Locomotive Nameplate

A Battle of Britain class steam locomotive adopted the nameplate ‘Royal Auxiliary Air Force’ at an unveiling service held at the Nene Valley Railway on 27 May 2023.  The service, sponsored by the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Foundation and master-minded by one of its Trustees, Squadron Leader Alfie Hall,  was the first of a number of events to be held to mark the  centenary of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force in 2024. Short presentations by the Foundation’s Chairman, Group Captain Richard Mighall, and the Force’s Commandant General, Air Vice-Marshal Ranald Munro, preceded the unveiling of the nameplate by Honorary Air Commodores  Veronica Pickering and Dr Marcia  McLaughlin of 504 and 7644 Squadrons respectively. The cutting of a celebratory cake followed, and the Service concluded with a fly-past by a Spitfire of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Music was provided throughout by members of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Band, and 7644 Squadron provided media coverage.

Queen's Volunteer Reserve Medal recipients

The Locomotive’s History

The locomotive was one of a number of so-called ‘Battle of Britain’ class locomotives which displayed on their sides the badges and nameplates of individuals and RAF Stations associated with the Battle. Also displayed were the badges and nameplates of many but not all of the 48 Royal Air Force and 14 Auxiliary Air Force fighter squadrons which took part in the Battle.

In the 1960s, with the advent of diesel and electric engines, the steam-driven Battle of Britain class locomotives were taken out of service, and most of them were scrapped. Fortunately, thanks to the diligence and far-sightedness of a few railway enthusiasts, 9 were rescued and have been saved for posterity. As for the badges and number plates, some were scrapped along with their parent locomotives, but a good number ended-up in museums or in private collections. Today, they are much sought after railway memorabilia and command a high price at auctions.

This particular  Southern Railways locomotive was one of the ones rescued from the scrapyard. Also rescued were its 92 Squadron badge and 92 Squadron nameplate. The locomotive was painstakingly restored by volunteers over a number of years and emblazoned with its original 92 Sqn regalia.

Last year, in recognition of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force’s impending Centenary celebrations in2024 – and of the invaluable contribution made by the Auxiliary Squadrons during combat operations – the Battle of Britain Locomotive Society kindly agreed that the 92 Squadron badge and nameplate could be replaced with a new cast brass nameplate entitled ‘Royal Auxiliary Air Force’ – a gesture which is greatly appreciated by all those associated with today’s Force. The 92 Squadron nameplate will be later reinstated –  at which time the Royal Auxiliary Air Force nameplate will be auctioned with the net proceeds going to the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Foundation.

Evacuation from Sudan

During the last two weeks of  April 2023, 35 RAuxAF  personnel from 4624 (County of Oxford) Squadron provided specialist air movements reinforcements at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire and RAF Akrotiri, and Larnaca in Cyprus in support of the evacuation of British nationals from war-torn Sudan.  They handled 15 flights involving 2146 evacuees.

The Cyprus contingent who, fortuitously, had deployed to Cyprus for annual training, met the Commander British Forces Cyprus who expressed his appreciation for their professionalism and hard work.

Honorary Air Commodores’ Conference

Almost all RAuxAF Sqns and Units  have an Honorary Air Commodore (HAC).  Most HACs are are prominent figures in civilian life, although some are retired RAF Air officers. HACs act as advocates for the RAF and RAuxAF in their sectors, provide advice to the RAF leadership team and support their RAuxAF Sqns, all on a voluntary unpaid basis.

The HACs attend a face to face Conference once a year, travelling from all 4 corners of the UK to be briefed on the latest RAF strategic issues, operational context and organisational changes, as well as to be briefed on and contribute to the RAuxAF plans, policies and capabilities. The  2023 HACs’ Conference was held on 10/11 April  at RAF Cranwell. Guest speakers included the Chief of the Air Staff desigbnate Air Chief Marshal Sir Rich Knighton.

Sir Rich addresses HACs


The attendees at the conference also had the opportunity to the visit the Fighter Control Museum at RAF Digby which proved to be very popular.

RAF Digby Museum

Coronation Garden Party

The Royal Auxiliary Air Force Foundation was delighted to have been invited to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III  at a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on 9th May.  Group Captains Richard Mighall and Gary Bunkell, and Squadron Leader and Mrs Alfie Hall were the appointed representatives. Sadly, however, Squadron Leader and Mrs Hall were, to their great disappointment, unable to attend as Mrs Hall had tested positive  for coronavirus the day before.


Despite the ominous forecast, the weather was perfect, and the rain held off throughout.

The event was hosted by the Prince and Princess of Wales who, with other members of the Royal Family, circulated amongst the guests. The Foundation’s two attendees were honoured to meet and talk with the Foundation’s Patron. His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester.