RAF Air Cadets

1039 (Gillingham) Squadron was founded in 1941, only to be one of many squadrons disbanded after the second world war. But of course, this wasn’t permanent, and in 1950, 1039 (Gillingham) Squadron was reborn.

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The early years

When 1039 (Gillingham) Squadron first opened its doors in February 1942, the cadets met at Gillingham Grammar School for Boys in Third Avenue, Gillingham.

That August, it moved to Barnsole Road, Gillingham, to a site previously occupied by Littles Builders. The upstairs room was converted into a main hall with a stage at one end, built by the cadets, and the workshops were converted into Morse signal cubicles. The squadron remained here until it was disbanded at the end of the Second World War.

When the squadron reformed in 1950, the new headquarters was the Drill Hall in Watling Street, Gillingham, which consisted of three Nissen Huts. At the same time, the WTA were training in a former nursery in Marlborough Road, Gillingham, and asked if 1039 (Gillingham) Squadron would agree to exchange premises. Believing the new site to be more suitable to the squadron’s requirements, the officers and Civilian Committee agreed.

Marlborough Road

Most of 1039 (Gillingham) Squadron’s former cadets spent their cadet career at the Marlborough Road headquarters. From 1951 until 2014, the building saw thousands of young people pass through its doors as they enjoyed all that the RAF Air Cadets has to offer.

Between 1955 and 1987, 1039 was put forward for the Lees Trophy for the best squadron in the country five times, winning the trophy in 1955.

At the forefront of change, 1039 was one of the first squadrons to accept girls when new regulations came into effect in 1985. Until then, only boys could enjoy the extensive opportunities and benefits that the RAF Air Cadets have to offer.

Marlborough Road saw cadets for the last time on 31 January 2014.

Joint Cadet Centre

Since 3 February 2014, 1039 (Gillingham) Squadron has met at its new, purpose-built headquarters in Watling Street, Gillingham. It shares the site with two local Army Cadet detachments, but has its own offices, classrooms and training hall, which were officially opened by Group Captain Leslie Hakin, Regional Commandant for London & South East Region Air Cadets, on 4 July 2014.

Officers commanding

Since our formation in 1941, 1039 (Gillingham) Squadron has been led by 15 different officers commanding. They are:

Flight Lieutenant
T Metcalf


Flight Lieutenant
S W Taylor


Flight Lieutenant
W Bowers


Flight Lieutenant
H F Brundle


Flight Lieutenant
P Curran


Flight Lieutenant
J Gray


Flight Lieutenant
F Chapman


Flight Lieutenant
A Barker


Flight Lieutenant
A Huitson


Flight Lieutenant
S Masters


Flight Lieutenant
P Collins


M Bairnsfather


Flight Lieutenant
K Powell


Warrant Officer
M Bairnsfather


Flight Lieutenant
L Postill


Pilot Officer
A Collins Rosell


Key dates


24 February 1941

Civilian Committee Chairmen

Alderman F W Bowman JP

Mr W Goddard

Mr E Frowe

Mr K Smith

Ms S Jones

Mr D Jackson

Flt Lt L West RAFVR(T) (Ret'd)

Mr F McSherry

Mrs M Butcher

Mrs M MacArthur

Notable Awards

1955 Lees Trophy Winners

1967 Lees Trophy Wing Representative

1975 Lees Trophy Wing Representative

1985 Lees Trophy Regional Winner

1987 Lees Trophy Wing Representative

In memorium

Captain David Wood

One former 1039 (Gillingham) Squadron cadet who is forever remembered by the squadron is David A. Wood.

A former Cadet Warrant Officer, David Wood saw active service with the RAF Regiment and the Parachute Regiment, before losing his life in the Falklands War on 28 May 1982.

01634 854363


Joint Cadet Centre
Watling Street

Monday 18:45 to 21:30
Friday 18:45 to 21:30

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