Reported articles 

Award application in full;


Civic Recognition


The Air Training Corps

in the

London Bexley Borough of Bexley.



Describe the voluntary/community work or outstanding achievement the person/group has undertaken and indicate why you think they deserve Civic Recognition         

How long has the person/group been involved with this activity?

2011 represents 70 years of service to the London Borough of Bexley by the Air Training Corps [ATC], with girls joining the ATC in the early 1980's.

The ATC within the London Borough of Bexley, started in 1938 with 74 Crayford Squadron Air Defence Cadet Corps [ADCC]. This was formed for the children of  the Crayford Vickers armament factory employees. In 1941 the ADCC became the Air Training Corps [ATC]. Now in combination with the Combined Cadet Force, RAF section they are now often referred to simply as Air Cadets or the Air Cadet Organisation. In 1941 there were ~400 squadrons and ~100,000 cadets.

Crayford was such a large squadron it formed four detached flights based in the local schools, and these very quickly became squadrons in their own right. There are five squadrons within the London Borough of Bexley; 74 Crayford [presently closed], 358 Welling, 359 Bexleyheath, 1227 Sidcup and 1579 Erith squadrons.

Crayford squadron was offered to become a 'founder' squadron of the ATC, but they opted to retain their original squadron identification number of 74, refuting the claim made by 40F Maidstone squadron that they are 'the first in Kent'.


How has the community/individual benefited from the work/activity?

The aims of the ATC as stipulated by Royal Warrant are; 

  • To promote and encourage among young men and women a practical interest in aviation and the Royal Air Force.
  • To provide training which will be useful both in the Services and civilian life.
  • To foster the spirit of adventure and develop qualities of leadership and good citizenship.

Cadets were trained in the basic skills needed by the armed forces, both service and aviation skills, as well as instruction in drill, discipline, uniform and conduct on RAF stations. The development of individual physical fitness including PT, games, athletics, cross country running and long route marches. Also shooting, camping and flying.

They are recorded as helping with the war effort in many ways, e.g. providing additional manual labour, filling sandbags, loading ammunition belts, rearming aircraft, helping in observation posts and acting as couriers between military instillations. When they were called up for active service many had skills in excess of those held by their instructors!  They passed quickly through basic training into active service.

Cadets even assisted in the Berlin Air Lift. During the National Service and Cold War years cadets continued to serve the local community, many undertaking their National Service in the RAF.

In keeping with the original aims of the organisation, the ATC has repeatedly provided its cadets with life skills attractive to employers and qualifications and experiences not found anywhere else. In addition to an annual active role in the Bexley Civic and Remembrance Parades, in the past 5 years alone, cadets from the London Borough of Bexley have undertaken and completed the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme bronze, silver & gold awards, they have become gliding instructors teaching junior cadets to fly, flown solo in gliders and powered aircraft, learnt marksmanship skills and first aid, gained additional vocational qualifications (equivalent to up to 10 additional GCSEs), travelled the world on expeditions to Peru, South Africa & Nepal, done exchange trips to Singapore, USA and Israel. They have climbed and walked the British Isles, sailed around its coast line and parachuted from the skies. Once even had luncheon with HM The Queen at the re-opening of Danson House.

Employers find that cadets have leadership skills, self discipline, diligence and dedication; they are able to work by themselves and in groups, on projects that take months and years to complete. Nearly half of all officers and other ranks who join the RAF, and a significant proportion of those joining the other uniformed services are former ATC cadets. Ex-cadets tend to be fitter, easier to train and less likely to drop out of training.

Would these activities have happened if this person/group had not been involved?

At the end of World War 1, the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service were amalgamated into the Royal Air Force with subsequent scaling down of its activities. As airman returned to civilian life many of the aeronautical skills were lost.

Air Commodore Chamier [“The Father of the ATC”] and the Air League had the foresight to found the ADCC in 1938. They knew that in World War 1, young men with only a few hours of training were sent to do combat in the air against well trained enemy aviators. They correctly predicted that another War in Europe was on the horizon, and also that young men would be needed who had the basic aeronautical skills needed to fight in a modern air force. Had it not been for this foresight, we as a nation may not have had the necessary ready skills to defend ourselves during our darkest hours.

The modern ATC consists of 926 squadrons with in excess of 40,000 volunteers. The four active squadrons in the London Borough of Bexley have an average of 120 cadets registered between them at any time.

Has the activity been recognised by any other organisation?                    


Are there any other reasons why you believe this person/group should win an award

The ATC has a proven track record of providing young people with life skills not found elsewhere. Even a short membership will give a young person friendships that will last a lifetime, a worthwhile hobby to keep them off the streets, and a constructive diversion form their school, homework and family issues. 

= = =

The Presentation

The Worshipful the Mayor of Bexley presented the London Borough of Bexley ATC squadron's with identical certificates and borough heraldic crests; 358 Welling, 359 Bexleyheath, 1227 Sidcup and 1579 Erith have all given these items pride of place within their respective squadron's; 74 Crayford squadron's will be lodged at the Headquarters of Kent Wing ATC until the squadron formally reopens.

At the presentation of the Civic Awards Mayor of Bexley, Councillor Val Clark said: "Volunteers contribute vast amounts of time and effort for the good of others in society. We are fortunate to have such dedicated people in our borough willing to help others and provide facilities for our young people and others less fortunate than themselves.”

The photograph shown, taken by the Mayor's official photographer shows; Back to front Left to right;

The Reverend Andrew WHITE CF(V), Chaplain to 358 Welling squadron.
   [former Flying Officer RAFVR(T) and chaplain to 1579 Erith squadron, awarded the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal & Cadet Forces Medal]

Civilian Instructor Mike COLEMAN
   [former Flying Officer, RAFVR(T), awarded  the Cadet Forces Medal]

Instructor Cadet Flight Sergeant Sarah WILMOTT of 358.

Flight Lieutenant Carol COYNE RAFVR(T) officer commanding 359 Bexleyheath Squadron.

The Worshipful the Mayor of the London Borough of Bexley, Councillor Val Clark.

Flight Lieutenant  Kris COTTIER RAFVR(T) officer commanding 358 Welling Squadron.

Flight Lieutenant Cliff MULLINS RAFVR(T) retired, Chairman of Kent Wing Civilian Committee
   [former officer commanding 358 Welling Squadron, awarded the Cadet Forces Medal]

Mr Peter WESTON, Honorary President of the 358 Welling Squadron Civilian Committee.

Cadet Sergeant Micheal McDONALD of 359

Cadet Sergeant Edward SIMMONS of 359

Cadet Carn HILL of 358

Cadet James CORNELL of 359

Cadet Joshua MINCHIN of 358