Cadet Force

The Cadet Company was first recognised by the Staffordshire territorial army in December 1917, and continued doing drills and exercises until 1931 when the ministry of war discontinued it, ostensibly to replace it with a new organisation. This, however, did not materialise until 1942, when the ATC finally came into existence made up of sixty-nine boys who were a mixture of past and present members of the school.

In the following year, 1943, a Flight of the 351 Squadron was formed. Frank Read was CO of the 351 Squadron ATC which met in a building near to the Ferry Bridge off Bond Street throughout the war. He was assisted by Ron Illingworth.

This was to go on to gain more proficiency badges than any other squadron in the Midlands region with over two hundred in all.

The picture shows BGS Cadets engaged in rifle shooting at Lee-on-Solent camp in 1944. Jim Mayger is lying second from left, while Harry Rothera is standing at the far left.

Both shared their Headquarters down by the end of the Ferry Bridge but in 1944, the school pupil population had reached 381 and out of necessity, the HQ became used for other school activities. First year pupils used it for morning assembly, some used it for PE. Les Simpson, himself a cadet, also recalls music lessons being held there with Dickie Starling.

Certificate AEx-Grammar school pupil, D.A. Richards was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) in 1945. K. Rodbourne and C.B. Douglas later added to this role of honour. In 1946, the headmaster of the school at the time, Harold Moodey, recorded in his Speech Day Report “the heights reached by the 351 Squadron during the war deserve permanent commendation in the school annals“.

In 1949, a unit of the Combined Cadet Force was formed. Under the competent command of Major D. Davies assisted by Captain Harry Smith, two masters who were both to have long association with the school right through until the Winshill days, the fifty original ATC cadets was swelled to over one hundred cadets by 1953. When Peter Boulter joined the staff as an English teacher in the 1950s, he served as a Pilot Officer in the CCF.

Some may remember the Basic exam followed by the Army Proficiency Certificate which in turn led to Certificate ‘A’ Parts I and II. Successful completion allowed a badge to be worn on the sleeve with pride and many Certificates, such as Bob Fletcher’s shown here, survive to this day. This certificate was presumed to indicate that the cadet was ready for a ‘call to arms’ should World War III ever start, and assuming the Enfield .303 was still in use. In fact, Certificate A’s were important to the cadet force because financial support came from the War Department and the size of each school’s budget was calculated by the percentage of cadets who passed Certificate A, Parts I and II.

In the early 1950s, David Hopkinson was an NCO in the Army section and remembers stripping, cleaning and reassembling rifles and Bren guns in H.Q. and learning some of the theory that was involved in being a cadet.  The playground in the school was used for drill and there was a rifle range behind, at the side of the bike sheds.  A small hole appeared one day in the wall of one of the two classrooms down the passage from the bike sheds and, though it was ‘hushed up’  at the time, it was later revealed to have been caused  by a stray bullet!

The below photo taken in 1952 shows only arond a quarter of the cadet membership of the time. There was still seperate Army and smaller Air Force sections. Only two Air Cadets can be seen here, with a different uniform and, conspicuous by his absence, is Bill Read who was their CO.

Partial group photo (from around 100 members) 1952
Back Row: Ward, Owen, Allis, Brian Hall, Alan Marshall, Langstone, Askey, Tony Butlin, Booth
Middle Row: Norman Lord, Bill Vernon, Newton, Geoffrey Salt, David Kirk, David Harper, M07, Mick Jordan
Front Row: Shorthose, Cooper, Williams, Sinclair, Major ‘Taffy’ Davies, Captain ‘Brab’ Smith, *Ted Ufton, Bailey, Shaw

* Ted Ufton, who went on to be a Lieutenant in the Royal Marines, was tragically killed in action during the Suez Crisis in 1956. Ufton had been an outstanding and very popular member of the school.

He was buried with full honours at Clayhall Royal Naval Cemetery. The headmaster, Mr. Pitchford, and Major Davies represented Burton Grammar School at his funeral and a plaque to his memory was erected in the school foyer.

His grave remains visited, the below photo taken in 2010 by his classmate Tony Prevett.

In 1957, the now CCF (Combined Cadet Force), having received a substancial sum under the direction of Colonel Scaife of the Staffordshire Territorials, acquired a new purpose built premises within the new Winshill Grammar School grounds which now included a Rifle Range.

Moving into the new premises was postponed for a while, together with the transfer of the school from Bond Street to Winshill after the roof blew off before the school was completed. The new CCF quarters were officially opened in 1958.

At this time, Harry ‘Brab’ Smith was no longer at the school (although he was soon to return at the request of the new Headmaster, Bill Gillion), and Major Davies became seriously ill and was no longer able to continue. This left Flight-Lieutenant Frank Read and a few NCOs to continue on their own. Added to this, with WWII ending some 13 years ago, the force did not really have the same relevance. By 1963, the ranks of the CCF fell below the minimum number required by the War Office and was closed.

