SQUADRON HISTORY

 

The Beginning of the Air Training Corps in Southend.

The original letter from the Air Ministry inviting the mayor of the

county borough of Southend on sea to form a unit of the Air Training

Corps is framed and lodged at "Porters" the mayors parlour.

Other early letters show that a committee was formed under the

chairmanship of the deputy mayor Alderman A.H.White, to form a unit

and recruit officers, instructors, and cadets. The committee was a

mixture of councillors, council officials, and prominent people who had

responded to newspaper and radio announcements. Aid.White assumed

the post of Commanding Officer when he plus two of the committee

members, C.Wellesley Haxcell, and S.Sylvester were commissioned into

the RAFVR Training Branch.

Other original committee members became the nucleus of the

civilian committee which was to be an essential part of the new corps

and its approach to cadets and pre-service training.

Suitable candidates were then sought for appointment as officers,

warrant officers, or civilian instructors. H.McBride became the first

Warrant Officer .. The number of uniformed staff was determined by

establishment and number of enrolled cadets.

The formation of the Southend on sea unit of the Air Training

Corps was approved in February 1941 and it was given the title

No 1115 (Southend on sea) Flight. All units were originally called flights,

the Commanding Officer being a Flight Lieutenant, following the RAF

pattern. Most units achieved squadron status when smaller units called

detached flights were formed in outlying areas.

 

By June 1941 the squadron had grown so large that a second

squadron was formed from within 1115 and given the title No1312( 2nd

Southend on sea ) Squadron.

Training and instruction sessions were held in the old London

Road Schools, the old Municipal College and the Labour Hall in Boston

Avenue.Both squadrons shared all facilities either on separate nights or

with joint classes at advanced level.

Guidance and assistance was readily given by RAF Rochford,

both at the airfield and at the station headquarters sited in Earls Hall

School in Carlton Avenue.

Later that year the Southend Wing was formed with Headquarters

in a house, 61 London Road, Southend on sea. It controlled and

administered all the squadrons in the area:-

640 ( Southend High School)

930 (Westcliff High School)

1115 (Southend on sea)

1312 (2nd Southend on sea)

1202 (Rochford) with a detached flight at Wakering.

1341 (Thames Estuary) with a detached flight on Canvey.

1474 (Billericay)

1476 (Rayleigh)

The first and only Commanding Officer of the Southend Wing was

Sqn.Ldr; A.H. White.

A board recording the names of all officers and warrant officers of

the two Southend squadrons is displayed in the squadron headquarters.

This is paired with another recording the names of the Commanding

Officers of 1312 Squadron ATC.

 

From its formation until late in the war the Air Training Corps had

a well defined task. This was to provide partly trained recruits to the

Royal Air Force. To achieve this most tests and examinations were the

same as in the Air Force training centres.

A cadet who gained a proficiency certificate in the aircrew

subjects of navigation, meteorology, signals etc., on entering the RAF,

bypass the recruit centres and basic training. A similar system and

assessment applied to ground engineering subjects. Under both

schemes it was possible to cut up to four months from an airmans initial

training.

These schemes proved to be so successful that deferred service

airmen were attached to selected units for training. These were young

men who had been accepted and formally enrolled into the RAF, but for

whom there were no vacancies at training centres. They were obliged

to attend for parades and instruction at a unit near their home.

Before the end of the war in Europe the main purpose of the Air

Training Corps ceased to be. There was a surplus of personnel in training

for aircrew service. For some time cadets had not been guaranteed entry

into the RAF and many were conscripted into the navy the army and

some to coalmines. Many officers of the corps resigned, their task

complete, and enrolment of cadets almost ceased. The school squadrons

disbanded under other pressures, as did many others.

In the Southend Wing No 640, No 930, and No 1202 squadrons

were disbanded, and No 1115 and No 1312 squadrons were

amalgamated. Service procedure dictated that the senior squadron keep

its identity.

Following much argument the cadets of 1312 squadron organised

a very early Sunday morning parade and invited a senior officer to

inspect for himself the evidence of their numerical superiority,which was

three to one over 1115. No 1312 Squadron became the" Southend on

sea Squadron " of the Air Training Corps

With much smaller numbers the structure of the corps had to

change.Geographical districts replaced the local wings,and a District

Inspecting Officer plus a staff officer was appointed to each.

Sqn.Ldr. F .Hosking of 1312 squadron was the first D.1.0 .He was

succeeded by Sqn.Ldr .T.H.Watson Lambe.

