Flight Sergeant Frederick Moran, 1946
Flight Sergeant Frederick Moran, 1946

Flight Sergeant Frederick Moran, 1946

A summary of FS Frederick Moran’s time at Church Fenton in 1946, compiled by his son Chris.

My father, Frederick Moran, joined the RAF in December 1942 at the age of nineteen. After a long period of training in Rhodesia, Egypt and India, he saw active service as a Spitfire pilot in Burma in 1945. He left India 17 May 1946 and arrived back home in Bolton on 5 June 1946. By this time he was a Flight Sergeant, though at some time before he left the RAF, he was promoted to Warrant Officer. After visits to London and Nottingham to deal with bureaucratic problems and to sort out details of his posting, he arrived at Church Fenton on 10 July 1946. 

My father was keen to avoid excessive discipline and red tape, and for that reason, I think he avoided dispersal centres which may have been nearer to Bolton, but which had a reputation for “bull”. He got on all right at Church Fenton. His diary entry for 11 July, the day after his arrival reads:

Spent morning getting arrival chitty signed. Saw M.T. officer in noon & got pass for weekend. Sunbathing in noon. Bar at night, then cricket, then bar again. Quite a good station. Should settle down okay – but the RAF’s bloody stupid at the best of times!!!

In any case, he only spent a limited number of nights there. He would leave on Friday, or Saturday morning, to spend the weekend in Bolton. He often travelled by train via Leeds and Manchester, but sometimes hitch-hiked. He would usually leave Bolton early on Monday morning to arrive back at Church Fenton before midday. This routine was punctuated by two weekends which he spent with my mother in Yorkshire – one at the Old Ship Hotel in Ulleskelf, another in Scarborough for a wedding, and several longer stays in Bolton during the week, during one of which in September he started work again in his old job at the Earl of Bradford’s Estate Office.

During his time in India he had learned to drive and it was as a driver that he was initially employed at Church Fenton. A typical diary entry for 23 July: “Driving Bantam on coal duties all morn and noon”. He often only makes reference to the “Grimstone run”. For the last month of his stay at Church Fenton, he worked in the Orderly Office. 

After work, my father would drink with his friends in the sergeant’s mess or at the railway station, or in Ulleskelf. On 19 July for example:

In bar with Mac at night and then with officers and Stephen to Ulleskelf to Ship Inn & Hotel. Big 264 sesh on at the hotel. Back at 10.30 and in mess with Mac. He got me a bottle of whisky.

My father, centre, best man at the wedding of his friend, Mac, who was also at Church Fenton. August 1st 1946

On one of his later trips to the Old Ship, he records that he felt “light” for the first time in years.

The only other forms of entertainment were dances and the camp cinema, where my father saw films such as “The Princess and the Bell-boy”, “Enchanted Cottage” and “The Brighton Strangler”. Dances were fairly frequent, and he records a typical one on Friday September 20th:

In Mess & then Ulleskelf Arms with Ginger, Reg & Mac. Had terrific sesh – Cardinal Puff. Back in taxi. Ginger and I bought beer from Mess and went round to flying control. Danced with Betty until 02.30 & then drove jeep. Bed 03.00.

It is not surprising that the next morning he felt “grim”.

My father’s time at Church Fenton came to an end on October 14th when he left the camp and travelled to the Uxbridge Release Centre. At the end of the entry for October 25th he writes “CIVVY”.