The Royal Air Force Police Dogs

By Stephen R Davies © May 2002

 

The relationship forged between the Royal Air Force Police and its dogs, has over the years, been a very special one. Consequently, up until only recently, if you told anyone that you were a member of the Royal Air Force Police, they would invariably want to know all about your police dog, assuming that every member of the branch was automatically issued with a dog when appointed. Such was the high esteem that the service and the public held of that special relationship which began during the dark years of World War II. I will now tell you the remarkable story of just how the Royal Air Force Police came to be involved with their dogs. I served with the RAF Police for just over 25 years and although I was never a dog-handler I still think it is fair to state that the RAF Police (men and women) dog handlers are indeed a special group within the branch. Although to many of the ill-informed, dog handling duties seem to be an easy and glamorous life, in reality however, nothing could be further from the truth. The job of a dog handler demands a lot. The men and women who volunteer for such duties do so because they love the challenge of working with dogs. In doing so, a considerable amount of their time is dedicated to the training, care and welfare of their charges. As for the job itself; well those who served with the Royal Air Force Police Dog Demonstration Team were indeed in the public eye and were the front line ambassadors of the branch. Alternatively, those employed on specialist drug and explosive detection duties were always proving their worth in difficult situations. Yet the majority of dog handlers employed on normal patrol duties rarely ever-encountered real intruders as they quietly patrolled their aircraft, special storage areas or technical sites. That of course, indicated that their presence was, indeed, a real deterrent to any would be intruder or criminal. Having personally watched many of the dogs in action during numerous training periods I can quite understand why their presence has provided such a deterrent over the years. I, for one would certainly not like to be within the sights of a RAF Police dog that had been released by its handler. Once again however, I make no apologies for the fact that many of the remarkable success stories connected with Royal Air Force Police dogs are not mentioned here, but that is probably because many of those events were taken at the time as being just part of the job. Therefore, they were not considered to be important enough to be recorded anywhere. Having said that, I am sure that what was recorded will stand proud to highlight a successful and exciting period in the history of the Royal Air Force Police.

The domesticated dog (Canis familiaris) has coexisted with human beings as a working partner and household pet in all eras and cultures since the days of the cave dwellers. It is generally believed that the direct ancestor of the domestic dog is the wolf, originally found throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. The first dogs that joined forces with the early cave dwellers were used for their keen hunting instincts and abilities, as a means of procuring food and skins for clothing, and for protection against predators. Subsequent civilisations that developed in both the eastern and western hemispheres depended greatly on dogs and their cunning in the struggle for survival. Asians, Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks, and Romans used dogs as guards, companions, and hunters and in times of war. Archaeological discoveries, cave drawings and wall paintings, ancient artefacts and written records all verify the role of dogs in early cultures in all parts of the world. The dog mainly used by the RAF is of course the Alsatian or German shepherd dog. The dog we know today had its origins around the end of the 19th century in Germany. Several breeders who also happened to be shepherds, began to inter-breed the then existing strains of the Wurtenberg sheep dog with sheep dogs from Thuringia. The two strains each had their particular advantages for sheep folding, and the object was to combine the good qualities of both strains into one breed. The dogs previously had both possessed splendid qualities of alertness, reliability as guard dogs, keenly intelligent, and responsive to training with very strong attachments to their masters. However, too many had been of clumsy aspect, small in size, with a thick head and pointed nose. The marority carried ears and tails anyhow, with coats of all kinds and colour. The efforts of the pioneer breeders were eminently successful, and attached the attention of several noted experts. Thus was laid the foundation of the society of the German shepherd dog.

Although a number of RAF stations and units throughout the country had during the early part of World War II, been using locally obtained dogs to guard airfields, our story officially begins in England on a rather dull and cloudy morning in November 1942. Flight Lieutenant Hugh Bathurst-Brown, the Adjutant at RAF Staverton just outside Gloucester, received a telephone call from Lieutenant Colonel J Y Baldwin, an officer on reserve service. After a brief introduction, Baldwin asked Bathurst-Brown if he would like the appointment of commanding the newly formed Ministry of Aircraft Production Guard Dog School. Although Bathurst-Brown was quite fond of dogs, he had fortunately become rather bored with his routine life at Staverton and so he immediately accepted the offer, even though he had no real experience of dealing with dogs to any great degree. Lieutenant Colonel Baldwin on the other hand, had plenty of experience on the subject. He had served in the trenches of Picardy in France, during the Great War between 1914 – 18 and had been highly impressed by the way the Germans used their war dogs to good effect. Not only did they utilise them in the guarding role but they also used them to locate their wounded men and to pull their ammunition supplies around the battlefield. The dogs, being used by the German Army were called Deutsche Scheaferhunde, or German shepherd dogs and they possessed a keen nose, speed, endurance, aggressiveness and above all, courage. In addition, they seemed able to adapt to all types of weather condition. The breed was eventually introduced into England in 1919 and was first registered with the Kennel Club, as the Alsatian wolf dog. Baldwin was so impressed by what he had seen, that he later discussed the matter with a close friend, Captain Moore Brabazon, who had commanded the first air photography unit in France and who was at the time, serving with the Royal Flying Corps. After the war ended, Baldwin left the Army and pursued his interest in that particular breed of dog and eventually established his own breeding kennels, which he called, Picardy Kennels after the area where he first saw them in action. In addition, he became something of an expert when it came to the subject of the Alsatian breed.

Baldwin maintained his close links with Moore Brabazon, who, after leaving the Royal Flying Corps, went into politics. When war broke out again in 1939, Brabazon was appointed as the Minister of Aircraft Production and responsible for thousands of expensive aircraft and a large number of airfields and storage depots around the country. However, with the increasing threat of German espionage and sabotage looming, he was deeply troubled with the problem of providing adequate security protection for his valuable assets. Remembering the conversation he had shared with his friend 'Jimmy' Baldwin some years earlier on the subject of dogs, he turned to him for advice and assistance on the matter. Consequently, Baldwin was able to persuade him that dogs were indeed the most effective and economical method of guarding his interests. After all, dogs had been used successfully to protect and defend armies and their assets going back over many centuries. Convinced that dogs were the only economical way ahead, Brabazon put his proposals to the government and shortly after he obtained the necessary authority to form the Ministry of Aircraft Production Guard Dog School. As a consequence, Lieutenant Colonel Baldwin was duly offered and readily accepted the appointment of Dog Advisor and Chief Training Officer. However, the actual administration of the school was to be carried out by the RAF, although the RAF Police at that stage were not involved.

Some time later, Flight Lieutenant Bathurst-Brown, having received his posting notice from the Air Ministry, left Staverton and reported to Woodfold, the site of the new school, situated only five miles down the road. While Woodfold turned out to be a very comfortable requisitioned country manor house, set in its own pleasant grounds, the facilities made available to the school turned out to be rather sparse. Bathurst-Brown as he was shown around noted that the school comprised a garage, which was to be used as their headquarters and administrative centre, and several stables around a courtyard which were to be used to kennel the dogs. At around the same time a RAF sergeant was posted in to Woodfold to assist Bathurst-Brown in setting everything up, but it turned out to be several more weeks before any further staff or indeed any dogs arrived to join them. Baldwin however, had hand picked his staff very carefully and they consisted of some of the top dog trainers and breeders from around the country. The dogs that were initially trained at the Woodfold were all donated by members of the public and consisted of a wide variety of breeds. As soon as the training program got under way it attracted student dog handlers from both the RAF and the United States 9th American Air Force, who were keen to undertake their initial six-week training course. Although at that stage, the RAF Police had not become involved in dog handling.

Since the beginning of the war a considerable amount of manpower had been taken up by the RAF in providing physical security measures to protect its stations, aircraft and equipment from the threat of sabotage, espionage and black market theft. Not only was the practice expensive but it also diverted a large number of essential personnel from other more important tasks connected with the war effort. As a result, a number of solutions were discussed at the Provost Marshal's Office, in Princes Gate London, in an effort to try and alleviate the problem. As various solutions were introduced, the use of properly trained Alsatian dogs and handlers was suggested by Squadron Leader S Barnes and Squadron Leader E Dangerfield, both Assistant Provost Marshals (APM) employed as staff officers to the Provost Marshal. It seemed that there was a real possibility that the Ministry of Aircraft Production Guard Dog Training School would be disbanded at the end of the war. Accordingly, Squadron Leader Barnes arranged for the Provost Marshal to meet Colonel Baldwin and to view a demonstration of what the dogs and their handlers could do. The Provost Marshal was extremely impressed with what he had seen and when he returned to London he suggested that the Ministry of Aircraft Production Guard Dog Training School should be taken over by the RAF Police. He argued that the future use of dogs by the RAF Police would be a very cost effective and efficient way of protecting airfields and their valuable assets. After a considerable battle within the Air Ministry, approval was finally granted from the Chief of Air Staff himself, making the dog school part of the RAF Police organisation. It was a successful venture and at Woodfold on the 24th March 1944, the first batch of RAF Police NCOs commenced their training as dog handlers. By then of course the Ministry of Aircraft Production's Guard Dog School had been fully taken over by the RAF Police and re-titled as the, RAF Police Dog Training School. As the limited facilities at Woodfold became to small, the dog school was transferred from its cramped accommodation at Woodfold to larger premises at RAF Staverton, which was able to provide large areas for training. Although Colonel Baldwin remained as the Chief Training Officer, Flight Lieutenant Bathurst-Brown had retired and for the first time the school was commanded by a RAF provost officer, Flight Lieutenant R D Cooper.

