Born in London in 1937, Raelene Boyle resident Gordon Masters enjoyed just two years of life before the sound of bombing started to punctuate his days.
“I can remember going home from primary school one afternoon and hearing the sound of a doodlebug (V1 flying bomb) stop, which was a sign to find shelter quick,” he said.
“The V2’s were even worse because they just went off and that was it.”
Gordon’s life had already been changed by WWII with his father protecting the home fleet in the Orkney Islands as an Ack Ack gunner for the entirety of the war.
While the war had long ended by the time Gordon was 18, two years National Service was still compulsory in 1955.
“After I finished high school, I found myself with university entrance two years away, which was pretty convenient because I spent two years in the RAF,” he said.
“To do your National Service in the marines was unheard of, to do your National Service in the navy you probably had to have a relative in the navy, but to do your service in the air force they had a predisposition for picking people out of grammar schools, rather than comprehensive schools, so that’s how I got in.”
Gordon went for kitting out at Cardington, a former Royal Air Ship Station, in Bedfordshire.
“It was quite convenient because we were able to learn the elements of marching and military drill undercover in the hangers,” he said.
Later, he completed training at a former Women’s Auxiliary Air Force base in Hednesford.
“My abiding memory of that was at the passing out parade the corporal in charge of our flight had laryngitis and when he gave the order to about-turn we did not hear him and we marched into a dip of the parade ground.”
While serving at Locking in North Somerset, Gordon was trained to use ‘Chain Home’ equipment.
‘Chain Home’ was the first early warning radar network in the world and is credited for helping to win The Battle of Britain.
On the day Gordon’s flight graduated the last ‘Chain Home’ station was decommissioned.
“So, we graduated and the skills we had were useless,” he said.
“Eventually they hauled us back into Locking and they trained us with ground-controlled approach equipment.”
He also completed part of his service at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire.
While Gordon finished his time with military in 1957, he maintains ties with others who served.
“I go to the Coburg RSL where I’ve got a group of friends and we chew the fat,” he said.
The Ryman Stories of Service tribute book is now published in time to commemorate Anzac Day.
The special commemorative books recall the wartime memories of 62 of our Ryman residents. We thank them for their contribution to the freedom we enjoy today.
The collection of residents' stories are remarkable and diverse and can be read online here.