The 101st Entry at Halton W3C validate WC3 c88


The Royal Air Force Aircraft Apprentice Scheme was the brainchild of Lord Trenchard; it was to provide the boys with a high standard of both technical and educational training. In January 1920 to ensure that ‘only the brightest applicants gained entry”. The first applicants sat the entrance exams those who reached the required standard were duly selected.


Because of its location, Halton Camp near Wendover in Buckinghamshire became the selected site for The No.1 School of Technical Training. Unfortunately the construction was unfinished and thus not able to accept the first apprentices, so the first four Entries began their training at R.A.F. Cranwell.  In 1922, the 5th Entry became the first to begin training at Halton and in 1993; the 106th Entry became the last Entry of ‘Aircraft Apprentices’.

Between those years, over 40,000, Halton or Trenchard 'Brats' as they became known, had graduated.



The badge of No 1 School of Technical Training incorporates a symbolic ‘Tree of Learning’ derived from the beech trees typical of the Halton area.  The motto "Crescentes Discimus" can be translated to mean ‘’as we grow, we learn”.


In planning the Apprenticeship Scheme, the Air Ministry took their responsibilities towards the young boys seriously and they considered it necessary to provide some insignia to distinguish them from adult airmen "So as to check smoking and the forgathering of boys with men”.  So the four-bladed propeller within a circlet, was manufactured in brass, it was to be worn on the sleeve of the left arm, and was at all times to be kept highly polished.


In the spring of 1962 842 hopefuls had applied to become members, 771 were invited to the interview process, after an extensive selection process 119 young lads arrived at Wendover.  They came from all around the world, included in their numbers were three members from the Royal Malaysian Air Force, and Royal Air Force members from the West Indies and Kenya.

Having signed on the dotted line on May 9th 1962, the group became to become the 101st Entry of Aircraft Apprentices at RAF Halton.



Thus started" Initial Training Weeks",  getting up early, making beds to the required shape and size, ‘square bashing’, a vigorous campaign of ‘get fit’ quick and intensive cleaning and polishing of anything and everything that did not move on its own.  The drill instructors, who yelled, screamed, and sometimes praised, would certainly have told you, that it was they who made the Entry into what it became SECOND TO NONE (secundus ut nullus)



In the three years that followed the Entry spent much time studying their chosen trades in the ‘Technical Workshops’ and at the Airfield and raising their education to a high standard at the academic school.

They also passed many a happy hour on the parade ground and in the sports facilities or lining the streets of London for various ceremonial occasions.

While off duty, much time had been spent visiting historic buildings e.g., The Shoulder of Mutton, The Red Lion and the Rose and Crown or in studying the arts at venues such as the Odeon and the Astra.

The Entry was also treated to a never to be forgotten holiday under canvas in the Brecon Beacons.


It had become a tradition at Halton that during the week of training that corresponded to the entry number a ‘prank’ would take place.  In the 101st week the Entry attempted to borrow a stagecoach from a local pub, but were foiled by the local constabulary, they were however successful in placing on the parade ground a 2 ton Crimean War cannon gun (borrowed from the Royal School of Military Engineering) and a slightly smaller Navy gun ( borrowed from T.S. Arethusa).  Hence the cannon in the Entry Crest.

The stagecoach party had in fact provided the perfect cover that allowed the rest of the Entry to position the cannons on the parade square.

For while the duty officer had the coach raiding party stood in front of the guardroom and lectured them upon the Entry’s failure to work together , the canons were quietly positioned so that as the duty officer marched the coach party back to their block he was greeted by the two guns standing under the flagpole.


During the three years of training, six members left the Entry as ‘unable to maintain the standard of training’; four left for medical reasons.  One lucky former member of the 100th Entry joined the 101st Entry after he had recovered from a serious illness.



The Entry graduated on April 14th 1965, of the 110 members who successfully completed the course, 11 members were recommended for commissions, amongst them was Kingsley Chester who was awarded a Direct Entry Commission and to train as a Navigator, tragically he died as the result of a motor bike accident the day after graduation from Halton.


It is sad to report that both Sqd. Ld. Mike Doyle (Entry Commander on 2 Wing) and John Phillips were both tragically killed in separate aircraft accidents.


We have managed to track down many of the original 110 who graduated, sadly, we have discovered that

 Seven members have passed away; the remaining missing members have still to be located.



The future saw some members complete 22 years of service, others left once they had completed their initial 12-year engagement or before.  Many have gone on to fulfil various careers in civilian life all around the world.



The friendships formed then have stood the test of time, and at the three reunions, it is almost although it is still 1965. In fact Entry Spirit is better than ever as rivalry between the two flights has disappeared.




first reunion

All about Halton and the 101st Entry

Graduation

John Glovers Gallery.

Photo Gallery

Roger Setchfield bravely organised the first reunion, which was a great success and has been the foundation for more reunions. Since then we have located a large number of members and are still looking for the missing ‘Names’

Roger

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The Man Who Started It All

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