Full history

Kingstanding and Perry Barr Air Training Corps 487 sqn

Date of Formation                               April 1941


Title on Formation                               No 487(Kingstanding and Perry Barr) Squadron


Address on Formation                         Old Farm House

Rear of Crossways Public House

21 Hawthorne Road



Change of Address                              1970

TAVR Centre

Kingstanding Road


Birmingham B44 8LD


Commanding Officers                         1941-1962       Sqn Ldr H Grove RAFVR(T)

1962-1968       Flt Lt R Cheshire RAFVR(T)

1968-1989       Flt Lt E Willetts RAFVR(T)

Present Commanding Officer              1989-               Flt Lt G Smith RAFVR(T)


 Squadron History and Matters of Interest.


The first Squadron headquarters was a six-room private building at 21 Hawthorne Road, Kingstanding.  Also on the site were three huts ( one forty eight feet by twenty four feet, one twenty four feet square and a small one – fourteen feet by ten feet).  There was also a large garage at the rear.  This comprehensive headquarters site was required to house the four hundred or more cadets who  paraded in the early 1940’s.

The first Commanding Officer Sdn Ldr H  Grove RAFVR(T) was Headmaster of Dulwich Road School from which the Squadron received a goodly number of recruits.  I am told that he used to give his pupils a choice of either joining the Squadron or gardening!!

The Unit paraded five nights per week.  Sunday mornings was usually a parade with the cadets and a sixty-strong band marching to church some two miles away.  Sunday afternoon was devoted to radio classes as the squadron possessed a transmitter/receiver (T1154/R1155) unique in those early days.

From the early days of the war the Squadron had a bugle, drum and fife band and was chosen to `Sound the Retreat` at the lowering of the Colour at Birmingham’s `Wings for Victory` week held in the City in 1943.  The ceremony was performed each evening by a band of thirty six supported by an escort of thirty cadets.  The band finally stood down in the late fifties.

In July 1944 the Squadron received a Banner from Air Marshal Sir Leslie Gossage KCB CVO DSO MC which was reported in the Air Gazette in August of the same year.

With the post-war re-organization Nos 488(Aston Commercial) and No 1348(Kynoch Witton) Squadrons were amalgamated with No 487 Squadron to form No 487(Kingstanding & Perry Barr) Squadron.

It has had some outstanding successes and achievements.  In 1951 it was runner-up in the `Sir Alan Lees Trophy` Competition.  For this result it received a Link Trainer as a prize. A further Link Trainer was obtained from No 491(Handsworth) Squadron.  The original was cannibalized to put it into top-class condition.  The Trainer was eventually transferred to No 495(Sutton Coldfield) Squadron in 1991.

In 1965 under the leadership of Flt Lt R Cheshire RAFVR(T) the Squadron achieved  supreme success by winning the `Sir Alan Lees Trophy`.  They are the only Warwickshire and Birmingham Wing Squadron to do this.  A plaque commemorating the event is proudly displayed in the CO’s office.

The Unit left it’s premises in 1970 and moved to its present site in the TA Barracks in Kingstanding Road.

In 1980 the Squadron gained its first IACE cadet who made the trip to the United States of America.  Since then three other cadets have become IACE winners and have been to Turkey, Germany and Canada respectively.

During 1981 the Squadron held a dinner dance to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Corps.

Girls were introduced on a trial basis in 1983 and have been with the Unit ever since.   It was the first squadron in the area to be given permission to recruit females.

