In 1938 Air Cdre Chamier, Secretary-General of the Air League, formed an Air Defence Cadet Corps (ADCC) to attract and train young men who had an interest in aviation. The intention was to set up squadrons of cadets in as many towns and cities as possible, and ask local people to organise and run them.
Each squadron’s aim was to prepare cadets for joining the RAF or the Fleet Air Arm. They tried to give the cadets as much Service and aviation background as possible as well as instruction in drill, discipline, how to wear the uniform and behave on RAF stations. By the end of 1938 the activities of the ADCC were severely restricted because of the approach of World War II.
Many ADCC instructors and squadron officers were called up into regular service, buildings were commandeered by either the Service or by local government for war work, and cadets went to work on RAF stations.
Throughout the early stages of war, the government received good reports as to the quality of cadets entering the RAF and Fleet Air Arm. It was so impressed that it asked the ADCC to begin training young men who were waiting to be called into service. The ADCC willingly took on this very responsible job and in a very short space of time produced thousands of well qualified individuals who went to pass quickly through basic training.
Towards the end of 1940 the government realised the true value of the work done by the ADCC and agreed to take over its control. This meant a number of changes to the corps, and in fact brought about the birth of a completely new organisation, called the Air Training Corps. On the 5 February 1941 the Air Training Corps (ATC) was officially established, with King George VI as the Air Commodore-in-Chief.
The number of young men responding to this new ATC was spectacular. Within the first month the size of the old ADCC had virtually doubled to more than 400 squadrons and after 12 months it was about 8 times as big.
The new ATC squadrons adapted their training programmes to prepare young men for entry to the RAF. Squadrons arranged visits to RAF and Fleet Air Arm stations as part of the cadets’ training and to let them fly as much as possible.
An ATC Flight of 10 aircraft was set up in 1943, to give Cadets air experience flights. They also allowed cadets to go flying in RAF aircraft on normal Service flying activities.
The Combined Cadet Forces’ RAF sections and the Air Training Corps merged their HQ functions to form the Air Cadet Organisation as an umbrella organisation. Both still retain their individual identities and working practices at HQ and local level.
The organisation was a part of Personnel & Training Command and is the only cadet corps to be fully controlled by its parent service. Its Officers are commisioned into the RAF Volunteer Reserve (Training) after a one week course at Cranwell.
The ATC is run by HQAC at RAFC Cranwell headed by the Commandant Air cadets, a regular Air Commodore.
Reserve Forces and Cadets Association
51-61 Clifton Street