Les Rothery


Les emailed the following on 22nd February, 2015

My name is Les Rothery (first christian name is Charles but I have alway been called by the short form of my second christian name of Leslie).

Now aged 83 and living in Wales, I served my National Service at Shinfield Park between 1950 and 1952.As a trainee journalist I was selected to work in the offices of HQ Flying Training Command as an assistant to a Group Captain Wallace, the Senior Personnel Staff Officer at that time.

I well remember travelling every morning in a military personnel carrier from the huts at Shinfield to the Command offices a short distance away.  As an SAC I worked with a WRAF member and a civilian girl in the offices and I believe I was given the appointment because I already had the skills of shorthand writing and typing before I was called up. However this did not deter the RAF from posting me initially to a training establishment at Hereford to learn the skills I already had!!

One of my fondest memories of Shinfield Park was a hole under the hedge at one side of the site.  This was frequently used by residents who, for one reason or another, had failed to get a pass from the MPs at the security gate to allow them to leave the campus in their leisure time.  It was a very popular escape route.

In many ways it was an enjoyable period of my life particularly as the work I was given often excused me from participating in parades and drill sessions --  and I had the fringe benefit of taking a WRAF girl for rowing boat trips on the River Thames at Reading. (The courtship ended when I completed my service.)

Shinfield Park also gave me my first experience of flying. Group Captain Wallace offered me a lift from Woodley(??) airfield not far from Reading in a Harvard training aircraft when he was visiting a RAF base at Tern Hill near Market Drayton (about 10 miles from my parents' home at Newcastle-under-Lyme).   When he offered me a "lift" I thought at first he meant by car and when we arrived at the airfield I was terrified - - particularly when the wing commander who was flying the plane strapped a parachute on me!  

Hope my memories may be of some interest to you.

© Andre Francis 2018