WO Steve Kershaw RAF Police says, ‘Thank You’ to his grandparents who served during WW1
My grandfather, Mr W C Fulcher, (Spr, Service No: 272783) known as “Billy”, was a junior clerk employed by the Midland and Great Northern Railway (M&GN affectionately known as the Muddle and get Nowhere!) at Cromer Beach station in the Norfolk seaside town. His starting wage was 5 shillings per week and his working day was 0800 - 1800 and sometimes longer. He later discovered that there was a demand for railwaymen with special qualifications in the military and trained to become a signalman and passed his exam with flying colours.
When the time came for him to join up he was sent to serve with the Railway Operating Division of the Royal Engineers (RODRE) at “Apple Pie” Camp, Longmoor. There he did everything but signal work, looking after a Merryweather steam fire pump, acting as a fireman and various other roles including crane driving. His return to the UK saw him move up through Germany to Koln where he was billeted in Hohenzollern Strasse (a road that disappeared from the map after the bombing of the city in World War 2 and the re-development around the cathedral area).
He was deployed to France with the RODRE and operated in the Amiens area but again there was no signal box work. Upon returning to civilian life he resumed his career working on the railway and retired after 48 years’ service.
He lived a full life and active life and became chair of the town council, championing the cause of elderly town folk. In recognition of his contribution to the town, Fulcher Avenue was named after him. Like most of his generation he never talked in any detail about what he had seen or done but he was always keen to know what the food was like in the RAF and that I was being looked after.
My other grandfather, Fredrick George Kershaw (Pte, Service No: 3565) died 10 years before I was born and served with the Royal Army Medical Corps during
World War 1. He was deployed to France with No 4 Stationary Hospital that was based in Arques (approximately 30 miles southeast from Calais) between May - Nov 1918 and then in Longuenesse from Dec 1918
The combination of wanting to broaden my horizons beyond a small Norfolk seaside town and a family history of military service (WW1/2 and RAF National Service in the 1950s) undoubtedly influenced my decision to join the Royal Air Force. I enlisted as a RAF Policeman in 1983 and in the intervening 35 years served at numerous units, both within the UK and abroad; progressing to the rank of WO. My first posting was to RAF Marham and this set the theme of serving at units with large RAF Police Flts for the following 10-15 years, mostly in Germany. The sense of comradery during this period was overwhelming and the friendships formed have continued over the years. Although the size of the RAF and the RAF Police has reduced significantly since those halcyon days, the quality of RAF Police JNOCs that I have served with in recent years gives me a sense of optimism for the future. They are better educated and trained than their predecessors and the level of responsibility placed on them to manage their own investigations would have never been imagined in the 1980s. As I come towards the end of my RAF career I reflect back on my success and the outstanding level of support that I have received from the Whole Force; whether regular serving, reservist or civilian. However, it those closest to me that I have to thank the most as they are the ones who have endured long periods of separation, the worry of my deployment to areas of conflict and the stress of numerous house moves. Thank you.