How South Shields cadet’s RAF dreams took off

Peter and his fellow cadets at Campden Cairn.
Peter and his fellow cadets at Campden Cairn.

Yesterday I told you how South Shields lad Peter Carlin-Page joined the local Air Training Cadets in order to fulfil his dream of joining the RAF.

Today he tells us more of his time with the ATC and how it opened up a “world” of possibilities for him.

ATC cadets with wreckage from the Flying Fortress/

ATC cadets with wreckage from the Flying Fortress/

“My time with the ATC was wonderful and eventually I became Flight Sergeant, and the cadets became my life,” explained Peter.

During his time with 324 Squadron, Peter joined his fellow cadets on numerous trips, including several to examine the wreckage of two bombers.

According to a report in the Gazette, in July 1968, the cadets travelled in groups of six and seven to the Cheviot Hills were they examined and photographed the parts of two aircraft that had crashed there – a B17 Flying Fortress and a Warwick twin-engine bomber.

“We removed one of the propeller blades from the Flying Fortress which is still in the local ATC headquarters,” he said.

“We also contacted the crew who survived.”

Having come out as top cadet of 324 Squadron, Peter, who was a 19-year-old student teacher at the time, was sent on a trip to the Far East.

The Gazette’s report at the time told how Peter, who had passed his RAF officer selection examination, left South Shields on January 13, 1971, to travel to RAF Brampton.

Two days later he boarded flight 6137 to RAF Changi, in Singapore, as a member of the staff air crew.

While there, he saw the then Prime Minister, Ted Heath, prompting the paper to print the headline: “Sight-seeing in Singapore, he bumps into our Mr Heath.”

During his say there, he also encountered “blazing heat and humidity”.

After leaving Singapore, Peter stopped off at Cyprus, Bahrain and Ghan, before heading home to join the RAF once he had completed his teacher training course.

“I was awarded an RAF scholarship which meant I would go to Scone, in Scotland, and obtain a private pilot’s licence. I also travelled around the world on an overseas flight.

“I was on my own, picking up aircraft along the way, it was my first time abroad, and very exciting.”

Did you fulfil your childhood dream? Please let me know if you did.