Reasons for the Castle in the window

(Window dedication speech made by Chris Curtis)

It was always the great tradition of the senior entry at Halton, just before the great day of passing out, to perform some sort of a college rag type stunt, and each entry in its turn would try to outdo the last. 43 years ago it was the 204th’s turn. A few of our number came up with a scheme which would be the stunt to end all stunts and indeed it very nearly literally did! For reasons of secrecy I shall not mention any names of people or places. If you don’t already know, I'm sure by the end of this you will probably put 2 and 2 together.

The select group of expeditionary volunteers set off to travel in several cars to a large fortified edifice just outside London. The objective was to borrow a piece of history from one of the homes of a certain very well known Lady and her husband who have over the years become one of the greatest tourist attractions we have in this country along with their home and the article in question.

The rest of the entry were kept in the dark. We all knew, even those who were indirectly involved, that something was afoot, but we were not told what. A handful of us were asked to make ourselves available at an instant’s notice to do a bit of bed hopping in case there be a sudden bed check carried out for some obscure reason. Bed checks always started in my room 6, then went to room 5 and to 4 etc. The plan was that after anyone had checked room 6 Boris and I would nip smartly and silently down to room 4 and occupy any empty beds and again to room 2 after 4 had been inspected. By the time we got to room 2, the cat was very firmly out of the bag and the bed hoppers found themselves on a fizzer. Robbie hood’s smiling smug face as he formally charged us with deceit was irritating to say the least.

By now it was around 3.30 in the morning and all the main room lights were on, Sooty, Buddha and Mr Bradley and a few other staff were all there and the whole entry was up and out of bed. Of course most of us knew nothing about what was going on. Then some of the missing people began to turn up, just that little bit too late to have got away with it.
There was bad news too. The story unfolded bit by bit and it seemed that an unlucky 13 had been nicked, charged with some sort of really serious offence against the lady who owned the place, and believe you me, we now know how serious that was, and they’d been banged up in the guardroom at this large building. One of the drivers who’d escaped told of how close he’d come to being shot by this big hairy Welsh Guardsman with a rifle. Every man jack of us was questioned very deeply about what we knew concerning the event. Most of us genuinely knew nothing. We were all in very deep you know what.

The unlucky 13 were told in no uncertain terms, once they had owned up to what they’d been doing and who they all were, that there was no way on this planet that they were going to be on passing out parade the following week. As one of the culprits had an Irish accent, it had been assumed that this was some kind of IRA plot. In fact the rest of us were told that we wouldn't be passing out the following week either. Then, suddenly and completely out of the blue, they were released and told to go. There is a very strong rumour that the certain lady’s husband had intervened and let them off as they’d displayed great spirit, tremendous initiative and in the words of that famous motto of ours “Esprit de Corps” by all sticking together through adversity, even if the planning skills left much to be desired.

On their somewhat subdued return to the fold with tails very firmly planted between legs, we were all assembled together for the biggest and longest tirade of dressing down and lectured on behaviour and various other aspects of life in the RAF. Those of us who were charged with various nefarious offences had the charges dropped, and here we are to tell the tale. It was probably not exactly like that but that is my interpretation of the events of that night as revealed to me by various sources. Oh yes, and the object of the expeditionary force’s desires? The Mandalay Bell. Sadly, no-one had given any consideration to the fact that the thing weighs about 2 tons and is mounted on a 3 feet thick concrete plinth which must weigh about another 2 tons and just how on earth were they going to get that thing all the way back to Halton.

Of course, the other reason for having a stained glass window is one of remembrance, and I would just like to ask you all to join me in one minute’s silence or so to remember those of our number who we know are sadly no longer with us.

Iain Finlayson
Bob Fraser
Jack Loftus
Scotty McLennan
Vic Sylvester
John Foreman