During the early years of the Air Training Corps, Middlesbrough had four squadrons in the town.

1319 Sqn (Headquarters 84 Thornfield Road)
1442 Sqn (Headquarters 301 Marton Road)
949 Sqn (Headquarters St. Mary’s R.C. College) would now be looked upon as CCF.
738 Sqn (Headquarters Acklam Hall Grammar School) – would also be considered CCF today.

Training in those early days was about 6 hours per week.

Other Local Squadrons were:-
266 (Stockton) Sqn
300 (Redcar) Sqn
403 (Eston) Sqn
453 (Loftus) Sqn
458 (Billingham) Sqn
1261 (Thornaby) Sqn
?? (Guisborough) Sqn
1425 (Whitby) Sqn

All of these squadrons were in Middlesbrough Wing coming under the command of Air Commodore Sydney Smith, Commandant, North Eastern Region.

The Evening Gazette on 7 Jan 1942 quoted that there were 435 boys connected with the ATC in the town and there were 165 more immediately available to form a third unit, the aim being to recruit four flights of fifty members each in the new units.
1869 Squadron was formed on 19th June 1942 (source HQ Air Cadets) with its headquarters in Southfield Road at the junction of Haddon Street, with Flt Lt George Taylor (Head of P.E. Middlesbrough Education Authority) as Officer Commanding.

Fg Off Freer (GPO) was Signals Instructor, Maths & Navigation Instructor was Fg Off Appleby (ex Royal Air Force) and the engineering Instructor was Mr. V. Denton (Nesham’s Garage). WO Dewhurst was responsible for Drill & Discipline.

In the Headquarters, the ‘Signals’ room had around ten stations, each connected to a central desk/console. Aircraft models with small lights were suspended from the ceiling and used for visual signalling practice. The Ceiling of the ‘Navigation’ room was painted to represent the Northern Hemisphere with all the constellations and navigational stars indicated. Engineering lectures included ‘electricity’ and its application to motors etc. An old car engine was used to demonstrate the ‘internal combustion engine’ function and maintenance.

A Large band was also formed. Tuition being given by Mr Hamilton of Williams Music Shop. Later WO Hurst (an ex drum Major) joined the Squadron as a band master. The band provided trumpeters at several Churches on Armistice Sunday and even provided a fanfare of trumpeters for an operetta at the Gaumont Theatre.

Gliding instruction was undertaken by the cadets at Greatham Aerodrome (now an industrial estate) with the Kirby Cadet and Tutor Gliders. Dual control gliders were available but apparently were only flown by cadets who passed out as solo pilots. Powered Flying was undertaken at local Royal Air Force Stations.

A ‘Navigation/Signals’ course was conducted with the aid of a ‘link trainer’ and coupled with a film, it was possible to carry out ‘dead reckoning’ navigation and, with the use of drift sights to determine wind velocities and direction this all helped the cadets to operate as a ‘crew’.

Cadets passing Aircrew Selection boards and awaiting ‘call-up’ wore a white flash in their forage caps.

On the social side, as the headquarters was in use practically everyday, a small canteen was set up, often operated by the Girls Venture Corps (GVC). Sunday evenings were mixed social evenings with dancing, the evening being supervised by the squadron NCOs.

Annual camps were normally at Royal Air Force Leeming, Thornaby and Middleton St. George where flying was undertaken in DH Rapides or whatever was available at Leeming & Thornaby. At Middleton St. George (Goosepool) flying was also undertaken in Avro Ansons.

In late 1944 or early 1945, 1869 Squadron moved to Marton Road (Longlands) and absorbed 1442 Squadron, the new OC being Flt. Lt. Scales.

The story of the heroic act of Flt Lt John Alan Quinton GC DFC

In August 1951 the whole of 1869 squadron were on annual camp at RAF Leeming and Cadets were being given air experience flying on training flights.

This particular morning Cadet Derek Coates and 15 year old Cadet Corporal Malcolm Bruton had been selected to fly as passengers. Derek was onboard a Wellington Bomber and Malcolm was alongside the pilot in a 2 seat Miles Martinet. The two aircraft tragically collided whilst conducting an exercise around the Catterick area near Hudswell.

