Airborne Engineers Association

Charley Elford

 

 

Charley Elford by Ron Day

Charley passed away on 23rd April 2012

I had known Charley Elford since October 1943, when we both joined up as Boy Soldier Apprentices at Beachley Camp, Chepstow, Monmouthshire. We were placed with 'D' Company, which administered Building Trades at the School. Charley was to be apprenticed in the trade of Bricklayer and Mason.

In his time at Chepstow Charley developed as a footballer and at one stage represented the School (no mean achievement in a school housing some 1000 — 1500 boys, who relished sporting pastimes). Later in life he proved also to be a useful hockey player at regimental level.
Charley came onto Man Service with others of his Group at the end of 1946. Sapper Training followed, undertaken at 1 TBRE Malvern over the winter of 1946-47. That behind him, he and his group of ex boys moved on to Kitchener Barracks, Chatham in 1947 for further Trade Training, to obtain a B2 rating.

While at Chatham, volunteers were sought for Airborne Forces Service. Charley, with some 14 others from his Group, took a pace forward. During the summer of 1947, his group of ex boys proceeded to RE Pre Selection for Airborne Service, then located at Barton Stacey. That accomplished, they all moved to Aldershot for `P' Coy initiation, followed afterwards to Upper Hayford for their parachuting training.
Upon qualifying for his 'Wings' and beret, it was then a posting to 3rd Airborne Squadron, located at Bulford Camp, Wiltshire.
As we all know 3rd Airborne Squadron upon its move to BAOR in January 1948, eventually became 9th Independent Airborne Squadron, forming up in the town of Hameln.

Charley remained with 9 Sqn until it reached the Canal Zone in the autumn of 1951. By this point Charley had achieved selection for the Clerk of Works (Construction) course at the RSME Chatham. He moved to Chatham in that year, but spent the next for years approximately, on the 'B' Squadron staff at the RSME in Brompton Barracks.

However, in 1955 he and I started No. 113 Clerk of Works (Construction) course together, qualifying in 1956. I am unsure of his career movements after achieving clerk of Works status.

Upon retirement and in 1970's, he suffered a serious collapse due to an aneurysm of the aorta. With the ministrations at St. Thomas's Hospital he survived this set back. However, the extent of the operation he had undergone meant that the need for further surgery, when he was plagued with hernia problems in later years, could not be entertained. In recent years he has suffered poor health, which he borne with great stoicism up to present days.

He greatly enjoyed the opportunity to meet up with other ex 9 Squadron friends at the Bournemouth AGM.

I last saw him when attending Col. O'Callaghan's funeral at Leamington some years ago. Charley, on this occasion carried the British Legion Standard at the church service, a duty he executed impeccably.

Your pain is now over Charley — Sleep well old friend

 

 

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