The old military

Among his favourite postings was a two-year exchange with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (1954-56), although the rules stipulated that Joy was not able to join him until he had turned 25.

Ah, no, that’s not quite true.

They were both 17 and would often meet on the staircase, but it was not until they were 21 that she agreed to marry him.

The rule was that an officer was assumed not to marry before that age of 25. Which meant no married quarters before that age. Also, no rental allowances, no transport for anyone other than the individual officer. And actual military incomes were v low. It was marriage allowances etc that made life possible, those allowances that weren’t available for the under 25s.

My parents got caught up in this. Married at 23 then Pops was posted to Malta. Mum – along with another similarly placed naval wife – went by commercial boat. Rented in the private market. And had no aid or help from the Navy at all. Pops then posted off to the Pacific – Christmas Island for that test – and she had to make her own way back to England with babe in arms and 8 months pregnant.

She sat in the married quarters allocation office in Portsmouth until eventually, out of embarrassment, they gave her some keys. Next morning they came around and evicted her.

She still spits with rage about it today, 60 years later.

Joy could have joined him. It’s just that there would have been absolutely no help nor aid of any kind. And NZ wasn’t a cheap place to get to back then….

13 thoughts on “The old military”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    It was still a courtesy to ask your CO for permission to marry when I got married as a 27-year-old in ‘84.

    Mrs BiND wasn’t treated as badly as your mum, but she went from being officer equivalent as a forces teacher in Germany to a W/O and I got a right ear bending when she went to the library and was told I had to give permission for her to have a library card.

    Even worse, when we were posted to Cyprus and went to register her car, which we’d driven across in, she was told she couldn’t own it as part of the Treaty of Establishment it and she had to give it to me. To add insult to injury, my boss was female, and friendly with my wife, and she had to sign the transfer papers and both of them blamed me.

  2. So your Ma’s complaint is that she couldn’t live off the armed forces’ welfare state because she didn’t qualify? I trust you’ve explained to her the error of her ways.

  3. No, although he obviously didn’t mind it all that much, spent the rest of his career (well, most) on Polaris and Trident.

  4. Could that explain my most of the 30-something ex-soldiers I meet through work are divorced and sharing babies? Get married, get a pay rise. Babies? I didn’t sign up for this.

  5. @BiND
    Mrs W soon got fed up with being referred to as “wife of . . .” when I was working alongside the RAF in Rheindahlen.

  6. ‘What “armed forces’ welfare state”?’

    The one she was complaining about not being given access to.

  7. @ Mr W
    And in contrast when I was on loan to the Fleet Air Arm one of our squadron wives was heard introducing herself as Mrs Lt Cdr So-and-so

  8. @ dearieme
    Ah, you mean that mythical land flowing with milk and honey in which the military are reputed to live.

  9. Surreptitious Evil

    1. Never met a Worstall at Faslane, Bath or London. What dates?

    2. Naval (civvie) MQ staff were utter, utter bastards. Then fiancé SE took one look at the JOs MQs at Faslane and said a more polite equiv of FOR. I was lucky enough to be able to buy privately. My guys suffered. I did what I could, which was very little.

  10. Weapons Electrical so shore based at any level of seniority. Dartmouth entry in 1951 I think, so dates can be worked out from there. He was a Captain by 1979/80 I think? Same entry year as John Cooper who you might more likely heard of. But I would guess a generation or more ahead of you. At one point was Commodore Trident engineering or some such, summat like that job title, working out of Bath.

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