THE FIRST ENTRY-HALTON (January 1922 – December 1924) By Harold Dewey 1st Halton Entry
And as we stood on North Camp Hill All spick and span to do our drill A ringing voice just like a ‘barker’s’
Stentorially calls out the markers.
And on we march in dead straight line We think ourselves: “It’s fine, just fine.”
But drill instructors from the Guards Just waiting – holding all the cards! – Decide a ‘field day’ is in store Like Shylock, always asking more,
With books and pencils small and large Can’t wait to put us on a charge.
For weeks we pounded square and road Till “fit to look at” so we’re told.
Back and forth that stretch from Tring Of ‘shops’ and ‘schools’ ne’er saw a thing.
Until one morn when winds swayed birch Decided they’d take us all to church.
So in we went in long thin line Through what we now know is Bay 9 – And as we gazed at Kipling’s “If’
Suddenly I felt such a biff And voices yelled in one accord:
“Take yer ‘at orf in the ‘ ouse o’ Gawd. ”
Then later on we went to school And if the masters thought we’d fool The Colonel left us in no doubt Who’d come off worst in any bout.
Then to the workshops lithe and sprite In overalls all clean and white Some to filing, chipping metals Others saucepans, even kettles.
And some were drivers Fitters Pet.,
Whilst others chiselled wood, you bet.”
Then coming back off summer leave We packed our kits and shouted: “Heave.”
And into Bulback we suspected You know – the ones they’d just erected.
We worked and played from dawn to dusk And ate our way right down to husk.
Then into bed and out the lights We snored our way through such short nights And dreamed of stripes, and crowns and rings And even ‘scrambled eggs’ and things!.
Then at the crack of dawn you see We do our volunteer P.T.
In 1 and 2 Wings’ competition For that we stage an exhibition.
And if we win when on the field
The marks will count for Higgins Shield.
And on the floor a square was painted Inside of which some boxed and fainted Whilst others ran on field and track And some the Monument and back!
Our flowing locks gave great concern For if too long more ‘janks’ we’d earn.
But one bright chap quite tall and slim Fixed one and all with just a “trim.”
Then when it came to our inspection
Our hair appeared cut to perfection
But as we marched with martial ardour
We heard: “Step short in front there Slim the Barber.”
Which put poor “Slim” in such a state
He flogged his clippers ‘fore too late.
And then a “Parents Day” we had To see their boys came Mum and Dad To find out how such clever Dicks Had learned so quickly Air Force tricks.
To see the planes their darlings “flew”
They told such fibs, Mum never knew.
But Dads were made of sterner stuff And said: “Now whatis all this guff?”
“Don’t tell me you can fly already
Like Flight Commander straight and steady.”
But erring sons said: “Keep it dark,
We only did it for a lark.”
But smoking was our greatest crime If caught, seven days we did in time.
If twice we dared to have a drag For fourteen more we’re “in the bag.”
And if a third time risked our arm Full 28 down on the farm!
To make quite sure we’d learned our lesson Seven more we got if “in possession.”
We worked and slaved with tools and books For now we were no longer ‘rooks’
To care for new boys such as they We’d “Leading Boys’ without more pay.
Officials needed many helps To deal with all the artful whelps To discipline and ‘toe the line’
We did just that, right good and fine.
Our time was coming to its end To swot near drove us round the bend.
We’d done our Inters – Finals now And got all credits they’d allow However they may shout and bark On Halton we must leave our mark.
Ne’ er mind how others called and cursed For after all we were the First.
We’ve given you ‘four’ Cranwellians say And so you’re ‘fifth’ and stay that way.
Well first or fifth which’er you like Of Halton you just can’t take the mike.
And then Lord Trenchard, loved, revered, Although by some was greatly feared Came down to do the Passing Out And find out what ’twas all about.
And all this happened in the gym Where Kipling’s “If’ looked down on him.
‘Twas there he spoke with words sincere To play the game and life not fear.
But uniforms were not alone
The caps and gowns – they lent it tone.
And seated there in bright array Were Mums and Dads from far away.
So with his blessings we dispersed Did Halton’s one and only First.
And much has happened since that time There’s been another ninety-nine!
And now they’re scattered far and wide Their training never to deride.
Some reached up and grasped a star Others – nowhere near by far.
But if in victory they passed the test
Defeat can be in glory – if they’ve done their best.