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1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesHaving undone my cases and hung up my uniforms, suits, and trousers, I made my way back to the Mess, taking my time. There was still no-one about outside which I thought strange although there was obvious activity from the airfield. As I walked past the old Luftwaffe Officers' accommodation blocks each side of the Mess gardens I could see that they had pergolas hung with wisteria and other vines. They were fine elegant buildings in red brick and with a raised brick patio along each garden frontage. They looked well against the backdrop of dark green pine trees. The rear of the Mess building also had a wide terrace overlooking the garden, lawn, and tennis courts. I had never seen anything of this standard at any UK camp. Everything was neat and tidy, well kept, and comfortable to the eye. There were five Officers blocks in all. Only the two ex-Luftwaffe blocks and the Mess were in sight of each other.

Video showing SEN-013 clip from Ken Senar's film.   SIGN: "Officers Mess".   This sequence shows officers' weekend relaxation.   The Mess was a large building but there was no accommodation in it.   Officers lived in rooms in separate blocks.   The old Luftwaffe blocks (mostly allocated to Flight Lieutenants and above) had pergolas covered with wisteria on the sides flanking the Mess lawns, these can be seen.   The new, starker looking, blocks were equally as comfortable although a little farther away.   All the area was cut out of dense pine forest which harboured thousands of mosquitoes.   Insects apart, it was a beautiful setting and protected from strong winds by the trees.   The sequence shows:   Exterior front of the Mess building, panning to the main entrance.   Old accommodation blocks at rear on either side of the lawns and tennis courts.   A group, including Fg.Off.s Dennis Tann (dark haired Gunnery Officer, now deceased), and 'Ginger' Friend relaxing on the ante-room patio.   In the background are the tennis courts being put to good use.   Glimpses of Dennis Tann's kitten.   Flt.Lt. 'Johnny' Horrell (with sweat band) leaves the tennis court after a game.

1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesOn going round to the front of the Mess I was greeted by Hildegard who pointed out the dining-room, anteroom and bar. She gave me my bar book number via which all purchases would be booked to my account, and be paid for by the 10th of each month as was usual in Officers Messes throughout the RAF.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesI entered the anteroom, a cavernous room with two large chandeliers hanging from its lofty ceiling, a minstrel gallery at one end, and paintings hung on the walls which were, themselves, decorated with relief plasterwork panels with features in an almost baroque style. The comfortable furniture, easy chairs and settees, had chintz covers which echoed the pattern on the curtains. That part of the room, separated from the main space by several columns, overlooked the rear garden and had a carpet on the floor. This apparently empty room, as far as I then knew, was the home of the pilots of two flying Squadrons, and the Officers of the Station Administration and Technical Wings.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesAs I was standing, taking all this in, a brother Officer entered and asked my name. I told him and he introduced himself as Johnny MacKnish, a Pilot Officer of 93 Squadron, the Squadron I was about to join. He quickly explained to me that there was a huge 2ATAF and BAOR exercise in progress and that was the reason noone was about.2 Everyone was in tents dispersed in the forest, and the Station for the time being was on a war footing. Johnny himself had been detailed to look out for me and other newcomers to the Squadron, and to welcome us and show us round and help us settle in. I was the first of the newcomers.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesJohnny took me to the wood-block floored dining-room and showed me which table was normally used by 93 Squadron, and to avoid that used entirely by members of 4 Squadron. Although those from 93 didn't necessarily stick to the one table, those from No.4 almost always kept to theirs. There were more tables laid, each for from four to twelve persons, with seating in comfortable dining chairs. Windows were down each of two opposite sides of the room, making its lofty volume light and airy. A third wall was hung with long dark-blue curtains as a dressing. I was too late for tea, usually taken in the anteroom, but dinner would be served soon.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesWe went back into the anteroom and I met some other Officers who had just entered. On talking to them I discovered that the Station, since the end of the war, had been used as a displaced persons accommodation centre but some two years ago had been refurbished and extended before being taken over by the Royal Air Force. I also found that both Squadrons were flying Vampires so, to my relief, I didn't have to convert on to a different aircraft type. Other 'shop' talk was avoided as was the convention when off-duty in the Mess.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesI went to dinner and was served by German waiters and waitresses. The food was to a high standard, better than most I had enjoyed in the UK. Afterwards I made
2 2ATAF = 2nd Allied Tactical Air Force. BAOR: British Army Of the Rhine. I think the exercise was code-named 'Grand Repulse'.
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