Squadron Written History
1942 – 2020
2030 Squadron, although not a founding Squadron has a rich history, with strong links the local area, the Royal Air Force and other organisations including many “firsts” for the Air Training Corps and Wing. Additional details and photographs of Squadron Commanders, aircraft, Squadron badge, Squadron banners, major events and buildings are listed on separate areas on our history page.
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2030 (Yardley) Squadron
2030 (Yardley) Squadron was formed on the 1st September 1942 with headquarters at Hobmoor Road Primary School in Yardley, Birmingham. It was formed by the civilian committee of 489 (Acocks Green and Olton) Squadron in order to accommodate its own surplus of cadets. The Squadron was arranged to accommodate Cadets and a detached Flight of RAF Aircrew awaiting training.
The Squadron used some of the classrooms and the playground of Hobmoor Road primary school at the rear of the Yew Tree Public House in Yardley and also wooden army hutting on Henry Road Playing Fields which was a wartime Royal Artillery Anti-Aircraft Establishment. Wing Headquarters at that time was stationed at RAF Castle Bromwich, the Wing was commanded by Wg Cdr Henson (a Barclays Bank Manager – Sutton Coldfield.) The Coventry wing was commanded by Wg Cdr A McKinlay. The Birmingham and Coventry wings were each a part of Midlands Region Air Training Corps commanded by OC No.63 (Western & Welsh) Group with Headquarters at Hawarden, Flint.
After the hostilities ceased, it was decided to combine the two wings into one, still under 63 Group. Wg Cdr Henson had retired and command of the newly formed wing was given to Wg Cdr McKinlay, with Flt Lt Goode [Ex 29F (Rugby) Squadron] as his deputy. Fuller details of the wing Headquarters Staff were detailed on the ‘Honours’ Board at wing Headquarters in Warwick.
The first Officer Commanding of 2030 Squadron was Flt Lt E H Millington, who was previously the adjutant at 489 Squadron. He was a 1914-18 wartime fighter pilot and had his own brass and copperware manufacturing business with factories in Birmingham and Henley-in-Arden. Before the 1939-45 war he was a long-time member of the Birmingham and Midlands Region Table Tennis Association. He could still play table tennis at a very high standard and very few of the top Cadet players could beat him.
Ernest Millington and his Staff were all members of 489 Squadron and were transferred by Flt Lt Toy (headmaster of Sparkhill Commercial College) to form the new Squadron. The staff of 489 Squadron were drawn mainly from the Commercial College together with Staff from Bordesley Green Technical College. The Bordesley Green staff were transferred to 2030 Squadron together with other ex-RAF officers who had joined 489 Squadron.
The first Squadron Senior NCO was Flight Sergeant Benton, the second was Flight Sergeant Paddison.
Flight Sergeant Geoff Paddison was one of the most popular personalities at 2030 during the wartime period. He passed for aircrew training, but the war ended before he could go ahead with flying training. He reverted back to his original occupation with British Rail. During overseas service he became attached to the forces radio and sang when and wherever possible. Upon discharge from the services he managed to get on a radio programme for newcomers called ‘Henry Hall’s Guest Night,’ from there onward he never looked back. His stage name was David Hughes; he became a star of stage, and television, singing pop through to opera. He last starred at Gleindborne but suffered with a heart condition. He died after a second heart attack whilst on stage in London aged 52.
The Squadron had a 30 strong drum and bugle band, originally trained by Warrant Officer Sam Gethin (ex Royal Navy PO Gunnery) in 1943 and led by Sergeant K Harrison. The band won the first major band competition from amongst all of the Midland area ATC bands. This was held together with possibly the very first Midland Wing Sports, at Malvern Park, Solihull.
During that sports meeting the 400 yards senior event was won by Peter Jackson of 2030 Squadron, who was the younger son of Albert Jackson who was to become the squadron commander some years later. Peter Jackson went on to play rugby for Aston Old Edwardians, Coventry RFC and England RFC. An oil painting of P.B. Jackson is hung and revered at Twickenham.
All of the cadets came from secondary, grammar and high schools with pre-war standards. They were academically sound and were good sportsmen. The majority volunteered for service in the Royal Air Force or the Fleet Air Arm for flying duties. Whilst awaiting entry into one of the services, entrants wore a white flash in front of the forage cap.
In 1944 the cadets were attending a summer camp at RAF Wymeswold in Leicestershire, but tragedy struck as during a visit to local bombing range, shortly after arriving at camp, an RAF lorry transporting cadets and RAF personnel to the range was hit by an RAF rescue crane lorry, which had been stolen by a soldier who was AWOL. The incident killed three Cadet members of the Squadron and one of the RAF personnel. The names of those cadets who lost their lives are Kenneth Harrison, Kenneth Beech, and James Brogan. A funeral service was held for all of the Cadets at Yardley church by the Reverend Canon Chas Cochran. The Squadron banner was suitably draped, slow marched from the church to the graves where an RAF armed party together with the squadron buglers paid homage. Cadets Harrison and Beech are buried next to each other, close to the crematorium at Yardley cemetery. Each grave is headed by a war graves commission headstone, with the ATC badge.
