Ron wearing his ATC uniform

Vickers Wellington MKIII


In the summer of 1941 Ron joined the Air Training Corps 1034 Squadron in Surbiton (England), he was 14.

‘All us lads together about fourteen/fifteen we said right, we can’t go anywhere, they were forming a new Air Training Corps in Surbiton, so we all joined that. Well we said we don’t know how long this war’s going on, so we better do something so we trained up.’ (Tape 1, P.4).

‘British youth was among the most highly regimented in the world. In January 1941 the Air Ministry had launched the Air Training Corps (ATC) for boys between sixteen and eighteen. Volunteers were given RAF uniforms and within six months the ATC had grown to 200,000.’ [1] The aim was to prepare cadets for service in the RAF or the fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy.

'Well, we all had to do it in the evenings. A normal day was identification of aircraft, different bombers, morse code, map reading, navigation, did all that leads you up to be what you want to be in the RAF. I wanted to be a bomber pilot, I was too tall to be an air gunner, unfortunately I passed everything but I was colour blind and you’ve got to know your colours for landing reasons, still I enjoyed it.'
(Tape 2, P.1)

Ron visited various aerodromes during his time in the ATC, such as Biggin Hill in Kent. This was an opportunity to pilot different aircrafts including a Tiger Moth.

' The first plane I went up in was a Tiger Moth. I was scared because I suppose I was young. It’s a lovely little plane but its open aired and the instructor was at the back. God your up there and the wind is blowing everything. That was a good time, that was because we were up there and as we were circling around the Gerries were coming over and of course the navigator said ‘We’ve got to get down and quick’ so that was exciting.' (Tape1, P.6)

Ron also had the opportunity whilst in the Air Training Corps to be in a Horsa Glider towed by a Wellington.