|RAF (Cadet) College (1 November 1919)|
Motto in English
|We seek higher things|
|Established||1 November 1919|
|No. 22 Group|
|Affiliation||Royal Air Force|
|Commandant||Air Commodore Andrew Dickens|
|March||The Lincolnshire Poacher|
The Royal Air Force College (RAFC) is the Royal Air Force military academy which provides initial training to all RAF personnel who are preparing to become commissioned officers. The College also provides initial training to aircrew cadets and is responsible for all RAF recruiting along with officer and aircrew selection. Originally established as a naval aviation training centre during World War I, the College was established as the world's first air academy in 1919. During World War II, the College was closed and its facilities were used as a flying training school. Reopening after the War, the College absorbed the Royal Air Force Technical College in 1966.
The Royal Air Force College is based at RAF Cranwell near Sleaford in Lincolnshire, and is sometimes titled as the Royal Air Force College Cranwell.
In December 1915, after the Royal Naval Air Service had broken away from the Royal Flying Corps, Commodore Godfrey Paine was sent to Cranwell to start a naval flying training schoolin order that the Royal Navy would no longer need to make use of the Central Flying School. The Royal Naval Air Service Training Establishment, Cranwell opened on 1 April 1916 at Cranwell under Paine's leadership.
In 1917 Paine was succeeded by Commodore John Luce and in 1918 following the foundation of the Royal Air Force in April, Brigadier-General Harold Briggs took over.As the naval personnel were held on the books of HMS Daedalus, a hulk that was moored on the River Medway, this gave rise to a misconception that Cranwell was first established as HMS Daedalus.
The Royal Air Force was formed on 1 April 1918 and, as a Royal Air Force establishment, Cranwell became the headquarters of No. 12 Group for the last few months of the war. After the cessation of hostilities in November 1918, the Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Hugh Trenchard, was determined to maintain the Royal Air Force as an independent service rather than let the Army and Navy control air operations again. The establishment of an air academy, which would provide basic flying training, provide intellectual education and give a sense of purpose to the future leaders of the service was therefore a priority. Trenchard chose Cranwell as the College's location because, as he told his biographer:
"Marooned in the wilderness, cut off from pastimes they could not organise for themselves, the cadets would find life cheaper, healthier and more wholesome."
The Royal Air Force College was formed on 1 November 1919 as the RAF (Cadet) College under the authority of its first commandant Air Commodore Charles Longcroft.Prior to this, RAF cadets had been trained by the RAF Cadet Brigade based at Hastings under the command of Brigadier-General Alfred Critchley.
On 20 June 1929, an aeroplane piloted by Flight Cadet C J Giles crashed on landing at the College and burst into flames. A fellow flight cadet, William McKechnie, pulled Giles, who was incapable of moving himself, from the burning wreckage. McKechnie was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal for his actions.
The Royal Air Force tended to recruit its officers from the public schools and just 14 per cent of officer cadets at Cranwell between 1934 and 1939 came from grammar or state schools.
Prior to the construction of the neo-classical College Hall, training took place in old naval huts. In the 1920s Sir Samuel Hoare battled for a substantial College building. Architect's plans were drawn up in 1929 for the present-day College. After some disagreement between Hoare and architect James West, the building plans incorporated design aspects of Christopher Wren's Royal Hospital at Chelsea. Lady Maud Hoare laid the foundation stone in 1929.
In September 1933 the building was completed; it was built of rustic and moulded brick. Its frontage was 800 feet (240 m). In front of the Hall, orange gravel paths lead around a roughly circular grass area ("The Orange") toward the parade ground. The building, which has Grade II listed status, became the main location for RAF officer training when the Prince of Wales officially opened it in October 1934.
In 1936 the College was reduced from command to group status within Training Commandand the commandant ceased to hold the title of Air Officer Commanding RAF Cranwell.
Just before the outbreak of the Second World War, the Air Ministry closed the College as an initial officer training establishment. With the need to train aircrew in large numbers it was redesignated the RAF College Flying Training School and it did not return to its former function until 1947. It was also in 1947 that the Equipment and Secretarial Branch cadets were admitted to the College alongside the traditional flight cadets.
