|The Rushden Echo and Argus, 17th April, 1942, transcribed by Gill Hollis
A.T.C. Commandant Visits Rushden
New Headquarters Opened
A First-Class Squadron
| Air Commodore J. A. Chamier, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., O.B.E., commandant of the Air Training Corps, visited Rushden on Wednesday evening to open the new headquarters of the Rushden A.T.C. Squadron. He met the officers and committee at Rushden Hall, inspected the boys in the Park, and examined the training centre and its equipment with evident interest. In three short speeches he gave the No. 390 Squadron (which includes Higham Ferrers and Raunds) high praise and encouragement.
Ald. C. W. Horrell, J.P., took the chair at the reception as president of the Squadron. The company included Flight-Lieut. A. H. Whitton, F/O. S. Hawkes, F/O.O.L. Ash, F/O H. Coggins, P/O C. G. Faulkner and P/O S. A. Lawrence (officers of the Squadron), Flight-Lieut. Martin, F/O Daniels, Squadron Leader Walker Price and P/O Avis (representing the R.A.F.), F/O J. W. Balmer (Wellingborough A.T.C. Squadron), Lieut. Col. V. H. Sykes and Capt. Attley (Home Guard), Coun. J. Allen (secretary), Mr. J. Trafford (treasurer), Mr. J. Furney (Welfare Officer), Coun. A. Allebone, J.P., C.C., Coun. A. C. A. Colton, Ald. J. W. Barker, J.P., Messrs. W. C. Tarry, R. C. Hawes, A. W. Merrill, W. Beeby, F. G. Felce and E. F. Tomkins (committee), Messrs. S. Hewitt, W. A. E. Sherwood, S. R. Nelson, C. Lockwood, G. H. Clayton and J. K. Eady (instructors), Couns. T. W. Cox and W. J. Sawford, with Mr. W. L. Beetenson (Clerk) representing Rushden Urban Council, Mr. J. L. Holland, B.A. (County Secretary for Education) Mr. F. J. Sharwood, C.C., Mr. W. M. Horrell and Mr. S. A. Peck.
Apologies for absence were received from Wing-Commander Wright (Commandant, Midland Headquarters), Coun. G. W. Frost (Raunds), Dr. C. F. Campbell (Squadron M.O.), Dr. G. B. Lord and Mr. J. Riseborough, Town Clerk of Higham Ferrers.
Welcoming Air Commodore Chamier, Ald. Horrell said that although the Squadron was not as large as some it made up in quality what it lacked in quantity. They had been fortunate in their equipment, and the new premises would enable them to make further progress.
Air Commodore Chamier said that when people told him he ought to be proud that at the end of a year he had close upon 200,000 young men in training he always remembered that the work had been done in the field. When they decided to set up teams of committee men responsible citizens drawn from town and countryside with officers commissioned to the Corps and civilian instructors, the Air Ministry were a little gloomy. They were a little doubtful about numbers to start with, and ordered only 20,000 uniforms.
It was because people locally worked together as a team that the Corps was such a success.
“I would like to congratulate you,” said the Air Commodore, “I am impressed to see how many people you have in this small town who are interested, and I would like to thank you for all you have done it is magnificent.”
Coun. Cox, fulfilling his last engagement as Council chairman, welcomed the Air Commodore and other officers and spoke of the A.T.C. as “our most cherished youth service who in their short life have shown most marvellous progress in their training.”
He was confident that they would fulfil their destiny as a national asset and would show the value of their training when they were called to their places in H.M. Forces. He would like to pay tribute to the president, the commanding officer, junior officers and instructors; they had done marvellously and the lads had responded in a remarkable manner.
Mr. J. L. Holland, who replied for the visitors, said they were pleased to take note of the work that Rushden had done in the establishment of the Squadron. As far as the county was concerned, Rushden had jumped into the lead; they had a Squadron and arrangements of which the county could be proud.
