The Life and Times of Robin Lewin
General Back Ground
I was born in Gosport Hampshire in the early years of the 2nd world war. My Father, George, was a soldier and my Mother, Gladys came from a farming background in the Isle of Wight. I am the middle of five children with two elder brothers, David and Patrick, a younger sister Pamela and another younger brother Michael.
I had a basic secondary school education and, at the tender age of 15, joined the RAF as a Boy entrant. I spent 24 years in the RAF in which time I was lucky enough to see various parts of the world, notably Singapore 1961 - 1963, Gan (a small Island in the Indian Ocean) 1968 - 1969 and two years secondment to the Kenyan Air Force 1970 – 1972. I left the RAF as a senior None Commissioned officer in January 1980. However my association with the Ministry of defence was to continue for the rest of my working life as I was then employed as a Civil Servant working on Naval weapon systems and for the last seven years as the Health & Safety Advisor at RAF Kinloss. I was forced to retire in June 2001 because of the MoDs Policy to retire personnel at 60.
I met my wife Dorothy whilst attached to RAF Aldergrove in 1965 and we were married in Newtownards Northern Island in 1966. We have two offspring, Sarah who was born in Nairobi Kenya in the early 1970s and Andrew who was born in Emsworth two years later.
The Early Years
It was early one morning on a cold winter’s day not many months after World War 2 had started when arrived in this world. The place was No 1 Coastguard’s Cottages in Alverstoke, Gosport, Hampshire. I was the third son and my mother was not sure of a name for me. She looked out of the window and noticed a small red breasted bird, hence my name.
When there was an air raid warning during the war people had to don a gas mask, however it was not practical for a small baby and they had to be placed in a ‘Gas Cot’ which was completely sealed with a small viewing panel to let the mother see the baby.
My Mother told me that, on the whole, I was not a bad child but I did not like being put into the ‘Gas Cot ‘ and protested noisily every time I had to be put into it.
My first memory is going to meet the people who I would be evacuated to in the Isle of Wight. It was around Christmas and I Remember a huge Santa on the wall of their living room. I have a few memories of the time during my evacuation, chatting to the land Girls over the fence, aircraft flying low and time in the air raid shelter sing 10 green bottles.
I suppose most of my childhood was normal with just a basic secondary education. My father was in the army and I cannot recall seeing much of him in the early days. I do remember him coming home one day on an army Motor cycle. He was serving in Palestine around 1948 and we were to join him and excitement was high. Unfortunately trouble was brewing in that area at the time and it was deemed to be too dangerous for use to go there, which was a great disappointment. His next move was to Freetown in Sera Leon in West Africa. This time we were luckier and shortly followed him out there in 1949.
This was a great adventure for a 9 year old. It was virtually unheard of in those days for people, apart from the rich and famous, to fly anywhere. Therefore it was out of this world experience fore us. It took four days to get there in the twin engines Varsity aircraft. The first overnight stop was in Gibraltar where we stayed in the Rock Hotel. Then after a refuelling stop somewhere in the desert, the next stop was in Accra then capital of the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in West Africa. The aircraft had developed a technical fault therefore we had to stay there for two nights. This was quite good as it gave us the opportunity to visit the fantastic sandy beaches nearby. We finally arrived at Freetown airfield which was on lungey Island as it was after nightfall we had to stay on the island until the next morning to be taken by launch to the mainland.
We had to attend a school run specifically for army children who were bussed in from various locations. My Teacher was Miss Buxton. Because of the low numbers attending the School she had a wide age range of primary children and the class was split into three groups who where being taught at different levels. This was to have an effect on my future education.
We travelled to school in an army 3 ton truck which had bench seats fitted down the side. The sides of the truck were normally open but in the monsoons canvas covers where rolled down to keep us snug and dry.
The African Ladies transported their goods balanced on their heads and one day when passing a line of these ladies along the road we put our rulers out but raised then above tier loads so that they were not knocked off. However, my brother didn’t raise his far enough and knocked a Jar of palm wine from one of the woman’s heads spilling the wine all over her. This obviously got my brother into serious trouble.
To Be Continued