1963 - 1965 RAF Cardington
"I soon discovered that RAF Cardington was unlike any other RAF Unit. Cardington could be perhaps described as a small self contained town. Such was the diversity of tasks that RAF Cardington at that time supported three separate commands:
Transport Command was the senior command with responsibility for the Ballooon Unit and supporting sections.
Maintemance Command had responsibility for Gas production and was mainly civilian manned.
Technical Training Command had responsibility for the Youth Selection Centre. This unit selected school leavers for RAF technical apprenticeships. Some 25% of my workoad was generated by this unit.
The main & primary function of RAF Cardington at this time was to provide barrage balloons for Army parachute training. Whilst most of the parachute training took place away from Cardington at remote sites all the balloons and supporting equipments were repaired and serviced in No 1 Shed. There was also a fabric repair shop in the building behind the station headquarters. Located near No 1 Shed was a Balloon Operators Training School. At the Mechanical Transport School drivers were instructed on how to use mechanical winches and associated equipment. In the support of the Balloon Unit and the other Lodger Units there existed the usual services found on most RAF Units - Officers Mess, Sergeants Mess, & Airmans Mess.
There was no permanent medical officer however there was a well maintained Medical section. There would be a sick parade every workday morning and those in need would be seen by a retired RAF Medical Officer from a local civilian practice.Those in need of dental treatment had to report to a civilian dentist in Castle Road, Bedford. There was a Fire Section which was manned 24/7. Cardington Camp was mostly wooden built and in the main provided cover for the Gas Plant. There was a well stocked library and educational section. There was a full time RAF Education Officer and the usual RAF examinations could be undertaken.
The Stores & Supply Squadron occupied part of the old kitting out complex behind the Headquaters Building. There was an RAF Cardington Mechanical Transport section as well as a Balloon Squadron Transport & Repair section. There was also a parachute packing section which prepared parachutes for army use.
On the civilian side there was the Gas Plant (217 Maintenance Unit), several Ministry of Public Buildimg & Works departments, Airfield testing laboratories and a very active Meteorological site close to the balloon sheds. At that time they secured their weather balloons in No 2 Shed.
During 1963-1965 there were 2 guardrooms the walk in guardroom was manned by RAF Personnel and the drive in guardroom manned by the MOD police. The MOD police were responsible for Station security. Sport was encouraged at RAF Cardington and both the soccer & rugby teams fielded teams in the local Joint Services leagues. I played rugby for the Unit on several occasions." (Alan Thomas Dec 2011)