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Tales from an ex-Brat

December 27, 2015
Posted at 2:40 pm

I'm giving a heads up on a new series I intend starting in the New Year. The series title,'Tales from an ex-Brat',needs some sort of explanation.

Many, many, years ago I had the privilege of being taken on as an Aircraft Apprentice in the Royal Air Force. The three years training at RAF Halton probably made me what I am today. I have applied for compensation but so far no dice -- and no money.

When the RAF was formed in 1918 Hugh Trenchard, who had been appointed Chief of the Air Staff, realised there was a shortage of specialist ground crew to cope with the accelerating advances in new technologies. In 1920 he set up the Aircraft Apprentice Scheme at No. 1 School of Technical Training at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. Apprenticeships were offered to boys aged between 15 and 17 and a half and the RAF assumed legal guardianship of the boys. The regime at Halton was strict and harsh, but never brutal. Parents had to give formal permission if their son wanted to smoke, and the consumption alcohol was forbidden. In the UK anyone over the age of 18 is permitted to buy and consune alcohol, and the majority of apprentices reached the legal age well before leaving Halton, but being caught in a pub, or smelling of drink when arriving back at camp, and it was a spell in the cells whatever your age.
After graduation, or 'Pass Out' as known to apprentices, the recently released inmates of Halton went on to fill the senior NCO ranks of the aircraft trades; airframe fitters, engine fitters, armament fitters, instrument fitters, and electrical fitters.

Apprentices were contemptuously known as 'Trenchard's Brats' at first, but this pejorative label was turned into a badge of honour, and now apprentices are proud to be called 'Brats.
I left the RAF a long time since so now I am an ex- Brat, hence the title of the series.

It is estimated well over 30% of apprentices achieved commissioned rank, while over 100 individuals attained Air rank, that is Air Commodore and above. Needless to say I wasn't among one of the 100, nor indeed the 30%.

As you read my tales you will understand why.

Jack G