The sporting standards of the squadron were extremely high. The officer in charge of all squadron sports was Flying Officer Eric Lunn who was a teacher and sports master at Bordesley Green Tech. He later became the commanding officer.
Warrant Officer Sam Gethin brought along all of the cadets, was a great personality at the Squadron and he was well liked by all. He trained all of his NCOs himself up to a standard suitable to most RAF requirements, and of course carried on his training routine after parades in the “Gents-only” bar of the Yew Tree public house. Following in Sam’s footsteps two of his trainees, Bill Knock and Reg Bowen became Squadron Warrant Officers.
Years later 2030 Squadron produced the very first cadet promotion to Cadet Warrant Officer in the Wing. The first cadet warrant officer was CWO A Nolan, who was regarded as a cadet leader at Squadron and Wing level.
It was after the cessation of hostilities in 1945 that former members of the Royal Air Force joined the staff of 2030 Squadron. The first newcomers were in fact former cadets of the Squadron, Jim Evans, Howard Luckett and Dennis Brookes.
After many years of excellent service with 2030, Flight Lieutenant J E Evans left the squadron and later went on to serve with 194 (BSA) Squadron.
Having re-joined the Squadron in January 1947 Howard Luckett was commissioned and served under Eric Lunn, Albert Jackson, and Dennis Brookes before finally taking command of the squadron in April 1953. At that time Howard was asked by Wing Commander Ron Goode to join the Wing Staff as the physical education officer. He remained with the Wing until he retired at the end of January 1981. During his service with the Corps he was awarded the cadet forces medal and two clasps to that medal.
In 1948 the Squadron received distinction when Cadet Flight Sergeant Harrison became the first Cadet to receive a Flying Scholarship under a scheme promoted by the Birmingham & District Civilian Committee and a local flying school.
For many years the Squadron had put up with temporary accommodation in the form of spare classrooms at Hobmoor Road School. Nothing could be left on display, and the drill rifles were stored in the underground school boiler house. The only contact with the school was with the caretaker Mr Reg Freer who gave many years of service and help to the squadron, his wife was a regular helper and ran the canteen for all of the time that the squadron used the school premises.
2030 (Elmdon and Yardley) Squadron
During a search of the area for property, a courtesy call was made to Frank Seazell, the officer commanding of nearby 1347 (Elmdon) Squadron at Barrows Lane barracks in Sheldon. It was noted that the local squadron had three huts, a parade area, a TA Hall and an indoor .22” indoor rifle range. The only thing missing was cadets – only nine had turned up for Sunday parade, whereas a short distance away 2030 had a regular parade of no less than sixty cadets.
After discussions it was agreed on the 1st July 1952 to amalgamate the Squadrons to form 2030 (Elmdon & Yardley) Squadron. The Elmdon Squadrons’ banner was laid up at Digbeth in the fields church, Moat Lane, Yardley. Flight Lieutenant Brookes was then made the Officer Commanding. Two civilian instructors of 1347 Squadron continued service; Phil Cooper and John Smith, who were both commissioned into the RAF Volunteer Reserve (Training Branch). They were joined by John Gallery and David Mold. David Mold took command of the Squadron some years later, as did Flight Lieutenant Fred Barker when he left 489 Squadron after serving there since he joined as a cadet.
After the war the first two cadets to join the RAF flying branch were Bob Daniels and ‘Spud’ Taylor. Both gentlemen retired from the service many years later with the rank of Squadron Leader. Bob Taylor became the well-known local director of the Birmingham Airport who masterminded the transformation in the 1980s of the regional airport at Elmdon into Birmingham International Airport. Bob also held the position as Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands from 1993 until 2006. Bob passed away in June 2008 and has been commemorated by the Squadron with a newly constructed Squadron building named in his memory, which was officially opened by the then Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands Paul Sabapathy.
In the early 1960s the Squadron was loaned a display aircraft, a DHC 1 Chipmunk T.10 serial No WB 758 of which the cadets were very proud and managed to restore the aircraft engine to working order. This resulted in a quite humorous moment when Flight Lieutenant Barker, the Commanding Officer at the time, was escorting a senior officer into the TA Centre. When the officer observed the Cadets “swinging the prop” and enquired as to the safety aspects of the operation he was told by the OC “Don’t worry Sir, it’s quite safe, the engine has no spark plugs fitted”. Just at that moment the Chipmunk’s engine fired and burst into life, the cadets had managed to obtain and fit new spark plugs.
In March 1968 a Hawker Hunter F.4 serial No XF 941 replaced the Chipmunk. It was purchased from the Squadron by Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd who renovated and rebuilt it, the Hunter was sold to the Swiss Air Force in 1974 and saw end of service in 1989 when it was scrapped.
