Air Vice Marshall HR Nicholls reviews the passing out parade of the first Cosford apprentices Entry, July 25 1939
The rapid expansion of the RAF in the 1930s required additional aircrew and technicians to fly and maintain the aircraft. The Apprentice scheme was expanded and Cosford was chosen as the site for a new school of technical training.
The first trainees arrived at Cosford in August 1938 to commence their training on a building site. Furniture for the barracks had arrived from Halton and was put into rooms which were a long way from being finished. Even during the winter months, instruction took place in hangars without the large 'Eclair' doors and in classrooms without glass in the windows.
Wartime training was intense. Civilian instructors suddenly found themselves in uniform and were trained or 'refreshed' in Service duties. Cosford trained armourers, radar technicians and engine and airframe fitters throughout the war and the trainees included French, Poles, Czechs and Rumanians. Normal strength of the unit was approximately 9000 throughout the war.
No.9 Maintenance Unit was formed on the airfield in 1939. It was responsible for the receipt and despatch of a wide variety of aircraft ranging from Spitfire to Lysander, Hudson to Horsa glider. At its peak the MU was handling 400-500 aircraft movements each month.