Picture appeal as air cadets celebrate 80 years

A Shropshire squadron of the RAF Air Cadets is appealing for past pictures to help its history take flight as it seeks to mark this year's 80th anniversary of the organisation.

Squadron Leader Ben Milroy gives instructions to 14-year-old Jeffrey Lester of 1119 Squadron, who was about to take his first flight  in October 1972 at RAF Shawbury.
Squadron Leader Ben Milroy gives instructions to 14-year-old Jeffrey Lester of 1119 Squadron, who was about to take his first flight in October 1972 at RAF Shawbury.

The 1119 Shrewsbury Squadron is among the oldest in Britain, tracing its roots to the very birth of the movement during the war.

On February 14, 1941, boys aged 16 to 18 attended a meeting at Shrewsbury Technical College close to Shrewsbury Town's then Gay Meadow ground to register an interest in joining the Air Training Corps.

In July 1969 cadets from 1119 Squadron followed the Apollo moonshot on their own powerful receivers. At their Coleham headquarters are instructors Roy Brookfield and Roger Griffiths and cadets Corporal Ian Hollingworth and David Davenport.

The squadron was officially formed on March 1, 1941.

Mike Bradbury, who is chairman of the squadron's civilian committee which raises money to fund cadets' activities, said: "What I am looking for are photos from members or families of the history of the squadron so that I can make a collage for the squadron to keep as a memento."

Originally a boys-only organisation, today it admits both boys and girls and the 1119 Squadron commander is Flight Lieutenant Liz Holmes who took command in 2011.

A 1942 picture showing ATC cadets about to climb into an Avro Anson aircraft at an air base "somewhere in the West Midlands" –censorship meant the location was not given, but as this is an old Express & Star picture it would be likely to be somewhere in the Wolverhampton area like RAF Cosford or RAF Perton.

Mike said: "Her day job is that of an A and E doctor at Stoke hospital so you can well understand just what her life is like at the moment dealing with people suffering from Covid-19.

"We did have around 70 cadets before this pandemic but we have lost some over this period, so I think we may now be down to around the 40s.

The squadron band.

"In normal times the squadron meets twice a week Monday and Wednesday at the Copthorne Barracks, or what is left of it."

To celebrate the 80th anniversary the squadron is planning to have a mess dinner, together with presentations, depending on when the coronavirus situation allows.

The Shrewsbury cadets at a Battle of Britain parade.

Mike says anyone who has pictures which could be used in the squadron's historical collage can email him at bradbury2709@googlemail.com or write to his home address of 15 Fairford Place, Salters Lane, Longden Coleham, Shrewsbury SY3 7DL, and he will scan the pictures and return them.

The RAF Air Cadets comprises the Air Training Corps and the RAF section of the Combined Cadet Force, and is open to boys and girls aged from 12 to 17. Activities include flying, shooting, camping, sports, adventurous training and, of course, parade and drill.

Nationally the Air Training Corps was officially established on February 5, 1941, with King George VI as the Air Commodore-in-Chief.

Commanding officer Flight Lieutenant Liz Holmes.

In its early days the new Shrewsbury squadron occupied a group of huts on the grounds of the old Shrewsbury Technical College. The Priory School became the regular meeting place soon after.

The first squadron commander was Eric E Morgan, a solicitor and a former officer in the Royal Naval Air Service.

Those early cadets had to pass a compulsory physical training test in which they were expected to be able to run 100 yards (9.4 metres) in 13 seconds, run a mile in six minutes, walk five miles in 70 minutes, clear four feet in the high jump, and 15 feet in the long jump.

Most Read

Most Read

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News