BIRTH OF THE 51st ASSOCIATION

For many years Roy (Dinger) Bell was the 51st representative for the RAF Halton Aircraft Apprentice Association, which was formed in 1982 and held triennial reunions for all Entries. There were a few stalwarts, who together with Dinger attended these triennials, and it was on the 20th June 1991, prior to the formation of the 51st Association, that a 51st Entry reunion was held at the Rose and Crown in Tring on the occasion of the Passing Out of the 151st Entry. Ken Savage had been liaising with Dinger prior to this first reunion and had been advertising in numerous Service and retirement magazines in an attempt to find and bring the 51st back together. As a result of their efforts, 48 members with 18 ladies attended this first gathering, which was a great success. Consequently, with the future of Halton in the balance, Dinger and Ken got their heads together and decided that it was time that the 51st had its own Association. At the 1992 triennial, Dinger commandeered a bomb trolley, suitably placed at the back of the hangar bogs, and used it as a platform from which to address the 38 members of the 51st present that day and proposed that we should have our own Association. The proposal was carried unanimously and David (Ben) Mitchell was co-opted onto the Committee to get the Association off the ground. Fortunately for posterity, a photo of Dinger aboard the bomb trolley has been uncovered and is reproduced here.

The following letter from Dinger to Fellow 51st Brats was the start of his dream to get the Association up and running, the content will speak for itself. Note:- For the uninitiated the term "Brats" refers to all Aircraft Apprentices who are affectionately known as "Trenchard's Brats".


30th October 1992


Fellow 51st Brats,

It was great to see so many of the Entry, 38 in all, at the Halton Aircraft Apprentice Association Triennial reunion on 26th September and the new faces were most welcome.

I have been your Entry representative for some years now, but have never had the time or facilities to really get to grips with the job. For the past year or so, Ken Savage has given me enormous help for which I am sincerely grateful. It was proposed at our first ever Entry reunion last year, that we should have another in 1993. Ben Mitchell offered to organise it at Bromsgrove on 9th October 1993, to which I gladly agreed.

Ken, Ben and I considered it necessary to set up an official Association, with a Committee. At the Halton Triennial reunion, these proposals were put to our meeting (next to the 'bogs' at the back of the hangar) to which all agreed. So the "51st Entry RAF Aircraft Apprentice Association" is now official, with Ken as Secretary, Ben as Treasurer and myself as Chairman. Money will be needed to keep it going. We don't propose to have a subscription, but I will be round occasionally with my begging bowl if necessary. With the future of RAF Halton in the balance, it may be up to individual Entries to organise their own reunions, so I think this is an opportune time to found our Association.

Several of you approached me at the Triennial, suggesting that Fred ('Boggy' to you) Marsh, our Wing Warrant Officer, be invited to become an honorary Member of the 51st Association. Boggy was at the Triennial, so with the Committee's agreement, I asked him and he was delighted to accept. On your behalf, I sent him written confirmation of his appointment as an Honorary Member of our Association and he will be invited to all of our future functions.

I would like to put together a scrapbook of group photographs of the Entry at Halton, especially those of the Party's when we first arrived. If any of you could loan me suitable photographs, then I will get them copied and return them to you.

Hope to see you all next October

Dinger Bell



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