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Exeter's Air Cadets

A brief history of 13 (City of Exeter) Squadron Air Defence Cadet Corps/ Air Training Corps

Page added 11th November 2015

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Air Cadets CrestIn 1938 Air Commodore John Chamier's plan to form an Air Defence Cadet Corps (ADCC) came to fruition. His idea was to attract and train young men who had an interest in aviation, from all over the country. He planned to set up squadrons of young cadets in as many towns and cities as possible, and ask local people to organise and run them.

Air Commodore Chamier's idea seemed to capture the mood of the British people at the time. In their eagerness to help the nation in preparation for war, young men rushed to join the Corps in their thousands. The cadets were asked to pay a weekly subscription of 3d.

One of the ADCC’s fifty “Founder” Squadrons, 13 started life as 13 (Exeter) Sqn ADCC on 1st Nov 1938 at Hele’s School Exeter, founded by one of the teachers, Squadron Leader Clive Chesterfield MBE. It was the very first School Sqn in the organisation, forming only four months after the first unit, 1 (Leicester) Sqn. The School occupied the site which is now the Exeter College main site in Hele Road.

With the disbanding of the ADCC and the formation of the Air Training Corps on the 5th Feb 1941, the Government took control of the organisation and the unit became 13F (Exeter) Squadron ATC.

During the war the Exeter Air Cadets often went to work at RAF Exeter and were used to carry messages, helped with clerical duties, provided extra muscle in handling aircraft and in the movement of stores and equipment. They filled thousands of sandbags and loaded miles of belts of ammunition. Most cadets went on the serve in the forces, mainly with RAF Bomber Command.

The Air Cadets were also included in many parades to raise money for the war effort. Here is part of a Western Times report for a parade in October 1941.

“Air Training Corps took part on Sunday morning. Drawn from the Exeter City Squadron (No 1169). Hele's School Squadron (No. 13 F (the F symbolising it was one of the first to be created in the country) and the Borough Polytechnic Squadron (No. 207) of the Corps, mustering about 250 details, they revealed themselves to be a keen, enthusiastic body of young fellows, proud of being able to play an important part in the nation's war effort.
In their neat Air Force blue uniforms, under the leadership of officers, some of whom had seen service for King and country 25 years ago, they swung past the saluting base after the service with crisp, clean steps.”

13 Squadron disbanded on the 1st April 1948 when it became Heles School’s Combined Cadet Force RAF Section (which still exists today as St Peter’s Church of England Aided School CCF RAF Section)

13 Squadron ATC reformed at Wyvern Barracks 44 years later on 1st Oct 1992 as result of merger of 2350 (Vincent Thompson School) Sqn (which had been formed in 1960) (now St Luke's Science & Sports College) and 1169 (Exeter) Sqn (formed in 1941) as 13 (Exeter) Sqn (the “F” was removed due to the break in service).

In 2001 Cadet Warrant Officer Lucie Martin (who went on to become an RAF Hercules Pilot and is now with British Airways) won the ATC’s “Dacre Brooch” for the best Female Cadet in the ATC.

The Sqn was renamed “City of Exeter” Sqn in 2002 to coincide with the granting of a Lord Mayor to Exeter by HM the Queen. We remain one of two ATC Squadrons in the City, the other being 2469 (Exeter St Thomas)
The Squadron is officially affiliated to both 13 Squadron Royal Air Force (who fly the Reaper Remotely Piloted Air System) based at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire and the Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyer HMS Defender whose home port is Portsmouth. It is the only one of the ATC’s 925 Squadrons affiliated to a major RN Warship.

While not a recruiting organisation for the British Military, the Sqn currently has over 20 former cadets serving in the RAF, RN, RM, British Army and even an Officer in the Australian Army!

The former Commanding Officers

Nov 1938 - April 1948: Sqn Ldr (later Wg Cdr) Clive Chesterfield MBE MA.
Oct 1992 - Nov 1994. Flt Lt Mike Brearey RAFVR(T)
November 1994 – May 1998. Flt Lt Terry Ancell RAFVR(T)
May 1998 - Jan 2003. Flt Lt Phil Scott RAFVR(T)
Feb 2003 – Dec 2005. Flt Lt Steve Maunder RAFVR(T)
Jan 2006 – June 2009. Flt Lt Helen Ackland RAFVR(T)
June 2009 – July 2014. Flt Lt Kevin Partridge RAFVR(T)

Still in office

August 2014 – present Flt Lt Louise Jordan RAFVR(T

13 (City of Exeter) Squadron is open to all young people between the ages of 12-18 and meets at Wyvern Barracks on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7.00 PM. The organisation provides training for young people with opportunities in flying, adventure training, sport, shooting and citizenship. Visits and camps at RAF Stations are also included in the programme. Cadets are encouraged to become involved in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the Squadron has successfully completed the Ten Tors event every year since 1999. The unit is heavily involved community events such as marshalling of the Torbay ½ Marathon.

Founder of the Squadron Clive Chesterfield

Founder of the Squadron Clive Chesterfield.

13 Sqn ATC flying gliders

Exeter CCF flying gliders at Exeter - 1970s. Photo courtesy Alan Mazonowicz.

13 Sqn on HMS Defender

13 Sqn at HMS Defender July 2015.

13 Sqn ATC meets 13 Sqn RAF

13 Sqn ATC meets 13 Sqn RAF 13 August 2008 - the Tornado GR4 landed at Exeter to visit the Squadron.

13 Sqn on HMS Defender

13 Sqn on HMS Exeter, September 2006.

Air Cadets on parade for Remembrance Day

Air Cadets on parade for Remembrance Day.



If you have any information on the history of the Squadron, especially in the 1940’s, please get in touch with us at Wyvern Barracks, Barrack Road, EXETER, Devon, EX2 6AR or email 13@aircadets.org

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