Sunderland air cadets take a flight down memory lane

HIGH FLIERS: Usworth air cadets pose for the camera in 1968.
HIGH FLIERS: Usworth air cadets pose for the camera in 1968.
1
Have your say

FORMER Wearside air cadets are invited to take a flight down memory lane.

Washington-based 2214 (Usworth) Squadron Air Cadets is to host a reunion for ex-fliers on November 6 – and launch a book on the group’s history on the same night.

MYSTERY: Do you know where this sign is now?

MYSTERY: Do you know where this sign is now?

“We are inviting former members from across the decades to come along,” said Flight Lieutenant Dave Walmsley. “It should be a night full of memories and comradeship.

“All sorts of events are being planned, including a presentation of old photographs and displays of present activities. But the highlight will be the launch of our book.”

Proposals to mark the squadron’s 70-plus years of flying history with a book were unveiled a year ago, when Wearside Echoes carried an appeal for archive pictures.

Scores of images, documents and service records were donated following the plea, and now An Illustrated History of 2214 (Usworth) Squadron has just been published.

SIXTIES SCENE: A Battle of Britain parade through Sunderland in 1962, featuring the Usworth air cadets.

SIXTIES SCENE: A Battle of Britain parade through Sunderland in 1962, featuring the Usworth air cadets.

“We wanted to celebrate our unit’s history by tracing its fledgling pre-war roots, followed by wartime work from 1941 and then down through the years,” said Dave. “Thanks to all the help we received, the book covers anything and everything relating to squadron activities, including shooting, flying, gliding, training and exercises.”

The origins of Usworth’s Air Cadets date to 1938, when the Air Defence Cadet Corps was launched nationwide as the storm clouds of war gathered over Europe.

The organisation was, however, amalgamated into the Air Training Corps in 1941 – with the aim of providing recruits for the Royal Air Force during the conflict years.

“It is believed our group started life as Castletown and District Squadron in that year. From our research we think it was initially based in a local church hall,” said Dave.

SIXTIES: The Usworth cadets at RAF Leuchars in 1963.

SIXTIES: The Usworth cadets at RAF Leuchars in 1963.

“It is believed several Sunderland corps were formed following an advert in the Echo in 1941, which asked those aged 16 to 18 to attend their local drill hall to join up.

“Just a few years later, in the 1950s, our squadron moved to RAF Usworth – which had been used by allied fliers from around the world during World War Two.

“The unit took its name from the former base, and still retains it today. It is a name to be proud of – as many, many brave men flew from Usworth throughout the war.”

Thousands of cadets have taken to the skies with the squadron over the years, with many going on to serve their country in the RAF – as well as other armed forces.

SEVENTIES: The squadron at RAF Wattisham in 1970.

SEVENTIES: The squadron at RAF Wattisham in 1970.

Now Dave is hoping former recruits, as well as staff, will attend the reunion – and spend a happy few hours looking back on life as high-flying members of Usworth.

“The reunion will be a very special occasion in the history of 2214 (Usworth) Squadron – as we will be making history by launching our new book,” said Dave.

“Many of our cadets, both past and present, helped with the research. It is a tribute to them, as well as cadets of decades gone by, that the squadron is still thriving today.”

•Look out for a review of the new book in the Echo soon. The reunion will be held at Usworth Squadron HQ, opposite Nissan/Aircraft Museum, from 7.30pm on November 6. For further details view their website at: 2214sqn.com