By the late Derek Riches


Derek & Valerie Riches have lived in and around Ruyton for over 30 years.  While he was so ill, Derek dictated many great stories about his life to pass onto his3 sons.  This is one of them.

When, way back in 1950, I received my National Service calling up papers, the only people who seemed to be happy that I was disappearing into the forces, was my Mum and my sister!  I was a great problem during the earlier war days, with food being on ration and short in quantity and quality, I received whacks from my Mum on many occasions, for pinching Sheila's jam, butter, sugar, cheese rations etc.

I was happy about joining up in one way, but was very apprehensive.  My pals, either decided to run away from the system or give into it, but the system would always catch up with them. If you volunteered for the Merchant Navy, you had to sign up for five years, however, if you joined the Royal Navy or RAF, known as `The Brylcream Boys`, you only had to do two years service and two to three years in the Territorial Army.  

Brylcream – was a British men`s hair styling emulsion popular in the 1930s and 40s and for creating the 1950s quiff. Y.

 I remember vividly, during the war and just after the war, certain newspapers were full of artistic details and drawings of all different parts of war time aircraft written in a boy`s own style as most boys were crazy about flying, dreaming of flying and the technicalities of flying.  

One day I was walking past an RAF recruitment Office in Croydon  and  walked straight in and said to the officer "I wish to become a Pilot" and all he did was laugh and said I was far too young.  I chatted to him for quite a time, then he said, “If you walk into this room I will test you now and see if you are the calibre of man we are looking for”.   He then gave me quite a few exam papers and I had to respond quickly with my answers, when suddenly he stopped and burst out laughing, he said “sorry chum, please go away and come back in the future when you have improved your maths” and that was the end of my dream to fly.


   Derek Riches  

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