Southend ATC No. 1312 Squadron

Has Operated from Feb 1941 to Present

Founder/Director – The Air Ministry later The Royal Air Force

With World War II well under way, local districts and councils around Britain were encouraged to provide either technical or military training to those who were not quite old enough to serve in the armed forces through the implementation of local volunteer organisations. It was in 1941, that by bequest of the Air Ministry, Deputy Mayor of Southend Alderman A.H. White would organise and then go on to command the newly set up No. 1115 (Southend-on-sea) Flight as it was known at that time. Along with Mr. C. Wellesley-Haxcell, and Mr. S.Sylvester, the organisation set to work recruiting instructors, individuals suitable to work as the flight’s officers and of course most importantly of all, a good number of first class recruits to undergo the pre-service training that would be arranged for them.

However, the recruitment drive went so well that within four months there were simply too many individuals for No. 1115 Flight and the decision was taken in June 1941 to form No. 1312 (2nd Southend-on-sea) Squadron. Training and instruction was undertaken at the former college and labour hall on Boston Road and at the old London Road Schools while technical assistance was provided by the station HQ in Earl’s Court Road and the base at RAF Rochford. But still the numbers continued to rise and by the end of the year, the squadron had become a wing which was now responsible for not only its own two units, but 6 others which covered the districts of Westcliff, Rochford, Wakering, Rayleigh, Canvey and Billericay, all of which were under the command of Squadron Leader A.H. White.

Thus were the foundations for a successful organisation laid and so good was the level of instruction that qualified air cadets could forego basic training and enter straight into occupational education with the unit that they had been assigned to. However, by late 1944 and with the end of the war in Europe in sight, the RAF found themselves having an excess of trainees and as a result, some were dispatched into the other services while the remainder were returned to the civilian job market. After the war, the number of recruits dropped dramatically and the wing was disbanded with the two remaining units No. 1115 and No. 1312 being merged into the latter, while later reorganisation would eventually see No. 1312 ATC Squadron becoming part of the East Essex Wing.

In peace time, the air cadets began to involve themselves with flying, gliding, adventure training, music, shooting, technical training, sports and of course, the traditional parades and drills. Early attempts to procure various airframes for ATC use through no fault of the squadron itself, did not get off to a good start having neither the facilities nor the equipment to restore or maintain them. One such example that was donated in 1960 was Vampire WZ458, its plywood construction posing a challenge even for highly experienced restorers and as such, the aircraft fell into disrepair before finally being removed during the mid-80s. However, on a brighter note the squadron was later given the nose of Lightning XG325 which remained with them until 1994. Meanwhile Chipmunk WB670 arrived around 1992 and was also kept on the airport as an instructional airframe, although this too has since departed.

Today the squadron still exists and is currently based alongside the south west entrance of the airport where as an equal opportunities organisation, it trains both girls and boys of all abilities who are between the ages of 13-17. Trainees are not expected to enter the services, but if they do, then cadet training can often give them a significant advantage over those who attempt to be recruited straight off of the streets. The organisation is also the largest provider of participants for the Duke of Edinburgh Award while at a more grass roots level, it also seeks to instil discipline, good manners and a sense of self-esteem and pride into its cadets. If you would like any further information then click on the link below…

No. 1312 (Southend-on-sea) ATC Website

With many thanks to No. 1312 (Southend-on-sea) ATC Squadron for the information above.

 

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