Last communication on shooting for a while. Here continues my internetification of my Form 3822 Record Of Service book.
The L98A1 Cadet rifle was introduced towards the end of the 1980s as a replacement for the SLR after the British military moved to using the SA80 rifle. I passed my training programme on 31 March 1989. My shooting record is as follows:
31 March 1989 – 15 rounds
16 August 1989 – 50 rounds [RAF Marksman achieved]
? December 1989 – ? rounds
17 March 1990 – ? rounds [RAF Marksman achieved]
Just reading the last entry I can vaguely remember being on a coach travelling to wherever the shooting was and celebrating my 18th birthday. I can remember cake and Alan buying me some suspenders. It was sunny. That is pretty much the sum of my memories of that day!
While at RAF Brize Norton camp I had 20 rounds on the L98A2 Cadet Rifle. I managed to get a pretty good grouping, considering I hadn’t shot a live gun in over 20 years.
This communication deals with the times I shot a full bore rifle. I am pretty sure the rifle used was a Lee-Enfield No. 4 rifle with a .303 round size. Before cadets were allowed to fire this weapon they had to be signed off in the 3822 by the CO saying that they were large and strong enough to handle the weapon.
I can remember that I had a couple of goes at firing this beast and I hated it. It was just after my 14th birthday and the recoil hurt, a lot.
22 March 1986 – 32 rounds
For more communications about my record of service, click here.
What else am I going to do on a Sunday evening apart from write a couple of communications? Especially when Gold TV are broadcasting the Monty Python show from the O2. I’m not watching that because when they started to sing the Penis Song the television channel censored some of the words! I was so annoyed with this that I watched Veep, The 100 and am now writing this instead of watching the Pythons. To be honest I can listen to the Penis Song anytime.
I get a little confused over the next few entries in my Form 3822. The could be courses or they could be competitions. I know that I shot quite a bit with the Squadron and I enjoyed it thoroughly. If you want to see more about experiences of a teenager in the late 80s then click here.
There now follows a list of .22 rifle shooting events I attended and took part. All of these were on 25 yard ranges.
31 July 1986
5 December 1986
20 February 1987 [Mark Sykes Trophy competition]
20 March 1987 [Mark Sykes Trophy competition]
22 May 1987 [ATC Marksman achieved]
3 July 1987
26 August 1987 [ATC Marksman achieved]
27 August 1987
28 August 1987
14 November 1987
28 November 1987
28 February 1988 [Falklands Competition]
29 April 1988 [ATC Marksman achieved]
21 June 1988
22 July 1988 [ATC Marksman achieved]
26 July 1988
28 July 1988
1 December 1988
15 December 1988 [Battle of Britain Competition] 79/100 scored
3 July 1989 [Wing Field Day]
13 August 1989
29 December 1989 [ATC Marksman achieved]
11 February 1990
I was selected for the East Essex Wing Shooting Team one year but I couldn’t make the competition because I was on camp in Cyprus [or I may have been at a concert, I can’t quite remember].
This continues the dissection of my Form 3822, my record of service book for my time in the Air Cadets. To see others communications in this thread click here.
Attendance At Annual Camps
26 July to 2 August 1986 RAF Coltishall
22 August to 29 August 1987 RAF Brize Norton
7 April to 18 April 1988 RAF Akrotiri
23 July to 30 July 1988 RAF Coningsby
12 August to 19 August 1989 RAF Swanton Morely
4 August to 11 August 1991 RAF Waddington
I missed the 1990 camp at RAF Odium because I was on a pre-booked holiday. I missed a flight in a Chinook that year. Although I was in the cadets in 1985 I was not allowed on the camp that year as I hadn’t completed my basic training. I left as a cadet towards the end of 1991.
RAF Coltishall (above): I’m in the back row and on the right. This was my first annual camp and this is a photograph of just the 309 contingent of the camp.
For some reason I don’t have the photograph from RAF Brize Norton to hand. I will keep looking to see if I can find it.
RAF Akrotiri (above): I think this was just the East Essex Wing contingent of the Cyprus camp that year. I’m in the back row, five from the left.
RAF Coningsby (above): This was the 309 contingent at this camp although we also had one cadet from 414 (Epping) Squadron with us. I’m front and left.
