Home The Great War Stories from the War Editorial – Fledglings

Editorial – Fledglings

January 1941

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 18 January 1941


The Air Ministry’s scheme for the formation of an Air Training Corps for boys between the ages of sixteen and eighteen has aroused great interest and remarkable enthusiasm. There is perhaps no section of the community with a more passionate desire to serve their country in this struggle than boys of that age-range; we have evidence of this in the work done through youth organizations, much of it humble drudgery, occasionally irradiated by gallantry. And there is no Service which makes a greater appeal to the, boy than the Royal Air Force, whose exploits have fired his imagination in a way that the other Services cannot, since .their operations are distant and intangible, and their purpose and value cannot be so clearly grasped. Moreover the boys of to-day are as a rule, fair-minded, and are naturally attracted by speed and spectacle.

The scheme has taken the country a little by surprise, for it cannot come to fruition very rapidly, and if these boys are intended to play their part in the present struggle, there is more point in Mr. Churchill’s grim allusions to our plans for 1943 and 1944 than was supposed. But of the necessity for building up a huge reserve of air personnel, there can be no doubt. It is abundantly evident that mastery in that element will be decisive. That implies huge production of aircraft, and for every pilot and observer ground service needs probably a dozen men or more. Of the boys who are now applying for pre-training many are probably unfit physically or temperamentally to fly, but there will certainly be a use for all who satisfy the required standard of intelligence.

The establishment of this great kindergarten school of airmanship implies also the formation of an auxiliary force of instructors in subjects related to aerial navigation, and that opens a field of service for men over military age who are skilled in those subjects. Doubtless youth organizations who have the boys and the men will be asked to support the scheme, and since we are all agreed that for the moment the primary duty of citizenship is national defence in the most ‘effective form available, there should be a good response.

Not all boys, of course, are fit or free to join the Air Force; the claims of industry have to be remembered, and the very pressing claims of civil defence. It is unlikely that the other Services will be detrimentally affected by the scheme, for they will be supplied with man-power by regular means, as steadily they are able to absorb and to use it.