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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Hadrian's Camp army apprentices to reunite 50 years on

For many of the young men who walked through the gates of Hadrian’s Camp it was the first time they had been away from home.

Army reunion photo
A Passing Out parade at Hadrian’s Camp in 1967

The 100 or so who started there on May 3, 1962, were no different. Fresh-faced and eager to learn, they were there to hone skills that many would later put to the test in some of the world’s most dangerous places.

Thousands were tutored at the Army’s Carlisle Apprentice College, between the outskirts of the city and Houghton.

Now, 50 years on from the start of their careers, the intake known as 62b is preparing to hold a reunion.

Roy Saxby was 15 years and 15 days old when he began his training in Carlisle. There, he learned his trade as a motor mechanic, along with the ways of the military.

Mr Saxby, now 64, said: “I think it made us more aware of what was going on in the world around us. As boys in the 1960s, many of us didn’t realise what was going on outside our own towns.

“It shaped a lot of us. Most of us have got on pretty well with our lives afterwards.”

Apprentices at the college had a strict life. But in the rare spare time they had, Mr Saxby recalls taking part in athletics in Bitts Park or enjoying dances in the County Hotel, trips to the cinema and Carlisle Castle.

After graduating from the college Mr Saxby spent 25 years in the Army, rising to become a warrant officer.

Like many colleagues, he put the skills he learned in Carlisle to the test worldwide, with deployments to Germany, Northern Ireland, Hong Kong and Belize attached to regiments including the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers.

Mr Saxby, of Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, is looking forward to sharing memories of his three years in Carlisle and life after that with classmates, many of whom he has not seen since.

The camp went on to be used as Cumbria’s police traffic base while part of it became a travellers’ site.

The reunion will take place between May 4 and 6 in Daventry, Northamptonshire.

Recalling his days there, Mr Saxby said: “It was exciting. As a 15-year-old, I had never been away from home for any length of time.”

Meanwhile, a ceremony to inter and dedicate the Army Apprentice Roll of Honour from the Carlisle old boys’ association will be held in Alrewas, Staffordshire in September. For details see www.hadriansoldboys.co.uk.

For the 62b reunion, email saxbyr@msn.com.

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