College Boys at War

bomber-command-meml

In the Summer term of 1926, Arnold Thornton the headmaster of Leamington College made a surprise announcement following a morning assembly in the Great Hall. He had received a request from the Air Ministry to grant the boys a half-holiday in celebration of the award of a cadetship at RAF College Cranwell to a former pupil of the College, Frank Whittle. Needless to say, the news was warmly received by the College pupils many of whom were contemporaries of Whittle and like him aspired to a career in flying.

RAF Volunteer Reserve

Following the Great War there had been a huge increase of interest in  careers in flying which presented the ultimate challenge for young men with  guts and a spirit of adventure. A decade later, many of the erstwhile College lads were not slow to sign up with a new volunteer force the RAF Volunteer Reserve formed in 1936. When war broke out in 1939, the Air Ministry employed the RAFVR as the principal means of aircrew entry into the Royal Air Force. For many of the College old boys, their unbridled enthusiasm for  flying would ensure their names would for ever be remembered on the school’s Memorial Board commemorating former pupils killed in action during the Second World War. The town War Memorial bears the names  of fifty members of the Royal Air Force who died on active service in the Second World War and half of them were former Leamington College boys serving with the RAFVR. The accompanying article [CLICK HERE] tells the stories of some of those Binswood Avenue ‘bomber boys’ who gave their lives.

Alan Griffin, December 2016

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