During the Second World War over 1600 Apprentices died as a result of combat, accident, illness or as a
consequence of incarceration as a POW during the war years. Their sacrifice is commemorated by a Roll of Honour
(ROH) which is reproduced here as a part of the Old Haltonians' Website.
The actual bound book resides as a permanent archive in a glass cabinet in St.George's Church at Halton where
it was placed following a dedication ceremony conducted on the 4th November 2008. The ceremony was attended by
many ex-Apprentices and the Deputy Chairman, Group Captain Min Larkin, gave a dedication address as follows:
I start by quoting from a speech given by our founder, Lord Trenchard, in the House of
Lords on 6th December 1944:
“Some of your Lordships will remember that after the last war we set up in the Air Force a very large training school at
Halton. It was a great experiment, bitterly criticized at the time. Nevertheless I feel justified in
saying that the experiment has richly justified itself. There’s no doubt at all in my opinion that Halton and the
Halton spirit have been a pillar of strength to the Royal Air Force all over the world.
The Halton trained men have provided the nucleus on which the great expansion of the Air Force was centred and they have set
and maintained an extraordinary high standard of efficiency. You have only to look at the promotions and the
honours gained – over 1000 high honours and a large number of these men are very senior Air-Vice Marshals and Air Commodores
running the highest offices in the Air Force.
Surely the efficient maintenance of aircraft has also been one of the outstanding features of the war and that has been made
possible by the Halton training of our men.”
Clearly our founder was proud of the of the outstanding contribution to victory in WW2, made by his Brats, as they were
affectionately known, and he had very good reason to be so. Their achievements were out of all proportion to
their numbers, only some 17000 compared with a peak of over 1m serving in the RAF during the war. Halton Brats
served world-wide in every operational theatre. During the Battle of Britain 116 former Halton boys flew as
fighter pilots destroying over 100 enemy aircraft. Several thousand served in the operational commands as aircrew.
Halton Apprentices provided the first aircraft mechanics for the Fleet Air Arm, many serving on Aircraft
Carriers throughout the war. But the vast majority of former Halton Brats did the job for which their Halton
training had prepared them – efficient aircraft maintenance which, as Lord Trenchard had alluded – was so vital to the war
During the inter-war years Lord Trenchard often visited Halton, each time extolling apprentices never to accept second best.
The high regard in which Halton Brats were held and their reputation for producing excellent engineering
standards shows that our Founder’s advice was well and truly heeded. Justifiably, Halton Brats were dubbed the
Backbone of the Royal Air Force.
But this huge achievement did not come without loss of life. The 17000 mentioned earlier were from the Entries
that gave wartime service, the 1st to the 44th, of these over 1600 made the supreme sacrifice, almost 10% of the school
at the time. They lie in 56 countries across the world with 475 having no known grave. Of these, most
lie in the North Sea, the English Channel, the Mediterranean and the South China Sea. Twenty were lost when HMS
Glorious was sunk off Norway and a further 15 went down with the Troopship Anselm in the North Atlantic. Some two
thirds of those who died were Aircrew; Pilots, Flight Engineers, Air Signallers, Gunners and Navigators. Fifty
One died while prisoners in the hands of the Japanese after appalling ill-treatment.
As our founder said, over 1000 former Halton Apprentices were decorated during the war. One, Sgt Thomas Gray of
the 20th Entry, was one of the first two airmen in WW2 to receive, posthumously, the Victoria Cross.
One of Lord Trenchard’s aims in creating the Apprentice Scheme in 1920 was to provide the service with a cadre of highly
motivated airmen who would play a vital part in any future conflict. This vision was realised beyond measure.
We are here today to commemorate our gallant friends and colleagues of the 1st to the 44th Entries who gave
their lives in WW2. Their names, recorded in this book of remembrance, liveth for evermore. I now ask
the Padre to dedicate the book.
The ROH is presented here classified by both
Alphabetical order and by Entry number.
We shall remember them.