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Department of Specialist Ground Training

The Training of Engineer and Supply Officers in the Royal Air Force

A Living History

Although the Stores and Technical Branches of the Royal Air Force were not formed until 1920 and 1940 respectively, equipment officers (both technical and stores) were extensively employed in the Royal Flying Corps from 1915 onwards. Initially, training was conducted at Farnborough but by the middle of 1916 a school for equipment officers had been established at the No 1 School of Military Aeronautics, Reading, to provide instruction in stores accounting and the maintenance of engines, aeroplanes and mechanical transport. Later, in 1918, a dedicated school for the training of technical officers was formed at Henley. However, as a result of the famous memorandum on the post-war organization of the Royal Air Force drawn up in 1919 by Lord Trenchard, it was decided that specialist technical duties were to be undertaken by general duties officers in between flying-related appointments. The remaining supply-related duties, previously performed by equipment officers, were to be undertaken by personnel of the newly formed Stores Branch.

Specialist engineering training for general duties officers was undertaken at the Officers Engineering School, formed at RAF Henlow in 1924. In 1936, the Officers Engineering School was renamed the Royal Air Force School of Aeronautical Engineering, still based at RAF Henlow. This subsequently became, in 1947, the Royal Air Force Technical College absorbing, in 1949 and 1950 respectively, the separate Schools of Armament and Signals (previously the Empire Air Armament School at Eastchurch and the Empire Radio School at Debden).

Training of stores officers was initially undertaken at Kidbrooke at the School of Stores Accounting and Storekeeping, but by the early 1930's had transferred to the Home Aircraft Depot at Henlow. In 1936, when the Stores Branch was renamed the Equipment Branch, the training of officers was the responsibility of the Equipment Training School at Cranwell. After the Second World War, a separate Wing of the Royal Air Force College was set up at Digby to train officers of the Equipment and Secretarial Branches, but this re-located to Cranwell in 1953.


In January 1966, the Royal Air Force Technical College at RAF Henlow closed, reforming as the Department of Engineering within the Royal Air Force College, housed in the new purpose-built Trenchard Hall. Subsequently, in 1974, the Department assumed responsibility for supply and secretarial officer training, changing its title, which it still bears, to the Department of Specialist Ground Training. In 1980, however, the secretarial officer training task was transferred leaving the Department responsible solely for the initial and professional training of engineer and supply officers and other specialist staff.

DSGT Crest

In 1995 the Department of Specialist Ground Training was awarded its own badge, comprising Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom and patron of skilled craftsmen, to signify the strong link with the Royal Air Force Technical College, and a quiver to reflect the training of supply officers.  The quiver's sling is represented by a chain, alluding to the support chain that links the Engineer and Supply logistics functions, whilst the motto, "Doctrina Pro Subsido", may loosely be translated as 'Training for Support'.


Date Last Updated : Monday, December 8, 2003 10:00 AM

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