Robins Trophy

Force Awards – 2022

.The Royal Auxiliary Air Force awards for 2022 have recently been announced. Details are as follows:


Ser. Trophy / Award Purpose & Eligibility Winner for Year Apr 21-22
1 Robins Trophy Awarded annually to the RAuxAF unit judged to have done most to improve the good name and efficiency of the RAuxAF during the year.

502 (Ulster) Sqn RAuxAF 

There were 3 strong candidates for this award and notable mentions go to 4624 Sqn and the RAuxAF Band, however, 502 Sqn have managed to retain the Trophy

2 Inspector’s Cup Awarded annually to the RAuxAF unit judged to have had a particularly notable achievement during the year.

602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron RAuxAF


For the support they provided to COP 26

3 Clyde PR Trophy Awarded annually to the RAuxAF unit judges to have had the highest performance in Public Relations during the year.

603 (City of Edinburgh) Sqn  RAuxAF


For a strong performance that encompassed a collaborative enterprise between the Sqn and their local radio stations and an outstanding national employer engagement event.

4 Kemp Dirk Awarded annually to the RAuxAF Unit which has achieved the best recruiting or retention results during the year.

2503 (County of Lincoln) Sqn RAuxAF


Significant improvement of casework and extremely proactive in migration to the new recruiting IT system.

5 Inspectors’ Shield Awarded annually to a RAuxAF PTVR SNCO of any trade who has done the most to ensure the success of their unit during the year.

504 (County of Nottingham) Sqn RAuxAF

In addition to running the family business he has established and built the 504 Sqn Eng Flt from scratch and his excellent leadership underpins the high morale and commitment of personnel on the Eng Flt.

6 Pooley Sword Awarded as and when deserved to a RAuxAF Officer (any TCoS) judged to have displayed outstanding leadership. Not awarded.

502 Squadron Nurse Awarded Top Honour

Squadron Leader Mary B O’Neill of 502 (Ulster) Squadron has been awarded the prestigious King’s Volunteer Reservist Medal in the 2023 New Year Honours List.

Squadron Leader O’Neill joined the Squadron in 2015 as a Senior Nursing Officer having transferred from the  Army Reserves. In 2018, she received a commendation for her work in establishing the nursing cadre at the Squadron..  That same year, she  took up an Additional Duties Commitment post as Officer Commanding the Squadron’s Medical Reserves Flight. In 2022, she mobilised as a Hospital Liaison Officer with the Military Assistance Civilian Authority during the covid outbreak, and later that year she received the Defence Nurse of the Year award from the Royal College of Nursing in recognition of her meritorious service whilst performing both covid and military duties.

She will retire from 502 Squadron in 2023 having completed 23 years as a reservist she will, however, continue as a Nurse in the National Health Service.

Commemorative Tree

On the 29th October 2022, the Queens’s Volunteer Reserves Medal Association (QVRM) planted and dedicated a Copper Beech in Windsor Great Park to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee and to support  the Queen’s Green Canopy project. Eight Royal Auxiliary Air Force recipients of the Medal were present.

Wg Cdr Mike Almond, WO Shobha Earl, Wg Cdr Alison Moodie, WO Mo Kendall, Sqn Ldr Frank Shannon, Wg Cdr Noz Orzell, Wg Cdr Steve Duddy
Also present was Gp Capt Gary Bunkell (photographer)




The QVRM Association is open to all recipients of the QVRM which is presented to members of the Volunteer Reserves of the British Armed Services for exemplary service in the conduct of their duties.






Treasured Links

The Royal Auxiliary Air Force enjoyed a long and much-valued association with Her Majesty beginning in June 1951 when, as The Princess Elizabeth, she became the  the Honorary Air Commodore of 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron. At the same time she presented the Squadron with the Esher Trophy. She visited the Squadron on a number of occasions over the years, often accompanied by her husband, His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh. Her Majesty remained the Squadron’s Honorary Air Commodore until her death.

In 1952,  following the death of her father, King George VI,  Her Majesty took over his mantle as the Force’s Air Commodore-in-Chief – an appointment she held throughout her reign.

On June 1953 Force personnel participated in Her Majesty’s Coronation.

On 1 July 1953, Force personnel and aircraft participated in Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force Coronation Review held at Royal Air Force Benson.

On 30 June 1955, Her Majesty presented 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron with ‘The Standard’ at the Palace of Holyrood House.

