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15 October 2014
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25 M.U. Hartlebury (1942)

by CSV Action Desk/BBC Radio Lincolnshire

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Contributed by 
CSV Action Desk/BBC Radio Lincolnshire
People in story: 
H. Jack Lazenby D.F.C.
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
15 December 2005

Hartlebury is about 5 miles from Kidderminster. As we entered the camp entrance we heard shouting and cheering. Just inside the camp entrance on the left, was a small wood building used as a reception and for booking out airmen leaving the camp. After being checked in we were escorted along an ash track. On the right were some wood buildings and then Nissan huts. We were put into an unoccupied Nissan hut. On the left was a football pitch, and the cheering we had heard was for a football match being played by two teams of women. We were amazed and wondered what we had come to.
Hartlebury seemed mostly storage from where practically everything used by the RAF was distributed to RAF stations all over the country. There was no airfield but several large sites spread over a large area. Most of the personnel were civilians, and the football match was between women who worked there. There were no service police, but what were known as Air Ministry Wardens who had a blue uniform and a peaked cap. The majority had First World War medal ribbons and some were armed with service revolvers.
We had been posted to Hartlebury to carry out modifications to aero engine ignition harness. The engines which were new were American air cooled radials still in their crates.
A sergeant fitter and an engineering officer turned up and two corporal fitters and we were issued with tools. The job did not last long and we were then given odd jobs around the site, one being the checking over of Standard saloon cars that were parked between rows of apple trees that had been an orchard.
One of the civilians that worked near us had a small cycle shop in Kidderminster. He was very slim and about six foot tall. He had the smallest bicycle that I had ever seen that he had made himself, and he would give riding demonstrations in one of the buildings. Some years after the war he appeared on television offering ten pounds to anyone who could ride the bike. There were also two Americans on the site. They wore RAF uniforms with black buttons and on the shoulders of their tunics were badges with the letters CTC — Civilian Technical Corps. They were the only ones I ever saw. One was named Elmer and the other, tall and gangling who came from the deep south went by the name of Alabammy, and he would sometimes be seen in Kidderminster wearing a trilby hat with his uniform.
At Hartlebury there were no guards or night duties, and at nights we were quite often in Kidderminster. There were not many servicemen and no service police and we had some jolly good times. There were good pubs, a cinema, a dance hall, The Glyderdrome and other dances. We were having a whale of a time. Quite often in the morning when we were still in bed, a corporal would come into our Nissan hut, and from a bucket he would fill our mugs with tea. We had never known anything like it.
To get paid in the RAF you went on a pay parade and saluted before receiving your money. At hartlebury we were paid by a civilian and saluted a man in a bowler hat.
It was obvious that our time in Hartlebury could not last, and looking back it did little for the war effort. I think it was in early June that the axe fell and I was posted to Gosport with about five other airmen. It was a long journey and it was evening when we arrived.

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