School of Aces
The RAF Training School that Won the Battle of Britain
- Alastair Goodrum
15th November 2023
This is the fascinating true story behind one of the key reasons that RAF Fighter Command saw such success in the Second World War and emerged victorious from the Battle of Britain – the incredible training school that transformed young men from inexperienced pilots into some of the finest airmen in the world.
From peacetime Armament Practice Camp, to fighter Operational Training Unit, to Central Gunnery School, this is the story of how, between 1926 and 1946, the RAF developed and implemented a world-beating training system. This allowed the RAF to have total faith in the men tasked with combatting the Nazi threat from the air, and School of Aces tells the astonishing story of the station through a wealth of individual stories – with famous names, drama, courage and pathos a-plenty – recalling how pilots, air gunners and ground crew came to be at RAF Sutton Bridge, what life was like for them there and what happened to them afterwards.
Prior to and during the Battles of France and Britain, RAF Sutton Bridge played a vital role in the British success by creating, in a remarkably short time, an effective training programme for potential fighter pilots. It then turned out 494 Hurricane pilots with such rapidity that summer that no fewer than 390 graduates flew as part of that illustrious band of men known forever as 'The Few'.