381 (Reading) Squadron was formed in February 1941 at E P Collier School, as part of the Reading Wing, which comprised four squadrons; 381, 1116, 1836 and 2068. At that time 381 had six flights of Cadets!
In the early days Air Experience Flying took place at Woodley Aerodrome in De Haviland Tiger Moths.
In 1963 the squadron moved to Brock Barracks, which has been its home ever since. The Headquarters was formally opened by the then Commandant of the Corps Air Commodore J B Coward AFC.
At first the squadron was accommodated in part of the old wartime hutments, and for some years boasted a Hawker Hunter. Sadly through maintenance difficulties this had to be withdrawn. In the late 1970’s the squadron moved into Block 5 of the barracks, and despite minor moves within the block, we are still there today.
On 13 September 1965 the squadron was presented with a banner by the then Pilot Officer R M J Whyte, a former ‘old boy’. The presentation was in commemoration of the former cadets who had served in the squadron since 1941, and also as a token of his own thanks to the unit.
One of the squadron’s proudest moments was in 1978 when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened the new Civic Centre in Reading. On this memorable occasion the squadron formed part of the Guard of Honour receiving the Queen. It seems fitting that the cadet carrying the banner in the picture at the Squadron is in fact our current Wing Commander, Chris Fisher – an ex Reading cadet!
In 1991, the Corps and 381 celebrated the 50th anniversary of their foundation. A number of events took place, the most noteworthy being a presentation of a squadron plaque to the oldest surviving squadron officer – Flying Officer Walters, whose 91st birthday fell at that time; a squadron dinner for 110 past and present members of the squadron, and an anniversary review when the squadron banner was rededicated, the reviewing officer being Air Vice Marshal A D Dick (who at the time was the squadron president). The review was a particularly grand occasion, as the 2nd Battalion the Wessex Regiment was kind enough to accompany the parade.
In December 1992 during an inspection of the banner, it was discovered that it was deteriorating, and could no longer be used. A decision was therefore taken to lay it up, and seek a replacement. Accordingly, in May 1994 the old banner was laid up in the station church at RAF Benson at a very moving ceremony, when due respect was also paid to it’s donor Flying Officer Whizz Whyte who had sadly died at an early age some years previously.
Over the years many cadets have gone on to serve in the armed forces, especially during the years of the Second World War. In more recent times ex cadets have served in the Falklands Conflict, Northern Ireland, Gulf War and in the Balkans. Sadly, one ex cadet (Fergus Rennie) was killed in Bosnia in 1994 whilst serving with the SAS. On the 31st August 1997, another former cadet (Flt Lt Mark Powell, who was serving at RAF Uxbridge with the Queens Colour Squadron) commanded the bearer party receiving the body of Diana, Princess of Wales when she was brought back to RAF Northolt in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales.
In the past, the squadron was very active in long distance marching including the Nijmegen Marches, something that the cadets have recently started again. It is still very active with cadets representing the Squadron, Wing, Region and Corps in sports, Tri-Service competitions and shooting. The cadets are also active in adventure training, and continue to work with the local community.
In recent years the squadron has had cadets attend UK and overseas camps in Gibraltar, Germany and Cyprus. The squadron has also had cadets represent the UK on the International Air Cadet Exchange to the USA in 2000 and 2005, and Ghana in 2009.