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11 Intake Tadpoles 1957

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Intake Organiser: Doug Walters Email 

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Tadpoles at Wagga Main Gate

In January 1957, trains rolled into Wagga station at all hours of the day and night depositing groups of fifteen and sixteen year old boys from all around Australia onto the platform. For many, this was the start of a career in the RAAF. We were herded into trucks, know as HGS, and buses and driven the five miles or so to RAAF Base Wagga.

The first site of RAAF Base Wagga was the front gate. This held the Guard Room and cells and became familiar to those who earned the wrath of authority and ended up with some form of punishment such  as “Confined to Barracks”, more commonly known as “CB”. There was quite a distance from the Main Gate to the Apprentice Area, which those doing CB had to march twice a day, so they became quite familiar with the route.

The Base was essentially divided into three sections. Closest to the Sturt Highway and main gate was the married quarters. In the centre was the domestic and living area and then there was the working and training area. The working area was separated from the rest of the Base by the Wagga – Tumbarumba railway line on which the infamous “Tumbarumba Terror” used to run. There was also a gate on the road separating the two areas. The “Tumbarumba Terror” was a rail motor, which used to run infrequently. Apprentices had been known to use rail trolleys to get back to Base, in the early hours of the morning, after a night on the town.

Some of the major buildings in the living area were the Apprentice Recreation Room, the Hospital, the Cinema and the Mess. The name was changed from “The Apprentice Recreation Room” to “The  Apprentice and Junior Trainee Club”. The Club had a small dance floor, billiards, reading and trophy rooms. There was an Apprentice milk Bar, which was under the control of ASCO through the main canteen. It was run by the apprentices and all profits went to the Club. The Cinema was very popular. Television had only just arrived in Australia, but was not in Wagga and certainly would have been out of the reach of apprentices. The cinema was therefore the only avenue for visual entertainment, other than the dances in Wagga and the Wagga City Beach, but that was only on weekends, if you were lucky.

We marched and marched

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Graduating Apprentices

Our Apprenticeships were done

but the Friendships remain forever

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