The postwar restoration of the College was a period of change and uncertainty. Recruiting often failed to find enough qualified candidates to fill each entry (50 pilots, two or three times a year, with 10 to 20 navigator and non-flying officers as well.) The pilot washout rate approached 50 per cent, so RAF authorities debated whether flying training to professional levels (pilot wings standard) should be separated from a (shorter) officer training course. Cranwell cadets were in 1950 equipped and treated as airmen, i.e. had to clean their own quarters and uniforms impeccably, while undergoing both flying training and college-level courses in engineering. By 1960 they lived and were dressed as officers, served by batmen. In the same period the 1957 Defence White Paper suggested the RAF would replace human pilots by guided missiles, at least for home defence of the UK. These vicissitudes are documented in Haslam's narrativeand the personal memoir of a New Zealand cadet who attended the college from 1951 to 1953.
In 1952 a College Memorial Chapel was established within College Hall.Ten years later it was relocated to the then new College Church, St Michael and All Angels, which is situated nearby to the south-east of College Hall.
Cranwell became the entry point for all those who wished to become permanent officers in the RAF. Initially the course took two years, but by the 1950s this had expanded to three. Basic training was provided on Percival Provosts. However, with the arrival of No. 81 Entry in September 1959, the college gave students the option of taking a degree and allowed them to fly Jet Provosts.
A new academic building, now known as Whittle Hall, was built to support the expanded syllabus. It was opened in 1962 by Sir Frank Whittle, who had attended Cranwell as a young officer and had subsequently invented the turbojet engine.
In 1966 the Royal Air Force Technical College at RAF Henlow, a similar cadet college for engineering officers, was merged with the College at Cranwell.
The College is the RAF equivalent of the Royal Navy's Britannia Royal Naval College and the British Army's Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. At present, most RAF officer cadets complete a 24-week course within the RAF Officer Training Academy (RAFOTA),Cranwell intakes usually take place at six week intervals throughout the year.
In addition to the many British officer cadets who have passed through Cranwell, graduating cadets have come from many countries around the world, including Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago and Paraguay.RAFOTA also provides Specialist Officer Initial Training (SOIT) courses for medical and dental officers, chaplains, legal officers and nursing officers, and for officers rejoining the Service or transferring from the sister services. A small number of short induction courses cater for warrant officers selected for commissioning, university cadets, bursars and Volunteer Reserve officers. In addition, RAFOTA delivers a 2-week Reserve Officer Initial Training course for Full Time Reservists, Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF), Mobile Meteorological Unit and Reserve Officers. The College awards the Sword of Honour to the most outstanding student officer of the year.
Current organisation is as follows;
Based at RAF Cranwell, the Band of the Royal Air Force College is one of three established Bands in the RAF. Originally formed to support the Royal Air Force College, the band is now administered by RAF Music Services. In addition to its duties at Cranwell, the Band takes part in major events such as the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and the Edinburgh Tattoo as well as a busy schedule of services and charity engagements.
The Commandant is the air officer in charge of the College. Under the present organisation of the RAF, the Commandant reports to Air Officer Commanding No. 22 Groupwho has Service-wide responsibility for training. From 1920 to 1936 the College Commandant was double-hatted as the Air Officer Commanding RAF Cranwell.
Cranwell has had many famous graduates. As there have been many notable RAF officers who were commissioned from Cranwell, a fair and representative list would be impractical. Therefore, only those who are notable in other ways are listed below:
Royal Air Force Cranwell or more simply RAF Cranwell is a Royal Air Force station in Lincolnshire, England, close to the village of Cranwell, near Sleaford. Among other functions, it is home to the Royal Air Force College (RAFC), which trains the RAF's new officers and Aircrew. The motto, Altium Altrix, meaning "Nurture the highest" appears above the main doors of the Officers Mess. Since January 2023, RAF Cranwell has been commanded by Group Captain Tina Jessup.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Wallace Hart Kyle, was an Australian who served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a senior commander and later as the 24th Governor of Western Australia. Born in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, Kyle was commissioned into the RAF in 1929, and, having seen service in the Second World War and the Malayan Emergency, held a number of senior positions, including Vice-Chief of the Air Staff and commander-in-chief of the RAF's Bomber Command and Strike Command. He was made Governor of Western Australia in 1975, a position in which he served until 1980, later returning to England, where he died in 1988.
No. 12 Group of the Royal Air Force was a group, a military formation, that existed over two separate periods, namely the end of the First World War when it had a training function and from just prior to the Second World War until the early 1960s when it was tasked with an air defence role.