During mid 1944, at the height of the German V1 rocket campaign on targets in Southern Britain, certain key figures at the Air Ministry asked if it was possible to train dogs to detect the presence of human victims buried under rubble and debris. The question was subsequently put to Colonel Baldwin who thought it was indeed possible. Consequently, a number of dogs were taken from the RAF Police School, to Birmingham, where they took part in an exercise to find a number of men who had been carefully ‘buried’ under about four feet of debris. The exercise was highly successful and the dogs located all the victims very effectively. As a result of their success, the dogs were sent soon after to London to help the hard pressed emergency services in locating victims buried as a result of the rocket attacks. Colonel Baldwin accompanied the dogs to London, one of whom was Airdog Gundo, under the control of Corporal A Thompson. During their first night in the capital, they were summoned to assist in searching for the victims of a rocket attack, however, the conditions at the site were appalling. The quiet ruins in Birmingham, where the trials had been so successful, were a far cry from the chaos and devastation of London at the height of the German rocket attacks. Water and gas mains had burst and earth had showered up into the air and was thrown everywhere. The smell was foul and the overall conditions were about as bad as they could ever be. It seemed hopeless amongst all the chaos and the confusion but Colonel Baldwin and his team went ahead with searching an area that had been declared free of victims. After about fifteen minutes, a handler reported that his dog had made a positive indication. The spot was marked and the dog was taken away. A second dog was brought into the area and it also indicated on the same spot. The search continued and a further two indications were given by the dogs and three bodies were subsequently recovered by the rescue parties. After that occasion, the dogs were used to good effect and over five hundred buried victims were successfully located in the first four months of their use.

Sergeant W Gausden had been an Air Gunner on a Liberator Bomber during the war and had flown many missions against the Germans with 70 Squadron. However, at the end of the conflict, whilst still in Italy, he handed in his flying kit and at the age of only nineteen, volunteered to re-muster into the RAF Police trade. After reporting to the RAF Police Headquarters in Naples and being interviewed by Wing Commander N S Kettle, the Deputy Provost Marshal (DPM), he was accepted as a trainee RAF Police NCO. A short time later he reported to Portici, on the outskirts of Naples where he began his training as a RAF Police dog handler, under the watchful eye of Sergeant B Lee, himself a very experienced dog trainer. The Dog Section at that time however, was under the control of Sergeant J Mungo, who prior to being called up for war service, had been a fourth year veterinary student in Northern England. At the time there were twenty dogs and their handlers on the strength of the section assisted by two Italian soldiers who were responsible for feeding the dogs and cleaning out the kennels. A variety of breeds were being used at that time and included; Labradors, German Shepherds, Airdales, German Shepherd/Airdale cross breeds, Great Danes, Collies and even a Blood Hound which was used for tracking. The RAF Police Dog Section at Portici provided the important security coverage to a number of outlying RAF Units, the largest being a maintenance depot at Otaviano, on the lower slopes of the volcano, Mount Vesuvius. Each evening a heavy truck, converted to carry a number of transit kennels, would leave Portici, accompanied by five dog teams. During their tour of duty they were required to make a number of random surprise calls at all the outlying units where the handlers and their dogs who mount high profile patrols to deter and in some instances detect intruders within the various sites.

During the war a large number of dogs had been lent by members of the public to the Ministry of Aircraft Production Guard Dog School and the RAF Police to assist the war effort. Indeed, with severe rationing on almost everything and the pace of wartime life it was impossible for the vast majority of working people to retain pets and an appeal for dogs to help guard our assets had been well received by the public. However, with the war over, the majority of those who had donated their pets wanted them back and so a program was implemented to ‘demob’ the dogs concerned. Each dog, prior to being returned to its owner, was medically checked and issued with a certificate declaring it fit together with the fact that it had duly served its country well during the war. As some of the dogs had served overseas a quarantine kennels was acquired and set up at Brockworth to ensure that all animals were free from rabies and other problems prior to being returned to their owners.

In October 1946, the RAF Police School and the Headquarters moved from RAF Great Sampford to a more permanent base at RAF Staverton, where they joined the RAF Police Dog Training School. The entire station was at that time under the command of Group Captain A A Newbury, who as station commander became the first RAF provost officer to hold such an appointment. Although, all the elements of the RAF Police training organisation were for the first time together, the new unit soon experienced severe difficulties in providing adequate accommodation for everyone serving there. As a result, a satellite unit was opened up shortly before Christmas at an old balloon repair station at Pucklechurch, situated in a rather desolate spot between Yate and Bristol. The new site was to be home for the National Service RAF Police trainees during their initial six-week police training, while Staverton continued with the main bulk of the training program.

After the war, following on from their success in locating victims buried after the German V1 and V2 Rocket attacks on London, the question was asked could dogs be trained to locate victims buried in a mine disaster. A test was arranged at a suitable coal mine and again the dogs proved to be successful in locating a number of buried victims. However, following a real disaster and explosion, doubt was cast on whether the dogs would be able to cope in such difficult conditions. Unfortunately, soon after, such a disaster occurred at the William Pitt coal mine, Whitehaven and a number of men were trapped underground. Flight Lieutenant Cooper and two of his dog handlers were authorised to attend the scene to see if they could help. As the rescue reached a crucial point there were still two men unaccounted for and the rescue workers were following an air line which had been in use at the time of the explosion. However, the RAF Police dogs indicated in another direction and the area of the search was switched to the area indicated by the dogs. It was a wise move because soon after the remaining two bodies were located. While the rescue party was investigating that part of the mine in which the bodies had been recovered, Airdog Prince pricked up his ears and started to back away. On the instructions of the handler every one quickly moved back from the passage just as the entire roof collapsed behind them.

In May 1947, the newly created RAF Police journal ‘Provost Parade’ was printed and published. The first, issue contained forty pages of stories, sporting reports and a few cartoon drawings but on the front cover there was displayed the photograph of a RAF Police Alsatian dog, which had been specially taken for the purpose by Lieutenant Colonel Baldwin, himself a keen photographer.

In early June 1947, the Three Counties Agricultural Show was held on the airfield at RAF Staverton and was attended by a huge audience. It was just after the war and people wanted to be entertained and to enjoy themselves after the dismal war years. They were not disappointed and one of the biggest and most popular attractions of the day, turned out to be the parade of some forty smartly turned out, RAF Police dog handlers and their dogs, lead by Flight Lieutenant Cooper, the officer in charge of the RAF Police Dog School. In addition, the parade was accompanied by suitable music for the occasion, supplied courtesy of the RAF Police Silver Band. As the parade passed by the audience they were drawn to the presence of a single dog handler; Corporal G Woodburn, whose dog was pulling a small cart on which was seated a German prisoner of war' played by Aircraftsman F Elliott. It turned out to be a splendid day for everyone and marked the start of things to come for RAF Police dog participation in major public events around the country. However, the RAF Police School and the Headquarters hardly had time to settle down at RAF Staverton and dwell on the success of the event because later that month they were on the move once again, leaving the dog training school to remain at Staverton.

Continuing their public relations exercise, by the end of the year, a team of RAF Police dog handlers and their charges from the RAF Police Dog Training School had taken part in three public military events around the country. The first was the Blackpool Air Pageant, followed by the Daily Express Air Pageant at Gatwick Airport and finally, a display for the British Legion in Swindon. Needless to say that the displays were greatly appreciated by nearly all of those who attended the events.

By 1948, the training of all RAF Police dogs and their handlers was firmly under the control of the branch, with Lieutenant Colonel Baldwin still in charge of all operational training. His original intention had been to train and use only the German shepherd breed for the task but problems arose when the supply of suitable public donations failed to maintain the requirements of the service. In an effort to overcome the problem, a breeding program was started but that too proved to be problematic. The program was not cost effective because the dogs had to be looked after for about fifteen months until they were old enough to be trained. Even at that point, many dogs were rejected because they didn't have the right qualities in responding to the training program. As a result, the experimental breeding program was abandoned and other suitable breeds, offered by the public were tried out by the service. The overall situation however, took a turn for the best, when in June, at the Olympia Stadium in London, the newly formed RAF Police Dog Demonstration Team, using their German shepherds, appeared for the very first time, at the Royal Tournament. The dramatic commentary throughout their performance was delivered by Group Captain Richdale, who described the RAF Police German Shepherds as ‘£2,500 worth of high explosive dog’. The public loved them and as such, they were an instant success, proving to be a first rate publicity campaign for the branch and indeed the service. Both the Daily Telegraph and the Manchester Guardian newspapers reported that ‘The RAF Police Dog Demonstration Team, under the command of Flight Lieutenant R D Cooper, stole the whole show with their marvelous performance’. After their first and highly successful public appearance, there were no further problems in obtaining suitable gift dogs from the general public, who it seemed, were only to willing to donate their German Shepherds to the RAF Police.

It was during the same year on the 25th June, that the first batch of RAF Police dogs arrived on the island of Ceylon from Singapore. After a short period of acclimatisation after their journey and further continuation training the dogs were ready to work. Consequently, a new security deterrent became visible when the dogs and their handlers were assigned to duties protecting aircraft and military installations at a number of locations on the island.

In the England during the same period, the RAF Police Dog Training School received an urgent request for assistance from the Gloucestershire Constabulary. It seemed that a dangerous prisoner, convicted of armed robbery, had escaped from Leyhill Prison. The urgency to recapture him increased when the police received a report that three people, living on a lonely farm in the area, had been brutally attacked and robbed by a man answering to the prisoner’s description. In response to the request, five dogs and their handlers, under the control of Lieutenant Colonel Baldwin, were sent to assist in searching the area where the prisoner was believed to be hiding. Shortly after the search commenced, the dogs gave a positive indication that someone was hiding in a field of kale. As the dog teams went into the field to check it, a disheveled man, answering to the description of the prisoner broke cover and tried to run off. He was challenged and when he refused to stop, a dog was released and the man was apprehended and swiftly arrested. The search for, and capture of the convict had been witnessed by Mr A H Carter, the Assistant Chief Constable of the force, who it seemed, was most impressed by the professionalism of the dog teams involved and of course, the speed in which the man had been recaptured.

