Here is an short biography my father wrote:
Peter Magnall 4M1/67th.
I was born 8 October 1934 in Brierfield, near Burnley, Lancashire, the eldest of four sons to Fred Hargreaves Magnall and Mona Magnall formerly Scott.
I attended Walter Street Primary School, Brierfield until the age of 11, when I won a scholarship to Nelson Grammar School. At various times I was a member of the Scouts and Boys Brigade and also the Air Training Corps, 1104 (Nelson) Squadron. At the age of 15 I made the decision to join the RAF as an Apprentice and managed to qualify by three different methods:
- By virtue of the ATC Proficiency Certificate;
- By passing the Entrance Examination;
- By obtaining the Northern Universities School Certificate with 5 Credits and 3 passes.
So in January 1951 I proceeded to RAF Halton and from there to Cranwell as a member of the 67th Entry. The Entry was divided between B and C Squadrons and 4 classes, 2 Ground Radar and 2 Air Radio, Fitters u/t. By virtue of having reached the exalted rank of Cpl. in the ATC, I was appointed Class Leader of 67A. Sport had always been a great interest at school and so it continued at Cranwell. I played soccer and rugby for the Entry and C Squadron and later rugby for the Wing. Basketball, fencing, swimming, athletics and the Wing P.T. Display team also helped to fill the time. After 12 months I was promoted to L.A.A. and later to C.A.A. At Locking, whilst still having 3 Squadrons, we were accommodated in 4 blocks of huts, so it was deemed necessary to have a Sergeant A.A. in each block and I was one of the four in the 67th for our final term in 1953. Our passing out was in December 1953 (so we were not really the 4M1s).
In January 1954 I was posted to RAF Hack Green, a ROTOR station in the making and now a tourist attraction as a “secret” Nuclear Bunker! There was no accommodation, the technical section lived in civvy digs in Nantwich and all other personnel at Tern Hill, being bussed in daily. Whilst I was there, I worked on Type 7, and types 13,14 and 15 radars. June 1954, on promotion to Cpl. I was posted to Middle Wallop to maintain fighter control radar and a DAX control radar simulator. Just when I was settled in and enjoying the rugby (Station team was 13 Army Officers, another RAF Cpl. and myself), I was put on Draft for Germany. The posting was to RAF Wahn, 83 Group Signals Squadron along with many other ex-apprentices e.g. Alec McIntosh, Len Watson, Chippy Lott [66th], Tich Saunders [64th], Geof Neville [63rd], Dave Tonkin, John Watson [67th]. We worked on mainly German VHF, UHF and microwave telecomm equipment’s but also had a type 11 radar and ANTIPS-1D American radar to tinker with.
After 15 months, I was posted to the Central Germany Gee Chain, slave station at Uchte Kuppendorf, near Buckeburg, where I remained for about 8 months. C.O. was Harry English, an Ex-App. of the 34th Entry. Then my promotion to Sergeant came through and with it a posting, I know not where. Harry English got my promotion put on hold [because he would be loosing two “key men”, the Flt. Sgts. Warrant having come through at the same time’], until a satisfactory arrangement could be reached! Having discussed it all with me beforehand, the satisfactory arrangement was an exchange posting with the Flt. Sgt at the Winterburg slave station of the Gee chain. All was approved by HQ 2TAF and I ended up at Winterburg, where I could indulge in skiing and the Flt. Sgt I exchanged with managed to get a married quarter at Buckeburg,[whereas he was unaccompanied at Winterburg]. The C.O. was Dougie Orme, another ex-APP and previously a Flt. Sgt Instructor at Cranwell. I extended my stay at Winterburg by 6 months and was posted back to U.K. in July 1957, to 3 GRSS, RAF Norton, Sheffield, where there was an overabundance of ex-Apps from many entries, including the late Geoff Hamnett, Tom Winchcombe and Sam Overend.
After 3 months I was sent on a MPN1A course at Locking, and after 2 days, by invitation to the Mess, attended a dance at the Weston-Super-Mare General Hospital Nurses home. The dance was organised by a Patricia Ann Bigwood, who has been my wife since March 1959, such is fate. We have managed to raise 3 sons and now have 3 grand-daughters and 1 grandson.
I stayed at 3 GRSS working on MPN-1A and CPN-4 and later PAR SLA-3B & C, until it transferred to North Luffenham in March 1964 to form the nucleus of the Ground Radio Servicing Unit. I was then detached to North Luffenham for my final 6 months of service. I then joined GEC Applied Electronics Laboratories, Stanmore, Middx., where I once more met up with Geof Neville of the 63rd Entry. Pat and I bought a house in Aston Clinton, near Aylesbury, where we still live.
