Christopher J Allen otherwise known as 'Darby' was not from a military family, though both of his grandfathers were stretcher-bearers in the trenches of the "War to End All Wars”, The First World War. He served with the RAF from 26 September 1963 to 25 November 1987.
His father joined up in the Royal Signals as a Boy Soldier at the age of 14 in 1936, and trained as a Para in 1941. He jumped in North Africa, Sicily, and mainland Italy. His mother joined the WAAF in 1941 as soon as she was 18.
His father was “demobbed” in 1949, only to be called up for Korea. He decided to stay in the army when he got back, and retired as a WO1 in 1964.
Darby grew up in Gloucestershire, Singapore, Catterick, and Malta, and joined the RAF as a boy telegraphist in 1963. Whilst serving in Singapore [1966-68] he heard about the Brigade Air Support Operations section (BASO), a small team of Paras at RAF Tangmere, who carried out air support for 16 Para Bde. It had never crossed his mind that he could become a Para like his father, until then.
Darby applied for a posting to RAF Tangmere. Having joined BASO he went on Para Course 705 at RAF Abingdon, which ran from 28 April to 20 May 1969 and received his “Wings”. His syndicate Parachute Jump Instructor was Sgt Casey. Darby recalls this about his second balloon jump:
"No sooner had we arrived at 800ft, when the heavens opened. Sgt Casey said, 'Well, we're up here now, you might as well get down the quickest way'. As if we weren't apprehensive enough already!"
In July his team [1 sergeant, two corporals, and 6 senior aircraftmen] were seconded to 244 Sig Sqn to form E Troop with men from 216 Sig Sqn, and it was as member of E Tp that he went on his first NI tour, at Lisburn, on 14 Aug 1969.
Darby was posted overseas again in 1970, and that was the end of his parachuting duties. He was offered the opportunity to join the Cyprus Parachute Rescue Team when he was posted there in 1973, Darby commented, “but my then missus wouldn’t have a bit of it!”
Darby joined the Wakefield branch of the PRA in 1988, membership number 3355.
His profile picture was taken at RAF Tangmere, and although he was on BASO, he had not yet attended his Para Course. The smock was destroyed by battery acid and was replaced in January 1970. He still has this replacement smock to this day.
Created with information and images kindly supplied by Christopher J AllenRead More