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Reminiscences of a Squadron Leader Royal Air Force Retd.

This is me today .....

Jack Riley, Squadron Leader, R.A.F. Rtd. All "geared up" for VJ Day 2005.
Of recent times the J has been usurped by P for Pacific but I still prefer Victory over Japan!

Music is " Don't get Around Much Anymore " ....quite apt at my age !!



Born at a very early age I was brought up at Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex. When invasion threatened Westcliff High School evacuated itself to Belper in Derbyshire, carrying me with it. I joined the Air Defence Cadet Corps at the tender age of 12. This eventually became the Air Training Corps. Reaching the dizzy heights of Flight Sergeant, and a blitz or three later, I volunteered for the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve at 17.


Accepted for Pilot,Navigator,Bomb Aimer training I arrived at a time when the place was awash with would-be aircrew.The powers that be had a brainwave ( or was it brainstorm ?) and sent me off to the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University and crammed me full of Japanese.Thus it was that I ended up very smartly in Burma by way of  five days in a Sunderland and ten on F Deck of a troopship. Here I became a very minor cog as a Sergeant Clk/Sigs/Linguist(Japanese) in the Y Service at 164 Signals Wing.

Having successfully won the war and done a stint at AHQ Burma in the old Law Courts building,  I hit on a cunning plan to escape and went off to Ceylon to seek a commission.The best laid plans of mice and men....I gained the commission and was Burma !

Escaping briefly to UK I soon managed to wangle my way overseas. My whole service life was coloured by an Air Commodore who preached " England you starve ; Overseas you starve like gentlemen."

Safely arrived in Singapore,  I worked like a black as Air Movements Officer, Changi, escaping now and again to open AMS in Butterworth, Malaya and Labuan, N.Borneo. Towards the end of this tour, with UK looming again, I was sent up to Burma to advise the newly formed Burma Air Force on their Movements needs. No prize for guessing who was offered the job so there we were,  two tours on the trot, as Air Movements Adviser to the Burma Air Force as part of the British Services Mission to Burma....complete with house and seven servants. Such hardships !

Reluctantly I sailed home on the 'Staffordshire ' pausing only to pick up nice little earners such as winnings from Capt. Kerbyson's bridge four; the Ship's Daily Run sweep ( with the ship full of rich Aussie woolies off home for the Coronation) and Gordon Richard's first Derby winner, Pinza, ante-post at 20-1 .

Various penance postings in UK...Hendon...Hartlebury and Air Ministry were leavened by a spell with the USAF at Burtonwood for the Berlin Airlift....which they called Operation Vittles.The only real achievement of this period was to cure them of the nasty habit of drinking port and lunchtime.

Not able to keep a wily ( no pun) dog down I was soon on my way back to Singapore...Changi again.....but this time up the hill at HQFEAF. Much of this time was spent directing and producing musicals and other theatrical offerings with Changi Theatre Club ( which interest absorbed some thirty years of my life) Knowledgeable readers will smile to learn that I sailed home on the 'Nevasa '...albeit as OCRAF. Much of the journey seemed to be spent fluidly in the Chief Officer's cabin.

A really worthwhile tour on the Directing Staff of the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell was followed by...wait for overseas posting...this time to Aden. I guess one might argue that the hellholes had come full cycle.Supposedly part of the Joint Movements Planning Staff at HQMEC I happily spent time swanning off to East Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Southern Rhodesia and the like, and up into the Radfan where I covered myself in MAMS glory by flying in a kerosene fridge underslung on a Belvedere...cold beer on board.

But all good things have to come to an end and I decided to venture forth into civilian life. Readers will be delighted to hear that I sailed home on the 'Canberra '


The next eight years or so saw qualifications via the University of Bristol, teaching at St.Austell and Fowey in Cornwall, the purchase and renovation of Nansough Manor, the establishment of the largest fuchsia nursery in UK and plans for....overseas!



1974 saw me as Deputy Head of an Anglican Boys' School in Hamilton, North Island and later, after the death of my wife, teaching languages at Te Awamutu College.

The three older children having grown up and I having remarried it seemed time for us to take the youngest, then13 and head.....overseas.


For the past ten years we have "lived happily ever after " in a coastal paradise some 350km north of Brisbane....Hervey Bay.



Although my interests are many and varied my abiding love is our language and literature. It has been my lifetime good fortune to be able to help many to greater enjoyment. If I can help any who read this......please ask.


Initial contact can be made via my guestbook. Ensure you leave a valid email address even if 'encoded' with the usual substitutions such as 'dot' and 'at' to foil the email harvesters.



Visits since 1st Jan 2005

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Jack Riley 2005/2006/2007/ ad infinitum.......

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