I did enjoy my time with the CCF at the school, I believe K D Anderson was the driving force behind establishing it at the school, I joined at thirteen a year or so after it started. We visited Chichester last year, one of my insufficient excursions to my roots, I noticed passing the school on the bus that the old air raid shelters adjacent to the fence with Kingsham Road are still there. I would really hope that at least one of these will be preserved as they are now an extremely rare piece of WW2 heritage, nationally most have been demolished years ago. I wonder if there any pupils still left who can recall using them during wartime air-raids. I believe it was the second shelter from the ‘school end’ was utilized as the CCF armoury, holding .303 rifles, Sten guns and Bren guns. I just cannot believe that totally unsupervised we used to take out various weapons at lunchtimes and do little better than ‘play’ soldiers with them primarily along the school side of fence with Kingsham road. Can you imagine the national headlines today if young teen boys were entertaining themselves with weapons of that ilk today?
On the subject of wartime air raids my mother told me how she was machined gunned in the street in Chichester by a raider who had just dropped bombs in the city, she removed pieces of glass from inside my pram afterwards – I still have a photograph of me in my pram in Priory Park surrounded by blowing feathers from pillows from a building damaged in an air raid, must have been 1943.
The other institution from the school at that time that would make headlines today would surely have been ‘Prefects Court.’ Whilst I was never a client of the court I have always thought how unjust it was for pupils to receive double punishment for prefects’ detention. I wonder why there was no similar system for teachers’ detentions. The Discipline Master was a Mr Watson (he had a very descriptive nickname) who administered the cane at the ‘court’, it was a very short, stubby instrument and descriptions of him wielding it indicate that at the point of impact he was totally in the air, with no foot contact to the ground, I suppose this maximised impact from cane to ‘bottom’! I wonder when the ‘court’ was abolished. Oh ‘happy days’!
Is there still an Aero Club at the school? The 50’s were a very ‘heady’ time for both military and civil aviation in the area as there were operational air bases at Tangmere, Thorney Island and the RNAS at Ford where the prison is now. The club had a visit to Ford, must have been about 1955. It was really memorable both for them and us, they had three aircraft crash there during our visit, Sea Furies and Seafire I believe. One them burst into flames and one of the 60lb rockets, (thank goodness practice with a concrete head), cooked off and just missed a passing bus! More positive though was that we all got our first flight – being winched off the runway into a Westland/ Sikorsky S51 helicopter. I can still see it now being winched up in school uniform with my school cap tucked in my pocket!
I also remember seeing Neville Duke in his red Hawker Hunter having taken off from Tangmere flying over the city very low banking over the Parklands Estate, virtually directly above our house in Oliver Whitby Road to go on and break the world air speed record along the coast near Bognor in September 1953. The other world air speed record that I actually witnessed being done was in March 1956 with Peter Twiss in the Fairey Delta 2, the measuring points were at Ford and Chichester sewage works I believe at Apuldram. He flew very high at about 1,132 mph leaving a contrail, faster than anything we had ever seen before. The FD2 was an experimental precursor for Concorde, amongst other high speed projects. I believe it is in the Fleet Air Arm museum at Yeovilton.
To hear and feel the sonic boom of the sound barrier being broken was virtually a daily feature of school life in those days!