RAF Swanton Morley (above): There are a few tales to tell about this camp. I shall dedicate a future communication to my memories from all these camps. I’m in the middle row of cadets just left of the flag pole.
RAF Waddington: My last annual camp and my first in proper billets. I’m on the steps, number six from the left.
These are all the official photographs that I have. I am going to put more photographs on this site over time. If you are unsure about the aims of this website then please read the homepage. It’s about me you see.
This is the first communication about my Record Of Service document. Over a few communications I will detail here my accomplishments within the Air Training Corps in my formative years. Starting from the first entries I give you:
Entry to cadets: June 1985
Cadet Corporal: 12th January 1987
Cadet Sergeant: 4th January 1988
Cadet Flight Sergeant: 5th February 1991
1st Class Cadet: 10th February 1986
Leading Cadet: 2nd February 1987
Senior Cadet: 14th March 1988
Staff Cadet: 13th July 1990
I found that the best fun rank to be was a Sergeant. You were sandwiched in the middle of the rank structure and so had separation from the cadets and staff. While at RAF Swanton Morely summer camp one of the flights was given three Sergeants to be in charge while the other two had Flight Sergeants. I was one of the three and we had a whale of a time, being just serious enough to have a great grouping of cadets but also good fun.
Recently I have volunteered to help with the cadet organisation at work. The RAF section of the CCF needed some staff and I felt it was time to get involved. I will occasionally write about my experiences on these pages but joining and entering the world of cadets for a second time made me reminisce about my time as a teenager in the Air Training Corps.
I spent a few hours recently searching the crap in my loft trying to find my Record Of Service book. I kept it and it records everything I did in the Cadets. Having found it I will use it to create some communications within this site and then package it safely and store it somewhere. It’s a little A6 cardboard backed booklet that has seen some busy times. It is now falling apart and has to be handled with care. Within the pages I found my Sargent and Flight Sargent rank slides that I used to wear. In the same box I also found some memorabilia that I shall write about another time. The booklet is called a RAF Form 3822.
I can remember being about twelve years old and chatting to my best friend of the time, Nick. We decided we wanted something to do in the evenings. Something like a club or sport. Actually it probably wasn’t sport as I wasn’t a sporty child. We were already involved with an amateur dramatics society after all that’s how we knew each other, our parents were heavily involved with pantomimes and plays in Hatfield Heath.
One lovely sunny summer’s day [all the days of my youth are sunny, I don’t remember it raining before 1990] we were wandering around the village festival and saw a stand for the local Air Training Squadron. We chatted to them and Nick decided he would join. I had to wait until I was 13. A bit later when walking past the stand again they called me over [I’m making this bit up, I can’t remember what really happened] and asked me to join the band only [as I could play the clarinet] and then later, when I was old enough I could join the Squadron properly. This was the summer of 1984.
309 (Sawbridgeworth) Sqn Air Training Corps was formed at the end of January (I think) of 1984. Before that they had been a Detached Flight of 2317 (Harlow) Sqn.
On Friday evenings I now went to Church House in Sawbridgeworth and practised with the band of 309. I was given a uniform and I had to learn how to play a fife.
We didn’t wear uniform, we had a laugh and we learnt how to play our instruments and how to perform band drill. I remember my first real band engagement was a Wing Field day at Southend Airport. Nine hundred cadets on parade and the Commander of the ATC at the podium. I couldn’t march and I couldn’t play much. I just had to concentrate on marching and being in step. They placed me on the side furthest from the Commandant for the march past so I had less chance of being seen. It was probably the scariest experience of my cadet career. I was twelve and a half.
Once I passed 13 I had been involved with the cadets for about nine months and it was time to join up properly. The rest of the squadron paraded on Monday nights and so I attended twice a week. I was at a slight advantage within the squadron as I knew a lot of the cadets already and could, by now, march and understand the mechanics of marching and static drill.
My Record Of Service book is an RAF Form 3822. This one was kept in my back trouser pocket throughout my entire ATC career and so I am surely forgiven for it looking a little “worn”. The earliest date in my 3822 is 23 June 1985. That is the date signed by my commanding officer on the parental consent page. My parents had obviously signed form 3822A. My formal enrolment into the Air Traning Corps is dated the 17 Dec 1985. I think this is when I would have completed my basic training and have taken my Cadet’s Promise in front of the squadron and the squadron’s Padre. It would appear that I promised loyalty to my unit and the ATC and also:
I further promise to be a good citizen and to do my duty to God and the Queen, my country and my flag.
