The Birth of a Squadron
The Squadron’s history began in 1941 when Councillor Mr H Thorpe was appointed as Honorary Secretary. The Town Hall was chosen as the venue for the first public meeting of the new “Air Training Corps”, and on 29th January 1941 was addressed by Mr WW Wakefield, the MP for Swindon and a reservist in the Royal Air Force with the rank of Squadron Leader. Mr Wakefield was Parliamentary Secretary to the Under Secretary for Air. He was also a member of the Parliamentary committee instructed by the cabinet in 1940 to formulate a scheme of pre-entry into the RAF for the youth of the country in its hour of need. Closing the meeting, attended by teachers, boys and parents, Mr Wakefield announced Swindon would produce three Squadrons.
On 6th February 1941, the day after the Air Cadet Organisation was officially formed, the Evening Advertiser reported that an organizing committee had been formed in Swindon. It including the Mayor of Swindon, as well as Mr Wakefield, the Headmasters of three local schools, and various directors of local companies. A photograph in the 24th February’s edition showed Swindon’s first Air Cadet, Owen George Skane, signing his application to join the town’s first Squadron, numbered 302. Four days later, 200 boys had joined, and a second Squadron had to be formed to satisfy demand. Its number was 1244.
Owen George Skane signs on as the first Air Cadet in Swindon in 1941.
The Early Years
During the peacetime years following World War Two, 302 Squadron slipped into the midsts of time. However, 1244 continued to grow in strength and stature. A few years later, 1244 Squadron established its Headquarters in the Lawns, occupying former American wartime billets. Detached Flights (small satellite groups attached to the Headquarters) were soon formed around the rapidly expanding town. By the mid fifties, 1244 Squadron had 7 Detached Flights of over 160 Cadets.
Annual Summer Camps were soon organised to give the Cadets a flavour of life on an RAF Station. More activities soon followed, such as flying and gliding, sports and adventure training. Over the years, the Squadron saw many Cadets move into successful RAF careers. Two brothers, who joined 1244 in the 1950’s both enlisted in the RAF; one became an Air Vice Marshall in control of Engineering and Supply at RAF Strike Command, and the other a Wing Commander in the department of the Chief of Air Staff.
In the 1980’s, girls were allowed to enter the Air Cadets for the first time. The Squadron’s numbers grew almost overnight. 1244 squadron moved to new purpose-built premises in Upham Road, and an extension was added soon after. Due to the rapid expansion of Swindon in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, numbers grew rapidly, and two of its former detached flights became Squadrons in their own right; Stratton (2003) and West Swindon (633). Swindon had finally eminated its glorious past by producing three successful Squadrons, with 1244 right at the heart of this development.
More recently, the Air Training Corps was rebranded as the Royal Air Force Air Cadets, further demonstrating the strong links the Air Cadet Organisation has with the RAF.
Today, the Squadron has close ties with the local community, with Cadets participating in various charity events in and around the Swindon area. The local RAFA (Royal Air Force’s Association) Club is affiliated to the Squadron, and the Band are invited to play at many of Swindon’s events throughout the year. The Squadron also parades twice a year through the town, during Battle of Britain Sunday each September, and Remembrance Sunday every November.
Our squadron motto translates from latin to ‘Friendship and Pride’.