Volunteering for service (March 1943)
In February 1943, a concession was introduced which stated that anyone applying for training as aircrew (other than in the positions of pilot and observer) would not be subject to the limitations set out in the Schedule of Reserved Occupations. (The same concession was made for anyone applying for training in the positions of pilot or observer in January 1941).
It is not known if this concession triggered Cecil to apply to join the Royal Air Force but in March 1943 he attended an interview at his local Employment Exchange where he was duly instructed to submit himself for assessment by a medical board on 24th March 1943.
Following his medical he was classified as Grade I (One) and the information was recorded on his Grade Card (NS55). He was interviewed by a recruiting officer from the RAF before returning home to await further instructions.
An example of a Medical Grade Card [NS55] (1944)
In early April, he received instructions to attend a two-day assessment at an Aviation Candidates Selection Board (ACSB).
As directed, on 9th April 1943, he packed a small suitcase, his civilian respirator and the requisite paperwork and travelled to No 2 Recruit Centre at RAF Cardington in Bedfordshire.
Over the next couple of days he was medically examined and sat a General Intelligence Test (GIT) and an Elementary Maths Test (EMT).
On the second day (10th April 1943), he was interviewed by an Aviation Candidate Selection Board (ACSB7) and at the end of the process, the board recommended him “for training as flight mechanic, potential flight engineer”.
Cecil was sent before the Attestation Officer where, after formally signing his Notice Paper (Form 2168), he was asked to swear allegiance to his King and Country:
Having completed his assessment, Cecil was enlisted in the RAF “for the duration of the present emergency” (d.p.e.) and placed “on reserve” (which was standard RAF procedure at the time); once again, he returned home to await further instruction.
It is not clear whether he was given a silver RAFVR lapel badge to show that he had “volunteered”, as the use of these badges was being phased out during 1943.
He received a letter from the Secretary of State for Air, which welcomed him into the RAF and advised him that he would be called up as soon as he was required; he now had to patiently await that call up.