Group photo 1958
Back Row:
John Gosling, D. Ball, John Slack, K. Redfern, Watson, Keith Humphries, Mellor, Dunn, T. Hill, T. Jones, Geoff Booth, T. Elks, John Cork
Middle Row: Quayle, D. Pritchard, D. Fletcher, R. Bucknall, Clowns, M. Tracey, M07, J. Birch, J. Buxton, Wadsworth, Rod Alexander, Graham Arnold, C. Freebury, S. Lawrie
Front Row: Smith, R. Hancey, A. Cloves, Yates, R. Fletcher, Flight-Lieutenant Frank Read, Major D.M. Davies, P. Boulter, Yarranton, M. Campbell, P. Rutland, Gilchrist, D. Shrubbs
Front: Woosnam-Savage, David Horsley, John Price, F04, E. Gillespie, A.D. Hughes

Group photo 1961
Back Row:
B01, B02, Rod Moore, Griffin, B05, Terry Butler, B07, B08, Tim Hill, B10, Griffiths, B12, B13, B14, B15, B16
Third Row: T01, T02, T03, T04, T05, T06, T07, T08, T09, T10, T11, T12, T13, T14, T15, T16
Second Row: S01, S02, S03, David Liggins, Jim Roberts, S06, S07, S08, S09, S10, S11, S12, S13, S14, S15
Front Row: F01, F02, Bob Bucknall, F04, Howard Ratcliffe, Charles Freebury, Ian Quayle, Flight-Lieutenant Frank Read, Major D.M. Davies, L.C. Rees (English), F11, John Price, Noel Poxon, F14, Robin Langton, John Goodhead

The following year, in an attempt to keep some pupil activity going, a new detachment of the ACF (Army Cadet Force) was formed and affiliated to the Staffordshire Yeomanry.

Captain John (Jack) Playll, seen on the far left in the above photo, was soon to join the school as a History teacher and was persuaded to take over the running of the cadets which he did with some success from 1966 to 1970. Perhaps most notably, in 1967, Seargant F.M. Airey and Corporal John Clark were both awarded Gold in Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards.

In 1968, Seargant F.M. Airey and Lance-Corprol F.C. Burrows were selected to train with the 16th/5th Queen’s Royal Lancers Regiment stationed in Germany, visiting camps in Hamburg, Celle, Hanover, Belsen and Luneburg. Sgt. F.M. Airey is pictured here in the top of a scout vehicle.

Finally, Sergeant J.E. Simnett received the Charles Black Shooting Trophy on belhalf of Burton Grammar School Troop.

Captain Playll (far left) was followed by a succession of officers, some of whom took the post with some reluctance. Although offering the chance for pupils to engage in such activities as canoeing, camping, rifle shooting, drill, weapon training, and fieldcraft, never really reaching its earlier heights as the relevance of training young men for the eventuality of future combat grew thankfully weaker.



C.C.F. Royal Centenary Parade, 1960

Remembered by T.H. Quayle L.VISc.

Two cadets, one from each section of the School C.C.F., were invited to attend the Cadet Royal Centenary Parade on the 22nd July, 1960. Corpral Price from the army section, and myself from the R.A.F. section, were the lucky ones.

We arrived, after an uneventful journey, at Woolwich Arsenal. We were immediately taken into a small room and our particulars were taken by several officers. I was handed a piece of paper with the mysterious formula “Con-naught, Room 38″ scrawled on it. This, I assumed, was my barrack block and room number. I was right ! I was separated from Cpl. Price, being an R.A.F. cadet, and taken to my room. Whilst I was settling in cadets from all over the country, from the Isle of Wight to Glasgow and from Bristol to London arrived one by one.

At about five o’clock we were told that it was time to go for tea, which was had in a Cookhouse about a quarter of a mile from our barracks. After tea we went to see a film show in the camp cinema.

The next morning we were allowed a lie in, and then, after breakfast, we were inspected by an R.A.F.V.R. officer, who told us that there would be two rehearsals, one in the afternoon and the other after tea.

The afternoon parade rehearsal was quite tiring because of the long waits while the organising officers discussed various points about the parade, and also whilst an officer directed us from a loudspeaker van. An army and a navy officer played the part of the Queen and Prince Philip in the rehearsals ; it was quite touching to see the short navy officer gallantly-helping the tall thin army man from the Land-Rover.

In the evening the barrack was a hive of activity. Never before had so many belts received such generous layers of bianco and boots so much “spit and polish.” Most people were in bed by nine-thirty as everyone knew that we should have to be up early for the great day.

After breakfast, all wearing our “best bib and tucker”, and knowing that we would not return to our barracks again, we packed our luggage and ourselves into our respective coaches and set off for Wellington Barracks. On the way we were put at our ease by the strains of “Housewives’ Choice” coming from the coach radio and also by chewing the barley sugars that we had been given. Arriving at Wellington Barracks we immediately fell in, and after a short pause marched off to Buckingham Palace to the accompaniment of the Band of the Junior Wing H.M. Royal Marines.

