858 Squadron were approached in late July with a very personal request from a gentleman named Reg Redford.
Reg wrote a letter asking if he could purchase a set of gliding wings as he was once a cadet not in the Air Training Corps as we all know it today, but in the Air Defence Cadet Corps of old!
Reg was a cadet at 16(F) Squadron based in Wood Green in London. In 1939 Reg was selected for the gliding scholarship and flew in the RFD Primary or ‘Dagling’ glider. These gilders are nothing like the modern day fibreglass machines. Reg had to sit in a bucket seat with just a lap strap holding him in, the right hand gripped the stick and the left held on to the seat. Reg said that “the instructors started with the details of the commands that would be called out and what to do. There was no dual control so every flight was a solo.”
So not only did Reg fly these gliders solo he had to learn how to fly in now unconceivable ways! However, Reg was able to complete the training (and with only a few mishaps) and was trained to the ‘A’ Class Licence.
With having been told all this in his letter the staff at 858 started to make enquiries. Sergeant (ATC) Dominic Chisholm contacted South and East Midlands Wing HQ to try and source a set of wings for Reg. One of the administrative assistants at Wing HQ, Denise Wright, was incredibly helpful and got in touch with a lady called Rachel Rich who was able to send a set of wings out to give to Reg.
Sergeant Chisholm and Officer in Charge of 858 Flying Officer William Kellock RAFVR paid Reg a visit in his home and presented the wings in person to Reg, and the wings didn’t cost him a penny.
Reg said that “I am forever grateful to SGT Chisholm and Flying Officer Kellock for presenting me with a set of wings. I would also like to thank to two kind ladies who have helped them in getting them to me as I have been told that they have played a big part in me getting them. This is a lovely memento of my time in the ADCC.”
Reg is now 92 years old and after leaving the ADCC he joined the Royal Air Force and served for 7 years and managed to sneak flights in a Lancaster Bomber, Anson and a dominie to name but a few. All the staff and cadets at 858 (Rushden) Squadron would like to wish Reg all the best for the future.