967 Sqn Air Cadets

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Oct 19

History of the ATC

This year being 2021, the Air Training Corps reached it’s 80th birthday so in honour of this event, this brief history of the ATC has been written by one of our Cadets – Sgt Warpechowska.

For the RAF Air Cadets, the 5th of February is an important date as it celebrates the founding of the Air Training Corps (ATC) in 1941.

In 1859, a number of schools around Britain began to form armed units of adults and older boys with a training programme. The main purpose was to protect Britain if there was ever a threat of attack from overseas. In 1908, the units were re-named as the Officer Training Corps (OTC).

Air Commodore JA Chamier

Air Commodore JA Chamier

Near the beginning of WWII, aircraft were being developed into highly efficient weapons, but they were in need of pilot, crew and training instructors. Air Commodore J A Chamier (now known as the “Father of the Air Training Corps”) had served in the army, the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force in 1919. He adored aviation and was determined to show the British people the RAF’s upmost value and massively significant

role in any future wars that may come. He wanted to establish an Air Cadet Corps, encouraging young people to consider a career in aviation. It was very exciting as only a small amount of people ever got the chance to fly. In WW1, his experience of training was very limited, therefore this was what caused his determination and theory, that if Cadets are more prepared with training, the more experienced they are in combat.

1938 – The Air Defence Cadet Corps (ADCC) was founded by Air Commodore Chamier and it was an organisation made up of people who wanted to make the British public aware of the importance of military aviation.

A lot of potential Cadets wanted to join the ADCC and Squadrons were set up in many towns around the UK. Local people ran them and each Squadron aimed to prepare Cadets for joining the RAF or the Fleet Air Army (the Royal Navy’s aircraft division). They also helped form the diverse programme of activities that Cadets still do today.

During WWII, many instructors were being drafted into the RAF and Squadron buildings were being used by the military, so Cadets were sent to work on RAF stations. They played a major role; they carried messages, handled aircraft, moved equipment, filled thousands of sandbags and loaded miles of belts of ammunition. In just 7 years since the formation of the ADCC, almost 100,000 Cadets had joined the RAF.

Air Cadets learn the basics of flight at RNAS St Merryn in Cornwall, February 1944

By the end of 1940, the government realised the true value and potential of the Cadet force and took control of the ADCC. It was reorganised and renamed as the Air Training Corps, and on the 5th February 1941, the ATC was officially established with King George VI as the Air Commodore-in-Chief.

Today, the ATC is focused on changing lives through a practical interest in aviation, providing training useful in both service and civilian life and fostering the spirit of adventure and leadership. Every year the ATC has helped thousands of Cadets from disadvantaged backgrounds to build up self-esteem, leadership, confidence and a variety of skills and also by helping them realise the endless possibilities of what they can achieve. Girls were able to join from the early 1980s, helping to bring more people together to enjoy everything the ATC has to offer.

The organisation has grown in popularity, reputation and strength over these decades. Over the last year and a half since I have joined the ATC, I have found it absolutely amazing. The endless number of activities you can do to build up skills you have never dreamed of, to make friends with people that share the common interest of the ATC, to challenge yourself into doing something you never thought you could do and lead yourself to a good future.

There are always goals in the ATC, such as gaining ranks, gaining badges, competitions, parading in public and much more. The day that the ATC was officially formed has changed many lives over the decades, and I am so proud to be a part of this spectacular community.

Happy 80th Birthday to the ATC!

J Warpechowska
Cdt Sgt
967 (BAE Warton) Sqn ATC