I recently read “Wings, The RAF at War” by Patrick Bishop. This was a very interesting read, particularly the background about the setting-up of the training schools at Halton and Cranwell between the wars by Lord Trenchard. It was thought that apprentices may be more prone to homesickness and boredom than officer cadets. Hence this was a major factor in choosing Halton as the home of No 1 School of Technical Training. Another factor in Halton’s favour was its proximity to and ease of access to the London railway terminals, which would enable apprentices an easier journey when proceeding on leave and for their parents to visit Halton if necessary. The officer cadets had, therefore, to put up with Cranwell in the depths of Lincolnshire! (Trenchard initially wanted to purchase the Halton estate for officer training ET) Also the book tells us that most of the RFC pilots came from the “upper classes”. This occurred because the RFC did not provide ab-initio flying training, so aspiring RFC pilots joined having already been awarded a pilot’s licence in civil life. And, as we all know, learning to fly costs a lot of money. Consequently, with only a few exceptions, you had to be rich to join the RFC.
To dilute the public school image of military officers (then prevalent in the Army and Navy), Trenchard made it clear that he wanted those apprentices who had achieved the highest marks in all aspects of their training, and had shown good leadership qualities, to be considered for cadetships and pilot training at Cranwell. (Later cadetships were also awarded for Engineer Officer training at Henlow and, for a while in the 1940s/50s, some went to Sandhurst to be trained as RAF Regiment Officers.! ET)
Roger Gulliver 89th