In the rear of the Wellington was Flt Lt John Quinton who had recently rejoined the RAF. As the damaged aircraft began to break up, Flt Lt Quinton quickly reached for the only available parachute and clipped it onto Derek who then fell out as the fuselage broke up.

All of the crew died in the incident including the pilot of the Martinet and Cadet Corporal Malcolm Bruton.

Afterwards at the inquiry, Cadet Coates recounted his ordeal and identified Flt Lt Quinton as the person that saved his life. For his brave act of self sacrifice, Flt Lt Quinton was posthumously awarded The George Cross.

Derek Coates became a member of The Caterpillar Club for parachuting to safety and is believed to be the only Air Cadet to do so.
Derek resides in Western Australia and is still in touch with the Squadron.

In 1959, 1869 Sqn moved again, this time to the vacant married quarters alongside the TA centre in Abdingdon Road, later in 1961 moving into the Drill Hall which had been partitioned in two. One half accommodated a Royal Engineers (TA) unit and ACF unit, the other half 1869 Squadron.

In 1983, reorganisation of the northern TA units was implemented and 1869 Sqn moved into it’s current accomodation, the TA Centre, Coulby Newham, with the first parade night being 29th July. Fortunately, following the latest Defence Review the TA centre remained active, and although the TA units were reduced or disbanded it did not affect the squadron or once again 1869 would have been on the move.

The Sqn spent 20 years ‘up in the corridor’.

In November 2004 the squadron was given the opportunity to expand into the vacant Stanley Hollis VC Armoury Building ‘through the tunnel’ and HQ Air Cadets funded the refurbishment of a stores area into classroom, project room and stores. The staff and Cadets worked hard to make the most of this first class facility, unfortunately the Army had designs on the building and the Sqn was given the order to move out with little notice. So it was, that over a weekend in Dec 2005 The Staff with the help of a few Cadets and a local removals firm, moved lock, stock and barrel into a garage which had been emptied for them and took up residence again in the corridor. In January 2006 the squadron took delivery of a brand new portable classroom and had a review put in place to build the squadron a new HQ within the TA Centre.


In November 2006 the go ahead was given and work started on a new HQ building, this marked the start of a new era for 1869 squadron. The portable classroom had to be moved as it was in the position of the new build and just before Christmas it was relocated to neighbouring 266 Sqn. The building progressed very quickly and by mid January 2007 was up to roof height. Continued good weather saw the building become ready and handed over to the squadron on 20th April 2007. Staff and Cadets started immediately to move into the new HQ and by the end of April were operating from the new building. An opening ceremony is planned for 15th September 2007 and it has been decided with the approval of Mrs Quinton to name the HQ ‘The Quinton GC Building’ in memory of Flight Lieutenant John Alan Quinton GC DFC.

A Few Noteable Items

• 1963 Ex Cadet: Sgt Mazurk went on I.A.C.E to Canada, he also gained entry to Cranwell and attained Sqn Ldr rank in RAF, retired to be personal pilot to The Sultan of Oman, he was sadly killed in motor accident in Oman.

• 1967 Ex Cadet: Fg Off D. Evans, killed in Shackleton crash, Scotland

• 1975 First parade of Sqn mascot “Simon”, Great Dane, handled by Cpl McMahon who was succeeded by Cpl Wilcox in 1977 – awarded MBE in 2001 (Flt Sgt RAF)

• 1981 Due to death of “Simon”, the squadron acquired the services of a greyhound named “Solomon” and his handler Cpl Jackson.

• In Feb 76 a Wing Parade was held in Middlesbrough to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the formation of the ATC followed by a service in All Saints Church.

• In 1978 the Squadron acquired a membership of Newcastle and Teesside Gliding Club at Carlton Bank. Several cadets took advantage of this facility but not sufficient to maintain our membership the following year.

• 1982 A parade and service was held at All Saints Church to dedicate the new Sqn banner.

• Displays were given by the cadets at the Festival of Remembrance in the Town hall in November 1982/83/84

• 1989 CWO Heslin appointed Lord Lieutenant’s cadet, and the same year the Squadron was authorised to enrol female cadets.

