Back in the 1950s, when the Air Training Corps was part of RAF Home Command, units were assigned to numbered Groups of the command rather than ATC Regions as at present. In 1955 the Gliding Schools ( not squadrons in those days) were renumbered in blocks of ten with the first two digits being the group number. ATC units in Scotland were assigned to 66 (Scottish) Group, Home Command and so No.1 Gliding School (GS) at Turnhouse was renumbered 661, 2 and 5 GS at Edzell became 662 and 4 GS at Abbotsinch became 663. In the same way schools in 61 Group became 61x, 62 Group 62x and so on. The numbers have been retained ever since although the unit titles have changed from Gliding School to Volunteer Gliding School and most recently to Volunteer Gliding Squadron.
664 VGS was formed more recently ( 1986 ) [ 664 VGS :: History :: ] and the reason for the choice of number is unknown, it might have been appropriate to re-use 671 as that been the previous Gliding School in Northern Ireland.
There is a comprehensive history of the ATC gliding organisation up to 1983 in the article "Cadets with Wings", by the late Ray Sturtivant, in Aviation News, Volume 11, No 24 - dated 22 April -5 May 1983.
They are Army Sqns as well with the 6 being the block, the second number being recce or attack and the last, the Regt so - 663 would be recce of 3 Regt and 653 would be attack of 3 regt.
661, 662, 663 and 664 Squadrons go back a lot further than that. No 660 Squadron was formed in Aug 1943, No 661 Squadron was formed also in August 1943, No 662 Squadron formed Sept 1943, No 663 (Polish) Squadron formed Sept 1944 in Italy and No 664 Squadron R.C.A.F. formed Dec 1944. All were formed for Air Observation (AOP) duties with Auster aircraft. Following the end of WWII many were disbanded and reformed as Flights. In 1957 when the Army Air Corps (AAC) was born a number of the Squadrons were reformed and became AAC Squadrons. In the mid 1970 action was taken to implement “New Horizon” establishments proposed under a Defence Review which saw the reorganisation of the Army Air Corps in BAOR under a Regimental basis with each Regiment having 2 Sqns thus 1 Regt consisted of 651 and 661 Sqns, 2 Regt - 652 and 662 Sqns, 3 Regt - 653 and 663 and 4 Regt 654 amd 664 Sqns with 9 Regt - 659 and 669 Sqns.
The reason for the question is that I am aware of the RAF and Army duplication on this one. I was wondering if the RAF had 'forgotten' that these Sqn numbers had passed to the Army when they decided to re-issue them.
I know that 663 VGS when compared with 663 Sqn for example has just about sufficient to discriminate them but is there, or has there ever been, a need to deconflict sqn numbers between the three services or is duplication not considered to be an issue?
Location: Teetering Towers - somewhere in the Shires
There's hardly likely to be any confusion is there? In a similar vein, a number of Air Training Corps Squadrons share their numbers with RAF flying squadrons - I think there's a 617 (ATC) in Cheshire, I know there's a 30 (ATC) in Cardiff and a 230 (ATC) in Staffordshire. Probably lots more.
In most cases, the ATC squadrons have a strong affilliation with their RAF namesakes - I wonder if any VGSs do the same?
And there's even a 633 VGS, although there was never a real sqn of that number.....
Quite right on the 633. Based at Cosford. From my understanding of it all - the numbers do come from the group and then school number route. As for 617, fairly sure they are still active. Although could be wrong as VGS units vanish very quietly every now and then, first you know of it is when their aircraft get re-alocated.
Some years ago when the RAuxAF renumbered their sqns, my squadron asked for it's old Sqn Standard back. This had been presented to us in the early 1950's as a result of our service and record flying in WW2. We were told NO as sqn standards could only be issued to flying sqns and sqns of the RAuxAF Regt. As we were neither we couldn't have the thing reissued. (They avoided the fact that we had already been issued one and were only asking for it back). Now it seems to me that a VGS which is now it seems a VG Sqn and which is at least 25 years old should apply for a standard. After all they ARE flying SQUADRONS (it would seem) and they have served the required 25 years. Is it not true that basic flying schools operating aircraft leased by the RAF are also called "Squadrons" and have custody of a Sqn Standard? What is sauce for the goose etc etc. Now I am sure that the answer will be a very loud NO but it might be fun for some VG Sqn Cdr to put in the paperwork just to make the civil servents run around for a bit.
Out of interest, do you know who made the decision - and what the rationale was - for treating RAuxAF Sqns (including the former RAFVR Flights) differently in standard terms from RAuxAF Regiment Sqns? I understand that the decision has been made, but on the face of it, it's not very equitable - esp. as going off to the sandpit is hardly limited to the RAuxAF Regiment these days.....
Don't mean to offend any Kinloss personnel, but they didn't want to have us on their website when we last asked (was a fair while ago though). They don't even claim on their website that the Vigilants are based there, or acknowledge the VGS. Unfortunately, we don't have the money, or enough expertise, to do our own.