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RAF Boy Entrants at Cosford

Posted by Scott Sullivan on

As Flyingraphics are to attend RAF Cosford Airshow again this year on the 19th June and that it is on Father’s Day, it seemed appropriate for us to remember the RAF Boy Entrant scheme. Our Father who is now in his 75th year was a 32nd boy entrant in September 1957, going on to serve in the RAF for 16 years before transferring over

to the British Army. Amusingly our Father’s rationale for becoming choosing the trade of radio and radar revolves around football and that he wanted to be close to Wolverhampton Wanderers so Cosford was the natural choice.

The RAF boy entrant scheme started in 1934 with 150 boys and ran to late 1965 where boys joined the RAF between the ages of 15 to 17 and then underwent training in various occupations (or trades) which fitted them for employment in the Royal Air Force. Training was suspended during WWII but recommenced in May 1947. Training was undertaken at a variety of RAF Stations including RAF Cosford, RAFYatesbury, RAF Compton Bassett, RAF St Athan, RAF Hereford and RAF Locking. Training took 18 months and included not just the trade and basic training but also more general academic education. After their 18 months of training they then moved to regular RAF duty stations and commenced employment in the trade they had trained on. The boy entrants scheme provided training and a focus in life for boys that often had a poor education. In the early post WWII years, this education had probably been severely disrupted by the war itself. Thanks to the RAF’s experience with aptitude and intelligence tests, and the knowledge that lack of education did not mean lack of intelligence, the RAF was able to train suitable candidates in appropriate trades and so assisted in creating the backbone of the RAF’s technical services during the years dominated by transient national servicemen. The very last entry, the 51st, passed out in July 1965. There is a detailed exhibit at the RAF Museum Cosford showing more of the history of the boy entry scheme, with many photos, artifacts and uniform on show. The Royal Air Force Boy Entrant Association (RAFBEA) was formed in 1994 by ex-°©Boy Entrants who had trained at RAF Cosford. However, any Boy Entrant can join the Association and we have Members who trained at RAF Compton Bassett, RAF Yatesbury, RAF Farnborough, RAF Cranwell, RAF Locking, RAF St.Athan, RAF Hereford, RAF Eastchurch and RAF Kirkham. Currently the Membership stands at 1,556. 2014 was the 80th anniversary of the Scheme. Although new Members join the Association all the time, since the youngest are aged at least 67, the Membership is bound to decline over the coming years. There is an AGM and Reunion each September and a Memorial Service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire every July. The Association also maintains a Memorial to deceased Boy Entrants at the Arboretum, as well as a Book of Remembrance which is displayed in the Church of Christ the King at RAF Cosford. Any deceased Boy Entrant can have their name inscribed in the Book of Remembrance, regardless of being a Member of the Association.­­

If you were or know of someone who was a 32nd boy entrant in September 1957 get in touch with Flyingraphics, our father would be thrilled to meet an old comrade.

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