And so I remained at Stanmore until 1997, when I took a planned early retirement. During my employment at Stanmore I worked with or met several ex-Apps e.g. Paddy Worthy [65th]; Peter Law, John Clements; Dave Cracknell [67th]; Phil Thake [67th] Dave Rowlands [67th]; Trevor Clarke [50th] etc. Projects I worked on included: Sea Dart missile guidance system; Goonhilly 1 & 2 satellite ground terminals; SCOT 1 & 2 ship borne satellite terminals; Mk.24 [Tigerfish]Torpedo; Stingray Torpedo; and several air to air and air to ground missiles. I started as a test engineer and spent the final 10 years as Company Product Safety Officer and Guided Weapons Safety Officer.
Our three sons, Paul Duncan; Andrew Martin and Philip Matthew all attended the village school and went on to Aylesbury Grammar School. During that period I was Treasurer of the PTA for 13 years Paul went on to Leeds University were he took a Chemical Sciences degree and went on to teach Chemistry, Physics and Maths at a Leeds Secondary School for 12 years. He became responsible for Information Technology at the school, which increased his work-load considerably after a couple of years. After the Head repeatedly failed to keep promises to reduce Paul’s classroom commitments to compensate for the ever increasing IT commitment, he handed in his notice and found a job with a Company designing and installing computer systems in Education establishments and small businesses.
Andrew spent 2 years at Crewe & Alsager College followed by 2 years for a B. Ed. at Sunderland University. He lectured on Business Studies and Sports Management at Aylesbury College for several years before taking a post at a school in Berkhamsted. Philip was only interested in cars as a means of earning a living until he found the returns for a very junior car salesman were not very much. He then decided that his other interest, computers might be a better earner. And so it has proved, he is Project Manager in a Company designing financial software for the likes of Prudential & Pearl Assurance. He now earns about twice my final salary!
Pat returned to nursing part-time after all our sons were at school and retired after 22 years in the out patients department at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
Financial considerations led us to taking camping holidays with a frame tent in 1967. As a family we enjoyed it so much that it became the norm. We graduated over the years to a trailer tent, then a larger trailer tent and after the “boys” left home for good, a folding caravan. We are now on our third 2 berth caravan, which manages to accommodate 2 grandchildren in the awning on occasions. Using the caravan as our truly mobile home we have visited most counties in the UK & Ireland plus France, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Poland. We plan to continue caravanning as long as we are able.
My early retirement was intended to enable us to travel as much as possible whilst we are fit and able. Our first trip was round the world in Jan-March 1998, over 9 weeks and taking in San Francisco, 5 weeks touring New Zealand, Sydney, Cairns, Bali and Singapore. Whilst in New Zealand we stayed first with Geoff Northmore [64th Entry] and Jeannette, just outside Auckland and later with Peter Cornelius [69th] and Janet, at Rangiora, near Christchurch. During our tour of North Island we also met up with John Roberts [69th] and Alan Carter [68th]. Some of the arrangements and planning of the holiday were made by e-mail correspondence. Later in 1998 we took our caravan into Europe and spent 5 weeks touring through Belgium, Germany, Poland, back through Germany and Holland. Since then we have been to Madeira, Italy, Canada & the US New England States, China and another 5 week tour with the caravan down through France to the Camargue plus many breaks with the caravan in the U.K. During our stay in Toronto we met up with John R. Smailes and June.
2001 has been relatively quiet for travel as I was waiting for an operation on my left knee to sort out a badly torn cartilage, that took place in July, day surgery involving key-hole surgery and seems to have been successful. Nevertheless we have visited Italy, Belgium, Lanzarotte and Thailand so far.
Our home is a semi-detached house that we extended after living here about 8 years. It has a large and fruitful garden and overlooks open country front and rear. We are currently working our way through a programme of room makeovers.
I belong to the Aylesbury & Halton Branch of the RAFA and was a Committee member for several years. I have also served on the Committee of the village Horticultural Society and Pat was a member of the Village Residents Association Committee.
Another interest for many years is Genealogy. I belong to the FHS of Cheshire, Lancashire FH & Heraldry Society and the Bucks Genealogical Society. A fascinating hobby that has led to contacts world-wide, including several in Australia and the U.S.A.
Sadly, my mother fell ill with cancer not long after this and she died on 27 February 2003 at the Florence Nightingale Hospice in Aylesbury. Dad had a few years getting used to being a widower before he also developed cancer and he died, also at the Florence Nightingale Hospice on 22 September 2008 shortly before his 74th birthday. The care that both my parents received at the hospice was superb.
[Last updated 30 July 2022]