1861 Squadron History

The Squadron was formed on the last day of 1941. At this time, the Squadron paraded every weeknight and also on Sunday mornings for Route Marches, Church Parades, and inspections by Senior RAF Officers. The weekly programme of training comprised of 4 nights dedicated training and one night for recreation, which included darts, table tennis, playing records, etc. The Squadron also participated in football matches against the Army Cadet Force on the recreation nights. Located at the old Garston Lane Council School, within the school building, and then moving to its own self-funded Headquarters in the School Grounds in 1943, the Squadron Paraded under the command of Flt Lt Thurston with Fg Off Culley and WO Austin. The Squadron was supported by numerous Civilian Instructors and Service Helpers from RAF Harwell, including a Drill Instructor who put fear into the hearts of Cadets. Previous prestigious ex-cadets from Wantage Squadron include Air Marshall Sir Roger Austin RAF Ret’d, David Pain (who flies for Virgin Atlantic Airways), Sqn Ldr Arthur Symonds MBE RAFVR(T) (Ex Cadet, CO of 1861 Sqn and ex Wing Staff Officer with Berkshire Wing, Oxon, Bucks & Berks Wing and Thames Valley Wing (with as total service to the Corps of 35 years) and the late John Gardner, who authored a number of the James Bond novels. Wantage Squadron is located at the Cadet Forces Centre, which was built in the 1960s for the Air Training Corps, at Icknield Lane in Wantage under the command of Flt Lt Nigel Furlong, the 18th to serve this unit. The  Commanding Officers of 1861 (Wantage) Sqn since its formation on the 31st December 1941 include:

  • Flt Lt Thurston RAFVR(T) 1941 – ?
  • Plt Off RF Hall 1945 –  
  • Flt Lt Arthur Wragg  1949 – 1954 
  • Flt Lt Arthur Symonds RAFVR(T) 1954 – 1967* 
  • Flt Lt Sid Redford RAFVR(T) ? – ? 
  • Flt Lt Harry Medhurst ? – ? 
  • Flt Lt Derek Horton-Rackstraw RAFVR(T) 1974 – 1984*
  • Flt Lt Roger Green RAFVR(T) 1984 – 1986*
  • Flt Lt David Campbell RAFVR(T) 1986 – 1990
  • Flt Lt Kieran Soughton RAFVR(T) 1990 – 1997
  • Flt Lt John Endean RAFVR(T) 1997 – 1999
  • Fg Off M Taylor RAFVR(T) 1999 – 2001
  • Flt Lt John Taylor RAFVR(T) 2001 – 2004
  • Flt Lt Peter Murphy RAFVR(T) 2004 – 2007
  • Fg Off Tom Rowan RAFVR(T) 2007 – 2008
  • Flt Lt Peter Murphy RAFVR(T) 2008
  • Flt Lt Nigel Furlong RAFVR(T) 2008 – 2012
  • Flt Lt Annilee Angel-Murray RAFVR(T) 2012 – 2013
  • Sqn Ldr Christopher Breward RAFVR(T) 2013 – 2014
  • Flt Lt D Holden RAFVR(T) 2014 –

*Moved to Wing Staff Officer post


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