Army Apprentices School, Harrogate
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The Army Apprentices School, Harrogate (AAS Harrogate), established in 1947, was an Army Apprentices School sited either side of Penny Pot Lane, outside Harrogate using Uniacke and Hildebrande Barracks. The School was renamed the Army Apprentices College, Harrogate (AAC Harrogate) in 1966 (in line with other such establishments) and thus remained so until its eventual closure after the Final Graduation Parade on 2 August 1996 of intake 94C.
The early years
The trades taught at the school in the 1950s, divided into categories according to which Corps the apprentices would join on completion of their course, (each course usually lasting three years at that time) were:
- Royal Army Service Corps – Clerks (two year course) (Moved elsewhere in late 1955—certainly by 1970 the Royal Army Ordnance Corps were training All Arms Clerks in their Depot at Deepcut, Camberley, Surrey)
- Royal Artillery – Artillery surveyors
- Royal Engineers – Architectural draughtsmen, Bricklayers, Carpenters and joiners, Electricians, Land surveyors and map makers, Painters and decorators, Plumbers and pipefitters, Quantity surveying assistants.
- Royal Signals – Mechanics (Line, Radio, Telegraph) and Operators (wireless and line, Keyboard)
In the early 1950s The school had 5 companies 'A', 'B', 'C', 'D' and 'HQ' the latter being the intake company in which new recruits remained for 6 months after which time they moved to their trade related company. 'B' and 'D' companies were predominately R Signals whilst 'A' and 'B' companies were comprised mainly of RE tradesmen. C Company had Bricklayers, Carpenters. Plumbers and (?) Painters and Decorators whilst Surveyors, Draughtsman, Quantity surveyors and Electricians were part of A company The RE Survey wing (Royal Engineers land surveyors and mapmakers) moved from AAS Harrogate to AAS Chepstow over a period of a year between 1960 and 1961. Survey apprentices were trained there until Chepstow Army Apprentices College (as it had become in 1966) was finally closed in 1994.
In September 1991, the College accepted female new recruits. The Royal Corps of Signals has traditionally - since the 1980s - had a large share of female intake. Previously, all female Royal Signals recruits were put through basic training at Guildford (home of the Womans Royal Army Corps) and then, Catterick, North Yorkshire, UK - home of the Royal Signals until 1993, when it completely shifted operations to Blandford, Dorset.
The Army Foundation College, Harrogate now occupies Uniacke barracks.
In 1968 under the stewardship of S/Sgt Alan Dobison the AAC Harrogate football team of Scott Sqn became the 1st AAC team to retain the Army AAC's FA Cup. In a thrilling final in 1967 they defeated Phillips Sqn of Harrogate 7 - 6 in a mud bath after being 6 - 1 down at half time. In 1968 they defeated AAC Arborfield 2 - 1 in another exciting final. A feat which was remarkable because Scott Sqn "lost" 8 members of the 1967 team who had passed out from the College.
The classification of squadrons as trade-based occurred in late 1969, before to this the trades were mixed. Prior to the split there were five squadrons; Penney, Philips, Scott, Rawson and the Recruit Squadron. After the reorganisation, Recruit Squadron was disbanded and recruits were trained in their own trade squadron. The initial formations were: Penney (Technicians), Philips (Technicians), Rawson (Tg Ops, A Ops, and Spec Ops), Scott (Tg Ops, A Ops, and Spec Ops), Bradley (B Ops). The reorganisation, together with the welcome change to the Army Catering Corps handling the cookhouse, was done under the new Commandant, Col Johnnie Clinch.
The secondary form of competition but equally as important was the 'Triangular Games', which was an athletics and indoor sports event that was hosted annually (in rotation) by the three co-existing Army Apprentices Colleges of the Royal Corps of Signals, The Royal Engineers and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, respectively.
The Champion Squadron competition was a physically punishing event. Its most feared (in case of selection) was the CBT event where a team of 6–8 squaddies had to do 1.5 miles (in full SOP) around the camp road circuit whilst carrying the equivalent in weight of an injured soldier on a stretcher. This was always measured using three full jerry-cans of water.
- Army Foundation College, Harrogate
- Lieutenant General Sir Herbert Uniacke KCB KCMG
- Brigadier General Arthur Blois Ross Hildebrand CB CMG DSO
- Col James Power Carne VC DSO was once Commandant of AAS Harrogate
- Military Survey (Geographic) Branch of the Royal Engineers Association
- John Oakley's time at AAS Harrogate
- 1967 Recruit Squadron ('67C') and 1970 Senior Term Photographs