Towards the end of 1948 in occupied Germany, a team of eighteen RAF Police NCOs, from their headquarters at RAF Buckeburg, were formed into a special flight in order to provide escorts and protection for the British High Commissioner for Germany, General Sir Brian Robertson, the former military governor. The team comprising of a flight sergeant, a sergeant, eleven corporals and five dog handlers had all been specially selected, trained and equipped to carry out a wide range of duties connected with the task. In addition to guarding his official residence and escorting him around Germany, the team were responsible for escorting and protecting his official visitors. Up until that point, the list of VIP's provided with that service had included, the Right Honourable Ernest Bevan, the Foreign Secretary, Viscount Montgomery, Lord Henderson and Lord Tedder, as well as the French and American Governors. In addition to wearing their normal RAF Police accoutrements, members of the elite team, were also authorised to wear the British Army on the Rhine (BAOR) shield emblem, on the right arm of their tunics, just above their badges of rank.

In 1949 the British government received a request from the Commissioner of Police for the Federation of Malaya, who asked for RAF Police assistance to help establish a dog training program. In response, two RAF Police dog handlers, Corporal's Stapleton and Thackray, were duly sent out to Malaya, to the Federation Police Training School in Kuala Lumpur, where over a period of a few months they successfully organised and assisted in the training of a number of civil police dogs. At the end of their detachment the training program was deemed to have been a very successful venture and the dogs and handlers trained by the two RAF Police NCOs were subsequently used to effect in numerous police operations against bandits in the difficult jungle territories.

On the 7th July 1949, their Majesties the King and Queen, together with Princess Margaret and the Duchess of Kent, attended the opening day of the first post war RAF Display, which was held over two days at RAF Farnborough and attended by some 80,000 members of the public. During the highly successful show, some 5,400 members of the RAF were on duty at the unit, with 400 of them being RAF Police personnel carrying out a wide spectrum of police and security commitments in support of the event. In addition, the RAF Police Dog Demonstration Team also appeared during the display to entertain the crowds.

During February 1951, the RAF Police Dog Training School moved from RAF Staverton and joined the RAF Police driving school at RAF Netheravon, on the edge of the Salisbury Plain. At the same time, plans were also made to move No 1 RAF Police Wing and the training school to the same unit later that year. Netheravon was one of the most historic RAF stations, having been one of the first permanent airfields built for the Royal Flying Corps during the Great War. However, during World War II, it had also taken on an active role when it was used to train glider pilots and to plan Operation Market Garden, the ill fated Allied airborne landings at Arnhem in Holland.

In Iraq on the 4thApril 1951, in the early hours of the morning, Corporal H T Raybone, a twenty-year old RAF Police dog handler, attached to No 3 RAF Police District, was on patrol at RAF Habbaniya, when his dog suddenly indicated something suspicious ahead of them. Although the night was pitch black he started to investigate and soon discovered four bandits, two of which, were armed with rifles, standing not far from his position. He challenged them to surrender but they started to run off so he immediately released his dog to round them up. As the dog quickly closed the gap between him and the intruders, it was shot as it fearlessly attacked one of the villains. Despite the fact that his dog lay dead, Corporal Raybone, who was armed, continued to pursue the four men and in the process, one of them turned and aimed a rifle at him. In response, Corporal Raybone shot the man dead but the other three continued and made good their escape. The bandits, it appeared, were all armed and were out to steal explosives and whatever else they could lay their hands on. Indeed, they would have done so, had the Corporal Raybone of the RAF Police and his dog not been on patrol that night. In recognition of his prompt and courageous action that morning, Corporal Raybone was subsequently awarded a commendation for bravery from the Commander in Chief, MEAF. His dog, who had died simply doing its job, was buried with dignity at the RAF Police Dog Section at RAF Habbaniya.

During 1951, Airdog's Rex and Whiskey, two of the smallest German Shepherd dogs taken on by the RAF, completed their training at RAF Staverton and together with their handlers; Corporal's K Crossland (Whiskey) and R Long (Rex), were posted to RAF Tengah in Singapore. Their lack of size however, did not prevent the two dogs from attacking anything or anybody, anywhere at any time. Rex in particular, would regularly eat his way through kennels, even those that had been reinforced with metal sheets. He was an acclaimed escapologist and would regularly be reported as being out on patrol around the airfield alone. Consequently, Corporal Long would be urgently summoned to take control of his charge. At the time, the dog section at RAF Tengah occupied a bungalow situated quite a way from the main camp. As such, the building also served as home for the single handlers serving on the section. Additionally, the section was proud to have standing in front of their building, an old Japanese field gun left at the unit following the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. Although the gun no longer functioned, some of the handlers took great delight in simulating it being fired by dropping 'thunder-flash pyrotechnics' into the barrel. When the thunder-flash went off It produced an effect similar to the gun actually being discharged.

As Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, was leaving the Royal Tournament on the 19th June, she commented on the fact that the Royal Air Force Police on the carpet guard, were not accompanied by any RAF Police dogs. Her Royal Highness suggested that the Queen would undoubtedly like to see the RAF Police dogs, when she visited the tournament later that week. Accordingly, two days later, Sergeant F Holland together with six handlers and their dogs, were presented to Her Majesty, as she left the Royal Box. At first Her Majesty was a little hesitant in approaching the fearsome looking dogs and even commented that she hoped they would not bite her. They did not of course, and the presentation was a great success for the branch.

In the Far East, an estimated 30,000 people attended the 4th Singapore Air Display, which took place on the 1st September 1951, at Kallang Airport in Singapore. Accordingly, a large number of RAF Police personnel were on duty there carrying out a wide range of police and security duties at what was undoubtedly, the finest display of it's kind ever seen in that part of the world. While the flying displays of various aircraft, including the Vampire, the Meteor, the Dakota and the Sunderland Flying Boat, thrilled the assembled crowds, one of the highlights of the show was of course the excellent display, staged by the local and specially trained, RAF Police Dog Demonstration Team. The demonstration commenced with the six handlers and their dogs being marched onto the arena by Warrant Officer T B Whittaker, from No 2 RAF Police District, and included the full range of obedience, search, obstacle and criminal work. It was an excellent display which gave a great deal of pleasure not only to the assembled crowds, but also to Air Commodore J L F Fullergood CBE, the Air Officer Commanding Malaya, who was also present and delighted by the display.

In January 1952, the RAF Police School and No 1 RAF Police Wing, finally completed the move from RAF Pershore to RAF Netheravon, and in doing so, joined up with both the dog training and the RAF Police driving schools. In compliance with a directive from the Air Ministry, the new station, commanded by Group Captain T R Champion, was duly re-titled as the Royal Air Force Police Depot. In October another landmark within the provost branch was reached, when for the first time, fifteen RAF Police German Shepherds and their handlers, from the Depot, were transported by air from RAF Abingdon to RAF Gutersloh in Northern Germany. The whole journey, by road and Valetta aircraft, had taken less than ten hours, compared to a much slower and more stressful journey for the dogs by sea.

In Kenya at RAF Eastleigh, situated on the outskirts of the capital, Nairobi, a number of RAF Police dog handlers had been established to enhance the unit's overall security measures during the Mau Mau terrorist campaign. Within a short space of time, the dogs had proved themselves to be a very effective deterrent to any would be terrorists. That was highlighted one night when a dog indicated the presence of some twenty native intruders, who had been quietly approaching a radar site. The handler located the intruders, called for assistance and challenged them but they quickly fled from the area. The dog was subsequently used to track them but unfortunately, it lost the scent near an isolated farm. As a result, the Kenyan Police searched it and seven members of the Mau Mau were duly arrested and a number of weapons and a vast quantity of ammunition was recovered. As a result of that incident, No 7 RAF Police Flight Detachment, commanded by Flying Officer F D Edge, tightened up the security measures on the station and made good use of his dog patrols to prevent any further attempted acts of terrorism and sabotage from taking place. No chances were taken and accordingly all Africans entering and leaving the station were thoroughly searched and their identities validated.

In Hong Kong in April 1953, eleven well groomed RAF Police dogs and their smartly turned out handlers, under the command of Flight Lieutenant G Innes (later to become Provost Marshal), appeared on a public parade for the first time in the colony to celebrate the official birthday of Her Majesty the Queen.

After an impressive career, Lieutenant Colonel Baldwin finally took up his retirement in October 1953. For thirteen years he had been the inspiration of the RAF Police Dog Training School, which had, over that period, gone from strength to strength, earning for itself an extremely high reputation in very wide circles. Although it was a sad day, the work of the dog training school continued and he was succeeded as the Chief Dog Training Officer, by Mr Charles Edward Fricker, who himself, had joined Baldwin right at the start when the school was formed at Woodfold. Unfortunately, it was during the war and after only a year of working at Woodfold, Mr Fricker had been conscripted to work in the coal mines as a ‘Bevin Boy’. After the war ended however, he had eagerly returned to the world of dogs and had started his own kennels, breeding and showing off German Shepherds. He had also formed his own dog display team which had proved to be extremely popular and they had even performed before the Royal family at the Royal Inverness Show in 1948.

In Northern Malay, just after sunrise on the 23rd May 1954, Corporal J T Elvin, RAF Police and his dog, Charlie, who were stationed at RAF Butterworth, responded to a request for assistance from the 12th Royal Lancers, who had been on jungle patrol in the state of Kedah, some fifteen miles from the airfield at Butterworth. It seemed that during the previous night, the patrol had engaged a number of terrorists and a fire fight had taken place. In spite of the swift response, the gang had quickly made good their escape into the surrounding jungle and the Army patrol had lost all trace of them. However, during a search of the skirmish site at first daylight, a patch of blood soaked earth had been discovered, which indicated that one of the terrorists had probably been wounded. After a quick examination of the scene, Corporal Elvin and Charlie, supported by the Army patrol, began tracking the wounded terrorist into the jungle. After some time the dog stopped and started barking towards a patch of thick undergrowth. Corporal Elvin carefully went forward and discovered the wounded terrorist hidden at the base of a large tree. Although he was still alive, he had been shot in the thigh and had lost a considerable amount of blood. A rifle lying near him had also been damaged in the skirmish the previous night and was not capable of being fired. Nevertheless, the terrorist was promptly arrested and taken away for medical treatment and questioning. As a result of their efforts, both Corporal Elvin and Charlie were given celebrity status when the story was featured in The Singapore Straits Times on the 26th May. In addition, Corporal Elvin also later received a commendation from the Provost Marshal for his dedication and professionalism.

