THE BOYS SQUADRON ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS WAS FORMED AT BOVINGTON CAMP, DORSET IN 1952.IT COMPRISED OF FOUR TROOPS AND NAMED BALACLAVA, ALAMAIN, CAMBRAI AND DETTINGEN. ON LEAVING SCHOOL AT 15 BOYS COULD JOIN THE SQUADRON AND LEAVE AT THE AGE OF 18 TO JOIN THEIR CHOSEN REGIMENTS. REGIMENTS AVAILABLE WERE CAVALRY AND TANK REGIMENTS.EACH TROOP HAD IT'S OWN BOY NCO's. THESE WERE BOY SGT, BOY CPLS AND BOY L/CPLS. THE HIGHEST RANK THAT COULD BE ACHIEVED WAS BOY SERGEANT MAJOR. TROOP STRENGTH WAS APPROXIMATELY 45. PERMANENT STAFF CAME FROM THE ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS REGIMENTS, ARMY PHYSICAL TRAINING CORPS AND THE ARMY EDUCATION CORPSAS THE BOYS WERE TRAINED IN WIRELESS, DRIVING AND MAINTENANCE AND GUNNERY TRADES THEY BECAME AN ASSET TO THEIR REGIMENTS.DURING THE PERIOD '52 TO '57 THE FOUR TROOPS WERE INCREASED BY THREE WITH THE ADDITION OF BLENHEIM, TUNIS AND WATERLOO.DURING LATE 1957 THE OVERALL STRENGTH WAS INCREASED AND RENAMED THE JUNIOR LEADERS REGIMENT.
The first boy soldiers to be posted to Bovington began training in January 1920. They were all under fifteen on enlistment and were considered to be of sufficiently high academic standard to be able to pass the Army Certificate of Education (ACE) 2 during their first year of service. There were initially 40 of them, but their number soon grew to 200. They had been recruited to make up for the lack of qualified mechanics volunteering for the Tank Corps. Their training therefore concentrated on the technical aspects of their trade. Nevertheless, a considerable portion of their time was devoted to elementary theoretical work, physical training, drill and organised games. This scheme came to an end in 1924 with the opening of the Army Apprentices’ Schools.
The next boy soldiers to arrive in Bovington did so when the Boys’ Squadron, RAC, commanded by a Major, was formed in 1952. Initially there were 44 Junior Soldiers but their number soon increased to 200. Age entry was set at 15 years and the boys were trained to take their place as crewmen in the regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps. The educational content of their course was aimed at the passing of those examinations which would give them exemption from adult soldiers’ examinations, viz:
b. Intermediate Certificate – exemption from ACE 2 – necessary for promotion to Sergeant
c. Senior Certificate – exemption from ACE 1 – necessary for promotion to Warrant Officer
The unit was obviously successful in this aim because in 1957, for instance, the last year of the unit’s existence as a squadron, 86 of the 94 boys passing out obtained the Intermediate Certificate or higher qualification.