• 1996 Cdt Flt Sgt Khazir joined the RAF, now in 2006 he is currently a Corporal working as Survival Equipment Fitter with The Falcons RAF Parachute Display Team.

• In June 2002 the Squadron held a 60th Anniversary Reunion linked to The Regional Commandants 4 yearly visit. Many ex Cadets attended including quite a few from the early years and the evening was a great success. We were pleased to welcome ex Cadet Charlie Bowen who was visiting from Canada. Charlie is president of The Canadian Air Cadets and he spoke fondly of his memories of his time with 1869 Sqn. He presented the Squadron with a plaque to mark his visit and our 60th Anniversary and the squadron presented him with an engraved glass paperweight.

• 2004 & 2005 The Squadron Drill team won 1st place in the Wing & Region Drill Competition and went on to represent North Region at RAF Halton.

• 2004 Sgt Pollard appointed LL Cadet.

• 2006 Flt Sgt Allen appointed LL Cadet


15th September 2007 saw the official opening ceremony of the new HQ Building which was named ‘The Quinton GC Building’. A large gathering of parents and other invited guests watched as the Cadets were inspected and the squadron then marched past led by The Royal Signals (Northern) Band. The salute was taken by the Officer Commanding Central & East Yorkshire Wing, Wing Cdr Steve Wiggins and the Guest of Honour Mr. Roger Quinton. Roger who kindly agreed to travel from his home in London to perform the opening ceremony is the son of Flt. Lt. John Quinton who saved the life of our Cadet, Derek Coates in 1951.


On Sunday 3rd Feb 2008 1869 Sqn hosted the 67th anniversary of the formation of the ATC at All Saints Church in Middlesbrough. 7 other Squadrons from around the region attended the parade and service which was led by Fr. Andrew Howard the Squadron Chaplain. Around 120 cadets plus staff formed up near the MIMA art gallery and stepped off at 1.30pm. The salute was taken by the Vice Chair, Middlesbrough Council, Cllr Charles Rooney, Deputy OC Central & East Yorkshire Wing ATC Sqn Ldr J. Ayre, Wg Cdr G. Hammond, Stn Cdr RAF Fylingdales and Wg Cdr K. Davies QGM, COS North Region Air Cadets.


On 14th October 2008 1869 Sqn hosted a visit by 24 American and Canadian Cadets and Staff. They arrived at 1945hrs and together with 1869 Cadets took part in a games night in the junior ranks mess followed by Pie, Chips and Peas, a good night was enjoyed by all.

Squadron Commanders:-
· 1942 Flt Lt George Taylor
· 1944 Flt Lt J. Scales …later Sqn Ldr
· 19?? Sqn Ldr R. Middleton
· 19?? Flt Lt T.E. Bruton
· 19?? Flt Lt John F. Dixon
· 1959 Flt Lt Keith Ramsey-Connell
· 1963 Flt Lt Kenneth W.S. Carter
· 1967 Flt Lt Desmond Watson
· 1969 Flt Lt Denis Bates
· 1985 Flt Lt Norman Pennock
· 2001 Flt Lt Gary Davidson
· 2002 Flt Lt Robert Bertram
· 2008 Flt Lt Robert Gaw

Some recollections from ex cadets:-
Ex Cadet Sergeant Stephen Watson

“I was a Sgt at 1869 sqn between 1948 and 1953 at Longlands Road when Sqn Ldr Scales was the CO and his wife ran the canteen. Flt Lt Bruton was also on the staff together with Flt Lt Middleton (who later became CO), also on the staff was Fg Off Mitchell and Fg Off Davis. I did my gliding at Middleton St. George, the OC was Flt Lt Bloomer. We had a T21 and two Slingsby Cadets. Did no more gliding until I retired in 2000 and got my full licence. I am now an instructor at 1188 Sqn”

Stephen attended the 60th reunion in 2002 and met many of his old comrades.
Thanks for your comments Stephen. I am pleased to note that you are now a CI with the ATC.(OC1869)

Stephen and his wife paid a visit to his old squadron on 22 April 2007 to view the new HQ building.

I have been also been contacted by a founder Cadet from 1942, Jim Bennett who is now 80+. Jim has some information for us which I will post in due course.