The Twelve-Eleven Squadron started life in 1941 at the Town Hall on the Delph and was originally formed along with other units to “Meet the needs of the nation at war”. Formed by the District Council along with MP Herbert Wragg, the first Commanding Officer (CO) was Flight Lieutenant James Sitch who flew during the First World War. The Squadron then started to parade at Hastings Road School before moving to permanent accommodation on the Eureka Park in 1947 when there were even plans to place a WWII bomber aircraft next to the building!
The building which now stands on the park is the third one to be placed in this location which has seen hundreds of young men (And women since 1985) pass through their doors, many of whom have gone on to join the military and far more taking up a civilian life and gaining qualifications with this highly successful Air Cadet Squadron which has become one of the foremost Units in the UK.
Current Commanding Officer, Squadron Leader Alyn Thompson, who was at pains to advise us that he was not on those first parades, paid tribute to those staff and Cadets who started 1211 all those years ago. “Although the aims of the organisation have changed over the years, the feeling of camaraderie and belief in what we are achieving remains the same. Swadlincote and District can be very proud of its Air Cadets Squadron which through so many staff teams has achieved great things, both as a unit and for hundreds of individual cadets.”
He added, “We have been at home on the park now for such a long time that we feel that we are a firm part of the community. I would like to thank our neighbours, particularly on John Street who put up with us two nights a week and for whom we do try and keep the noise to as low a volume as we can. But they continue to support us and for that I am extremely grateful”.
Recently returned from a week long camp spent with the Royal Navy in Portsmouth the Squadron are again recruiting youngsters aged 12 (In year 8) to 16, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at their Eureka Park Headquarters.
New youngsters aged from 13 are being invited down at 7.30pm to find out more about the Award Winning 1211 Squadron when staff and Senior Cadets will explain what being a Cadet is all about with opportunities ranging from Adventurous Training and Overseas Visits to Flying and B-Tec qualifications.
Squadron Adjutant Ruth Morgan told us, “Our Cadets get chances to take part in activities which are just not available to anyone else in the South Derbyshire area. Where else can a young teenager take control of an aeroplane and do aerobatics with a Royal Air Force Pilot for free? Swadlincote Cadets gain training which is incredibly useful not only if they join the military but also in civilian life.”
Squadron Operations Officer, Alex Moss added, “Our job at 1211 Squadron is to take every available opportunity for all of our Cadets, whether it’s a flight in an Air Force aeroplane or putting them forward for qualifications in the B-tec scheme. We are one of the best Air Cadet Units in the UK and the reason for that is because our training programme is so varied. Last year we had Cadets in, Germany, Cyprus and Gibraltar. Many gained Leadership qualifications in Public Services, Aviation Subjects and Music!”