Neville H Barr

RAFYMC Picture Parade Rally, 1961 I arrived at Yatesbury early in 1959 with my 1937 Singer 9 Le Mans Tourer. Within a few months I was involved with the formation of the Club along with Chief Tech. Fred Mills, sadly recently deceased, Cpl. E.C. (Ted) Dobbas, now retired and living near Weston-super-Mare and a Flt.Lt. whose name I can’t recall. We were given one of the hangars on the main campsite, which was divided roughly into 2/3 for Club members’ parking and 1/3 for a workshop. A grant for equipment was obtained from the Nuffield trust and this provided tools and a vehicle ramp. As Ted worked in the stores, the RAF provided paint to tidy the place up, and we also had a shed in the workshop mainly for storage. Activities were mainly road rallies in the local area, vehicle maintenance (some of the things we did would make a modern mechanics hair stand on end) and driving tests which I think were held at the old airfield.
I seemed to spend most of my time in the Workshop. Many a time my Section Sergeant would ask me to service his car, an Austin A50, while he did my ledger work - I was in Pay Accounts. During my service I acquired numerous other cars which were often left lying around when their owners suddenly departed. I bought an Austin 8 Tourer for £5 and acquired dubious title to nine more Singers some of which were dismantled, and the parts stored in a row of lockers in the Workshop. When I was demobbed all of this was left behind as my parents had moved to a house with no garage and no space for one. What terrible lack of foresight! I had other cars too. One was a 1933 Buick bought from a breakers near Marlborough. We tidied it up and eventually got it to run on all 8 cylinders. It was the most impressive car in the Club even counting the Mark 7 Jaguar, which I sometimes borrowed from home. Ted bought the cheapest car I have ever known from a departing trainee when it failed the newly introduced 10-year test. Just £1 got him a 1936ish Austin 18 Limousine! A quick spanner job on the king pin cotters and it passed its test easily. My Buick met a fiery end one weekend when parked alongside a building near the Sergeants mess. It had broken down and was put out of the way, parts being unavailable, but it is thought that a camp guard had used it for a crafty cigarette and maybe dropped the butt into the upholstery. Half an empty billet went up with it, and as a result, lines were put around every parking area on camp to stop vehicles being parked close to the wooden buildings. Gallons of midnight oil were burnt in that Workshop which really was the hub of Club activities, and there seemed to be little that one of us couldn’t fix. I recall one corporal ‘Speedy’ Green who owned a decrepit 1.5 litre 55 Jaguar. He fabricated new big end bearings out of old saddle leather, put a fibreglass patch on a tyre sidewall and had at least one door tied on with string. That car would be worth a small fortune today, as would all the others we tinkered about with then.
I don’t know what happened to the Club after I was demobbed in November 1961. Fred Mills left the RAF shortly afterwards but I have kept in touch with him and his family until the present day. It was at Fred’s funeral last year that I heard of the Association.
Neville H. Barr (formerly 4203243 SAC Barr)
RAFYMC Full Moon Rally, 1961. Runner up - Navigator

 Back to Articles index Return to YA Home Page

© Copyright 1998/2002 Yatesbury Association and the Contributor. Page last updated - 08/01/2005