RAF Halton marks graduation parade of 500th intake

The Graduation Parade of the 500th Intake took place this week at Recruit Training Squadron (RTS) at RAF Halton.

The sun shone on a cold day as Campion Intake paraded, celebrating the end of nine weeks basic training with a fly-past by a Hawk from IV (R) Squadron at RAF Valley.  RAF Halton is also celebrating the Centenary of Flight this year with more celebrations to come.

Recruit Basic Training will now be a 10 week course taking in a week of outward bound personal development training, and today’s RTS Mission Statement is as pertinent now as it has ever been, it reads: To provide all recruits with solid foundation in the basic attitudes, knowledge, skills in order to meet the rigours and demands of the modern Air Force in delivering effective airpower.

Recruit training for men was carried out on many stations during the early years, the main camp being RAF Uxbridge. In November 1959 all the recruit-training centres for men were combined at RAF Bridgenorth. The WRAF School of Recruit Training for Women was transferred from RAF Hereford in September 1982 to form, for the first time in the history of the RAF, a joint School for Recruit Training. In September 1993, the organisation was relocated to RAF Halton. The aim of Recruit Training has not changed though, in that, ground airmen and airwomen are trained to reach the highest of standards before they progress to their professional trade training.

Station Commander, Group Captain Simon Harper, said: “As we celebrate 100 years of flight out of RAF Halton we also celebrate the Graduation of the 500th intake today.  This Graduation Parade is a significant milestone for Recruit Training Squadron and RAF Halton.  Every parade is unique, every parade is special and the men and women of Campion Intake should be rightly proud of themselves today on this important occasion.”

Reviewing Officer for the Parade was Group Captain Patrick Shea-Simonds, he said: “It has been a privilege and delight to act as Reviewing Officer for the Graduation Parade of the 500th Intake here at RAF Halton, The Gateway To The Royal Air Force.  Campion Intake can congratulate themselves on their professionalism, sharp drill and excellent turn out.  They are a credit to their instructors and families and it’s a great delight for me to welcome them to the Royal Air Force family. ”

Officer Commanding Training Wing, Wing Commander Daren Moss, on his 38th and last parade as OC Training Wing said: “The weather was kind, the drill was sharp and with a wide mix of trades represented, it was a suitable testament to the ongoing ability of RTS to turn out high-quality graduates for the RAF. Although not planned, next week also marks the start of the new 10 week Basic Recruit Training Course which shows that despite the current course being widely recognised as the best recruit training course delivered by the RAF, we aren’t prepared to sit back on our laurels and are constantly looking for ways to improve things further.

Officer Commanding RTS, Squadron Leader Joe Duhan, said: “These Graduation Parades may be a two-weekly occurrence, but they never fail to reinvigorate me, and remind me why we do what we do.  RTS instructors are exacting in their standards, and apply them rigorously, and today we saw the latest crop of Airmen who are testament to the diligence and commitment the whole team – RTS instructors and support staff – put into guiding them towards their graduation goal.”