The Early Years - Frank Johns

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The Early Years

The Early Years

My early education was at a small village primary school at Nancekuke, about two miles for where we lived on the beach at Porthtowan.

It was only a very small school with only two classrooms. The headmistress was Miss George. This school was closed many years ago and is now a bungalow.

Located adjacent to an RAF airfield, I recall a lot of flying activity and I think that sparked an interest in aviation, which manifested itself in aeromodelling.

After passing the 11-plus, I went to Redruth Grammar School, where my latent interest in aviation was encoiuraged by the Physics teacher, Freddy Worral, who had worked at Farnborough during the height of the war. The school closed many years ago and it is now a conglomeration of small indurtrial units.

It was no surprise to my parents when I took up an apprenticeship with Vickers Supermarine at Southampton.
Because of 'encouragement' by the Luftwaffe, the Supermarine Works were spread all over the area, and I started at The Flight Shed, which was located on the perimeter of Eastleigh Airport (where now stand a Ford factory). Time was also spent at the Itchen Works and the experimental shop at Hursley, ending in the design offices at Hursley Park.

At that time National Service was still operational and whilst my apprenticeship had given me exemption for those years, upon completion I had to decide what to do.

I was fairly keen to 'do my time' in the RAF and managed to put enough square pegs into square holes to get accepted. However when I asked the recruiting officer what I would be doing for those 2 years, he said "the cookhouse, most likely"

The shipping federation was located next door to the recruiting office, so I looked in there to see how to become an engineer in the Merchant Navy. "Just sign here"' the man said, and so a week later I joined a BP tanker in Falmouth and sailed of for the next year.

All in all I stayed in the 'Merch', for a total of 3 years. My only claim to fame in that time was throwing up in every main ocean in the world, such was my proneness to seasickness.

Being brought up in Cornwall, England, much time was spent at the beach and when a group of locals decided to set up a surf life saving club, using the Australian system as a model, invevitably I joined them and we started patrolling the beaches on the weekends from the summer of 1956.

After leaving the 'merch' I worked for several local engineering companies. Initially for J&F Pool at Hayle on design of outboard motors and then for Tecalemit, working on motor vehicle ancilliaries.

.... to be continued (when I get around to it) ....
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