201 The Next Generation – a short history
No 201, the number synonymous with Guernsey’s Own Royal Air Force Squadron, has been officially bestowed upon us as the Island’s Air Cadet Squadron, set up earlier this year. The move reinforces the special association and longstanding affiliation formally established in 1939 between Guernsey and 201 Squadron Royal Air Force, which disbanded in 2011. The recognition is particularly exceptional as the allocation of the number breaks with traditional conventions of the Air Cadet Organisation, based at RAF Cranwell, and in doing so recognises the exceptional and long-standing relationship that existed. The three digit squadron number is now unique for an overseas ATC unit; for example neighbouring Jersey‘s ATC Squadron is established as No.07 and RAF Akrotiri ATC Squadron in Cyprus is No.01.
Commanding Officer of the newly established 201 Overseas (Guernsey) Squadron, Flying Officer David Poole, explained the importance of this decision saying: ‘For the designation to have been reflected in the establishment of No.201 as an Air Cadet Squadron for the Island’s young people is very rewarding and reflects the highly regarded commitment of the people of Guernsey to the RAF over such an extensive period. The cadets and adult volunteer staff will relish the chance to continue to uphold the values and traditions of this relationship and will take great pride in maintaining the high professional standards that 201 Squadron displayed throughout their existence as an RAF Squadron.’
Within the UK, the number of Squadrons is currently just under 1,000 and whilst the establishment of new squadrons happens a few times a year, it is very rare for a new overseas unit to be founded as a Squadron in its own right. The Commandant Air Cadets, Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, explained why the Organisation resolved to allocate the number 201 to the new Squadron: ‘The decision to designate 201 Overseas Squadron ATC demonstrates how highly the commitment and association between the people of Guernsey and 201 (Guernsey’s Own) Squadron RAF was valued within the wider RAF family. To be able to continue this tradition by allocating the RAF Squadron number to a brand new ATC Squadron is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the bonds between the Island and the RAF’s uniformed youth organisation and I send my very best wishes to all cadets and adult volunteers on Guernsey for a highly successful and enjoyable cadet experience under their new and prestigious name.’
Guernsey’s First Air Cadets Report for Duty – 5 September 2012
The first ever intake of Air Cadets in Guernsey have successfully completed their basic training and have ‘passed out’ as members of the Air Training Corps, the very first in Guernsey. In a busy few weeks since April, a total of eleven cadets have together undertaken basic instruction including in flying subjects and the Royal Air Force. The young people have been mastering the basics of drill and marching plus learning the upkeep of their uniform supplied by the RAF.
The unit has also visited the Channel Island Air Search to see how the flying operation functions and this was a particular highlight for some. Throughout the course the young people have been learning to work together as a team as they have progressed and improved. Best cadet on the first intake, cadet Natalie Scholey (13) thought that the training had been very useful and interesting and said that “Joining the Air Cadets was the best thing I had ever done as it helped me become more confident and is lots of fun too”. Most improved cadet Scott Edwards (14) said “I was surprised to receive the award but have enjoyed developing new skills and meeting new friends”. With the basic training complete the cadets will start to take part in more varied and advanced training including activities such as First Aid and initial expedition training in preparation for the cadets first expedition as part of their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
With the cadets now enrolled the unit aims to take an active part in important occasions and ceremonial parades including the upcoming Battle of Britain Parade on September 16th although this will be the first without a significant RAF presence. The unit will also be offering support at the Air Display on the 13th September where staff will be on hand to answer questions from anyone wishing to get involved. In particular young people aged 13 or over by the end of October and interested in finding out more should seek out the cadets on the seafront or otherwise contact the unit for details on how to sign up for the next October intake.
The unit’s Training Officer, Civilian Instructor John Atkins, who has also been involved in the start-up group for less than a year has co-ordinated the training programme which has been designed to be progressive, stimulating and interesting whilst simultaneously developing the young people’s skills and confidence; he added “The cadets have done amazingly well given that this has been the first ever intake, they are looking really smart. We are hoping to repeat the success and refine it where we can to improve on the Guernsey air cadet experience.”
Open Evening – 23 April 2012
Around a dozen young people showed an interested to joining after coming along to our open evening on Monday 23rd April 2012. This was after a special feature interview during the morning on BBC Guernsey where we were able to give some ideas of what it is like to be an Air Cadet. Together with their parents they were introduced to the organisation and what it has to offer young people. Following the evening a keen first cadre was put together who will now undergo their Basic Induction over the next few weeks.