CI Braidwood, WRAF History.
CI Braidwood is a Civilian Instructor at 176 Squadron where she has been and still is, an active instructor in the Squadron. Teaching cadets and driving the minibus for the Cadet’s activities, having done so for the previous 10 years.
Here she kindly share’s some of her memories about her career and time spent in the WRAF (Womens Royal Air Force) now Royal Air Force. Starting when she joined the service as a young recruit on 13th October 1969.
I joined the WRAF as a Chef and started my basic training which lasted 6 weeks at RAF Spitalgate in Grantham, Lincolnshire, before I was posted to RAF Hereford to train for 19 weeks to qualify as a Chef. I remember we had four to a room and all of the girls got on really well. I am still in contact today with my room mate Liz and I make a special trip to Inverness to see her every three years, where we catch up and talk about our time in the WRAF.
After trade training, my first posting was to HQ Strike Command at RAF High Wycombe where I spent time working in all three of the Mess’s. I was there for over three years, I had a great time and lots of fun. My friend’s, who I knew from 1970 – 1973 and who I am still in contact with today, are Mary, Teresa, Julie and Babbs. I was a SAC(W) back then.
In July 1973 I was posted to RAF Henlow which used to be an Officer Cadet Training Unit. I enjoyed the WRAF life so much that I signed on for another 6 years to make it 12. I put in for an overseas posting, and in April 1974 I was posted to RAF Gatow in Berlin, West Germany. I recall the Berlin wall being in place and going down the ‘zone’ which was part of West Germany. I remember we travelled by train or flight in Germany, I remember the armed guards checking the Military trains with their big German Shepherd’s.
I made great friends at RAF Gatow. There were only 24 single WRAFs posted to Berlin and four of us were called Sheila. So we all had nicknames. I was Sheila Chop, there was Sheila Trucky the MT driver, Shelia Medic and Sheila BAFFY, she worked in pay accounts and BAFFY was an abbreviation for the currency we used on camp. We had so much fun, I remember a double tot of brandy Martel was only 8p and 8p for a mixer. If you wanted a single, you had to specifically ask for it.
I stayed there two years. When I left, it was ‘rentacrowd’ this was where everyone turned out and saw you off. I was a lovely posting and and it was a great team. I fondly remember my Flight Sergent, Danny Kennedy and his wife Hazel, we got on really well.
I was then posted to RAF Hospital Ely in Cambridgeshire where I worked in the Sisters Mess as it was a teaching hospital, I was there not quite two years when I went back to Hereford to do my WRAF Admin course. At the end of that, they gave me my stripes as a Chef and I was promoted to Corporal. I stayed at Hereford where I met my husband to be. He was a Clerk on a FT (Futher Training) Course, they used to call them Panda Clarks (Personel and Administration) Clerks. We married there, and my husband ‘claimed’ me. Which means that the wife follows where the husband is posted. After we were married, I spent two years in RAF Wyton, not my favourite station.
We were later posted to RAF Northalt NW London, which was a nice station. This was the last posting and it was there that I was de-mobbed, back in June 1982.
My husband stayed in and was promoted, so we both went to RAF Stanmoor. By then I had my son Euan and eventually we were all posted back to Hereford where I had my daughter Fiona. We all lived in the quarters in Hereford, it was a good time. When my husbands service finished in 1988 we all moved back to my home town of Portslade. Where I joined the local scout unit where I became Akela for one of the cub units. I spent 8 years with the scouts. I was still working locally as a Chef as Saxon Court which is Sheltered Housing in Hove. I worked here for 15 years until I unfortunately had a bad fall and broke my back. When I eventually started to regain some of my mobility I decided to put my previous experience of the Royal Air Force to good use and in October 2006 I joined 176 (Hove) Squadron as a Civilian Instructor, where I am still today.
I really enjoy being part of the team at 176 and helping the youngsters, its a big part of my life. I am easy going, but don’t upset me. I would recommend the Cadets to anyone and I am still really enjoying my Royal Air Force Cadet career today”