I left the cadets as a cadet in Sept 1991. This was when I went to university. I then spend a couple of years with 309 as a Civilian Instructor helping out with lessons and the musical aspects of the band. On a few occasions I put uniform back on and joined the ranks for a major band parade. I once marched down The Mall as part of 309 band which was an excellent experience.
I returned to 309 in 1999 as a CI while I worked at a school in Brentwood. I had been part of 25 (Parkwood) Sqn for a short while before that, helping out with lessons. I transferred back to 309 when I moved jobs. My loyalty in Essex Wing belongs to 309 Sqn, which is based in Hertfordshire. Another couple of years as CI and I eventually moved back down to Kent and left the Air Training Corps, maybe for the last time.
I am still in contact with my old squadron and I feel a massive sense of loyalty to them. I spent a great deal of time during my teenage years with the ATC and had an excellent time. I experienced many things of which I will write about over the next while using my 3822 as a guide.
I have returned to 309 recently to celebrate some anniversaries. I attended the 25th Squadron Anniversary dinner in 2009 held at Great Hadham Golf Club and this year, 2014, I attended the 30th celebrations held at the Cricket Club in Sawbridgeworth. To give you an idea of what 309 does have a watch of the video below.
I make appearances in the video at 3:54 [charity walk], 6:03 [RAF Coningsby], 6:08 [RAF Coltishall], 6:24 [Crowborough], 6:54 [The Mall], 7:06 [Hatfield Heath Festival], 7:40 [First Aid, Church House], 8:19 [A Rock, Snowdonia].
I have now joined Maidstone Grammar School Combined Cadet Force as a member of staff. I am a member of the Royal Air Force unit within the contingent. It is a little different to the ATC but the similarities are enough that all my knowledge and experience is coming back from the depths of my brain. I am looking forward to paying back to the system, again.
I’ve recently been reminded of an incident from about 23 years ago. I probably think of this every year around Remembrance Day because it makes me chuckle.
As a teenager I was involved with the Air Cadets, or rather the Air Training Corps as we were then known. My loyalty lies with 309 (Sawbridgeworth) Sqn of the ATC as that is where I spent a lot of my time from age 12 1/2 (not officially) to around 30 [with a couple of breaks]. I attended the 25th anniversary meal of the Squadron being formed and next year I’ll be attending the 30th anniversary!
During 1990 I did the usual house-to-house collection for my squadron around the town of Sawbridgeworth for the poppy appeal. We normally did this on parade nights the few weeks before November 11th. This particular year I also happened to be dating a member of 1096 (Bishop’s Stortford) Sqn and for a laugh I joined her squadron on their door-to-door collection as their parade night was different.
So, it turns out that I won some sort of trophy at 1096 Sqn for collecting the most money for their squadron. Even now it makes me chuckle. I guess simple things please simple minds. I can’t remember if I ever got a trophy or prize but I definitely won their competition.
Also, the estate where I was collecting was home to a Squadron Leader from the Wing Staff. I can’t remember his name (probably Ian, but that’s not a great deal of help), I’ll get in touch with some of my close friends, they’ll remember. Anyway, I was going through the process to get my Staff qualification and part of this required an interview. This Sqn Ldr was meant to interview me and so when I knocked on his door and he recognised me we held the interview there and then. I passed the examination.
Perhaps there’ll be more dim and distant memories recorded here soon!
So, for many years I was involved with the Air Cadets. I joined the band of 309 (Sawbridgeworth) Sqn when I was twelve and a half and then joined the squadron properly when I was thirteen and a half. I left when I went to university when I was 19, although I did two stints as a Civilian Instructor. I look back fondly on my time in the cadets and had so many great experiences that I think it really changed my outlook on life during my formative years. I’ll do another more comprehensive post about my cadet career another time but this post is just to list the official annual camps I attended.
1986 RAF Coltishall
1987 RAF Brize Norton
1988 RAF Coningsby
1989 RAF Swanton Morley
1991 RAF Waddington
1993 RAF Manston (attended as a CI)
Also in 1988 I attended a two week camp at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.