Land girls fly high

Daily Mail - - Letters -

QUESTIONIn

1942, be­fore I en­listed in the WAAF as a wire­less op­er­a­tor, I was a mem­ber of the Women’s Ju­nior Air Corps. What be­came of this or­gan­i­sa­tion?

IN THE early years of the last war, a vast num­ber of school­girls be­gan to clam­our for some form of train­ing, which would pre­pare them for ser­vice with the Armed Forces once they left school.

To meet th­ese de­mands, three move­ments came into ex­is­tence and in 1939 the Women’s Ju­nior Air Corps was formed of­fer­ing mil­i­tary train­ing with some ac­cent on first aid and cit­i­zen­ship

In 1942, Miss Florence Hors­burgh, the then Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion, was in­structed to set up an or­gan­i­sa­tion to be known as the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Train­ing Corps for Girls. Un­der this um­brella were the Girls Train­ing Corps, Women’s Ju­nior Air Corps and Girls Nau­ti­cal Train­ing Corps.

Lo­cal ladies of stand­ing were re­cruited as lead­ers and girls flocked to join. Many units met in ei­ther Army Cadet or Air Cadet premises, or in schools and vil­lage halls. Cadets learned Morse and semaphore, small house­hold re­pairs like chang­ing a fuse and fit­ting a tap washer, and learned drill.

The WJAC fol­lowed cour­ses on air­craft recog­ni­tion, ba­sic avi­a­tion and other air re­lated sub­jects. They were all in­volved in help­ing the war ef­fort, do­ing things like col­lect­ing milk bot­tle tops and go­ing out in groups to gather rose hips and other hedgerow plants which would be used to make vi­ta­min ad­di­tives for chil­dren. They also acted as mes­sen­gers for Air Raid Pre­cau­tions war­dens.

Af­ter the war, pro­grammes were up­dated to fit in with post-war life but com­mu­nity ser­vice con­tin­ued to play a vi­tal part of the Corps ac­tiv­i­ties.

HRH Princess Alexandra, whose mother the late Princess Ma­rina, Duchess of Kent, had taken a great in­ter­est in the af­fairs of the Corps, be­came Corps Pa­tron in 1955.

In 1963, the GNTC were in­vited to join the Sea Cadet Corps, leav­ing the other two Corps on their own. An ad hoc com­mit­tee un­der the chair­man­ship of Sir John Lang was set up to con­sider the fu­ture and a merger was ar­ranged.

This took ef­fect in July 1964 when a new or­gan­i­sa­tion called the Girls Ven­ture Corps was in­tro­duced. At the re­quest of the Cadets, the words Air Cadets were added to the ti­tle in 1987.

To­day’s Girls Ven­ture Corps Air Cadets HQ is based in Sh­effield and has about 300 mem­bers. They con­tinue to teach girls avi­a­tion skills, ad­ven­ture and a travel-based pro­gramme plus many other chal­leng­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. The Corps also suc­cess­fully runs the Duke of Ed­in­burgh Award.

Un­for­tu­nately, the or­gan­i­sa­tion has just learnt that it has lost its main source of fund­ing from the Gov­ern­ment, which means that un­less they are suc­cess­ful in ob­tain­ing fund­ing from other sources the or­gan­i­sa­tion could be un­der threat.

Brenda Layne, Girls Ven­ture Corps Air Cadets,

Sh­effield.

QUESTIONAre

there any gov­ern­ment de­part­ments that have not had their names changed since Labour has been in of­fice?

MANY gov­ern­ment de­part­ments have suf­fered a New Labour re­brand­ing ex­er­cise. Whether this is a cyn­i­cal ploy to de­flect neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity, or is a re­flec­tion of gov­ern­ment’s evolv­ing pol­icy aims, we may never know. Re­branded de­part­ments cre­ated un­der the Blair gov­ern­ment in­clude the De­part­ment for En­vi­ron­ment, Food and Rural Af­fairs — which was formed in 2001 when the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Fish­eries and Food was merged with part of the De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­ment, Trans­port and the Re­gions — and the De­part­ment for Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport.

De­part­ments that have sur­vived in­clude the De­part­ment for Health, the Cabi­net Of­fice, the For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Of­fice, HM Trea­sury and the Min­istry of Defence. John My­ers, Bris­tol

.

QUESTIONCan

a nat­u­ral wa­ter­fall be found in ei­ther Kent or Sus­sex?

FAIRLIGHT Glen lies about two miles east of the fish­ing port of Hast­ings and 1.5 miles west of the small vil­lage of Fairlight Cove on the East Sus­sex coast.

It is a wooded area form­ing part of the Hast­ings coun­try park and lead­ing down to Cove­hurst Bay. It con­tains a charm­ing lit­tle wa­ter­fall called the Drip­ping Well.

In the early 1800s, the Sus­sex coast was ideally placed as a dropoff point for con­tra­band, and the beaches of Hast­ings, Bex­hill and East­bourne saw many in­ci­dences of smug­gling. The Drip­ping Well was also fa­mous as a smug­glers’ meet­ing point.

Charles Ver­rall, Hast­ings, East Sus­sex.

QUESTIONDo

they play rugby in Ger­many?

FUR­THER to ear­lier an­swers, the game has a long his­tory in that coun­try, and I have watched many games there, no­tably in the Hei­del­berg re­gion, which has al­ways been a strong­hold of the sport.

In­deed, the Hei­del­berg teams (there are sev­eral), and those of Hanover, Frank­furt and Ber­lin could prob­a­bly give Na­tional League Two teams a run for their money.

The first Ger­man rugby club was formed in Hei­del­berg in 1850, and the first in­ter­na­tional be­tween Ger­many and Eng­land was played in 1883. One of the old­est Ger­man clubs, SC 1880 Frank­furt, was the first to tour Eng­land, los­ing to Black­heath, it­self the old­est open rugby club in the world, in 1896.

Amaz­ingly, Frank­furt was in­vited to rep­re­sent Ger­many in the 1900 rugby Olympics, los­ing hon­ourably to France in the fi­nal. The sil­ver medal they won was rather less com­mend­able in that only two coun­tries en­tered the com­pe­ti­tion.

When France was banned from the Five Na­tions in the 1930s for pro­fes­sion­al­ism, Ger­many reg­u­larly played in­ter­na­tion­als against that coun­try, win­ning on one oc­ca­sion.

David Heald, Can­ter­bury, Kent.

QUESTIONWhat

is the his­tory of the Pol­ish fighter squadron based at Cool­ham, West Sus­sex in 1939-1945?

FUR­THER to the ear­lier an­swer, 307 were ac­tu­ally a ded­i­cated Night Fighter unit and were mainly based at Ex­eter dur­ing the war. Mos­qui­toes were not able to op­er­ate from Cool­ham’s grass strips — even with the re­in­forced mat­ting — and the run­ways were too short.

The third Squadron with 306 and 315 was 129 Squadron and con­sisted mainly of reg­u­lar RAF with Aus­tralians among the crews and led by Squadron leader Cox. 315 CO was S/L Hor­baczewski and 306 was led, I be­lieve, by S/L Lapka.

The whole wing of three Squadrons was com­manded by Poland’s top ace, with just over 20 kills, Stanislav Skalski.

When the wing moved from Cool­ham, they were based at Bren­zett, Kent — as part of Air Defence Great Bri­tain — to counter the V1s and fi­nally dis­banded at RAF Coltishall, Nor­folk.

Paul Jan­icki, Billing­shurst, Sus­sex.

Stand­ing tall: the Ju­nior Air Corps re­ceive a visit from Queen Mary in Bris­tol. In­set: their mod­ern-day coun­ter­parts

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