What makes a volunteer?
The reserve forces of the Royal Air Force have been the focus of my research for a good many years now. I found it fascinating to learn that young men, often from wealthy backgrounds were prepared to volunteer to join either the Auxiliary Air Force, or from 1936 onwards, the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. The Auxiliary Air Force (AAF) was formed around 1925, and volunteers, had to be asked to join, by individual commanding officers, one of twenty-one squadrons. I started my research when I was a secondary school teacher, teaching history to 11-16 years in Stockton on Tees. I found that 608 (North Riding) Squadron had been based at Thornaby Aerodrome, which was around five miles from where I lived. I began my research in 2002, and have subsequently been on a journey of research resulting in two books, an MPhil, a PhD and being the project historian on the Spitfire Project in Thornaby. As I began my research, I realised that there was very little written about the reserve forces of the RAF. And what there actually was, was based on the experiences of 600 (City of London) and 601 (County of London) squadrons. In fact it was the quote below which captured my imagination and led me to where I am today.