Milestone for Berwick air cadets
Berwick Air Cadets are approaching their 75th anniversary '“ but none of them look a day over 21.
Recent research has shown it has been involved in stormy meetings in the council, had a trophy-winning shooting team and done plenty of flying, and that was just in its first five years.
In the next few weeks, the air cadets in Berwick are preparing for a parade through the town centre on Sunday, and other events, including a display that will try to show both the history of the unit and its activities today.
In 1941, the RAF faced a growing need for both air and ground crew, especially if they had some primary training before joining.
Berwick rose to the challenge and on February 22, 1941, the Air Ministry confirmed that 1016 (Berwick) Squadron Air Training Corps was officially recognised.
Alongside this was Flight 999 formed at the Grammar School and 1007 (Berwickshire) Squadron. The first officers were Major JA Herriot (commanding), Capt Collingwood Thomson AFC, of Longridge Towers, and Councillor AE Crosthwaite.
The Grammar School Flight had access to the facilities but the accommodation for 1016 caused a major row in the council, with one member accusing another of ‘playing Hitler’s game!’ Eventually the unit would use the Scout HQ in Palace Green and then a site in Marygate.
It was not all training: Football and other sports were played, usually against adult opposition. Shooting was encouraged, with coaching from the British Legion, a connection that still flourishes. Dances were held to raise funds and these proved very popular.
In June 1942, a party of cadets from 1016 Squadron arrived at an unnamed airfield where they were given a tour of the various sections. Sgts J Morrison and C Payne, along with Cadets M Brunton and Simmons, were the first to take to the air. Taken up one by one in an initial trainer, possibly a Tiger Moth, they achieved the aim of possibly every cadet – they flew.
Since the end of the war the Squadron has continued to drill, train, fly and play sport. Now with the 75th anniversary, Flt Lt Susan Gillies and her committee are looking for former members.
She said: “We are looking for information about the various annual camps and training, photographs and any memorabilia or even trophiesthat the Squadron could borrow to help celebrate its history.”
It is hoped to mount a permanent display of the Squadron’s history within its present base at the Drill Hall.