YESTERDAY the Royal Air Force (RAF) celebrated 100 years since its formation in 1918 by amalgamating the Royal Naval Air Service and the Army's Royal Flying Corps (the RFC). The RFC had been in existence since 1912 proving its worth over the Western Front. Rapid expansion of the Corps demanded capable men, and many of its recruits transferred across from the Army, including over 300 men from the Worcestershire Regiment. Nearly 120 were from the Regiments officers - holding the rank of Lieutenant, Captain or Major in the Army, and becoming pilots and navigators in the Air Force. Men like Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson, awarded the Victoria Cross for shooting down a German airship over Britain. Less prominent stories are from the nearly 200 men of the Worcestershire Regiment who started the entered the war as infantry in the trenches of France and ended it as specialist tradesmen with the RAF.

Contemporary documents and photos have recently shed light on the journey of one such man, Harold Bullock. Aged 18, Harold had given up work as a fitter at his father's Motor Cycle and Electrical Engineering shop in St Johns, enlisting in September 1914 as a volunteer Private in 1/8 Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment. After training, the Regiment moved into France on 1st April 1915, and within weeks men found themselves in the trenches at Hebuterne on the Somme, engaged in actions against the Germans. On 15th September 1915 - the same day that saw the death of 2/Lt Hugh Stanley Wilson, a son of the Canon of Worcester Cathedral - Harold Bullock was badly wounded by a German machine gun. Harold survived after intensive care in hospital back in blighty and at home (lovingly cared for by Ethel, daughter of the nearby Richardson tailors family).

By February 1918, Harold had transferred to the Army's Royal Flying Corps, having completed courses on the Rolls Royce Engine at Waddington in Lincolnshire and on gear fitting at Uxbridge. Harold worked as an Air Mechanic 2nd Class (Fitter), posted to the Flying Training School at Grantham. The School was equipped with the cutting edge aircraft of the day, Sopwith Camels and a two seater biplane, the Bristol F2B fighter, powered by the new Rolls Royce Falcon engine. On April 1st, 1918 his service transferred to the brand new Royal Air Force.

Harold was demobilised in March 1919, marrying Ethel and settling in Claines. Harold devised a car with a large mounted loud speaker - becoming a regular feature in the inter-war years at Worcester carnivals and at local election campaign visits by two Prime Ministers, Stanley Baldwin and Ramsay Macdonald. By the mid 1930s, Harold was one of the first regional agents for the new Calor Gas company.

From being there at its birth, several of Harold and Ethel's children and grandchildren have since given service to the RAF over the majority of its 100 years since 1918. Their first son, Philip, helped introduce the new Stirling into Bomber Command operations before being killed over Germany in 1942 Their daughter Betty volunteered in 1943 as a motor mechanic and electrician, later serving at RAF Defford. Betty's husband, Tom Charleston worked as Vulcan Chief Crew, responsible on the ground anywhere in the world - including when his particular Vulcan bomber was filmed for the James Bond classic Thunderball. Two of Betty and Tom's sons also served - David as an engine fitter on Jaguars, VC 10 and Victors and Brian in the RAF 'supply and movements' trade. Stephen Bullock, another grandson of Harold, has recently completed almost 30 years in the Air Training Corps around Worcestershire.