Several cadets have been awarded Flying Scholarships.  In both 1964 and 1991 two cadets succeeded in obtaining a Scholarship within one month of each other.  Several went on to become pilots in the Royal Air Force.  These included Wg Cdr B Ianson, Fg Off J Edwards (the first Flying Scholarship winner),  Wg Cdr P Standing (a crew member of the first Vulcan to attack the Falkland Islands during the war in the South Atlantic),  Fg Off R Goodman and Flt Lt R Hirons (a former Military Attaché in Mexico).[1]   During the War two former cadets, Flt Lt Llewellin and Fg Off Bennett, were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

One other prominent cadet who must be mentioned is Flt Lt A Powell.  He joined the RAF as an apprentice aircraft-engineering technician and in 1982 on completion of his apprenticeship at RAF Halton was awarded:‑

The Monsignor Beachamp Memorial Prize

The Quinton Memorial Prize

The Elliot Memorial Prize

The Pioneer Trophy

The Morton Poulson Prize

This was a tremendous achievement.  Shortly afterwards he re‑mustered to aircrew becoming a pilot and a Qualified Flying Instructor.

Another former cadet Flt Lt G Powell became Commanding Officer of the RAF Regiment Flight in Gibraltar.

The present CO is assisted by Fg Off M Eames who is an ex-cadet and by Civilian Instructors A Garbett, F Green and Prem Lal.  The Squadron Civilian Committee, recently reformed, is chaired by Mr J Smith who was a cadet in 1941.  An Old Boys Association undertakes valuable fund-raising events in aid of the squadron.

The Unit takes part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and has been very successful of late.

One valued member of Staff very sadly missed is WO D Swan.  He not only trained the Squadron Drill Team which won the Wing Drill Cup for nine consecutive years but was also the Wing Warrant Officer.  This position was justly deserved.  His untimely death was a great blow to the Wing.

The Golden Jubilee Year in 1991 was celebrated jointly with No 495(Sutton Coldfield) Squadron at an Anniversary Ball held at Penns Hall in September.  Over one hundred and eighty people attended.

North & West Region ran a `Mastermind` Competition and No 487(Kingstanding & Perry Barr) Squadron were the very first winners.

The Unit was  the first in the Wing to parade the Corps Banner at the Wing Parade which took place at RAF Gaydon.

For the last ten years, at each Whitsuntide, the Squadron has travelled to Portreath for adventure training.

In 1993 the Squadron celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Dambusters Raid by organizing a sponsored walk to raise funds for the Cheshire Homes.  They walked from Kingstanding to RAF Scampton via canal paths and riverside walks.  In addition to sponsors at home they arranged collections en-route to help boost the fund. The Greenacres Cheshire Home in Sutton Coldfield has received over £2000 from this venture.  This is a wonderful example of caring and charitable work and a marvellous public relations exercise to the benefit of the Corps.

The Squadron has had two aircraft during its existence.  The first was a Supermarine Spitfire X11 MB855.  After an enquiry from the Unit on how best to prolong the life of the aircraft  71 MU at Bicester visited them chopped off the wings and removed it.

The second aircraft was a D H Vampire T11 XD 377 which was delivered from 27 MU. In 1984 it was delivered back to RAF Cosford.

During the last few years in conjunction with No 495(Sutton Coldfield) and No 2371(Sir Wilfred Martineau) Squadrons the Unit has taken part in the Birmingham International Tattoo.

The squadron is now housed in a `Spooner` type hut in the grounds of the Barracks.

Former cadet Dennis Salt a Halifax radio operator was shot down in the Amer Valley near Stuttgart during the War.  Dennis lost both legs in the crash but his life was saved by three young German girls.  Since the War the girls have tried to make contact and were finally  successful.  They invited him back to Germany where he was treated as a local hero.  In November 1993 the three ladies, Else Rohm, Hedwig Seibold and Johanna Hoppe were invited  to England and were flown over for a second reunion.  Mr Bob Taylor Managing Director of Birmingham Airport and President of the Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing arranged the flight with the help of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.  An incredible story with a marvellous ending.

The squadron motto “Kite Matunga” which translated means  “Through to the end” is somewhat unique being Maori in origin.  The badge includes a drawing of Teka Teka, a Maori God holding a bomb.

[1] See Chapter  Flying & Gliding Experience.



  1. sqd/ldr Grove moved to be h/master of Hastings Rd Senior Boys school

  2. do you have any pictures of the atc band late 40’s early 50’s or information where i may find some?

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