On the 20th June 1970 Cadet Corporal Barry Robb was sadly killed in a road traffic collision. The popular young NCO was attending a weekend course at RAF Cosford. He returned to Birmingham in order to attend a friend’s party but on his way back to Cosford he hit the kerb when making a turn his motorcycle going out of control and hitting a lamp post. Corporal Robb was a keep sportsman for the Squadron and was honoured by having the Squadron sports trophy named after him.
The Squadron received a Gloster Meteor TT20 serial No WD 646 from RAF Cosford to replace the Hunter, it had not previously seen active service. When the Meteor arrived it was in a poor condition, the Squadron painted the aircraft in its old night fighter camouflage with the markings of 85 Squadron RAF. The Meteor was then transferred to the RAF Manston History Museum, Kent where it was painted as Meteor NF.11 WD615
On 18th Nov 1986 The Sheldon and District branch formally adopted 2030 Squadron and a certificate was displayed in the Squadron main hall. An Air Training Corps wall shield with the Squadron name and number was presented to the RAFA, which was displayed on their “2030 Squadron” wall. The shield was updated in 2017 after being presented with the new badge. The Squadron annually supports the RAFA in their Wings Appeal and at social functions. With places reserved for the staff, who are RAFA members, at their annual Dinner.
In 1989 females were permitted to join the Air Training Corps, the first female Cadets to join 2030 Squadron were Cadets Palmer and Sheridan. Who in December 1989 gained two of the top three places on an NCO course and again made Squadron history by becoming its first female NCOs.
Throughout its life the squadron has excelled in sport, a lot of the success of the athletics team being due perhaps that many members were also members of Small Heath Harriers. They received training from two Olympic athlete members of the club at the training ground alongside the B.S.A factory in Golden Hillock Road, Small Heath. In 1993 the Squadron became the first Unit ever to compete in every sport at Wing level.
For many years 2030 Squadron and Knowle Branch of the Royal British Legion have assisted each other in fundraising for the Poppy Appeal and providing youth support and community support to each other at many public events. On the 22 Feb 2001 the Squadron and the Knowle RBL formalised their relationship by becoming affiliated, believed to be the first official affiliation of an ATC squadron with an RBL branch. A copy of the certificate, signed by Flt Lt Upton, 2030 OC and Mr Ray Warren, Branch Chairman was framed and displayed at both the Knowle RBL Branch and in the Squadron main hall.
In 2013 the entry age of the Air Cadets was reduced to 12 to enable recruitment from a school year. The first 12 year old to join 2030 Squadron was Cadet Morgan Price in August 2013, Morgan would later go on to become a staff Cadet with the Squadron.
2030 (Birmingham Airport) Squadron
In recognition of the strong relationship with Birmingham Airport, on Saturday 11th June 2016 the Squadron formally changed its name from (Elmdon & Yardley) to (Birmingham Airport) Squadron. A name change parade took place at the Marshall Aviation Services hangar at Birmingham Airport, attended by over a 150 people, including the Chief Executive of Birmingham Airport Paul Kehoe, Head of Customer Services Marshall Aviation Services Pauline Smith, Mayor of Solihull Mike Robinson, Mayoress Jenny Robinson, Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands Tim Watts and Wing Commander Stuart Iles.
The event started with the Mayor of Solihull, Councillor Mike Robinson and the Squadron OC, Flt Lt Slade unveiling the newly produced official heraldic badge. The heraldic badge was the first official badge for a Squadron in Warwickshire and Birmingham Wing. Produced by the College of Arms and approved by the Royal Air Force Inspectorate of Badges. The badge consists of a red Pegasus and flash of lightning, which was adopted from the Squadrons former badge, used up until May 2016.
The Squadron conducted a march past, led by the Squadron’s SNCO, Flight Sergeant James Wakeman, inside the hangar accompanied with music from the Squadron band, led by the Squadron Director of Music, Civilian Instructor Paul Ward. The Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands Tim Watts received the salute from the parade. Deputy Wing Padre Nick Leggett, led a short service to mark the event and to bless the new Squadron banner bearing the name of (Birmingham Airport) Squadron.
In Nov 2017 2030 Squadron saw the closing of its “founding” unit, 489 (Acocks Green and Olton) Squadron. Sadly Cadet numbers had decreased and the Squadron was disbanded, the remaining staff and Cadets were transferred across the wing.
In 2019 the Squadrons internal cosmetic appearance was in a poor state, not having been officially painted in over 15 years. An application went in to the Reserve Forces and Cadet Association (RFCA) to have the building re-painted. Unfortunately there was little money in the budget for cosmetic works across the estate. The OC, Pilot Officer Wakeman, decided the state of repair was too poor to be left so submitted a request to RFCA and HQRAFAC for the Squadron to paint the building themselves. This application was approved along with a selected colour scheme based on the RAF colour palette. Throughout 2019 with the help of the Adjutant Pilot Officer David Osbaldeston, Training Officer, Pilot Officer Robert Maher and Service Instructor Sqn Ldr Matthew Cox, each room on the squadron was stripped, surfaces restored and repainted to the new colour scheme.
To be continued.