RAF College Cranwell

RAF College Cranwell

Roger Annett
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
We Seek the Highest has been the motto of the thousands of Officer Cadets who, over ten decades, have passed through the rigorous training regime at the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell, Lincolnshire. The words embody the College ethos: to strive to reach the tough standards demanded by the RAF, in the air and on the ground. This book tells the 100-year story from the point of view of the Officer Cadets themselves. The College was founded in 1919 - some eighteen months after the birth of the RAF itself - with the aim of providing a cadre of disciplined, highly-trained officers, ready to lead the service through the uncertain post-war and post-Empire times to come. Since then, it has responded continuously to the UK's political, economic and military requirements. The RAF Officer Cadets' world has thus been one of change. The author documents these changes from 1919 to today, overlaying the historical and social scene with the candidly related airborne and ground-based exploits of three-score ex-cadets. The core narrative is based on the three years at Cranwell of 81 Entry of Flight Cadets, who graduated in July 1962 with thirty-seven jet pilots and eight navigators, having launched a curriculum-changing experiment in degree-level studies. With a Foreword from an Air Chief Marshal former cadet, 130 illustrations, and a full index, the whole offers a cadets' tribute to a world-famous military academy on its centenary.

What a smashing surprise this little gem turned out to be. I am , so glad that Pen & Sword have scored yet again. To be honest this would not normally be my choice of reading material but I am very chuffed to have done so. Far from being a boring description of the building and the headmasters (for it was like a public school for a while) it's a story of a training party of young cadet officers which all of Her Majestys' Forces can relate to. One would-be Brillcream Boy had to have his haircut three times in one day! ring any bells? We go from bulling shoes and boots to being fitted for lightweight caps from Bates of Jermyn St. Trilby's and blazer badges from Saville Row, not forgetting the huntin' and ridin' boots from Duke St, Piccadilly, to signing up for college societies and Activities. We all remember doing that don't we? Even if as in my case " you don't have to, but it might come in handy if you "buy one of my lovely tracksuits" from our training corporal week one.

These lads went through a lot of the military embuggerances well before they were allowed anywhere near a 'plane and we follow them through their three years training. The Author, who passed out in 62 ,went to a passing out parade a few years back to watch the same drill to the same similar music and the Falcons dropping to deliver the Officers' commissions and yes they did hold the after pass-out ball where he was "encouraged " to write this book. It was a joy to read and a reminder that no matter who we are when we first join up ,We are just NIGs , Sprogs and Crows ....

Three big black crows sat on a tree
They were as black as black could be
Said one black crow to the other
Get off my foot you big black bugger!

There are a few of these ditty's and yer actual history spread through out this book. Five mushroom heads to start the year on.

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Interesting review , attended Cranwell as Army member of an AWC course and found it a memorable course