On the 16th June 1954, the first four members of the United States Air Police arrived at the RAF Police Depot at RAF Netheravon, where they began a training program with the dog training school. Although American personnel from the United States Army Air Force had been trained as dog handlers, by the RAF at the Ministry of Aircraft Production Guard Dog School during World War II, they were the first policemen to become qualified dog handlers with the United States Air Force. The four eager students were named as Airman 1st Class C Crutchfield from Virginia and Airmen 2nd Class C Misner from Missouri, E Johnson from Wisconsin and finally, L Lynn from Texas.

For a number of years, the important day to day routine of feeding, grooming and exercising RAF Police dogs at the school had been carried out by members of the WRAF (Womans Royal Air Force), who had been borrowed from the trade of Administration Orderly. Unfortunately, there had been no formal training course involved in their employment at the kennels, and that particular type of employment limited the career prospects of the girls who continued to serve in that capacity. Indeed, many of them never attained the rank of Leading Aircraftswoman but enjoyed the job so much that they were prepared, in most cases, to tolerate the many drawbacks involved. However, in 1957, as part of an overall restructuring of ground trade groups, the trade of Kennel Maid was, for the first time, officially recognised, and the sixteen kennel maids serving at RAF Netheravon became, for the first time, part of the RAF Police trade group structure. A formal training course was developed shortly after, during which the girls were taught not only how to care for the dogs on a daily basis, but also basic treatment techniques and how to prevent the spread of diseases and finally, general dog section administration. In addition, promotion prospects were opened up for the first time, and successful candidates could if they wished, attain the rank of corporal. Although the girls who enlisted as kennel maids thoroughly enjoyed their work, it was nevertheless a difficult, and at times, a very strenuous job, especially during the winter months.

In Aden, on the 2nd May 1958, the British Governor declared a state of emergency as Egyptian sponsored civil unrest, violence and anti-British protests continued to escalate within the colony. Aden being a somewhat hot, dusty and barren place, provided personnel serving there with the chance to escape from it all, down to the services leave centre at the coastal resort of Mombassa in Kenya. A similar scheme had also been introduced for the RAF Police dogs serving within in Aden. Although the Alsatians stood up to the incredible heat in the colony pretty well, they were prone at times, to suffer from various skin complaints, which proved difficult to treat in the uncomfortable climate of Aden. To resolve the problem, the dogs had to be flown out to the more temperate climate of Kenya to recover. Unfortunately, they didn't see Mombassa but instead went to the kennels at RAF Eastleigh, where they received the best veterinary treatment and were put on `light duties' until completely recuperated.

Between the 19th and 21stMay 1958, the first annual RAF Police Dog Championship Trials were held at the RAF Police Depot before a large audience of service personnel and members of the public. The object of the trials was to encourage RAF Police dog handlers serving on stations to take a keen interest in the continuation training of their dogs and to improve their overall efficiency. At the same time it also allowed individual dog teams to demonstrate their initiative and commitment to the task of dog handling. The strict standards that were set for the championship trials equaled those imposed on the various Alsatian Training Societies within the United Kingdom. The championship was open to all members of the RAF Police who were employed on dog handling duties within the United Kingdom. However, handlers serving, or indeed under training at the Depot were excluded from taking part in the competition. From the outset the contest was designed to be between individual RAF Police teams and was not intended to be a competition between RAF command formations or indeed police districts. Assistant Provost Marshals from each of the United Kingdom RAF Police Districts were tasked with carrying out an inspection of all dog teams working within their respective areas. Each officer was invited to select three prospective candidates, which, with the permission of their respective station commanders, were then invited to attend the championship trials at the depot. It was emphasised that the details of all those taking part in the trials were to be notified to the depot by the 19th April.

Three awards were prepared for the winners; the championship trophy, which would be retained by the winners unit for twelve months, was to be awarded to the dog handler whose dog gained the highest number of points during the competition. In addition, the dog handler would be presented with a personal award that he could keep on a permanent basis. A first class diploma was awarded to the runner up in the competition and finally, the dog handler who came third in the competition was awarded with a second-class diploma. After a combination of assessments throughout the year to determine which units had the most efficient teams, twenty dogs and their handlers were rigorously tested over a two-day period, before a panel of judges. In all, some twelve separate aspects of the discipline were stringently tested, emphasizing that the trial was not a circus act or drill display. The standards required by the judges were very high and not surprisingly, so were the performances. Each team was put through a set routine which included, basic obedience, a criminal attack under gunfire, obstacles, searching, tracking and finally the condition of each dog was thoroughly checked to ensure it was being maintained to the highest standards. At the end of a tough competition, the winner of the first trials and the Sabre Trophy, was announced as Acting Corporal D Hodgson and Airdog Cindy, from RAF Waddington near Lincoln. The trophy, donated by Lieutenant Colonel and Mrs Douglas Bain, was presented to the winner by Air Commodore C M Stewart CBE, the AOC No 27 Group. The four judges involved in the first competition were naturally, Lieutenant Colonel Baldwin DSO, who had done so much to establish RAF Police dogs in the first place, Mrs G Hester of Croydon, Mr R M Montgomery of Guilford and Mr C H Belcher of Bingley.

The Royal Air Force Police Dog Demonstration Team were still extremely popular with the public ten years after their first appearance at the Royal Tournament. During the 1958 show held at Earls Court, the thirty-four man team, under the command of Squadron Leader C W Hobgen, assisted by Flying Officer I G Mackie and Sergeant K C Hart, continued to trill the crowds with their skill and professionalism. In the 1958 publicity pamphlet the following was written:

"In war or peace, at home or abroad, the RAF Police dog is now recognised as an indispensable weapon in our security armoury. Whether in the torrid heat of Aden and Malaya or in the chill of a Scottish moor, whether seeking out terrorists in Cyprus or guarding vital installations in the very heart of England, the RAF Police dog is in its element. Tenacious, loyal, intelligent, strong, these are the sterling qualities of our dogs; no wonder their handlers have such immeasurable faith in them, little wonder they are known as the finest police dogs of their kind in the world. Most of the dogs now serving in the RAF have been presented by civilian owners whose one desire was to find a suitable home for their dog where it would be usefully employed and well cared for. Gifts of suitable dogs would be gladly accepted and owners of Alsatians who feel disposed to present them to the RAF Police are invited to write to the commanding officer at the RAF Police Depot, Netheravon, Wiltshire. The commanding officer will always be pleased to supply donors with details of their dog's health and progress. The mascot dog leading the RAF Police Dog Demonstration Team into the arena this year is number 4686 Airdog Comet, with his handler, Corporal J Tait. Comet, an all white Alsatian, is a fully trained RAF Police dog and the only animal honorary life member of the RAF Association. Training is carried out at the RAF Police Depot, where the RAF Police handler, a volunteer for this work, is trained with the dog. Training is done by firmness and kindness; cruelty, however, slight, is never tolerated; an Alsatian dog works to please its master, not because it is forced to do so. The order given more often than any other to the trainee handlers is 'Praise your dog'. The handlers and instructors must display great patience during training, but they are rewarded by the knowledge that the handler will leave the depot with a dog completely under his control and unswerving in its loyalty and affection. The working and living conditions of the dogs are governed by detailed regulations and inspections by veterinary surgeons and service experts are frequent and rigorous. With its acute sense of smell the dog will detect and apprehend an intruder who might otherwise escape a sentry whose vigilance has been defeated by darkness. A dog will seize an intruder and hold on until recalled; should the intruder be unwise enough to assault the handler his dog will attack without command. Indeed, a number of RAF Police dogs have died in defence of their handlers, so undivided is their loyalty. A fully trained RAF Police dog is valued at £125; the dogs before you today are therefore valued at £4,000. However, the value of their work and loyalty to the men they serve cannot be reduced to figures; in this respect they are priceless".

Over in Cyprus on the 2ndFebruary 1960, the first ever dog handling course to be held on the island, specially for the locally employed native RAF Police Auxiliaries, was successfully completed at RAF Nicosia. In all, seven Auxiliaries, trained by Corporal P Regan RAF Police, successfully completed their training and during the subsequent passing out parade, the Inspecting Officer, Squadron Leader A Smart BEM, of No 24 RAF Police District, congratulated the handlers and their instructor on their smart appearance, the condition of their dogs and the high standard of training which they had achieved. Shortly after, all seven took up their role as qualified handlers patrolling and guarding various RAF installations around Cyprus. In addition, because the scheme proved to be so successful, the idea was copied soon after in the Far East, where twelve volunteers from the RAF Police Auxiliaries, under the instruction of Sergeant J A Pearson, successfully completed a locally organised training course to become qualified dog handlers.

