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Find out about

of the Air Training Corps

With almost 36,000 cadet members, aged from 13 to 20 years, within over 1,000 Squadrons, the ATC is one of the country's premier youth organisations and the world's largest youth air training organisation. The cadets are supported by a volunteer staff of nearly 10,000 plus 5,000 Civilian Committee Members.

The Air Training Corps was originally formed as the Air Defence Cadet Corps (ADCC) in 1938 by Air Commodore J A Chamier, whom is regarded as the 'Father of the ATC'. His love of aviation and his tremendous capacity for hard work was such that, following his retirement, he became the Secretary-General of the Air League - an organisation made up of people who could see a bright future for aviation and who wanted to make the British public aware of its potential. Against a background of rising interest in aviation and with the clouds of war beginning to form over Europe, Air Commodore Chamier thought of the idea of starting an aviation cadet corps. He knew that in the 1914-1918 war, in desperate moments, hand picked young men with only a few hours of training were sent to do combat in the air - only to fall victim to well trained enemy aviators. He knew also that the winning of air power would need the services of many highly skilled and highly trained men using the best equipment and that the sooner such training could be started the better.

His idea was to attract and train young men who had an interest in aviation, from all over the country. He planned to set up Squadrons of young cadets in as many towns and cities as possible, and ask local people to organise and run them.

Each squadron's aim was to prepare cadets for joining the RAF or the Fleet Air Arm. They tried to give the cadet as much Service and aviation background as possible as well as giving instruction in drill, discipline, how to wear the uniform and how to behave on RAF stations. The training the cadets received also meant development of personal physical fitness, games and athletics, especially cross country running and long route marches, soon became standard squadron activities. Cadets were also encouraged to take part in activities such as shooting, camping and of course flying. By 1939 the activities of the ADCC were severely restricted because of the approach of World War II. Many ADCC instructors and squadron officers were called up into the regular Service. Buildings were commandeered by either the Service or by local government for war work and cadets went to work on RAF stations. Cadets were used to carry messages, they helped with clerical duties, inproviding extra muscle in handling aircraft and in the movement of stores and equipment. They filled thousands of sandbags and loaded miles of belts of ammunition.

Throughout the early stages of the war, the government received many good reports as to the quality of cadet entering the RAF and the Fleet Air Arm. It was so impressed that it asked the ADCC to begin training young men who were waiting to be called into service. The ADCC willingly took on this very responsible job and in a very short space of time produced thousands of well qualified individuals who went on to pass quickly through basic training. Towards the end of 1940 the government realised the true value of the work done by the ADCC and agreed to take over its control. This meant a large number of changes to the corps and in fact brought about the birth of a completely new organisation, called the Air Training Corps.

The ADCC changed its name to the Air Training Corps on 5th February 1941. King George VI agreed to be the Air Commodore-in-Chief, and a Royal Warrant was issued, setting out the Corps' aims. The crest of the ATC (shown right) was also approved by the King, with its motto as 'VENTURE ADVENTURE'. In 1945 the ATC was formally made part of the RAF, by becoming part of RAF Reserve Command. This helped the ATC enormously, because instead of being just an organisation with close links to the RAF, it now formally became part of it.

The Air Training Corps is the Commonwealth's largest and highest achieving operator of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme - in fact, the first ever Gold award was gained by an Air Cadet. At any one time there are 15,000 cadets participating in the scheme, and 3000 Air Cadets per year gain gold, silver and bronze awards. Incidentally, HRH Prince Philip is the ATC's current Air Commodore-in-Chief.

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World War II ATC Flight Sergeant
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Last updated
Saturday 1 December, 2012 17:14

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