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Sunday, 3 April 2011

1940's Disney Link for 1224

by Cadet Flight Sergeant Sam White

Over the past few months, and spurred on by the discovery of a hoarde of historical photographs of 1224 spanning from the 1940's onwards, I have been researching the history of 1224 (Wharfedale), or as it was once known, 1224 (Ilkley) Squadron.

A few months back I was looking up the Squadron on Google (as you do) and came across a very interesting patch for sale on an American website depicting the classic Disney character Jiminy Cricket trying to learn how to fly by reading a book but somehow the seller had managed to link it to 1224.
I contacted the owner of the website asking if he had any more information on the patch. He got back to me and said that during World War 2 Disney would design patches for various military units and that Disney would select a character and draw them in a situation that would be relevant to the units existence (in the case of 1224 Jiminy Cricket learning the principles of flight and flying from a book) that he bought it at a large American gun show around 1985.
I asked all of the staff at the Squadron but nobody seemed to know about this mysterious patch!

Fast forward a few months and during a cleanout of various filing cabinets on Sqn we managed to find something that blew us all away!

During 1989, a previous OC of 1224, Flt Lt Malcolm Bates had actually contacted Disney regarding the patch (though the initial letter from Flt Lt Bates cannot be found) and received a reply from Disney archivist David R Smith and enclosed was a copy of the reason why this patch was linked to 1224.

In 1942, during a discussion about designing a crest for 'B Flight', Brian Dean, a cadet at 1224 (Ilkley) Squadron suggested writing to Walt Disney prompted by an article in 'Illustrated' about Disney designing crests for the Air Force during the war.
The Commanding Officer agreed to the plan and Cadet Dean wrote to Walt Disney (as he was already going to write anyway to ask for his autograph!) and little over a month later he received a reply from Disney along a with the Jiminy Cricket design!

The fact that none of the current staff knew about this made the discovery even more amazing and gave a massive boost to my project of researching the history of the Squadron!

I wonder what happened to Cadet Brian Dean, or if he ever got his autograph. And how the patch came to be in California in the first place...

If anybody has any information regarding the patch please don't hesitate to get in contact with us!

The original letter can be downloaded here!

Many of the photos that were recently found have been scanned and uploaded to the Squadrons gallery at http://picasaweb.google.com/1224sqn.atc and we would be grateful if anybody who had any information about the photos (since there was no information with many of them) could get in touch!