From ‘Wing’, the magazine of 140 Wing Gutersloh, November 1946
Contributed by Ken Utton (Apr 46-May 50) with kind regards to the Accountant Officer and L.A.C.W. Maltby)
For the benefit of any civilian who may chance to read this, I must explain at the outset that, in the Air Force, our hard earned spondulicks are not brought round in small envelopes by a bevy of charming wenches who leer seductively as they hand us the said envelope, with an open invitation to spend the contents on them. We sometimes wish it were. No, here in the Air Force we must present ourselves en masse at a given spot, at a stated time and there await the pleasure of a mighty being known as the Accountant Officer, or any stooge acting for him in his absence. Don’t imagine that once the mob has assembled the Accountant Officer tips the cash out in front of him, yells ‘akker up’ and stands back to avoid being killed in the rush. Nothing so simple, my civilian friends. One of the basic principles of the Air Force is that things must be done ‘in an orderly and airman-like fashion’. This is one of the rules of the Medes and the Persians or almost. Therefore the mob must be sorted into alphabetical order before the proceedings can commence. This is done by a person known officially as a Senior N.C.O. His only qualification for this job is a knowledge of the alphabet and the order of precedence of the twenty-six letters. Some types awaiting pay have been known to bet almost all the money they expect to receive against him knowing this, although to be strictly fair, I have never come across a case of the ‘Caller’ making a mistake, even though I have seen some refer to slips of paper during the proceedings.
Now the Pay Parade is ready to begin; the Accountant Officer squares his fingers and prepares to part with the dough, wearing the while an agonised expression. Well, so would you if you had to watch all that money slip through your hands.
All this has probably been most boring to my service readers, so I will pass on to matters which are more likely to be of interest to them.
There are one or two problems which present themselves to the airman about to be paid. One of them is how to get away without saluting the Officer(s) at the table. The only reason for wanting to do this is the insane desire which besets us all to cock a mental snoot at authority. Needless to say he isn’t likely to get away with it, because the Officer(s) present jealously preserve his (their) right to be saluted before handing over the akker. The most you can hope to get away with is a fair imitation of a salute. A sort of taxi-driver affair if you follow what I mean.
The second problem is how to go round twice and get paid each time. The difficulties with which this bristles are enormous and so far I haven’t heard of anyone surmounting them. The trouble, as I see it, is that these Accounts people are so devilishly cunning and insist upon taking three or four precautions where one would do. Should you decide to impersonate someone whom you know is not amongst those present, you must also be in possession of his or her paybook. Now in these days no right-minded airman or airwoman is going to part with a paybook which they know is the key to future wealth. So that’s out.
I’m afraid I am not being really helpful to my readers in this matter but really I can’t think of any method of extracting more than one’s fair share of the Government’s cash – short of robbery with violence that is.
There are one or two other things about pay parades I should like to mention. The first is that everyone feels that they are being swindled by Pay Accounts. They are, of course, but they are going to have one helluva job proving it. The other is the rough deal the W, X, Y and Z’s get out of this Pay Parade racket. From time immemorial they have been compelled to wait until the bitter end before being summoned before the Presence to receive their miserable pittances. I do think that it would add a little variety to these functions if the order were to be reversed occasionally. Not every other time mind you, as this would soon become rather boring – just once in a while.
I think that is all there is to say on the subject of Pay Parades, so if you will pardon me, I’ll just slip off to and get my name down for a casual.