The 209th Entry
After some in depth and, I must say, nerve racking
testing at RAF Stafford, the successful applicants were instructed
to make there way to Halton to start out on their 2 year Apprenticeship, starting in May 1967, where we started our new lives on 3(A) Wing. May 1968 saw the move to 1(A) Wing where we stayed until Graduating 2nd May 1969.
Starting out with 108 boys, on the 2nd May 1969 our Graduation saw 88 men qualified as Junior Technicians (JT) and two graduating as Senior Aircraftmen (SAC).
No. 1 School of Technical Training (No. 1 S of TT) is the Royal Air Force's aircraft engineering school, based at RAF Halton from 1919 to 1993, as the Home of the Aircraft Apprentice scheme. The Aircraft Apprentice scheme trained young men in the mechanical trades for aircraft maintenance, the graduates of which were the best trained technicians in the RAF and would usually progress to Senior NCO ranks. However, ninety one ex-apprentices went on to achieve Air Rank. Many more became commissioned officers, including Sir Frank Whittle "father of the jet engine", who completed his apprenticeship at RAF Cranwell, before the move to RAF Halton. Graduates of the Aircraft Apprentice scheme at RAF Halton are known as Old Haltonians.
As well as the three-year apprentice scheme No.1 S of TT also carried out training of Craft Apprentices on a newly developed two-year long apprenticeship, from 1964, commencing with 201 entry. Sgt Craft Apprentice Glenn Morton of 203 entry was the first craft apprentice to receive a direct entry commission after graduating from Halton. The immediate past senior serving member of the RAF Halton Apprentices Association (Old Haltonians) is Air Vice-Marshal Paul Colley OBE, who joined the RAF as an apprentice of 127th entry.
World War I saw the beginning of aerial combat. By 1 April 1918 the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service had amalgamated into the Royal Air Force. Hugh Trenchard had been appointed Chief of the Air Staff and quickly discovered that specialist groundcrew were in very short supply.
Trenchard instituted the Aircraft Apprentice Scheme to be based at RAF Halton No. 1 School of Technical Training. Because of lack of accommodation at Halton, the school was originally located at RAF Cranwell in 1920 where Sir Frank Whittle (Jet Engine Designer) received his early aero engine training as an Aircraft Apprentice. In 1922 the school moved permanently to RAF Halton and was fully operational by 1926.
Entrance to the scheme involved a highly competitive exam, intelligence and aptitude tests, and medical examinations. Admittance was limited exclusively to males between the ages of 15 and 17½ and the Royal Air Force assumed legal guardianship of the boys in loco parentis.
Training took place over five and a half days a week, and consisted of both academic and practical training. In addition, basic military training was given.
106 Entry, which passed out in December 1966, was the last of the Aircraft Apprentice entries. A three-year Technician Apprentice scheme, a two-year Craft Apprentice scheme, and a one-year Administrative Apprentice scheme were initiated in September 1964, with 107 Entry being the first Technician Apprentice entry, 201 Entry being the first of the Craft Apprentice entries, and 301 Entry being the first of the Administrative Apprentice entries. A one-year scheme for mechanic apprentices was also subsequently introduced (the 400 series entry apprentices).
Graduates of this scheme include several former officers of Air rank, including Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle, father of the jet engine, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Keith Williamson, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Armitage, Air Marshal Sir Graham Miller, and Air Marshal Cliff Spink
The Brats' alumni association, a registered charity, is called the RAF Halton Apprentices Association (RAFHAA), or Old Haltonians. It publishes a magazine called The Haltonian three times a year. A triennial reunion for Brats is organised by the association.
RAF Halton has its own memorial to the brats opposite Kermode Hall, very close to St George's Church, which contains stained glass windows commemorating the 40,000 or so apprentices who were trained there. Brats are also remembered at the Halton Grove, which is part of the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire.