ROYAL AUXILIARY AIR FORCE HISTORY
UP TO 1935
The history of the Territorial and Auxiliary Forces dates back to 1907, when the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act was passed. In 1917 Gen Jan Christian Smuts was appointed by Lloyd George to examine the organisation of the air services. He recommended the establishment of an Air Ministry and the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service to create the Royal Air Force (RAF) on April 1, 1918.
In November 1917, the Air Force (Constitution) Act was passed, which made provision for the creation of an Auxiliary Air Force (AAF).The formation of such a force was first suggested by Hugh “Boom” Trenchard (later Chief of the Air Staff and Marshal of the RAF, Lord Trenchard) in a memorandum dated November 27, 1919, at the instigation of Winston Churchill, the Secretary of State for Air.
On December 11, 1919, Churchill presented to Parliament a White Paper prepared by Trenchard on the permanent organisation of the RAF. Churchill and Major-
By 1922 Trenchard had laid down his proposals for the formation of reserve squadrons in the form of a draft Bill. Subsequently, in 1923, the Salisbury Committee, a subcommittee of the Committee of Imperial Defence, recommended that the Home Defence Air Force should consist of 52 squadrons and be organised in part on a regular and in part on a territorial or reserve basis. This would have the effect of increasing the strength of the RAF by 34 squadrons.
An Act of Parliament followed, dated July 14, 1924, which extended to the AAF the provisions of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act of 1907 and allowed for the organisation and conditions of service of the AAF. The Act also provided for the formation of County Joint Associations and AAF Associations.
FORMATION OF THE FORCE
Sir Samuel Hoare (later Viscount Templewood) was the Air Minister responsible for authorising the first squadrons. Referring to the first experiment with non-
Later, in his autobiographical book Empire of the Air: The Advent of the Air Age 1922-
Under the provisions of the AAF and Air Force Reserves Act 1924, there were to be seven Special Reserve squadrons (allocated 500-
The primary difference between Reserve and Auxiliary squadrons was in the composition of squadron personnel and the way in which the units were administered. Special Reserve squadrons comprised a nucleus of one-
Both the Special Reserve and Auxiliary squadrons were raised around centres of population with a suitable RAF airfield in the vicinity. A town headquarters in the city centre provided the focus for recruiting, training and social activity, while operational training was carried out at the airfield, which would become their war station in time of national emergency.
On May 15, 1925, No 502 (Ulster) Squadron made history when it began forming at Aldergrove as the first Special Reserve Squadron. This was followed on September 15,1925, by the formation of the first Auxiliary squadron, 602 (City of Glasgow). On October 14 that year a further three Auxiliary squadrons were formed: 600 (City of London) at Northolt, 601 (County of London) at Northolt and 603 (City of Edinburgh) at Turnhouse, all as light bomber squadrons.
CONDITIONS OF SERVCE
To be eligible to join a squadron an early Auxiliary pilot had to hold a Private Pilot’s Licence and, in addition, be prepared to make time from his employment and private life to attend courses and flying training to RAF standards to gain his wings. Most of the original Auxiliary pilots had already qualified on D.H. Moths, Avro Avians or Blackburn Bluebirds at local civilian flying clubs. To assist their conversion and instruct raw recruits, a nucleus of RAF flying instructors was posted to each squadron. Avro 504Ns, and then Avro Tutors, were the basic trainers from which the pilots progressed to the more powerful D.H. 9 As, Westland Wapitis and Wallaces and, eventually, Hawker Harts and Hinds.
On enlistment, other-
Both officers and airmen were engaged for a minimum of four years, and had to attend a minimum number of parades and lectures at their town headquarters or airfield. Provided an Auxiliary had fulfilled the required number of attendances and training, he qualified for an annual tax-
GROWTH AND EXPANSION
Aviation was the craze of the 1920s and 1930s, and the AAF did not find itself short of volunteers. Right from the inception of the Auxiliaries, home defence was very much their raison d’etre. This meant flying, and the weekend flyers loved it! On April 3,1933, Sqn Ldr the Marquis of Douglas and Clydesdale and Flt Lt D. F. McIntyre, the Officer Commanding and flight commander respectively of 602 (City of Glasgow) Sqn, undertook the first flight over Mount Everest at 31,000ft in modified Westland Wallace G-
The first significant expansion of the Special Reserve (SR) and AAF squadrons took place in 1926-