He was pleased to see that many of their officers and instructors were drawn from the education services of the county. There was no doubt that the A.T.C. had captured the imagination of the youth of the country and so far they had had practically no opposition. The recent registrations showed that the Air Force was still in the lead in the minds of the young men, but there were indications now that many wished to form some kind of Sea Cadet Corps, and he thought they could promise the Commodore some healthy competition. The Army was also going to claim its proportion of the youth of the country.
Members of the Rushden and Higham Ferrers Councils were among the crowd which gathered at the Hall Grounds for the inspection by the Commodore, which was carried out without a hitch, the cadets forming three treble ranks near the bandstand a muster of about 120 boys and officers.
Following the inspection the Commodore presented proficiency badges to the 13 cadets who had passed their examinations, and then addressed the ranks.
“I was always an optimist,” he said, “as to what the Corps could do, but I should not have believed that in so short a time you could have made such progress and turned out so large a body of smart young men.
“Some thousands of you have already joined the Services mostly, of course, the Royal Air Force, but some the Royal Navy and a few the Army. I must tell you that the Navy and the Air Force have taken the trouble to contact me and to say, “That’s the stuff to send us, send us more like these.”
“We founded the Corps to give a chance to every young man who wanted to fly or to serve on the ground. There were thousands of young men who were aching to fly but who, because they had not had the education, were not able to make the grade for air recruits and had to stay on the ground, and the Air Force in time of war had no time to re-educate them. This is your chance.
“Although there are many thousands of young men in the Air Force who come in under the Military Service Act, those who are fighting for us in the air are volunteers. It is our pride that those who serve in the air are all volunteers, and we hope we shall be able to keep that up.
“You are smart I hope you will always remain smart,” declared the Commodore, who went on to offer some advice. Urging speed of movement, he said that by moving fast they would get a fast habit of mind which was very necessary.
“I hope,” he added, “none of you will ever have to fight in this war or any other war, but if you don’t fight you are learning habits which are good for you. I wish you all good luck.”
Taking the salute, the Commodore was supported by Flight-Lieut. Whitton (O.C.), Squadron Leader Walker Price, Flight Lieut. Martin (Adjutant), Flying Officer Daniels and Pilot Officer Avis. The march past was led by the Rushden Town Band, who continued on through the town with the parade to the new headquarters near the Drill Hall in Victoria-road, where the ranks were dismissed.
The Commodore then continued his inspection by examining the centre, a long narrow room which has been excellently equipped by the boys themselves.
Divided into two sections, a larger one which can be used for telegraphy, and a smaller one equipped as an engineering shop. The room presents quite an imposing appearance, with a large propeller hung high on the wall to remind the lads of what they are striving for.
Along one side of the main section of the room is a bench with telegraphic equipment which seemed of particular interest to both the Commodore and the other visiting officers some of whom could not resist the temptation to try the apparatus out.
In reply to the Cadets’ message, “Welcome to our new H.Q.” the Commodore returned: “Am very glad to be with you congratulations on your parade.”
In addition to a lathe, various engines, mathematical equipment and diagrams, the cadets have a good range of games, including darts, billiards and table tennis, and also a radiogram.
Making the opening declaration, the Commodore expressed pleasure at seeing that they had a headquarters of their own, as so many of the squadrons were dependent on the education authorities. Those who came in the evening after a hard day’s work deserved a good room.
He was glad that the cadets had done most of the work in the room, including the heating and lighting. “I hope it will be the happy home for the members of the 390 Squadron for a long time to come,” he said.
A vote of thanks to the Commodore was proposed by Ald. J. W. Barker, J.P., Mayor of Higham Ferrers, and seconded by Mr. F. J. Sharwood, C.C., who observed that it was a fact that when the boys had been in the Corps for three or four months, one could pick them out, whether in the street or factory.
Flight Lieut. Whitton told how things had progressed since the time when they had spent their time doing P.T. in the Hall grounds. He expressed thanks to the instructors, Mr. Eady, who had got up two successful football teams, Mr. Fursey, who had arranged a number of social events, the education authorities and others. He announced that they were increasing in strength and were now 138 strong. Twenty-eight boys had joined since January.
The chair was taken by Ald. Horrell.