A A S Thompson MC, AFC. The first Station Commander of RAF Cardington 1936
1936 proved to be a pivotal year in the history of the airship works. The site became part of the RAF and was known as No 1 Balloon Training Unit (N0 1 BTU Cardington). The first ever Commander of the new station was the much decorated Group Captain Arthur Thomson (more details of this man can be found in the RAF Personnel page in the Peoples Gallery section).
Now part of the RAF Cardington took on extra responsibilities and in 1937 No 2 School of Recruits Training was transferred in from Henlow and offered 12 weeks training for new recruits (later reduced to 8 weeks with the threat of war becoming serious) . Details of this unit can be found in the Units at RAF Cardington section.
With the prospect of war looking more likely training of barrage balloon operators was stepped up at Cardington as was the research and development of balloons.
1938 was a very busy year for the Camp as increasingly more and more young recruits were arriving for initial selection and training. It is known that the local workforce was used to build more huts for the new arrivals. The Empire Air Days were held up and down the country to inform and educate the public of the advances made in aviation. This map was taken from the interior of an official Empire Air Day programme for 1938.
This map of the camps was issued to visitors for the annual Empire Day heldat Cardington in 1938.
It is interesting to note that as late as 1938 the station was open to the general public and maps freely given out. Twelve months later this freedom of information would be inconceivable.