Melton air cadets celebrate group’s 80th birthday
Two years into the Second World War, in early 1941, a new youth group was set up in Melton to help prepare them for serving in the worsening conflict.
They met at the town’s Boys’ Modern School - now Brownlow Primary School - with lads aged 15 to 18 being put through their paces in basic skills from foot drill, codes of discipline, arms sessions, range practice, first aid, map reading, fire safety and physical training, plus flight and squadron drills.
From this Air Defence Cadet Corps, the new Air Training Corps was formed and now 80 years on the group is thriving and provides valuable social development for boys and girls from the town and local villages.
The 1279 (Melton Mowbray) Squadron, which meets at an HQ off Asfordby Road, is planning to celebrate its milestone anniversary of being formed on March 20.
They want to hear from former squadron members, listen to their stories and look at any photographs they have kept from their time in the group.
Fl Lt Dan McGlynn RAFAC, the squadron’s Officer Commanding, told the Melton Times: “It gives me great honour to be the Officer Commanding of such an incredible squadron of young people and adult volunteers in this 80th anniversary year.
“The squadron has a rich history and great relationship with it’s local town.
“I am really looking forward to being able to hear from former members and those who can share their memories from the squadron history to help our current cadets understand the wonderful past that has helped to make the squadron what it is today.”
In those early wartime years of the group, members made regular weekly Sunday morning visits to RAF stations and cadets then began paying visits to these bases in their own time, experiencing the thrill of the odd flight as well.
Sporting facilities and athletic training were available at the new sports ground at Saxby Road, the ‘All England Ground’, which had a pavilion, bowling green, tennis courts, cricket and football pitches.
Indoor sport was also organised at the new club headquarters at Mill Street, with challenges taking place inter-flight and with local clubs.
The current ATC set-up still provides training to the young people of Melton and its surrounding villages.
Whilst the organisation has changed significantly over the 80 years, it’s aims still remain close to those set out in the Royal Warrant by King George VI – to provide training useful in both service and civilian life, to foster the spirit of adventure and to promote and encourage amongst young people an interest in aviation and the Royal Air Force.
At it’s current base, which was the town’s former TA centre, more than 50 young people are now involved, with guidance from a team of 15 volunteer staff.
Among the activities they enjoy are flying, gliding, target shooting, sports, adventure training and overnight camps, both in the UK and overseas.
There are also opportunities to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, First Aid Qualifications, leadership training and a variety of BTEC courses.
1279 (Melton Mowbray) Squadron has gone from strength to strength in recent years with a range of national successes, including cadets gaining coveted Aerospace Instructor courses, sailing expeditions and gliding and flying scholarships.
More recently, the squadron has provided cadets in the role of Mayor’s Cadet for the borough of Melton, Lord-Lieutenant’s Cadet for Leicestershire and RAF A4 Force Commander’s Cadet.
Whilst Covid-19 has provided challenges, the squadron has continued to provide online training for squadron members with a huge range of syllabus badges and qualifications still being undertaken by the cadets and staff.
If you are a former member of the squadron email [email protected] with the subject ‘RAFAC 80’ if you would like to get involved in the 80th aniversary celebrations.
Once pandemic restrictions ease properly, there are plans underway for some form of reunion and celebration service.