After war was declared over in 1945 thousands of RAF personnel were 'demobbed' from the service and because of its facilities Cardington was used as a processing unit for some of these men to leave the service and go back to 'civvie' street. The whole process taking in most cases less than 24 hours. Each serviceman was entitled to a new suit (a 'demob' suit), two shirts, shoes and socks, a tie, a hat and a coat which would equip them for life back home. Interestingly I have been told recently that some of these returning men chose to remain in Bedford and took up work at the nearby Brickworks in Stewertby.
These two pictures on the right show demobbed men at Cardington retuning to civvy street in June 1945. (I believe the building behind these men with the circular window was the C. of E. Church - can anyone confirm this?)
When each man arrived at the station he would be given a folder containing information about the camp and the facilities available both on site and in Bedford and also a map showing the layout of the camp. These sheets are shown below. Note that in the demob years (1945 onwards) this part of the camp was referred to as 'No 102 Personnel Dispersal Centre.'
At the time this folder and the information it contained would have been very helpful for the returning servicemen but for ourselves in later years it serves as an invaluable historical document providing us with so many snippets of information on many levels. We can see that the whole demob procedures were very well organised within the Station - we also get a glimpse of the services provided which would have been available to permanent staff as well. There was certainly a great deal of entertainment available on site with the cinema open every weekday evening and dances held twice a week. There was also a gym, a NAAFI base, and a post office.