1957 on location at the College
I was one of 36 cadets 'vetted' to be extras on this film.
Our contribution was made during two weeks of our Easter break and the weather was superb. Six of us were chosen to do walk on parts so that when most were in uniform we would be in civies and vice-versa. This meant we spent much of the time sunning ourselves rather like aircrew waiting to be scrambled. We were paid and those cadets whose cars were used in the film got extrra.
The film company arranged a reception in the George in Grantham and we were all invited to meet the cast and production team - it was all very civilised. Anthony Newly was a genuine comedian and one day when we were all assembled on the parade square he drove up in one of the cadets bull-nosed Morris and when he got out he had the cadet battle-dress top on but no trousers. When challenged by the director he exclaimed 'I thought it was just close-ups this morning!' We all used to go to the Station Cinema each evening to watch the rushes which was great fun. In one scene which was supposed to be Ray Milland as Wing Commander briefing cadets at the start of the flying term, took 42 takes because he could not remember his lines. There was a lot of FFing and Blinding from the leading man.
On one bizzare occasion I found myself a lowly cadet sharing a lift with Wing Commander Powell, a technical advisor on the film, in the back of a Facel Vega sports car driven by Cubby Broccoli the Producer. As we sped down the narrow Lincolnshire lanes Cubby leaned back and enquired whether the wing commander might like to invest in the picture. Powell asked how much he might be expected to venture and when Cubby said 'How about 35 grand' Powell choked and said with some difficulty that such a sum was rather beyond his means. It was discovered that Kenneth Fortescue was so uncoordinated that he could not march in time with the rest of the squad and stood out like a sore thumb. So Flt Sgt 'Chiefy Legge and Flt Sgt Jack 'Bogbrush' Holt attempted to march either side of him the full length of the main drill square. By the time they reached the end even they were out of step. A plan was devised whereby Kenneth held two black cords in either hand and the cadet marching behind him pulled them rather like puppet strings.
It was good to see old friends appear in the movie but I was disappointed that Guest Night scene and Graduation Ball were not filmed at the college. Much of our contribution ended up on the cutting room floor, nevertheless it was a unique experience.
Roger Adams 74B
A group of flight cadets arrive at RAF Cranwell to begin a three-year training course to become RAF pilots. Amongst the group is Tony Winchester (Kenneth Haigh) who makes a memorable entrance by landing his civilian Taylorcraft Auster aircraft with his girlfriend (Anne Aubrey) aboard on the RAF runway just ahead of a de Havilland Vampire jet trainer piloted by Wing Commander Rudge (Ray Milland).
During the Second World War, Winchester's father had been Rudge's commanding officer and was killed protecting Rudge, who had disobeyed orders. Winchester is a difficult individual who harbours animosity towards Rudge over his father's death. Another of the aspiring pilots is the scientific minded Roger Endicott (Anthony Newley) who is also determined to create a working flying saucer. Endicott's flying radio-controlled model develops difficulties and crashes into the middle of a Bishop's (Ian Fleming) tea party.
Winchester doesn't learn the meaning of teamwork and is nearly killed when he disobeys orders, flying into a storm. Rudge demands his resignation but reconsiders, remembering his own rash behaviour had been the cause of the death of Winchester's father. Rudge ultimately selects Winchester to fly in a precision aerial team training for the Farnborough Airshow. When the squadron is temporarily posted to a forward base in West Germany, Winchester flies close to hostile territory near the East German border and is nearly shot down by Communist anti-aircraft guns firing across the border. The wounded airman and his stricken aircraft are rescued by Rudge, who brings him back safely to a crash landing at his home base. Finally, Winchester comes to understand his role in the RAF and that he is part of a team effort.
I was in the Junior Entry when the Cranwell scenes were filmed and later on I got to know Roger Adams well. His room was round the north corner in the B Sqn wing ground floor and close to mine. In his last year before graduation Roger got very miffed by birds in the trees outside his room waking him too early with their dawn chorus. So he tape recorded the racket (tape recorders at the cutting edge of technology) and played it back at full volume last thing before lights out. I think the birds moved elsewhere.
Richard Johns 76B