An estimated total of over a quarter of a million people attended the thirty performances of the 1960 Royal Tournament Show, at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre in London, between the 22nd June and the 9thJuly. Amongst all the things, provided to thrill the crowds, it seemed that the star of the show turned out to be a three-year old RAF Police Dog by the name of Judge, and the crowds just loved him. The scenario for his popular performance happened to be a simulated RAF guided missile base, being patrolled by a RAF Police dog handler and his dog. Shortly after the lights in the arena dimmed, the team commenced their patrol, but suddenly the base came under a surprise attack from a group of armed saboteurs. In the initial stages, the team responded and the dog indicated the presence of the intruders. The handler, Corporal John Black, quickly challenged them and released his dog, but unfortunately, as Judge made his way towards the intruders, they shot him dead, and he immediately dropped to the floor of the arena and lay there motionless. As you can imagine, nearly every person in the audience gave out a loud sigh in shock as they witnessed poor Judge being cruelly gunned down. Indeed, night after night, many in the audience attempted to revive Judge by whistling at him and calling out his name, but Judge, the perfect actor, remained quite still and played his part wonderfully. After the demonstration ended and the team took up their positions in front of the Royal box, Judge remained quite inert on the floor where he had fallen. At that point the public were really getting concerned that Judge may really have been hurt. However, they need nor have worried because just as the Royal salute was about to be given, he suddenly sprang to life and quickly joined his handler in the line up to pay their respects. The crowds loved him and of course their loud cheers filled the entire house night after night. By then the high professional reputation of RAF Police dog teams was indeed an extremely high profile public relations exercise and accordingly there was no shortage of publicly donated dogs.

Although it was RAF policy that man and dog remained teamed up for as long as both were together, an exception occurred at RAF Colerne due to an unusual set of circumstances. Three of the unit's dog handlers had been selected to represent RAF Colerne at the 1960 United Kingdom Dog Championships; Corporal B Fear, the incumbent RAF Dog champion, teamed with Airdog Tess; Corporal M J O'Neill with Airdog Bess, and a young national serviceman, Corporal C O'Hanlon with Airdog Elke. Unfortunately, soon after the plans started to fall apart. Corporal Fear broke his leg whilst playing rugby for Transport Command, and therefore could no longer compete. Soon after, Airdog Bess went down with a debilitating virus, which prevented her from competing, and if that was no disaster enough,. Corporal O'Hanlon, in the face of such adversity, lost confidence in his ability to represent the station alone. So, in the end the unit had one champion dog, Tess, fit and raring to go, but with no handler; one fit handler, Corporal O'Neill, who had no dog. Dog handlers always have had a fierce loyalty to each other and towards the animals they handle, however, the handlers at RAF Colerne knew that drastic action was needed if their unit was to be represented at the championship. After discussing the matter it was agreed that Airdog Tess was good enough to win again for a third year and that was an opportunity that could not be given up easily. Although never before contemplated, it was possible that Corporal O'Neill could team up with Airdog Tess and save the day. Additionally, it would also give Corporal O'Hanlon the confidence to compete. The suggestion was put to Squadron Leader H M Shepherd, the man in charge of the championship. After seeing their predicament, he gave Corporal O'Neill a fortnight to re-team with Airdog Tess and then arranged a full-scale demonstration of the trial at RAF Colerne to access their performance. It was the break that the station needed, and two weeks later Corporal O'Neill and Airdog Tess were put through the routine. As always, Airdog Tess was brilliant and they were given permission to enter the championship at RAF Netheravon to defend the title won the two previous years by Corporal Fear and Airdog Tess. Unfortunately on the day, amidst stiff competition, Corporal O'Neill and Airdog Tess did not win, but came seventh.

During August and September 1960, the RAF Police School moved home once again to RAF Debden, which was situated three miles South East of Saffron Walden in the county of Essex. No 2 (Driving Training) and No 4 (Advanced Training) Squadrons were the first units to move, followed shortly after by No 1 (Basic Training) Squadron. However, No 3 (Police Dog Training) Squadron had to be left behind at RAF Netheravon, until suitable accommodation and training facilities could be built at Debden to house it.

In 1963, with brand new facilities having been completed, the RAF Police Dog Training School joined the Depot at RAF Debden and soon after on the 31stJuly, RAF Netheravon closed. At that point, the full time services of a veterinary surgeon were required by the RAF to look after and advise on the health of the large number of dogs in service with the branch. Accordingly, Mr John Allan Fleming, a veterinary surgeon running his own private practice in nearby Saffron Waldron accepted the offer and was subsequently titled as the Veterinary Advisor to the RAF. After settling into their new accommodation, Mr Charles Fricker introduced the competition known as the Annual Working Dog Efficiency Competition which differed from the Annual Dog Championship Trials. In order to obtain the required results, he had to travel to every RAF station which had RAF Police dogs established on it and subject both the handlers and their dogs to a number of rigorous efficiency tests. As soon as the results were known, the best teams were invited to the Depot, where, to compete for the title, `RAF Police Dog Champion of the Year', they demonstrated their skills before an assembled and excited audience. To present the prizes to the winners, Mr Fricker, enlisted the assistance of the Provost Marshal and other notable officers of air rank and before long the trials proved to be a very popular annual event, so much so, that similar events were subsequently organised in every overseas command.

On the 8th September 1968, Earl Louis Mountbatten of Burma, wrote from his home, ‘Broadlands’ in Hampshire, to Group Captain H M Shepherd at the Police Depot to thank him for the recent gift of a retired RAF Police Dog. The dog, had been named ‘Bond’ with the service number ‘007’, after the fictional Ian Flemming ‘special agent’, James Bond 007’. Mountbatten stated that the dog had settled in well and seemed to like the huge estate.

In Cyprus, with the closure of RAF Nicosia, a new RAF Police Dog Training School was opened in March 1966, at RAF Episkopi under the control of a RAF Police sergeant dog handler.

The RAF Police Dog Demonstration Team, under the command of Flight Lieutenant P Brough, had become so popular by that period, that towards the end of the summer of 1969, the Parachute Regiment, who were organising a public relations tour around Canada and the United States of America, extended an invitation for the team to join them. The Provost Marshal duly approved the request and later in the year the trip went ahead. Sixteen dog handlers were chosen to represent the RAF Police and each dog was sedated for their trip aboard the Boeing 707 to New York. Upon their arrival all the dogs were checked by veterinary surgeons from the United States Army are were found to be fit and well and showed no adverse effects from their flight. Their tour in America opened to a packed audience at Maddison Square Gardens in New York and was an instant success. Accordingly, as the team worked their way through the hectic but enjoyable schedule covering some 8,000 miles. In all, sixty-five performances were given in twenty-three cities over a period of seventy-four days. While it was hard work it was worth it because the public on that side of the Atlantic showed their great warmth and admiration for the British Military display and in particular, the RAF Police Dog Demonstration Team who trilled the crowds at every venue. Needless to say the tour proved itself to be a very successful venture indeed.

During the same period, on the other side of the Atlantic, a secondary RAF Police Dog Demonstration Team, formed from operational dogs and their handlers serving in Germany were, for the first time, invited to demonstrate their skills at the Berlin Military Tattoo. Although the team was only required to perform at two public performances, they were, nonetheless, an instant success with the audience which numbered many thousands.

In January 1970, the Provost Marshal advised the MOD about the increased involvement of service personnel in the abuse of illegal and dangerous drugs. Throughout the hippie decade of the sixties the RAF Police had been monitoring the use of illegal and controlled drugs by society in general and had become alarmed with the increased ease at which the drugs could be obtained and used. At that time, drug abuse happened to be a major problem within the United States' own armed forces and the problem continued to grow. To prevent that situation from developing within the RAF, the Dog Training Flight at the Depot was tasked with training two RAF Police dogs in the detection of the drug cannabis in all it's associated forms. However, before training began, liaison was established with the Metropolitan Police who had, for a number of years, been successfully using their dogs to detect the drug. In response, to the approach, they provided invaluable advice and assistance to the RAF Police NCOs tasked with setting up the training program, which it was envisaged would take between ten to twelve weeks to complete. As the experiment quickly proved successful, the training moved on to include, the detection of other dangerous drugs and as a consequence, Her Majesty's Customs and Excise Service, began to show a particular interest in the break through which they thought could help them in the continuing battle to detect illegal drugs entering the country.

In the Far East on the 18thFebruary 1971, the RAF Police Auxiliaries, stationed in Singapore and the Far East celebrated the Silver Anniversary of their formation at RAF Changi. The occasion was marked with a splendid parade made up of four flights, including the dog section and reviewed by Air Vice Marshal N M Maynard CB, CBE, DFC, AFC, RAF, AOC FEAF, accompanied throughout the day by the Command Provost Marshal, Group Captain A A Witherington. The parade was followed by the beating of the retreat, performed by the band of the Australian Army, who had kindly offered their services for the occasion. The formal ceremony was followed later by the `Ronggeng', the Malay festival of feasting and dancing, to which everyone taking part in the parade, together with the spectators and their families were invited. Although the day's celebrations turned out to be a great success, they did unfortunately herald the start of the intended withdrawal of the RAF from that region of the Far East.

In early April 1971, the Provost Branch was saddened to learn of the death of Colonel J W Baldwin, DSO, the ‘father’ of the RAF Police Dog organisation. Although he had been in retirement since 1953, he had continued to maintain his strong links with the branch and was immensely proud of his connection with the service and of course, the highest standard of achievement which he had worked so hard to attain, during the time spent working with the RAF Police. Five years after he had retired and as a mark of gratitude and respect for all that he had done, a room in the RAF Police Museum, dedicated to the dogs which he loved so much, was named as ‘The Baldwin Room’.

On the 5th June 1973, Her Royal Highness the Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, arrived at the RAF Police Depot, by helicopter, to carry out the first ever Royal Review of the RAF Police. After being welcomed to the Depot, she was invited to inspect the smartly turned out Provost Officers and RAF Police NCOs, on parade and who represented the RAF Police and the RAF Police Auxiliaries serving around the world. After the ceremony, she was taken on a tour of the RAF Police School where she viewed an impressive exhibition of photographs, models and static displays depicting the RAF Police at work. Finally, she was shown around the dog training school and was clearly delighted with the demonstration arranged for her visit by Mr Fricker. At the conclusion of a most successful day, Princess Margaret returned to her helicopter and finally left the station, having had an extremely enjoyable and interesting day.

