William George "George" Rebbeck 1901 - 1994
Eldest son of Sydney Francis Rebbeck and Emily Coombes Rebbeck
Recollections of Bygone Days part 4
For a bit of a change, not of subject but of period, we'll go a long way back to 1939, when I was asked, if I was alright for petrol, would I take some of the Holt football team down to the A. A. camp at Stiffkey for a friendly football match. We got down there to find a well grassed pitch a bit slippery under foot but nice to play on. There were several hundred soldiers on the touchlines, the Holt team got changed and out on to the field but there was no action. I saw a Sergeant rushing around and getting more and more agitated. I asked him what the hold up was. He said that he couldn't find a referee. I asked him if he could find a whistle? He said he could, why? I said get me a whistle and I'll referee. He didn't ask me who I was or what I knew about it but in no time produced a whistle and I took over. Of course I was wearing ordinary shoes and it was a very slippery pitch.
Right from the start the ball went over my head, I spun round, slipped full length in the muddy grass. I soon scrabbled up and the game proceeded. It wasn't long before Holt scored and to my amazement the soldier spectators cheered with delight. Half time arrived with Holt leading 4-0 and each goal had been loudly applauded by the soldiers. I commented to a soldier on their sporting spirit and was told that they'd kept the team to Sergeants when there were several gunners who were better players so the spectators were actually cheering against their Sergeants. Holt won 7-0 and I discovered why my mouth was so gritty - when I'd fallen down I'd pushed the whistle into the mud.
Talking of the airfield in Wiltshire reminds me of an interesting happening that I once witnessed. A very attractive young woman delivered an aircraft to our factory and for some reason did not leave afterwards. I had a young A.I.D. inspector with me in the office, Tommy Scott and Tom was naturally attracted. They strolled out on the airfield and played a variety of pitch and toss. When I disclose her identity you will realise that it is very unlikely that she had played that game before. You stick something in the ground, In this case a screwdriver and from an agreed mark toss a predetermined number of coins at the screwdriver. The one who is nearest picks up all the coins, nominates heads or tails, tosses all the coins up and claims those nominated, so that It is possible to be nearest the target and yet not win most coins. The law of averages ensures that no one wins very much. When those two came back into the office she was delighted - she had won 21-. What is remarkable in that? Who was she? Diana Barnato. Who is that? only the daughter of Wolf Bernato, racing motorist and South African diamond millionaire. She promised Tom his revenge one day, but we didn't see her again.
"Well," said Tom, "now do it, I've just cut the wire off".
You should have heard the language and I didn't improve it when I suggested that London wasn't the only place that bore smart guys - you needed to get up quite early to get one over on some of us rustics.
While we're an the subject of the factory, on one occasion we gave our own "boss" a little lesson, Jim Shaw one of our senior examiners and a good engineer got into trouble through accepting something that wasn't 100%. Staff meeting - I am the only man who can do that. Good! within a week we had him. Again at a nice inconvenient time, early on a Sunday morning I was in the flight shed when I got a call from Fred Todd, the A.I.D. man in the field hut. He would like a second opinion on a hydraulic pipe so I1 cycled up. The pipe had been rubbed against something, showed a slight brightness over a small area but no damage. I told Fred that I'd sign for it anytime but reminded him that there was only one man who could accept anything that wasn't 100%. Fred grinned and said that that man lived there at South Gerney, about 10 miles away and we had his phone number. We had him out within the hour, bleary-eyed and unshaven. He was furious especially when Fred asked him to countersign the inspection chit. On the following Monday we had another staff meeting. We were told that we were all qualified men and should be able to exercise reasonable discretion. Several of our staff had H.H.C. in relevant subjects, so it was back to status quo. Old dogs don't forget old tricks.
One of our lads borrowed a lorry and went somewhere down on the coast and acquired about two dozen iron pipes ten feet long, maybe more, about two inches in diameter. He also got four angle iron corners and a gate. But when I arrived one evening it was to find stark rebellion. The feeling was that with June only a few days off we'd never get the job done in time. What was worrying them was putting all the posts in. Just as I was telling them we didn't have to dig holes Philip Newton arrived. I explained the situation to him and he went to the boot of his car and produced a special ram rod for making holes in the ground. Five minutes and a pole would be rigidly in place. Strike over, every body eager to have a go and that week all the posts and the corners were in. I had ordered nine foot wide wire netting, bitumen dipped. I got good advice from G.T. Baker's man. He said stand the netting up in one corner and fasten It to the corner post. For that I had made dozens of thin copper strips. The posts must have had holes top and bottom and middle and we ran wires all round. It was a slow job clipping the tarry netting to the wires and some of the gang thought it would be easier and quicker to unroll a good length first and then try to clip it up. G. T. Baker's man was right. Unroll too much at once and it takes charge and being dipped in bitumen - . Eventually we finished a very creditable job and got much pleasure from two quite good grass courts.
Page last amended January 2004