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.
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
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
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
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