Over in Belfast later in the year, a RAF Police dog handler; Corporal D Ianson, narrowly escaped serious injury, but unfortunately, his dog, trained to detect the presence of explosive substances, was killed in an explosion. The incident happened after they were summoned by the Army, to search a derelict house which they suspected had a hidden cache of terrorist explosives. Although dangerous work, it was quite a routine task for the experienced handler and his dog. They had cleared the ground floor of the building without finding anything and were just about to check upstairs. However, as the dog climbed the stairs, it triggered a trip wire and a booby trap bomb went off killing the dog instantly. Luckily, the handler had been at the bottom of the stairs and around a bend at the fatal moment, otherwise he too may have been killed by the powerful blast.

In 1975 the RAF Police School moved from RAF Debden to RAF Newton, near Nottingham but the dog training school remained behind for a while longer, until work on a new kennel complex had been completed. Unfortunately, with the move to RAF Newton, the title ‘RAF Police Depot’ was lost once again and the school reverted to being just another lodger unit, occupying space on the station.

In September 1976, Mr Fricker retired and handed over his appointment and responsibilities as the Chief Training Officer (Dogs), to Mr Terry McHaffie, who had been his deputy for many years. During his time in charge of training police dogs, Mr Fricker had ensured that the dogs were exposed to as much publicity as possible, which had included many appearances on television at home and abroad. Over the years his methods in doing so, had been extremely effective. The public at large, had a very healthy respect for the branch and it's dogs, which they had continued to donate to the RAF over the years. Indeed, whenever the RAF Police Dog Demonstration Team appeared in public, as they frequently did around the country, the shows were always very well attended and that of course proved to be one of the organisations' best public relations exercises. Mr McHaffie, himself an expert dog trainer possessed, like his two predecessors, a great understanding and affection for the German shepherd and worked tirelessly to promote their use as police dogs. Indeed, for many years he held a special relationship with a snow white German shepherd dog known as Airdog Bull, who became one of the first dogs to be successfully employed by the RAF Police on search duties. Airdog Bull continued to serve with the branch until he was almost twelve years old.

Following a very successful two year trial period during which two RAF Police drug detection dogs, on secondment with their handlers, had proved their effectiveness in combating the illegal importation of illicit drugs, Her Majesty’s Commissioner of Customs & Excise decided to form a national force of drug detection dogs to detect the smuggling of heroin and cannabis. In May 1978, the RAF Police School was selected as the most suitable and qualified establishment in the country to undertake the program of training the forty additional Customs handlers and their dogs, required for the task. A new training cell was quickly established within the Dog Training Flight and soon after, the fourteen-week training program commenced under the watchful eye of Flight Sergeant J Coulson.’

A short time late later, a senior Air Officer, who will remain nameless, was visiting the RAF Police Dog Training School on a tour of inspection. During his visit he observed various aspects of dog training and was treated to various demonstrations to prove just how effective the training program was. He was very impressed by what he was shown but the best was as they say left until last. As he was about to complement the staff on their efforts he was informed about what was described as the 'latest break through' in dog training. He listened with interest when a member of staff briefed him that the school had just successfully completed training a dog to find 'lost' classified files. The Air Officer looked stunned that such a remarkable break through had been achieved. He knew only to well that whenever, classified files were reported missing an investigation team would strip search the offices or the registry where the file was normally stored to ensure that it had not merely fallen down behind a filing cabinet or had even been mis-filed. The practice invariably produced results and thereby saved an incredible amount of subsequent investigation work. Once briefed he witnessed a final demonstration where a police dog was brought into a registry where a secret file had gone missing. Shortly after entering the room the dog became excited at one particular filing cabinet and tried to get behind it. The handler approached and with some help pulled the heavy cabinet away from the wall. The dog leapt into the space and quickly came out wagging its tail and with the missing secret file in its jaws. The Air Officer was very impressed and asked the trainer how on earth he had managed to train the dog in such a way. At that point various sniggers around the room informed the Air Officer that he had been had. The dog had not in fact been trained to find lost files but had been trained to detect the drug cannabis. What the trainer had done prior to the demonstration was to rub some cannabis resin onto the file. The dog, during the demonstration, had merely been doing what he had been trained to do - detect cannabis. I have to state at this point that the Air Officer concerned was known to possess a rather keen sense of humour was very pro-police and therefore, the commanding officer at the RAF Police School, when briefed beforehand, had agreed to allow the prank to proceed. Luckily, for him and the pranksters, the Air Officer, when informed of how it had been done that afternoon was delighted.

At the age of 86 years old, Air Commodore O W De Putron, the Provost Marshal who had achieved so much for the branch during its formative years, which included taking over control of the Ministry of Aircraft Production Guard Dog School, died at his Devonshire home on the 17thFebruary 1980. Throughout his retirement, the Air commodore had maintained a lively and tireless interest in the activities and progress of the branch.

In October 1980, following a breakdown of negotiations between the Prison Officers Association and the Home Office, the prison officers commenced industrial action and refused to accept further prisoners into the system, which resulted in many prisoners being confined in cells at police stations all over the country. As the situation seriously deteriorated and the system was on the point of collapse, military assistance was requested by the Government and Operation Ruddock, was quickly put into action. In order to relieve the acute problem of prisoners being held within police cells, a temporary prison was hastily established and secured at Rolleston Camp, an Army deployment encampment, located on the bleak Salisbury Plain. Although the RAF Police NCOs involved in the task, they were not employed on duties inside the prison, they nevertheless provided the necessary outer security cordon. As such, the custodial tasks remained the responsibility of the senior prison staff and both Army and RAF personnel detached in from the military detention centres. As the operation got underway, a large number of RAF Police dog handlers were detached into the camp to carry out external security patrols to prevent escapes from succeeding. Although the RAF Police dogs are extremely well trained, in comparison to the dogs used by the Prison Service, they quickly gained a reputation, amongst the inmates, of being rather savage beasts. Accordingly, no escape attempts were made throughout the entire five-month operation.

The RAF Police had by 1982, been working with dogs for some forty years, and had earned for itself a reputation second to none. Not only were patrol dogs being trained but the specialist training of the dogs used to detect the presence of drugs and explosives had been a very successful venture. It was therefore, rather pleasing to see that during the year, a well wishing member of the public kindly donated the 10,000th dog into service with the branch.

On the 23rd April 1983, the station commander of RAF Waddington, Group Captain J Laycock exercised his right to march personnel from his station through the city of Lincoln. Three flights were paraded; two with fixed bayonets representing operations wing and No 50 Squadron and a third representing the RAF Police Squadron, commanded at that time by Squadron Leader D Gibbard. The police element comprised twelve handlers and their dogs and a RAF Police range rover borrowed from HQ P&SS(UK) for the parade. The parade marched for two miles along the High Street in Lincoln and was watched by hundreds of Saturday morning shoppers who seemed delighted by the appearance of the RAF Police dogs in public. The NCOs who took part in the parade were: Sergeant P Hall, Corporal J Henderson with Airdog Shannon, Corporal M Pearce and Airdog Jason, Corporal J Davage and Airdog Elsa, Corporal D Robinson and Airdog Zuse, Corporal A Clarke and Airdog Bandit, Corporal B Curtis and Airdog Sabre, Corporal S O'Reilly and Airdog Major, Cpl G Cassidy and Airdog Brigg, Corporal J Kendall and Airdog Buster, Corporal A Sargeant and Airdog Nelson, Corporal G Whitehead and Airdog Sultan, Corporal M Cheetham and Airdog Czek. Finally, the crew of the range rover were Corporals D Brown and R Docksey.

In 1984 Warrant Officer T Figgins and Sergeant A Rowe from the RAF Police School, were detached to Thailand. Their successful three month visit had been brought about following a request from the Thai Government, for the RAF Police to assist them, to train a number of their Air Force dogs to detect firearms and explosives. Throughout the detachment the two men had been hosted by the Royal Thai Air Force at Korat, situated some two hundred kilometres north of the capital, Bangkok. After quickly settling in to their new environment, the two men had prepared their intensive training program, which to complicate matters slightly, had involved learning enough of the Thai language so that the basic commands could be given to the dogs being trained.

As the ‘Cold War’ between the East and the West continued to thaw, the co-operation between the British and Soviet authorities, in the war against the importation of contraband and illicit drugs, went from strength to strength, as the number of successful customs operations increased. Consequently, a most unusual and prestigious visit took place at the RAF Police School on the 14th September 1987, when the First Deputy Chairman of the Soviet State Customs Board & Council of Ministers; Mr Vitaliy Konstantonovich Boyarov, accompanied by Lieutenant General Pankin of the Soviet Ministry of the Interior, were entertained at the Dog Training Squadron. The visitors had been very impressed by the training carried out by the Dangerous Drug Search Dog Cell at the school and had asked, during their week long visit to the United Kingdom, to see it for themselves. After being met by the Station Commander, Group Captain R E Holliday and Wing Commander A V Schofield; the Officer Commanding the RAF Police School, they were given a full briefing and a step by step demonstration of the techniques used in the training of the drug detection dogs by the Search Cell staff. At the end of the visit, Mr Boyarov, impressed by what he had seen, presented a Soviet State Customs Board Medal to the RAF Police School, where at the time of writing this book it was displayed within the `Baldwin Room' at the RAF Police Museum.’

