Sgt Abe: Spur for a song then he sparks a fuel raid
THESE ramblings have mentioned Sergeant Abrahams, senior NCO of our A Flight s two square-bashing months, at RAF Padgate, in early 1951. We started with a hard-bitten flight-sergeant, but after two days he left to oversee drill for a big parade. On next
THESE ramblings have mentioned Sergeant Abrahams, senior NCO of our A Flight's two square-bashing months, at RAF Padgate, in early 1951.
We started with a hard-bitten flight-sergeant, but after two days he left to oversee drill for a big parade.
On next morning's flight parade, Abrahams appeared - and introduced himself in a way that had nothing to do with Air Ministry Instructions.
With A Flight, and himself, at rigid attention, he shouted: "I'm the new senior NCO. The name's Abrahams. I'm from Edmonton. I support Tottenham Hotspur. I'm a gentile. See?"
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He left-turned and lifted his chin to profile a short, straight nose, raising a finger to it so we all knew what he was on about. Right-turning to face us again, he added "Don't laugh! They might be watching from SHQ."
For A Flight's four drill corporals it must have been sacrilege. It was also a foretaste of the next eight weeks.
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With the DFM ribbon over an air-gunner's brevet, our Sgt was a patent square-peg in the job the RAF gave him now he was no longer needed to dice with death every night. After surviving those tall odds, everything that followed must have seemed a bonus from which everything possible had to be extracted.
Abe certainly tried hard to make the best of a bad job, and doing it his way. It's easy now to speculate he was missing the tearaway life those bomber lads followed, between the nightly plastering of an enemy who exacted a grievous toll.
A Flight's lines had seven huts, and Abe visited one each evening, getting sing-songs going, and jokes told. Esprit-de-Corps, he said it was.
One chill night he found our hut stove cold for lack of fuel. Calling for volunteers, Abe led a raid to thieve from SHQ's supplies. With the stove glowing nicely, he said paternally "See - when mum's not there we have to look after ourselves."
He missed few openings. Hearing the flight mail call, he took the job over so he could prefix the name of an airman, called Bates, with master, always exchanging a no-offence grin with that lad.
Abe arrived on parade one morning with a real shiner. "Walked into a door," he announced. We later learned the door was some American flyers encountered in a pub, and Abe asked if they were still afraid of going-up in the dark - the Yanks having hammered the Fatherland as hard by day as Abe and his mates had at night.
On route marches, once out of camp earshot, Abe had us all whistling. His favourite was the Wedding Samba, then a popular Edmundo Ros hit. We made a rare mess of it, but it had the civilians we met, smiling.
Our Flight CO, Pilot-officer Jacobs, was Jewish. Very new, he regarded Abe with awe. Abe responded by soberly ensuring the CO never put a nervous foot awry.
But Abe was lucky to escape official comeback from one outlandish escapade. It came while A Flight was causing RAF Regiment instructors despair on its weekly assault-course frolic. Not too many ever got all round it, myself not once.
Instructors called it a damp day for you once you'd gone in one of the water obstacles.
They hastily did so for the whole Flight when Abe had his spot of bother. The word went out, right round the course, "Regroup now at Tarzan's Leap!" There were 144 in a flight. In moments all converged on the gantry rope by which you launched yourself, a la Tarzan minus the yell, across a pool to drop off on the far side.
There was plenty of yelling as we rushed up. Abe somehow had helped/inveigled/dared/ kidded comely NAAFI girl Kate into having a go. Now she dangled helpless over the water, bawling her blond Geordie head off, with Abe vainly trying to reach her.
A Flight crowded round three-deep to swiftly screen the shenanigans from SHQ'S distant windows. Refusing to let go of the rope and stretch out a hand, Kate was eventually hauled to safety by Abe clutching a slim ankle. Bods in the front said it was worth seeing.
Back at the Flight lines Abe stood red-faced in front of us. "What girl?" he demanded rhetorically, before an emphatic relieved "A Flight... Dismiss!