We entered the Palace through the back way, the highly-mysterious “Electricians’ Gate.” We had to wait about a quarter of an hour for the Queen to appear with Prince Phillip, and as she did so we were ordered to attention and then saluted. The Queen then inspected us, going round on a Land-Rover. When Her Majesty returned to the dais we were again called to attention while General Sir Oliver Leese presented the C.C.F. Commemoration Book. Three hearty cheers were given and then the banners moved forward to their positions near the Terrace Steps. Then we all took part in a march past the Queen to music appropriate to whichever section was passing the dais. We marched out of the main Palace gates and back to Wellington Barracks, where we had a packed lunch.

After lunch we marched to Westminster Abbey for a service, and then back to the barracks for tea. When tea was over we boarded buses for our respective stations.

At St. Pancras station I rejoined Cpl. Price and we entered our reserved compartment back to Burton. On the way we noticed several people reading newspaper articles of the parade of the “Soldiers who never go to war.”



John Goodhead: 1959 RAF Church Fenton Cadet Visit

In the 1950s the RAF seemed to be very exciting. The new RAF fighter planes the Supermarine Swift and the Hawker Hunter broke several world records. The new Gloster Javelin all weather fighter had a delta wing and new Air-to-Air missiles. The iconic V-bombers were entering service. The first V-bomber was the Valiant painted in ‘anti-flash’ white. A year later there were the delta winged Avro Vulcans, then a year after that the last of the V-bomber types, the crescent winged Victors. Even RAF Transport Command had a jet transport squadron by the time I joined the Grammar School.

Bomber Command was commissioning a Thor missile squadron and Fighter Command seemed to be swapping fighter planes for Ramjet powered Bloodhound missiles. Then the amazing Lightning interceptor entered service so there was still a chance to be a pilot of the future in the RAF.

With all this in mind a week or two at an RAF camp in the late 1950s and early 60s looked like an exciting prospect for any RAF cadet.

Training Squadrons and Air Experience.
I am sure that most of the RAF personnel do not fly when they are at work, however it was important to get cadets into planes and off the ground. This was called Air Experience. At camps there were two ways to get Air Experience. The first was to be a passenger on a multi engine training flight with free seats in the back. The second was to become a temporary trainee pilot and sit with a pilot instructor, hands-on.

The Avro Anson looked like an old mini airliner. This type had been in service with the RAF since before WW2 and was still the standard twin engine trainer in the 1950s and 60s. They were slow, noisy, often smelling of ‘AvGas’ and exhaust fumes and were nothing like the supersonic RAF of the New Elizabethan Era of the newspaper headlines.

The Avro Anson was the most common provider of our Air Experience probably because there seemed to be one at every camp, more at RAF Shawbury and RAF Swinderby. One time Cadet Under Officer Ian Quayle took over the controls of one and took us all for a spin for an half an hour or so.

While at camp with Transport Command at RAF Dishforth we had the opportunity to fly in a Blackburn Beverly transport which was quite new, having only been in service since about 1955. At the time of entering service it was the largest aircraft in the RAF, I suppose they were around 3 stories high, they could carry 30 paratroopers in the tail boom and many more in the main cargo hold.

This is why I had my chum in the above shot for scale. There was an opportunity to fly in one of these planes when the crew were training on circuits and bumps. Circuits and bumps involves a plane taking off, flying round and coming in to land, rolling along the runway, powering up and taking off again, then doing it all over again and again. I declined the kind offer. Fortunately there was an option to go on the rifle range.

I had a hands-on opportunity in a De Havilland Chipmunk. This was a tandem seat basic trainer. I remember that it was difficult to walk to and get into the aircraft with my parachute bashing against the back of my legs, below the knee.

I also had a go in a Vampire T11, this fighter trainer had ejector seats. An aircraftwoman fastened me into the parachute which was fastened to the ejector seat. Even my ankles were strapped to the seat to stop my legs from flaying around and getting chopped off in the event of ejecting. Once I was fastened in, the aircraftwoman pulled out the seat’s arming pin and it’s big red disc from the back of the seat (like the pin out of the grenade) then showed it to me and stuck it in a pocket on the side of the seat. Now I knew that the seat was armed and it was safe for the pilot to take off.
Frontline Squadrons.

At RAF Church Fenton in 1959 there were two squadrons, one flying Hawker Hunter day fighters and another flying Gloster Meteor NF11 and NF14 night fighters. The Meteors were in the process of being phased out as the new Gloster Javelin night fighters came into service. If we had flown in a Meteor the bail out instructions were as follows; If you should need to leave the aircraft the pilot will let you know. He will tell you that he is releasing the canopy. After he has released the canopy he will tell you to stand. You stand and the airflow will carry you out of the cockpit to safety. So you stand, get hit in the chest by a 500+ mph gale which will thrust you backwards into the tail fin. Some new definition of the term ‘Safety’?

When I discovered the black and white contact prints from which these photographs have been taken I could not believe how very old fashioned the Meteors look. We were not allowed to photograph the Javelin or it’s air to air missiles.

RAF camps and air fields seemed to me to be a bit strange. Vast expanses of flat ground, buildings sparse and most of the time there seemed to be no one around. Great times, did a lot of shooting and learned a lot. However the RAF was a lot sexier in the newspapers.


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