At RAF Gibraltar on the 14thDecember 1987, Corporal A Bruce the Dangerous Drug Search dog handler, who was serving with RAF P&SS (Gibraltar), was asked by the Gibraltarian Customs Service to assist them with searching the voluminous luggage belonging to a Moroccan passenger, who had arrived in the colony on the hydrofoil from Tangier. The officers strongly suspected the passenger of carrying controlled drugs, but had been unable to locate any during their initial search. Corporal Bruce and his dogs responded and after a short time, both dogs indicated that there were drugs concealed inside six pairs of deer antlers which were mounted onto wooden plinths. In spite of the protests from the owner, the antlers were duly split open and a total of 6.3 kilograms of Pakistani Black Cannabis resin, with a then current street value of £18,000, was recovered and instantly impounded. The RAF Police drug dogs had once again proved their worth and as a result, the Moroccan was subsequently charged, by the Gibraltarian authorities, with attempting to smuggle controlled drugs into the colony.

As the Soviet Union continued to reduce the threat of attack on the west by withdrawing her troops from positions deemed to be intimidating, the British Government once again began calling for massive reductions in our own defence budget. Consequently on the 25th July 1990, a paper, entitled, `Options for Change' was presented to parliament which outlined a number of ways of reducing the country's defences in line with the declining threat to our national security. At the time, the authorised establishment of the RAF was 89,000 and the paper called for a reduction in numbers, over a two-year period to 75,000 personnel.

In the Middle East on the 24thFebruary, the coalition ground offensive into Kuwait began and after only four days, the territory was liberated and the Iraqi forces swiftly defeated. As the overall operation was completed in a very short space of time, a huge number of Iraqi prisoners of war were suddenly captured by, or surrendered to, the coalition forces, making the task of guarding them a momentous commitment. To assist in overcoming the problem, RAF Police dog handlers were instantaneously deployed to the prisoner of war (POW) compounds, known as the ‘Mary Hill Camp’. The first few hundred prisoners arrived during the evening of the 28thFebruary, however, over the days that followed the number quickly rose to around four thousand prisoners. The RAF Police dog teams were used on a variety of tasks, providing twenty-four hour coverage at the camp. Apart from being used to patrol the perimeter wire of the enclosures containing the captured Iraqi troops they were also used for escorting prisoners from the Chinook helicopters, which brought them into the camp. The teams worked hard in extremely difficult conditions and it was fairly common for a single dog team to be controlling upwards of four hundred prisoners at a time. On one occasion, the Coldstream Guards Regiment who were responsible for administration at the camp, issued a supply of sweets and coca-cola to the prisoners. Unfortunately, there was not enough to go around and a riot quickly occurred. Additional dog teams were deployed to the incident and order was quickly restored but not before a few prisoners had been bitten by the dogs. A few more incidents of a similar nature occurred over the days that followed and again the speedy intervention of the dog teams quickly brought the situations under control. By the 11th March, all the prisoners had been transferred from the Mary Hill Transit Camp over to the camps set up by the United States Army and accordingly, the RAF Police dog teams were stood down from their guarding task.

After a most unpopular directive from the MOD, the RAF Police Dog Training Squadron, after much protest to prevent it from happening, finally merged with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps on the 1st April 1991, to form the Joint Service Defence Animal Centre. The Headquarters of the new formation was located at Melton Mowbray, under the command of an Army officer; Lieutenant Colonel P A Roffey RAVC, with a RAF provost officer; Wing Commander P F Leeds as his deputy. The new unit was divided up into two separate wings. The Army wing, which looked after the Army's horses and the dogs used to detect firearms and explosives, remained at Melton Mowbray, while the RAF Police Dog Training Squadron, was re-titled as the Dog Training Wing (Newton) of the Defence Animal Centre and remained at RAF Newton, training the general patrol and drug detection dogs. In addition, the Newton Wing continued to train dogs for HM Customs & Excise, the Royal Navy, the Scottish Prison Service and for the American Forces who were stationed within the United Kingdom.

During the same month, as a result of the continuing terrorist activity on the United Kingdom mainland, discussions were held at the MOD by the Provost Marshal, with a view to increasing the internal counter terrorist measures at a large number of RAF stations around the country. Although the use of patrol dogs was thought to be the most efficient way of providing that deterrent, a substantial increase in the establishment of large dog sections at every station would have proved very expensive indeed and would have been totally rejected right from the very start. As an alternative, a proposal was accepted to trial the use of a small number of specially selected High Profile Counter Terrorist (HPCT) RAF Police dogs at three RAF stations over a three-month period. The trial at Shawbury, Cranwell and Uxbridge, was subsequently organised and controlled by the Provost Marshal's Dog Inspector and started in July 1991. The new concept of using RAF Police Dogs in the HPCT role was quite simple and extremely cost effective to operate. Each station was allocated two trained dogs which were teamed up with qualified RAF Police dog handlers, already established on the strength of the unit to carry out general police duties. Up until that point, RAF Police NCOs who were employed as dog handlers had been specially established purely for that role and as such, conformed to a special shift pattern which worked alongside those of their colleagues employed on general police duties. However, during the trial period, the NCOs handling the HPCT dogs were incorporated into the normal pattern of shifts, accompanied by their dogs whenever they carried out the regular foot and mobile patrols around the station. At the end of the trial period, the venture was deemed to have been highly successful and their use in that role continued to be operated and expanded to other RAF stations around the country.

Closer to home, the use of RAF Police dogs were being closely studied once again 1n 1994 and proposals were put forward by the Army to have all RAF Police dogs dual handled, in a further effort to reduce the overall costs involved. Unfortunately, that was a practice adopted by the Army and it was being fiercely fought off by the RAF, who despite having their limited number of HPCT dogs dual handled, saw the general concept of dual handling as unsuited to the work of their dogs. In addition, further proposals were also put forward to disestablish the RAF Police Dog Demonstration Team and the trade of Kennel Assistant. Again, the branch was facing difficult decisions and the Dog Demonstration Team quickly began looking for outside sponsorship. As you can imagine, over that period, with so much uncertainty about and so many studies being conducted, many RAF personnel wondered what the future would hold for them and those serving in the rank and file of the RAF Police, were certainly no exception.

On a glorious afternoon in August 1994, RAF Newton hosted the 37th and final RAF Police United Kingdom Dog Trials to be held, before the planned division of the school sent basic police training to RAF Halton and dog training to Melton Mowbray. The event was recorded on film by the BBC, who had been invited to the unit to make a presentation for their `BBC East Midlands Today' program. In addition to over 2000 members of the general public who turned up to watch the event, the principle guests of the Provost Marshal were Air Vice Marshal Sir Timothy and Lady Garden who were invited to present the prizes to the winning teams. At the end of an extremely competitive event, the 1994 winners of the RAF Police United Kingdom Dog Trials were declared as Corporal Ian Dormund and Airdog Gundo from RAF Kinloss, followed up by Corporal Andrew Bednall and Airdog Tia from RAF Aldergrove, who took second place and Corporal Anna Marie Cameron and Airdog Bruce from RAF Northolt who took third place.

Sadly after forty-five years, during which millions of people had been trilled and excited by their spectacular and professional public performances, the RAF Police Dog Demonstration Team, under the final command of Flying Officer Tracey Flett, was finally disbanded on the 18th September 1994. Although various attempts had been made to save the team by obtaining private sponsorship, the price set to maintain it [£240,000 per year] proved unattractive and no one was willing to take on the commitment. The melancholy occasion was marked a month later at RAF Newton with a reunion, attended by both past and serving members of the team. From that point on, it was intended that all future dog displays given at all major public events, such as the Royal Tournament and the major air displays around the country, would be provided by an operational team of both RAF Police and Army dog handlers from the DAC at Melton Mowbray.

Although the facilities at the DAC were very basic in comparison to those left behind at Newton, the RAF Police dog trainers quickly adjusted to their new surroundings and continued to carry out their established task as best they could. From that point on, RAF Police NCOs who volunteered to become dog handlers were instructed to report to the DAC to undergo the basic dog course. The training was divided into three modules; the first being where the student is instructed in the technique of handling and looking after a fully trained patrol dog. Phase two develops the handler in the important art of teasing or baiting a trained and untrained dog to attack and finally the last part of the course sees the handler teamed up with his of her new partner – the dog. Qualified handlers who were successfully selected to become either a specialist armaments and explosive search (AES) handler or dangerous drug search (DDS) handler, returned to the DAC to undergo a grueling sixteen-week course to qualify as an AES handler or a ten-week course to become a DDS handler. During AES training the student and his dogs are trained in the technique of safely searching for and recovering weapons, ammunition and explosives. Training for DDS handlers and their dogs follows a similar pattern and on successful completion of the course the dogs are able to detect the presence of cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines and heroin. On successful completion of training both AES and DDS dog teams are posted onto the establishment of RAF P&SS regions where their specialist services are heavily in demand.–

Unfortunately, following the transfer of dog training to the DAC at Melton Mowbray and the disbandment of the RAF Police Dog Demonstration Team, it seemed that the overall profile of RAF Police dogs had dwindled. Indeed, an annual event where the demonstration team were really missed was of course the Royal Tournament, which had been forced to include civilian dog display teams in the program. Although the struggle continued within the branch to re-establish the demonstration team, it seemed that the Provost Marshal, for some unexplained reason, was firmly against the idea. Notwithstanding, individual RAF Police dog handlers and sections around the ‘RAF world’ continued working hard to enhance the skills of their dogs and indeed, a number of those operational handlers regularly came together, often at short notice, much to the delight of their audiences, to form semi-official display teams at RAF Open Days and other public events. In addition, many of the displays performed by the dog teams invariably supported events designed to raise much needed funds for worthwhile charities around the country. As 1997, drew to a close, a television documentary series was filmed at the DAC, during which a number of RAF Police dog trainers, stationed with the agency, gave an extremely good account of themselves as they demonstrated their professional skills when training dogs in the attack and specialist search roles. Soon after, although not unfortunately at the Royal Tournament, RAF Police dogs featured once again at Earls Court in London in order to promote the ‘Good Citizen Dog Scheme’, an initiative designed to highlight the benefits of owning and caring for pet dogs. Taking part in the initiative were Corporal P Bass and Airdog Khan from RAF Honington, Corporal S Nicholas and Airdog Arnie from RAF Lyneham and Flight Sergeant’s G Mills and R Hoare from the Provost Marshals Dog Inspectorate.

