Unit History: School of Photography
WW1 1914 - 1918
"Necessity is the mother of Invention" and so it was in the summer of 1915 with the founding of the first technical training school, known then as the School of Photography at South Farnborough. Initially the training courses had to be compressed into a ten-day time scale due to the required numbers of trained men. New buildings were later constructed by German POWs and came into use in 1917 (the only permanent building erected for the Royal flying Corps during the war).
Between the wars
At the close of WW1, the improvements in technology (and the introduction of roll film) created enormous potential for map-making photography and aerial reconnaissance. The peace however, was not to last and the stagnation of training between the wars changed into frenzied activity in 1935 by the rise of the Nazi party in Germany. The training programs were rapidly intensified and extra accommodation was quickly provisioned at Farnborough.
WW2 1939 - 1945
After the outbreak of the Second World War, it became necessary, by the summer of 1940, to open an additional second school at Blackpool using a hastily converted Technical College (still standing there today). The millions of vital pictures produced by the trained photographers are best known publicly as the post strike pictures of the Dam Busters raid and the discovery of V1 and V2 rocket sites at Peenemunde.
After the war the School had to move from Farnborough to improvised accommodation at Farnham and then in 1948 on to Wellesbourne-Mountford, near Stratford-on-Avon, where it remained until October 1963. It then moved to temporary accommodation at Cosford, where it joined the "Photographer Boy Entrant" training (which had been there since 1956). A new purpose built design was constructed and opened on 3rd December 1965, by the late Air Marshall Sir Alfred Earle, KBE CB, a former student and Deputy Chief Instructor (during the 1930s).
The Joint School of Photography
In 1972 the School became the training center for all HM Forces photographers as the Joint School of Photography with the closure of the Royal Navy School of Photography and the Army School of Photography. Since then the reputation of the school has acquired the highest standards of training in photography.
The Defence School of Photography
On 6th June 2003 the Joint School of Photography was re-named to become "The Defence School of Photography" under the command and control of the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre, Chicksands, to form part of the first military federated training organisation. The renaming suggests a wider remit for the school than first envisaged and the next logical step in the schools history.