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Royal New Zealand Air Force



In September 1938 it was decided to compile a register of tradesmen and potential administrative and technical officers who could be called upon to serve with the RNZAF in event of emergency. The Munich crisis made it appear that war might break out at any time, and the scheme was put into effect immediately. It was widely publicised by the press and radio, and by posters and circulars to employers. In particular, all garages and engineering firms were asked to bring the scheme to the notice of their employees, as fitters were most urgently required. Applications embracing the following Air Force trades were called for:

Wireless operator Radio mechanic
Electrician Photographer
Instrument maker Fabric worker
Coppersmith Cabinetmaker
Sheet-metal worker Clerk and storeman
Fitter gunsmith

Men between the ages of 22 and 55 were invited to enrol, and by doing so were required, in the event of war, to join the RNZAF for service within New Zealand.

Enrolment forms were distributed to all post offices by 20 December, and three weeks later a total of 3845 applications had been received, comprising 655 Group I (professional men), 1790 Group II (skilled tradesmen), and 1400 Group III (administrative tradesmen). From these a register of reservists was compiled which comprised three lists: one alphabetical, one geographical, and one by trades.

During the following year as many of the reservists as possible were interviewed by investigating officers appointed for the purpose, page 38 so that a better basis could be obtained for assessing their potential value to the RNZAF. At the outbreak of war a number of reservists were called up for immediate employment at Hobsonville and Wigram.

The expansion of the RNZAF immediately before the war was so rapid that the Technical Training School at Hobsonville could not train sufficient fitters and riggers for the service. It was therefore decided that a number of airmen should be trained in the railway workshops at Otahuhu, Hutt, Addington, and Hillside. Previously it had been planned that a number of the workshops apprentices should be given a course in Air Force trades at the conclusion of their Railways training. On completing their course the trainees were to be posted to the Civil Reserve and were liable to join the Air Force in the event of war.

The two schemes were combined, and technical training centres were opened in each of the railway workshops. The first to begin training was at Hutt, in July 1939. The others received their first intakes shortly after the war began. The scheme continued until September 1940, when the increased facilities for technical training within the RNZAF made it possible to close the technical training centres. During their period of operation the centres trained a total of 595 flight riggers and flight mechanics.