In 19 a new structure based generally on counties was

introduced.Essex was to have two wings,East Essex Wing and West

Essex Wing.

Wg.Cdr. Joscelyne of Colchester was appointed the first Officer

Commanding East Essex Wing ATC.

Foreword and Acknowledgements.

The compilation of the squadron history was suggested at the

time of the fiftieth anniversary of the Air Training Corps in February 1991It was decided that the main events, activities, and personalities of the second Southend on sea squadron No 1312 should be formally recorded. The whole period from the squadrons formation in June 1941 up to the present time should be included. It was to be maintained and added to for as long as the unit exists

 

The first five years of this history 1941--1946 are of necessity

based on the few photographs and papers surviving the wartime period of film and paper shortages. These were used to jog the memories, somefifty years later, of known members of Nos 1115 and 1312 Squadrons. These memory men include Fg.Off.Len Adlard one of the first officers of 1312, Frank Dudley one of the cadets transferred from 1115 to form 1312, and Frank Seaman a founder cadet and later civilian instructor.

 

Three former Commanding Officers of 1312 squadron, Sqn.Ldr.

L.R.Johnson.DFM.(1954-67), Flt.LtR.H.Chapple (197 4-78) and Flt.Lt M. Hallas (1986-92) also put their memories to the test

Research of the early years, plus experience as a cadet (1944-48),

squadron officer ( 1964-67) and Commanding Officer ( 1967 -7 4) was used by Sqn.Ldr.Henry Skinner to gather the history into a presentable form in 1996.

We would like to constantly update this section of our website. If you would like no contribute to this page with further information or photos then please contact us. 

Squadron Photo August 1951

Our Squadron Headquarters

On formation and because of links with the education authority, the squadrons were first housed in the old London Road School. (Now the Southend College Annex). Drill instruction was in the

playground of the old Municipal College (Now the site of the new Odeon Complex) Also available in bad weather was the Police Hall which also had a .22 rifle range.(Since demolished for the Victoria Circus Development). There was no shortage of accommodation for the rapidly growing ATC units. All the local schools had been evacuated away from the coast together with most of the towns administration.

In July 1942 the two Southend squadrons moved their headquarters into the Labour Hall in Boston Avenue which also became the Southend Wing HQ. They continued the use of the school facilities and the Police Hall. The new headquarters was officially opened by Air Commodore Chamier on 25th July 1952 following a parade of the Southend Wing.

After the war 1948 the building had to be returned to its owners, and the small surviving squadron 1312 had to find more modest accommodation. This was in London Road immediately opposite the schools which were the first HQ. It consisted of two rooms over a greengrocers shop and a typing agency.

Following unsuccessful attempts to retain a headquarters in the centre of the town, the squadron reluctantly accepted a site at Southend airport The plot offered was at the wide entrance created where two bungalows had been demolished during the war.

 

During 1952 a building was erected, on the present site the main part of which had been a barrack hut at RAF Canewdon dating from 1934. Other parts were matched up and added from RAF Rochfords wartime guardroom and NAAFI The building was heated by overhead gas heaters.

 

Subsequent changes saw the storeroom and canteen swapped over and later the building extended by the addition of two secure store rooms. Electric Heating was installed in 1975.

 

In 1991 the building was classed as obsolete because of maintenance problems, and Southends councils proposal to develop the surrounding area and airport buildings. The search began for a suitable plot on which to erect a standard ATC Hut, or suitable accommodation to rent. The standard Spooner hut was too wide to fit in the existing site.

 

During the next eight years a total of thirteen sites in the area were proposed and rejected either by the squadron, the land agents or the council planning officers. After the airport was leased to a private company in 1994 the development plan was changed. It was then

suggested that the squadron should have a new long term lease elsewhere within the airport A later option proposed the use of the existing plot for a larger building if planning regulations permitted. After long delays a new larger building obtained planning consent, financing Was approved, and a new tease agreed in August 1999.

 

During the winter 1999/2000 the wooden was building was demolished new purpose built squadron headquarters built

Great visit to Southend Sqn tonight, possibly one of the largest number I have seen at one Sqn in one go. Impressive!

1312 (Southend-on-Sea) Squadron ATC

57 Eastwoodbury Crescent

Southend-on-Sea

Essex

SS2 6XG

Call us on     01702 530559

Or e-mail us 1312@aircadets.org

 

Parade Times:     Friday: 19:15 to 21:30; Sunday: 09:50 to 12:30

Officer Commanding:     Squadron Leader C Byford RAFVR(T)

Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty RAFR

Commandant Air Cadets