|The Rushden Echo and Argus, 11th September, 1942, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Air Cadets in Luck - Adjutant Tells of their Flying Experience
How the R.A.F. fosters the A.T.C. was described by Mr. Sidney Hawkes, Adjutant of the Rushden A.T.C. Squadron, in an address to the Rushden Rotary Club last Friday.
Mr. Hawkes suggested that the recent decision to bring the A.T.C. directly under the control of the Air Ministry was proof that the Corps had shown its value and was considered worthy of a place in the home of its older brothers. The alteration in direction had not affected in any way the unique local organisation through civilian committees and instructors and commissioned officers of the R.A.F.V.R.
The local committee was responsible for the finances of the squadron and for the provision of premises and training facilities, and beyond that point the rules and regulations were flexible and capable of interpretation to suit local conditions.
In some towns the committee met once a quarter and for the remaining 361 days forgot that the local squadron existed. In other towns were committees which by interference or rigid control tied the hands and feet of the commanding officer. The Rushden committee had followed a very happy and progressive centre course, and this was partly due to the co-option of the civilian instructors who from their regular contact with the cadets could give sound advice and guidance.
The six officers of the Rushden Squadron had all appeared before an R.A.F. Selection Board, and experience had shown that the commission of an A.T.C. officer was equivalent to that of an R.A.F. serving officer except for the fact that the A.T.C. officer was unpaid and was not posted away from his home town. When visiting R.A.F. aerodromes and training stations the A.T.C. officer was always treated as an equal.
Mr. Hawkes said he had just returned from a seven-days course with an operational training unit, where, although the only A.T.C. officer in a mess of 140, he felt immediately that he was welcome and among friends. Nothing was hidden from him, and some of the instructors worked overtime to prepare notes and exercises for the guidance of the Rushden instructors. He spent about two-thirds of his time in the class rooms or at lectures with the air crews, and one-third flying with the trainees and their instructors.
This experience gave the A.T.C. officer the finest possible insight into the future training of his own cadets and enabled him to bring a real measure of the practical into the otherwise heavy theoretical training of the A.T.C.
In and Out
Month by month the senior and most advanced Rushden cadets were leaving to enter the service, and new cadets were joining. Without any special effort to boost enrolment the squadron strength remained almost constant at 100 in Rushden and 30 in Raunds. It has been hoped that in due course the N.C.O.’s would be able to take the newcomers in hand, but in practice they found that the N.C.O. was fully occupied with his own advanced syllabus. This threw more work on to the officers, who at a rough estimate worked from 12 to 15 hours a week. The Welfare Organiser averaged about the same and the civilian instructors from three to six hours.
Cadets attended two compulsory evening parades of 1½ hours each and two Sunday mornings each month, some also attending one or two evenings each week for additional subjects.
There was a local rule that no cadet could join parties visiting R.A.F. stations unless in the previous three months he had attended not less than 75 per cent. of the compulsory parades. A high proportion had qualified for the privilege and had enjoyed flights in Tiger Moths, Blenheims, Lysanders, Stirlings and Halifaxes.