On the 29th June 1999, five RAF Police dogs and their handlers from the recently formed RAF Police (Volunteer) Dog Demonstration Team appeared on the ‘Good Morning’ television program alongside dozens of show business celebrities in order to raise thousands of pounds for charity. The police dogs, all gifts to the Defence Animal Centre, after starting life as unwanted pets, made their appearance during the ‘Get up and Give Appeal’, to demonstrate the skills which had brought them accolades at the ‘Crufts National Dog Show’ earlier in the year. The live display, which came from the Thames Embankment in London, helped to raise much needed monies for a number of worthy charities which included; Home Start, National Benevolent Fund for the Aged, Mind, The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the National Eczema Society.

In July, it was announced by the Ministry of Defence, that after the ‘1999 Royal Tournament’, held at Earls Court between 20th July – 2ndAugust, the military tattoo would not be held again. The news brought to an end yet another remarkable public military event, which fell victim to the seemingly never ending defence cuts. It was therefore a fitting tribute that the RAF Police (Volunteer) Dog Demonstration Team appeared once again to thrill the crowds at the last ever show. The team under the command of Flight Lieutenant P Fyfe (PMSU) and assisted by Flight Sergeant R Hoare (PMDI) comprised; Sergeants M Watson (RAF Waddington) and P Bass (RAF Waddington); Corporals P Barass, D Lane, R Heath, N Lyons, K Moar, S Hancock, B Price, S Parker, B Clifton, M Jackman, T Bird and J Hodgson. The Royal Tournament or Military Skill at Arms Pageant as it was originally known by had first been presented to the public in London in 1881. It had been an instant success and during its one hundred and eighteen years representatives from the four arms of the British Forces along with visiting Empire, Commonwealth and foreign troops had demonstrated their skills to an enthusiastic public. In recent years some of the more memorable displays included; the Royal Naval Field Gun Team, The Royal Marines Band, The Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery, The Massed Bands of the British Forces, The RAF Queens Colour Squadron, The Royal Signals Motor-cycle Team and of course the RAF Police Dog Demonstration Team but to name a few. During a very emotional final show, a number of prominent people and the public were already calling for the tournament to be saved. However, once again it seemed that the cost of staging the event, both in manpower and financial terms, far outweighed its value. In addition to the show being staged in the arena, the tournament also played host to a plethora of static military displays, information centres and recruiting stands.

On Saturday the 11thSeptember, the United Kingdom Working Dog Trials took place at RAF Halton. In glorious sunshine a crowd in excess of five hundred spectators watched the six finalists complete for the title of the 'RAF Police United Kingdom Supreme Champion'. Although the weather was perfect for the crowd the weather conditions called for patience and understanding from the handlers who needed to keep cool-heads under the hot afternoon sun. The judges, Flight Lieutenant R Irwin and Mr G Elliott, had their work cut out to make any major distinction between the teams. However, while they were working out the results the spectators were entertained by the RAF Hawks free fall parachute team and the RAF Halton Area Band. Finally, a decision was reached and the final outcome was a well deserved win for Corporal R Parker and Airdog Gizmo from RAF Waddington. Corporal A Burrell and Airdog Benito from RAF Brize Norton took second place. Corporal S Shepherd and Airdog Arnie from RAF Lyneham took third place in the competition. The presentations later that afternoon were made by Lady Bagnall and included prizes to RAF Cottesmore for the best maintained RAF Police dog section; RAF Digby for the best maintained high profile dog section and RAF Kinloss for the most improved dog section. Individual prizes were awarded to Corporal Shepherd and Airdog Arnie for the best criminal workout and best wind-scent; Corporal Ackers and Airdog Chunky for the best night workout; Corporal Barrow and Airdog Bob for the best arena performance and finally, Corporal Moar and Airdog Sam for being the most meritorious team.

Down in the Falkland Islands on the 20th October, an unusual event occurred when a RAF Police dog named Duke was promoted to the honorary rank of warrant officer. Previous permission had been granted from the Provost Marshal's dog inspector in the United Kingdom for the promotion to take place. Duke was whelped in February 1988 and entered service with the RAF in October 1989. Following successful completion of his training he was 'posted' to the Falkland Islands in February 1990 where he helped to patrol Mount Pleasant Airfield. After nearly six and a half years employed as a working dog, Duke was retired in June 1996 and became the station mascot. In doing so, he was promoted to the honorary rank of sergeant. However, following sterling public relations within local schools and the local home for senior citizens he was promoted to the rank of flight sergeant in early 1998. In addition, Duke had also helped to raise a considerable amount of money for various charitable causes such as the BBC's children in need, red nose day and the wireless for the blind. Being retired, Duke enjoyed five-star accommodation living within the Sergeants' mess, in the quarters assigned to the SNCO in charge of the dog section.

Throughout the year, the seventeen RAF Police dog handlers employed at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus had been hard at work raising money for local charities, one of which was the 'patient comfort fund' for the Princess Mary Hospital. Corporal J Dalton, the man behind the project explained that the section tried to raise as much money as possible for various worthy causes but when he heard that the hospital was in need of better welfare facilities, the section took the matter on as their next charity project. The Princess Mary Hospital at RAF Akrotiri provides medical facilities for all British forces and their families serving on the island of Cyprus. The patient comfort fund provides amenities that are not issued to the hospital by the military budget such as televisions, flower vases, pictures and children's toys. During a presentation ceremony at the hospital a cheque for £150 was handed over by Corporal Dalton to the nurse in charge of the fund, Flight Lieutenant N Dyson.

Between the 7th and 8thSeptember 2000, a team from the Defence Animal Centre at Melton Mowbray completed what is believed to be the longest triathlon in England, hence the title of their conquest 'The Ultimate English Triathlon'. The team comprised two members of the RAF Police & Provost Branch; Squadron Leader A Walker APM, Sergeant D Blundell RAF Police and four members of the Army Royal Army Veterinary Corps ; Major M Sheriff, Sergeant J Rowlinson, Private J Norwood and Corporal S Todd. The team started their grueling event just before 0600 hours on the 7th September and completed it shortly after 0600 hours the following morning. First, the team swam across Lake Windermere (England's longest lake measuring 10.5 miles) in five hours thirty-eight minutes. Secondly, they ran to Scafell Pike (England's highest mountain and a twenty-two mile round trip) in five hours and thirty-three minutes. Finally, the team mounted their bicycles and rode to the Defence Animal Centre in Melton Mowbray, a distance of one hundred and ninety-five miles in thirteen hours and thirteen minutes. The six personnel formed three teams for the event and each team was responsible for covering a third of the event. At the time the weather conditions in the Lake District were described as poor. As such, complications were encountered during the swim when it poured down with rain and then poor visibility on the mountain slowed the pace of the team. However, it was successfully completed and of course the event raised considerable funds for a charity adopted by the Defence Animal Centre.

The Final phase of the Air Officer Security & Provost Marshal's United Kingdom Dog Efficiency Competition took place at RAF Halton on the 9thSeptember 2000. Every year the Provost Marshal's Dog Inspectors conduct an inter-station efficiency inspection at all RAF Police Dog Sections throughout the United Kingdom to identify the very best operation dog teams. The final phase of the exercise is a week long elimination process to highlight the best six dog teams that will take part in the event at Halton. After a tiring day of putting their best into the final phase of the competition, the winner of the six teams was declared to be Corporal Devlin and Airdog Sabre from RAF Honington, while the Inter-station Efficiency Award went to RAF Conningsby and the award of Most Improved Section went to RAF Lossiemouth. The prizes were presented to the winners by the principle guest; Air Vice Marshal N Sudborough from Headquarters Strike Command. Finally, to round the day off, the public audience were treated to a display by the RAF Sport Parachute Association; the Hawks.

At RAF High Wycombe on the 23rdSeptember, the RAF Police Flight hosted the second 'Annual Pet Dog Efficiency Competition' on the No1 Site sports field, in aid of the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. The event started just after lunch and comprised nine teams of dogs and owners of all shapes and sizes. Corporal Ian Short had devised the successful event the previous year and this year he had organised it into three phases; obedience, obstacles and the long stay. Phase one involved on or off the lead obedience, followed by a frontal recall and a free exercise. The latter was left to the owners' imagination and on the day, produced tricks ranging from 'giving a paw' to Sergeant A Bednell's German Shepherd retrieving a ball from a bucket of water. Phase two was the obstacle phase and comprised a three-foot high jump, a short jump, long jump, plank walk, barrel jump and a window jump. The aim of that phase was to complete the course in the fastest time, with points being deducted for owners rather than pets negotiating any obstacles. The most entertaining individual of that phase was Corporal Willis who completed the whole course while his 'borrowed' dog, Stanley, ran around the crowd looking for his real owner. The third phase involved having the dog stay well away from its owner for some time until called forward. The event, judged by Flight Sergeant C Poole and organised by Corporal I Bulloch, with the help of Corporal J Blandford, was won by Sergeant Bednell and Tess, with the 'Most Entertaining Trophy' being awarded to Mrs Paula Gullinery and Jake, a six month old German Shephard which raised just over £40 for the charity. The other teams were Sergeant D Hammond and her labrador Brandy; Corporal Willis and Stanley, a Staffordhire bull terrier crossbreed; Mrs Jocelyne Tack and her Hearing Dog for Deaf People, Bruno; Mrs Karen Bulloch and Collie cross Domino; Corporal J Baird and collie cross Sparky; Senior Aircraftswoman T Cussell and retired drug detection dog Pepper, and finally Mrs Claire Blandford and Poppy.

 

If you were a dog-handler or a kennel-maid and you have a story to tell me, then I would be delighted to hear from you; my e-mail address is steveguida@hotmail.com