The officer ranks of the Royal Air Force, as they are today, were introduced in 1919. Prior to that Army ranks were used.
The Central Flying School (CFS) is the Royal Air Force's primary institution for the training of military flying instructors. Established in 1912 at the Upavon Aerodrome, it is the longest existing flying training school. The school was based at RAF Little Rissington from 1946 to 1976. Its motto is Imprimis Praecepta, Latin for "The Teaching is Everlasting".
Air Vice Marshal Sir Charles Alexander Holcombe Longcroft, was a pilot and squadron commander in the Royal Flying Corps who went on to become a senior commander in the Royal Air Force. He was the first commandant of the RAF College, Cranwell.
Air Vice Marshal Amyas Eden Borton, was a pilot and commander in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War and a senior commander in the Royal Air Force during the 1920s. He saw active service on the Western Front, in Palestine and in Iraq. In the latter part of his career, Borton was the second Commandant of the RAF College at Cranwell before becoming the Air Officer Commanding RAF Inland Area.
Air Chief Marshal Deshamanya Pathman Hariprasadha Mendis, FBIM was a Sri Lankan aviator. He was the fourth Commander of the Royal Ceylon Air Force from 1971 to 1976.
Air Commodore Ian Richard William Stewart is a retired British Royal Air Force officer. His last posting was as the United Kingdom National Military Representative at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. He was Commandant Air Cadets between 2008 and 2010, and Air Commodore, Royal Air Force Reserve from 2014.
Air Vice Marshal Sir Brian Gerald Tivy Stanbridge, was a senior Royal Air Force officer.
Air Marshal Sir Richard Bowen Jordan, was a bomber pilot and squadron commander during the Second World War, a senior Royal Air Force officer during the post-war years and the sixth Commandant of the Royal Observer Corps (1949–51).
Air Vice Marshal John Frederick George Howe, was a senior Royal Air Force officer in the 1970s and 1980s. He flew combat missions in the Korean War and North Sea interceptor air patrols during the Cold War, finishing his career as the Commandant General RAF Regiment and RAF Provost Marshal and Director General Security. Howe also served as the sixteenth Commandant of the Royal Observer Corps between 1977 and 1980.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Douglas Claude Strathern Evill, was an Australian-born British Royal Naval Air Service pilot and squadron commander during the First World War. Serving in the Royal Air Force between the wars, he was a senior air commander during the Second World War.
Air Commodore Timothy Gane Thorn,, often known as Tim Thorn and nicknamed "Tiger", is a retired Royal Air Force officer and up to January 2010 was a pilot and flying instructor at 6 Air Experience Flight at RAF Benson, Oxfordshire.
The Royal Air Force Medical Services is the branch of the Royal Air Force that provides health care at home and on deployed operations to RAF service personnel. Medical officers are the doctors of the RAF and have specialist expertise in aviation medicine to support aircrew and their protective equipment. Medical officers also carry out Aeromedical evacuations, providing vital assistance on search-and-rescue missions or emergency relief flights worldwide.
Air Vice-Marshal Christopher James Luck is a British charity executive and retired Royal Air Force officer. He was Commandant of the Royal Air Force College Cranwell from 2013 to 2016, and Commandant of the Joint Services Command and Staff College from 2017 to 2019. Since 2019, he has been CEO of the Shaw Trust.
Air Vice-Marshal Peter James Murray Squires, is a senior Royal Air Force officer, who currently serves as the Commander of British Forces Cyprus. From August 2016 to October 2019 he served as Commandant of RAF College Cranwell. He was formerly a Harrier pilot and served as commander of No. 100 Squadron RAF, flying BAE Systems Hawks.
This is the structure of the Royal Air Force, as of October 2020.
Air Vice-Marshal John Finbar Monahan, known as Fin Monahan, is a senior Royal Air Force officer. After training as a pilot, serving in active squadrons and exchange postings, Monahan was the commandant of the Central Flying School at RAF Cranwell, with the Red Arrows coming under his command. Monahan has trained with several non-UK militaries, and currently serves as the Director of the Air Command Operating Model Programme.
Air Vice-Marshal Suraya Antonia Marshall, is a senior Royal Air Force officer, serving as Air Officer Commanding No. 2 Group RAF since October 2021.