My very happy memories of my time at the M.R.S. Arborfield 1955 to 1957.
By John Bradfield Nottingham.
Following completion of basic training at R.A.M.C. Crookham plus a clerical course at Netley, I was in a group of six posted back to Aldershot before we were posted to wherever. During our short stay there, I overheard someone say that one of us would be going to Arborfield which caused a ripple of excitement,which caused me to become interested, and for some reason, I hoped it would be me despite never having heard of the place. To my utter delight I was the chosen one!!
The ambulance collected me and delivered me about 40 minutes later to a place I grew to love for the next 21 months of a very happy time in my life. My arrival was just a few days after a very bad explosion at the Rainbow fireworks and apparently the police were out searching for the remains of a casualty from the disaster. It caused quite a feeling of great sadness in the area. However I soon settled in surrounded by about 15 others, cooks ambulance drivers a pharmacist nurses and my C.O. plus 3 or 4 Doctors. One of the lads was also from Nottingham which helped me settle in. Initially my position was assistant Chief Clerk prior to my boss being released having served his time, which meant my promotion to Corporal plus the exalted position available to me It was soon made clear to me soon after my arrival that I would be attached to the A.A.S. for various things including pay given to me by the very nice Sgt. Merry, who I fondly remember.
Having this attachment meant a large percentage of our patients were from the school, with everything from the common cold to fluttering feelings in the chest and home sickness etc. One of my finest memories concerns one such little lad who called me over to his bed around 11pm during a ward round, telling me he couldn’t sleep and requested a sleeping pill, which of course I couldn’t give to him but of course I wanted to help him, so, speaking very quietly I said I would get him something to take, on the strict understanding he told no one, otherwise I could be in very serious trouble and lose my stripes, to which he readily agreed. Shortly I took him a vitamin c tablet and water and gently reminded him of our ‘deal’. The following morning before handover, I went to see him to ask how he had slept, he replied very well, and could he have another pill that night!! This was my first lesson in psychology, I left him feeling 10 feet tall, a very happy moment, and one I often think about even to this day.
A further explosion occurred at rainbow some months later to which I decided to attend with ‘spud’ Tate one of our ambulance drivers to see if we could assist, my first view on arrival was a man with a badly damaged arm showing tendons and lots of blood etc. which shocked me, however thanks to the bombardier from the school M.I. room who cycled across country arriving before us and he had dressed the wound, and was dispatched to hospital,possibly the Battle at Reading? Going back to the boys, we also had the odd few who were sent to us to do a spot of bumping the corridors etc. following an infringement at school.
Eventually as August 1957 approached and despite the fact I was going home not only to my wife, but also a 10 months old daughter, I said my very sad goodbyes to all, particularly my replacement, also from Nottingham! and once again boarded the W.W.2 Austin ambulance to be taken to Reading station leaving my beloved Arborfield with tears rolling down my cheeks.
My sincere thanks to Mr. John Coles for inviting me to write this letter, it has left me with a very warm feeling.