1224 (Wharfedale) Squadron, Air Training Corps (ATC) is celebrating 80 years of providing young people in the Ilkley area with training and experiences they wouldn’t get anywhere else.

The Squadron was formed as 1224 (Ilkley) Squadron on March 7,1941, and paraded for the first time at Ilkley Grammar School a week later under the command of Flight Lieutenant Frank Dixon Marshall, a veteran of the First World War who had served with the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force.

He would later be made an MBE and become the High Sheriff of Yorkshire.

The ATC was formed with the intention of training young men in anticipation of them joining the Royal Air Force, or another service, and this is what many of the cadets of 1224 Squadron did.

One of these was Pilot Officer Frank Noon who joined the Royal Air Force but was sadly killed on January 29, 1943, whilst on a bombing mission over France.

He had celebrated his 19th birthday just three weeks earlier.

By 1944 the Squadron had more than 50 cadets, one of whom, Cadet Brian Dean using incredible initiative had written to Walt Disney in 1942 to request that he design a crest for the squadron. Disney replied with an image of Jiminy Cricket learning to fly for the squadron to use.

After the Second World War finished it was decided to keep the Air

Training Corps running due to the excellent training and opportunities it provided young people such as

flying, gliding, marksmanship, adventure training, camp craft and first aid, as

well as leadership and citizenship training.

All of these are still activities and training offered by the squadron today.

The ATC underwent several changes in the following years.

1224 (Ilkley) Squadron became 1224 (Wharfedale) Squadron in the 1970s after merging with Otley Squadron.

One of the most important developments was the decision to let girls join in the early 1980s.

To this day the squadron has remained a successful unit and has remained active in the community.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic you will have seen the cadets marching as part of the Remembrance Sunday parade, collecting on the streets of Ilkley for the Royal Air Forces Association and the Poppy Appeal, and even helping at the over 90s party at the Clarke Foley Centre.

During 2020 the squadron moved online due to the pandemic, but has continued to meet each week with the cadets learning about topics such as cyber security and the exploration of space through to mental health and resilience training.

The squadron has had guest speakers, including former 1224 Cadets now serving in the Armed Forces and even the Commanding Officer of No.19 (Auckland) Squadron in the New Zealand Air Training Corps.

There have been plenty of fun evenings too to help the Cadets keep in touch with each other through the pandemic.

Whilst 1224 Squadron is unable to take part in face-to-face training at the moment, as soon as it is safe to do so the squadron will open recruitment again and the best place to keep up to date with this is by following the Squadron on social media.

If you have any photos, documents or memories of 1224 Squadron over the years, please get in contact with the Squadron Training Officer, Flight Sergeant Sam White at training.1224@rafac.mod.gov.uk or visit the Squadron’s website at 1224atc.org