How the Air Training Corps came to provincial Essex.

Edited from an Essex Countryside article, June 1973, by F.D.Holder and S.A.Hinde.

At the end of 1940 it became obvious that something had to be done quickly to increase the number of men acceptable for aircrew training. It was realized that the Air Defence Cadet Corps, founded by the Air League of the British Empire under Air Commodore Chamier, was already producing the right type, but its efforts were limited by the lack of official backing and finance.

The A.T.C. came into being on February 1 1941, following a letter sent from the Air Ministry to all Mayors and Chairmen asking them to take steps to form the new corps. The Air Ministry accepted responsibility for the provision of premises, cost of training and the uniforms of officers and cadets. The officers were granted commissions in the RAFVR, while civilian committees   were formed to find premises and recommend potential officers and instructors. It followed that most  of the units had some connection to educational establishments and many of the officers were teachers.

1474 Squadron BILLERICAY  included Wickford and Laindon flights, was commanded by F/L Radford who was a man of great character and drive, with his adjutant, F/O Harry Crabtree, the Essex cricketer. The unit was quick to show initiative, and with one of the officers to instruct it was the source of the first gliding school at Bulpham.

Today the ATC still flourishes and Wickford can be justly proud.

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