50: Air Training Corps, Observer corps etc

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Badges of

Air Training Corps, Observer corps etc

Royal Air Force Police Auxiliaries

For around 70 years between the mid 1920’s and 90’s, the RAF Police were assisted in various locations around the world by a variety of locally recruited auxiliary guards and watchmen. In 1947 the status of these auxiliary units was formalised and placed under the control of the Provost Marshal and his deputies abroad. Consequently, the RAF Police Auxiliaries were born. It goes without saying that their contribution to the police and security task was extremely important but they also carried out their commitments proudly and without doubt in a most professional manner during their time in being. Their part in the overall picture is covered in my books: ‘Fiat Justitia’ (published 1997), ‘RAF Police Dogs on Patrol’ (published 2004), ‘RAF Police Operations in Europe’ (published 2005), ‘RAF Police Operations CapeTown to Kabul’ (to be published late 2007), ‘RAF Police Operations Bombay to Ascension’ (to be published in 2008).

Some useful information:

Paris was liberated on the 25th August 1944 and shortly afterwards the RAF Police established an office within the city. Similar offices were established later in Brussels and Antwerp as the Allied advance towards Germany gathered pace. During their move through Belgium, security sections of the RAF Police were authorised to form and establish an auxiliary security force in Brussels known as the Belgian Auxiliary Air Police Service (BAAPS) which was used to guard important stores and installations at various points throughout the country. The formation of this auxiliary unit released combat troops which were urgently needed for the push towards Germany. The force turned out to be a very successful venture and as the RAF moved through into Holland a similar type of force was formed there to carry out the same type of work.

On the 18th June 1946, in an effort to overcome post-war manpower shortages within the branch, the first 30 locally recruited RAF Police Auxiliaries reported for duty with the Far East Air Force in Singapore. After successfully completing their training at RAF Changi they were employed on a wide variety of duties throughout the region, assisting their British counterparts to carry out many of their commitments.

In 1947 the Air Ministry, in an effort to standardise the use by the RAF of miscellaneous guards and watchmen around the world, instructed all Command Provost Marshals to assume immediate responsibility for their employment and training. Accordingly, suitable native guards were absorbed by the branch under the heading of RAF Police Auxiliaries. Indeed, they soon had their own rank structure which started with constable, followed by corporal and then sergeant in the lower ranks and sub inspector, inspector and assistant superintendent in the officer ranks. Although they wore similar uniform to that of their regular RAF Police counterparts, including the brassard, they were honoured with the privilege of wearing their own distinctive cap badge and shoulder flashes.

RAF Police Auxiliaries have served with the RAF Police in Europe, Cyprus, Egypt, Libya, Aden (Riyan), Ceylon, Gan, Kenya, Singapore, Malaya and Hong Kong.

On the 18th February 1971, the RAF Police Auxiliaries, stationed in the Far East Air Force (HQ FEAF) celebrated the Silver Anniversary of their formation at RAF Changi. Since 1946, the establishment of the force had grown considerably with some four hundred multi-racial officers and other ranks being employed on a wide range of duties at various stations throughout Malaya and Singapore. During their brief history, the force had worked extremely hard from humble beginnings to earn the highest respect from their regular RAF Police counterparts and the remainder of the RAF. Indeed, they had continually distinguished themselves in all manner of ways and some 800 members of the force held the General Service Medal for their valuable campaign service in Malaya and in Borneo. In addition, 2 British Empire Medals had been awarded and commendations from the AOC, the Air Commander and the Provost Marshal had also been awarded to 10 other members of the force. Although the day’s celebrations turned out to be a great success, they did unfortunately herald the start of the intended withdrawal of the RAF from that region of the Far East.

After maintaining a presence in Berlin for almost 50 years, the American, French and British Forces, finally withdrew from the city, on the 7th September 1994, a week after the Russian Forces had withdrawn and returned home to Russia. Unfortunately, the closure of the base also meant that the last remaining members of the RAF Police Auxiliaries serving in Germany were disbanded.

In mid 1995 after being in existence for 27 years, the four man police element of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF), attached to No 2 Maritime Headquarters Unit, in Edinburgh was finally disbanded as part of the Governments `Option for Change’. The small auxiliary police unit (which did not wear the RAF Police Auxiliary Police cap badge or shoulder flashes) was initially started in 1968.

By the end of 1995 the RAF world had shrunk considerably and the use of auxiliaries by the RAF Police around the world had been discontinued.

However, at RAF Henlow on the 3rd May 2003, the first seven airmen to join No 3 (RAuxAF) Provost Squadron with Tactical Police Wing (TPW), began training to become RAF Police NCOs, able to carry out the full range of duties alongside their colleagues from the wing’s two regular squadrons in supporting military operations at home and abroad. The first RAuxAF recruits came from a variety of backgrounds and included three former RAF Police NCOs who decided to rejoin, two serving civil police officers, a senior fire officer and finally, a specialist in information technology. Unlike other RAuxAF squadrons deployed around the country who were restricted in recruiting suitable personnel from within their immediate locality, No 3 (RAuxAF) Provost Squadron was permitted to recruit suitably qualified personnel from within a one hundred and fifty mile radius of their base at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire.

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