-hour guards every 10 days or so then. Things must have been fairly hairy when you arrived in 1967. When did you leave? I have another website for the rock group The King Bees that I was in based at Steamer Point, kingbeesinaden.co.uk that you might be interested in viewing. Incidentally, what was the John Lewis connection? My wife Lorna worked with the partnership for quite a few years and I have fond memories ... it is the first place I make for when visiting town (Nottingham).
- • Hope to hear from you.
Bob posted again later that day.
- • It's really nice to hear from you. I have to admit that I always hope for a reply when I write something on a round robin type of email, so thank you for that.
- • You certainly have my permission to add me to the Personnel page, once Christmas is out of the way I will send you a few words and a before / after photo to boot. One of the many regrets I have is that I did not take enough photographs at Shinfield, as far as I can see I only have 2 one of me and one of a WRAF both taken on the same summer day down by the river. The ease with which we can all take photographs is, by the standards of th 60's, incredible and, sometimes, too easy but I do wish I had a few more of my time in Reading.
- • The John Lewis connection is my wife's Mother (who, sadly died on Tuesday at the age of 95), she worked for JL when they had hairdressers in store, a long time ago. You live near Nottingham then, I have to admit I love the place. A great friend from school days (we were each others best man) moved there many years ago - he's actually lived there longer than he did in Newcastle - and we meet up regularly - he lives in Arnold by the way. Our Boy Entrant reunions have taken place at Thoresby Hall for 3 out of the last 4 years (this year would have been there too) and we have re-booked for May 2021. I always stay over an extra night in Nottingham to see Alan and some of his friends who I have got to know well over the years.
- • Larry Hopwood, what a cracking lad, it's such a pity that he seems to have disappeared from sight. He had the room next to me on the first floor wing and I seem to remember that you were further along the corridor. I use to love him discussing his new betting systems, like most systems fine in theory. It always makes me laugh when I think of Larry being posted to Stornaway and his home being Plymouth, not much chance of a weekend trip home!
- • I also remember your musical hobby and the state of the art recording deck that you had. I think I mentioned to you in 2011 that we had tried our hand a writing a song (tentatively called "You girls are all the same") but you didn't remember it and, since I've never heard it on radio I guess it never went anywhere, I'm sure it was good.
- • It's funny thinking about Aden, yes it was hairy but you know what, I really loved it. I think the feeling of camaraderie was something to be experienced. Of course that all built up after the Crater massacre of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (and several other soldiers) on 20th June 1967. I was actually on guard at Steamer Point Hospital that night when the (mutilated) bodies were brought in, an awful time. I left Aden in late(ish) November and was sent up to Bahrain until the following March.
- • Right, I think that's enough for now, don't want to send you to sleep.
- • Enjoy your Christmas.
Bob emailed the following on 18 Mar 2021.
- • Hi Andre,
- • Thanks for the email and you will, hopefully, have now received photographs of me from 1965 (down in Reading by the River Thames) and last year, in my back garden, I think you will agree that there is very little difference between them!
- • I hope that your plan to move to Birmingham goes well when you eventually get around to it. I really like Birmingham and, since discovering it in 2001 I have only missed going last year (for obvious reasons) and the year before for no reason I can think of other than maybe I was too busy. When I say "discovered" Birmingham, up until 2001 the only time I had been to Birmingham was when travelling between Newcastle and Hereford when I was a Boy Entrant and the only part of Birmingham I actually saw was the bit between New Street and Snow Hill (?) I changed jobs in 2001 and ended up going to quite a lot of meetings there and really came to love the place. Other than work I went to a couple of test matches at Edgbaston and then persuaded the Hereford mob to have our reunions there for a few years. Other than that, I had made a couple of good friends there and still keep in touch. I look forward to going back soon though maybe not this year because there is so much to catch up on.
- • Has the Shinfield reunion been formally called off? I know it probably has but there is not mention of it on the website, I still have, theoretically, a room booked and if a new date has been arranged then I would like to transfer it (if allowed) depending of course on when the next reunion might be. Our Hereford BE reunion (which we always have in May) was called off last year and we have had to rearrange this year for July so that, god willing, we can have some sort of normal get together.
- • Anyhow, that will do for now, let me know if the photos arrived okay.
Bob’s pictures are below