History of the ADCC

I picked up these magazines at the Manston aviation museum. They are from an aviation encyclopaedia partwork of 1939 - note the tail emblem on the Lufthansa FW200 Condor.
Inside the copy with the Catalina on the front cover is this article about the RAFAC’s founding organisation, the Air Defence Cadet Corps.

The retro-futurist bird on the ADCC’s otherwise similar cap badge is an albatross, noted in the captions as being the symbol of the Air League of the British Empire.

It is well worth reading the article in order to gain a contemporary insight into the motives for forming the Corps, without the omissions and bias of subsequent historical revisionism.
What is written here regarding the training in drill, PT and aeronautical studies can pretty much describe what we are doing in the present day, though.

What is different to our day is the ADCC’s raison d’etre as described here: providing reserves if partly-trained young men with some knowledge of aviation which would be of great value to the nation in a time of emergency.

The writer also states that the British Empire, having been built up by its sea power, will be maintained by its air power, the latter becoming the most important method of Imperial communications.

What is ironic, of course, is that the young man featured in the ADCC uniform photo may well have joined the RAF or FAA later on in WWII, with all what that would have involved. Hopefully he survived his war service, which would have meant that during the majority of his service or civil aviation career he would have seen the end of the British Empire: the partition of India, the Malayan Emergency and that country’s independence, various other conflicts such as those in Kenya, Cyprus and the Aden Protectorate… Palestine and the Canal Zone … the Korean War if one served in the FAA.

That last conflict was the first big one of the Cold War, not to mention the Berlin Airlift, and the list goes on and on.

Interesting times for a young man to live in, but not those that a member of the Air League of the British Empire would have either predicted or wanted. We should be thankful to them for forming the Corps and its excellent aeronautical training programme, which has stood the test of time and major historical events.

In contrast to the recent post in The Staff Mess which shows a post-WWII article about the ATC, the ADCC sensibly neither confirms nor denies that it is a recruitment agency for the RAF, despite their intended affiliation to that service. The article in the ATC Gazette pretty much does say they intend cadets to join the RAF. The Air League rightly predict the expansion of aviation in an era of pioneering flights across the globe, but it was also an era of national air carriers, with the word ‘British’ in their titles. :thinking:


that was also in a time when was being discussed in a post-war world to maintain a state of “readiness” of soldier should the need arise


CGS’s recent comments about ‘citizen armies’ have been interpreted by many to mean conscription or national service: but cadet forces returned to their original goals, along with an expansion of the volunteer reserves, would at least partially achieve a similar goal of having a citizenry more familiar with military ways and partially trained if ever needed.

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Having capable reserve forces only works if the country has a large enough regular force to house, train and equip those called up for periods of service. Reservists can be suitable for quick deployment to specialised non-combat roles, such as medical staff, but front-line units would have to train them for several weeks or months before they come up to standard.

An operational RAF Regt squadron I was serving on had twelve reservists who had volunteered for a four month tour on Op Telic, and they had to sign on for a year of full-time service to cover that deployment. That involved several months of infantry and pre-deployment training conducted with the squadron on their rifle flights, and a period of paid leave at the end.

Latterly, I conducted pre-deployment and Common Core Skills training for RAF Reserve medics who were deploying for the second or third time to Iraq, but their main job was as medics rather than infantry soldiers, so the amount of military training they needed was a lot less.

However, a reservist medic has to already be a qualified doctor or nurse to be allowed to join an RAF Reserve medical unit, which means that the NHS goes short when they deploy: the RAF won’t train unqualified volunteers to be reservist medics. NHS workers might be ‘superheroes,’ but being on two places at once isn’t one of their special powers.

One of the ‘raisons de etre’ of the UK’s military cadet forces has been stated as that of ‘awareness raising’ for the regular Armed Forces, as if we have to take on the unpaid task of reminding the British public that we still have an air force somewhere in the country.

Well, this awareness raising hasn’t prevented the continual defence cuts both sides of UK Government have inflicted upon its Armed Forces over the last several decades. :grimacing:

Conscription or national military service has only ever been favoured amongst a majority of a nation’s people in the case of post-WWII Finland, from what I’ve read about so far. I’m reading a Norwegian book written by an ex-forsvarssjef about that country’s past, present and future defence policies and capabilities.

The author debunks a lot of the myths about the utility of Norwegian national military service and its usefulness in providing combat units that are ready for war. It’s not there primarily to train young Norwegians to be more responsible adults, like some sort of social welfare programme, as their parents regularly state is the best reason for having it as an institution.

Many industrialised countries have only had a partial draft by selection or lottery during the relatively peaceful periods in post-1815 history: most don’t have either the money or the resources for any more than that, let alone enough for their conscripts to do during their period of service.

The last time the UK had the kind of ‘citizens’ army’ capable of defending key points and infrastructure was in the 1980s: the Home Service Force, recruited from ex-regular servicemen. They were disbanded in 1993. It would make sense to re-activate this corps of infantry units from where they left off thirty years ago, maybe with not too much of a burden added to the regular Army. :thinking: