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Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 7
As war still raged overseas, the
Greymouth squadron of the Air
Training Corps held its rst parade
in the old town hall on ursday,
August 5, 1943. Robert Kelleher was
the rst commanding o cer and he
was assisted by pilot o cers Gordon
Gillespie and J E A McKeefry, along
with regular instructors from the Royal
New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).
Parades were held twice a week,
and cadets entered a two-year course,
incorporating such subjects as physics,
chemistry, navigation, astronomy,
physical drill, radio instruction,
shooting, aircraft recognition and
aviation studies. e curriculum was
designed so that, on completion, cadets
could enter the RNZAF without
e rst headquarters in Greymouth
was established in the former premises
of Hanwell Williams and Ross
Chemists, beside the old Club Hotel
on Mawhera Quay. It included a
reading room, lounge and classrooms
--- and even featured a gun turret from
a Bolton Paul De ant. Parade drill in
those days was conducted on the quay.
Within months, the cadets had begun
ight training in Tiger Moths and
commenced regular rearms practice
with .303 ri es, sub-machine-guns and
eventually become Squadron Leader.
"I joined in 1944 while the Second
World War was still going. e idea of
the Air Training Corps was to do with
the Air Force, to get young people up,
trained and ready. ere was a real hub
of us young fellows and we had two
courses. You either took the air crew
course or the ground crew course."
ATC training was twice a week back
"Bill Hutton would take us on a
Monday night and that was normally
for theory, correspondence and
paperwork. On the Friday night it
was manual, or physical, working with
engines, navigating, shooting, and we
would listen to blokes who had come
back from the Second World War and
they would give us a lecture.
" e air training was originally
conducted down on Mawhera Quay in
rooms down beside the old Club Hotel.
It was later operating from a hangar at
the aerodrome before it moved to the
Army Hall, which opened in 1960."
Jack later joined the air force
and returned to his hometown of
Greymouth in 1959, when he began
tutoring as a ying o cer working with
"It was primarily training for the air
force but it became a place for air-
minded youth. e Air Training Corps
was and still is very good for our young
people," he says.
"Many a time mothers would come
up to me after the end of the year
parade and thank me for the change
in their sons. Mothers would say
their boys now actually hang up their
clothes, which they never used to do,"
he chuckled. "It teaches kids about
self-control and how to work together,
"We would have camps for the cadets
at Taramakau at the Scout's den and
also up Iveagh Bay. If you put a group
of boys together they knock the corners
o each other. I remember they were
on rations and one young young fellow
said he didn't like eating just beans. If
he had said that at home his mother
would have made him a poached egg
or something. After a while here he is
chewing away on his beans," Jack said.
During his time in command, Jack
Flood was awarded the Cadet Forces
Medal for long service, and he became
the rst o cer of the Greymouth unit
to reach the rank of Squadron Leader
--- the highest possible ranking that
can be achieved by unit o cers in the
Squadron Leader Flood resigned in
1973 and passed command to ying
o cer Robert Byrne, who held the post
until retiring as a ight lieutenant in
1980. Byrne had been a cadet in the
squadron and risen through all cadet
ranks before gaining his commission.
During his command, No 36 squadron
became the rst ATC unit in New
Zealand to o cially parade female
cadets, with six joining in 1975. e
rst was Barbara Kells, who was
soon joined by Barbara Hales, Anne
Sutherland, Joanne Orchard, Denise
Hamlin and Karina Jones.
Flight lieutenant Bill Coram was unit
commander from 1980 to 1985. He
was followed brie y by ight lieutenant
Pat Kenny, then ying o cer Brian
Kelly lled the post in mid-1985.
Brian says he was initially a civilian
instructor for the ATC.
"I was teaching bushcraft and
shooting, that would be around 1975.
of o cers
and put the
me. I had
to do the
Ohakea and do training there. At
Wigram it was instructural teaching
and avionic studies, while at Auckland,
air command training and at the end
you would sit exams."
He worked his way up the ATC chain
to Squadron Leader and when fellow
o cers retired or moved away from
Greymouth, Brian Kelly was left to run
the local operation, which was always a
big undertaking, he says.
"Basically, through retirements I was
left to keep the process running and I
was lucky the senior cadets at the time
--- Richard Roberts, Bobby Coram and
Gary Dunn --- were there. ey helped
out and if it wasn't for them I don't
know where we would have ended up.
"ATC is good for kids, but only if
they want to do it.
"It teaches them the ner points of
life. Seeing kids succeed and develop is
Squadron Leader Kelly retired from
the unit in December 1996 after 19
Command then passed to ight
lieutenant Richard Roberts, who says
he was fascinated by the concept of
ATC while still at high school.
"I was in
down at the
Scout den at
I want to do'
--- it looked cool stu . I joined up the
"Initially, I went along to try it out, if
you like them and they like you sort of
thing for a couple of weeks --- I loved
it. We did a lot of foot drills initially
and eventually started handling ri es. It
was teaching and giving you an insight
into the air force and we did a lot of
tramping, camps, map reading and
navigation, and learned bushcraft.
"During my time at ATC sometimes
we had 60-80 cadets, which is a lot,
but normally around 30-40 most of the
Richard did a three-year cycle of
training before being picked for
"I went up the ranks to under o cer
and was under training to become
command o cer, and then I joined the
air force for two years.
"I came back and rejoined the
Greymouth 36 squadron and worked
my way up to eventually become
Squadron Leader. I was with the
Greymouth No 36 Squadron Air
Training Corps for 22 years.
"I believe it is one of the better youth
groups in the country and teaches
leadership and responsibility."
Squadron Leader Roberts continued
to hold the post of unit commander
until the end of 2001, when he resigned
from the squadron, handing over
command to ight lieutenant Peter
McIntosh. He was promoted to the
rank of Squadron Leader in April 2003.
"I was at
went along to
give a hand, at
the time I was
"I went along
staying. When I started there was a
"Before being commissioned there is a
period of time to parade, it is a national
process, and when accepted I worked
my way up the o cers ranks.
"All o cers go through the process
from pilot o cer, ying o cer, ight
lieutenant and Squadron Leader. I was
unit commander for a couple of years
Peter says the Greymouth No 36
Squadron Air Training Corps is in
good heart and a positive in uence on
"ATC was designed as a disciplined
youth training organisation, which
provides young people with new
challenges and opportunities to grow
and develop while learning new skills.
It is good to see the young people
move on after going through the ATC
"It is an enjoyable organisation to be
Dark blue uniforms, ri es, drills, camps and discipline are hallmarks of the Greymouth No 36 Squadron
Air Training Corps (ATC), which this year celebrated its 70th anniversary. PAUL McBRIDE reports.
Greymouth No 36 Squadron Air Training Corps, 1987.
e ATC's rst Anzac Day parade down Tanui Street in 1944. In the background is the old
manse, now the site of the Challenge Ser vice Station, with the old Beynon home next door.
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