Throwback Thursday: 50th anniversary of the Beccles ATC Squadron
PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 June 2018
In Throwback Thursday Enjoy Beccles more takes a look back at some of the town’s major stories and events from times gone-by.
This week we take at look at the 50th anniversary of the Beccles ATC Squadron.
The article below first appeared in the Beccles and Bungay Journal on Friday, April 19, 1991.
50th anniversary of the Beccles ATC Squadron
In the dark wartime days of 1941 people in Britain were proud to wear a uniform.
Inspired by the heroic deeds of the Spitfire and Hurricane pilots, young men were joining the newly-formed Air Training Corps in such numbers that the Beccles Squadron, formed during that first hectic year, was number 759.
This year the squadron, now catering for girls as well as boys, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
It has been an eventful half century since the squadron was formed at the Sir John Leman School, initially with a detached flight at Loddon.
Each week the squadron had two evening meetings and a Sunday morning parade.
In those early years, with the cadets meeting at the old Peddars Lane school, membership rose to almost 100 and many former cadets saw service with the RAF.
After the war the squadron continued to thrive with many ex-Service men taking an interest in the ATC.
Its aims were refined to include training in citizenship, the promotion of sporting activity and the fostering of a spirit of adventure.
As well as receiving instruction in such skills as Morse code, the cadets excelled at sport, were enjoying regular camps at various air stations, and graduated to such adventurous activities as gliding.
But after the end of National Service, the ATC declined, and in 1964 Beccles became a detached flight of the Lowestoft Squadron, having fallen below the necessary 30 members to retain its independent status.
As numbers slowly began to pick up, the cadets moved to the Drill Hall in Peddars Lane in 1969, and 10 years later the unit again became a fully fledged squadron.
In 1981 the squadron welcomed its first girl cadets, and it still meets regularly at the Drill Hall – a headquarters which is the envy of many other units – under the guidance of three RAF Volunteer Reserve officers and a similar number of civilian instructors.
Commanding officer is Flight Lieut Chris Weldon, and his team includes Flying Officers David Miller and David McCarthy.
The unit is supported by a fundraising civilian committee chaired by Group Capt Robert Martin, and with former cadet Mr Malcolm Holmes as secretary and press officer.
He reported that the Beccles squadron is involved in several regional events to celebrate the ATC’s 50th year but its own main celebration day is Sunday, June 30.
The anniversary will be marked with a morning service at All Saints Church, Worlingham, conducted by the rector, the Rev Adrian Jones, a former RAF chaplain and padre of the squadron.
After the service the cadets will march to the Drill Hall behind the Lowestoft ATC Band and accompanied by the standards of the Royal Air Forces Association and the Royal British Legion.
At the Drill Hall an inspection and presentation of awards will be followed by a display of ATC activities.