Land girls fly high
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,
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
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.
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.
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