This week’s memories are being shared by Tom McGowran, a 1966 Daniel Stewart’s College leaver. Tom says:

School uniform in those days for all boys up to  fourth form was a blazer, grey or white shirt, cap and shorts. Pretty chilly in winter I can tell you. I assume long trousers can be worn at any age today? (Note to Tom – long trousers are worn from First Year, the Junior School boys continue to wear shorts).

The only time we could wear long trousers was when you joined the Army Combined Cadet Force (CCF). 

The Cadet Force was a great way to gain experience of many things from polishing boots to firing old Boer war 303 rifles in the school rifle range. 

We went to a summer camp somewhere in Norfolk where we had a really great time playing war games for a whole week. One particular incident comes to mind where we were shooting on a rifle range and took turns to go under the targets and use a white arrow pointer to show where the bullets hit the target. All was well until someone decided to use a Bren gun. All of a sudden there was a long burst of gunfire and the target above us just disintegrated into thousands of splinters of wood. A very frightening experience!

After two years in the CCF I joined the Air training Corps and experienced flights in gliders (two abreast) and in a de Havilland Chipmunk flying out of Turnhouse Airport. This interest stayed with me and I learned to fly fixed wing and microlights in my 50’s. I gave up after crashing on take off in a microlight and trying to explain to my wife, whilst I was in the ambulance, that I was not seriously injured. I had to promise her that I would not fly again!

Stewart’s did have a training glider called the Grasshopper housed on the playing fields. It was a single seater and was launched by a team of people pulling it on elastic ropes. It was designed to train ATC cadets to fly and was only supposed to fly a few feet above the ground. I seem to remember that we all got into some trouble when it was hitched to the school Salmson tractor and it really took off!

There was one exciting event when the famous Air Commodore Johnny Johnston landed by helicopter on the front lawns. I took some 8mm film of the event and still have the original.

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