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The Camp 1945-1960

Demob guide to Cardington 102SM

Once again national events took over life on the Camp and one can only admire the resilience of those residents of Shortstown who had lived in the village since the Airship years and still served on or were connected to the Camp.

After war was declared over in 1945 thousands of RAF personnel were 'demobbed' from the service and because of its facilities Cardington was used as a processing unit for some of these men to leave the service and go back to 'civvie' street. The whole process taking in most cases less than 24 hours. Each serviceman was entitled to a new suit (a 'demob' suit), two shirts, shoes and socks, a tie, a hat and a coat which would equip them for life back home. Interestingly I have been told recently that many of these returning men chose to remain in Bedford and took up work at the nearby Brickworks in Stewertby.
 
When each man arrived at the station he would be given a folder containing information about the camp and the facilities available both on site and in Bedford and also a map showing the layout of the camp. These sheets are shown below. Note that in the demob years (1945 onwards) the camp was referred to as 'No 102 Personnel Dispersal Centre'
 
At the time this folder and the information it contained would have been very helpful for the returning servicemen but for ourselves in later years it serves as an invaluable historical document providing us with so many snippets of information on many levels. We can see that the whole demob procedures were very well organised within the camp - we also get a glimpse of the services provided on the camp which would have been available to permanent staff as well. There was certainly a great deal of entertainment available on site with the cinema open every weekday evening and dances held twice a week. There was also a gym, a NAAFI base, and a post office.

Demob guide to Cardington page 1SM

Below shows the map provided to all servicemen on entering the station giving clear instructions of where to go and what to expect. The roads have long since gone and I am told are named after airmen who had won the Victoria Cross** and it is hoped these names and the fact that they were honoured here are never forgotten. Does anyone know when these roads came into being? **For more information on the medal holders go to the new Victoria Cross page under The Camp heading. (May 2011)

Demob Map 1945SM

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