Information sought on ATC squadron

Do you know more? The 45SQN from 1976 in Balclutha. Some names are unknown. Back row (from left): 3rd Greg Joyce, 5th John Dix, 6th Ivan Walker. Middle row (from left): 1st _ McHardy, 3rd Gerry Dix, 4th John Noble, 6th Steve Tait. Front row (from left): 2nd & 3rd are _ Garret and _ Brooks. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Historians are asking for information on an old Air Training Corps (ATC) unit based in Balclutha.

For the past three months, Hamish Cook, a unit historian at No 88 (District of Waimakariri) Squadron of the Air Training Corps, has been looking into ATC Units that have had significance to their current unit.

Mr Cook, who is based in Rangiora, has discovered traces of an ATC unit that existed in Balclutha during the war years.

‘‘I have come across a unit also numbered as 88SQN, which was based at South Otago High School.

‘‘So far, based on evidence from the Air Force Museum archives and an article from a previous Clutha Leader, I can date this 88SQN as starting in 1958 (or late ’57).

‘‘They were a school unit and would have been closely associated with the school’s army cadet unit.’’

Historian John Fenby, a teacher at South Otago High School, has been assisting Mr Cook.

He has not been able to turn up anything about 88SQN from local sources.

‘‘We have found significant evidence of a later ‘town’ squadron in Balclutha that was confidently identified by a former member as 45 Squadron,’’ Mr Cook said.

‘‘We have been able to identify and talk to former members.

‘‘It was started in the early ’70s by Gerry Dix, Steve Tait, George Garret and others and ran sometime into the ’80s.

‘‘My working theory currently is the early unit would have been disbanded soon after the end of the war or sometime in the early ’50s,’’ he said,

‘‘88SQN existed in the late ’50s and possibly early ’60s and was most certainly attached to the school. 45 Squadron came about in the early ’ 70s and existed into the ’80s. It seems there is no significant link between the three, however being the small town that it was, it’s possible some of the people knew of each other.’’

‘‘With the kind help of John and the Air Force Museum, I have been able to gather some small snippets of information.’’

Anyone with information, photographs and possible contacts can write to hamish.[email protected] or PO Box 587, Rangiora, 7440.

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