When the Force’s Flying Squadrons were disbanded in 1957, Her Majesty invited all of the Commanding Officers to Buckingham Palace where she gave them this note: “I wish as Air Commodore-in-Chief to thank Officers, Airmen and Airwomen of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force for all that they have given to the service of the country by their enthusiasm, their spirit and their devotion in peace and war.  It is a sad day when it is necessary to tell so many that it is no longer possible to use their services, on the duties they have assumed so willingly. I wish them to know that they can look back with pride and satisfaction to service well done.

In 1962, Her Majesty received Group Captain The Right Honorable Sir Peter Vanneck at a private audience at Buckingham Palace on the occasion of his appointment as the Inspector of the Force. He was again received by her Majesty for a private audience in 1973 when he relinquished the appointment. Succeeding Inspectors, Group Captains Robbie Robins, Peter Harris, Mike Tinley, Richard Mighall, Bob Kemp, and Gary Bunkell were afforded the same honour of private audiences with Her Majesty.

On 26 October 1974, Her Majesty and The Queen Mother attended a civic reception at The Guildhall to mark the 50th anniversary of the Force.

On 12 June 1989, Her Majesty presented the Force with its first Sovereign’s Colour at Royal Air Force Benson.

In 1999, Her Majesty approved the award of the Queen’s Volunteer Reserves Medal to Reserve Forces of which two could be awarded annually to the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

Continue reading

MOD Media - Cpl Rebecca Brown RLC

Farewell to The Air Commodore-in-Chief

The Royal Auxiliary Air Force and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Foundation were greatly saddened to receive the news that Her Majesty The Queen, the Force’s Air Commodore-in-Chief, had died at Balmoral on 8th September 2022. Letters of condolence were sent to to her successor, His Majesty, King Charles III.

The Royal Auxiliary Air Force enjoyed close links with Her Majesty throughout her reign, and over 300 personnel with links to the Force were privileged to take part in the following events relating to her funeral on 19 September:

*     Two Flights, each with 26 Force personnel,  preceded the gun carriage carrying the coffin on its journey from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch. The first Flight comprised members from 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron of which Her Majesty was the Honorary Air Commodore. The second Flight comprised personnel drawn from Force Squadrons at Royal Air Force Brize Norton.

*     The Commandant General of the Force, Air Vice-Marshal Ranald Munro, and the Officer Commanding 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron, Squadron Leader Derek Read, marched ahead of the the gun carriage carrying Her Majesty’s coffin on its journey from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch along with senior representatives of other formations which had enjoyed a special relationship with Her Majesty.

MOD Crown Copyright – Cpl Tom Cann RAF

*     Wing Commander Andy Calame (former Equerry to Her Majesty and a Deputy Inspector of the Force) was one of the twelve pall-bearers who accompanied the gun carriage carrying the coffin on its journey from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey. They also accompanied the hearse carrying the coffin on its journey from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch.

MOD Media – PO Phot Dave Jenkins RN

*    Air Marshal Sir David Walker (a former Master of the Royal Household and former Equerry to Her Majesty, the Honorary Air Commodore of 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron and a member of 601 (County of London) Squadron) marched to the rear of the coffin on both journeys.

MOD Media – Sgt Robert Weideman RLC

*    Honorary Group Captain Ed Cadogan (a Scottish Archer and member of 601 (County of London) Squadron) participated in a vigil by the Archers (rear right) alongside Her Majesty’s coffin during its lying in state in Westminster Hall.


*   Air Vice-Marshal Elaine West, a Lady Usher to Her Majesty and member of 601 (County of London) Squadron, assisted with Royal Duties at Westminster Hall during the Laying in State and led the Chivalry Procession at Westminster Abbey.


















*    Group Captain Bob Kemp, a Trustee and former Inspector of the  Force. represented the Foundation at the funeral service in Westminster Abbey.


*     Over 250 personnel drawn from Force units around the country provided behind-the-scenes support.

602 Squadron Receives New Standard

On 19th August 2022, No 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force was presented with a new Standard by Councillor Jacqueline McLaren, Lord Lieutenant of the City during a parade held in the grounds of the High School of Glasgow.  The parade was led by the Officer Commanding, Squadron Leader Chris Loughlin, in textbook style to the music of the newly formed Royal Auxiliary Air Force Band.  The Chaplain in Chief, the Reverend Doctor (Air Vice-Marshal) Giles Legood, himself a former Auxiliary Chaplain with No 600 (City of London) Squadron, conducted the Service of Consecration.

Air Vice Marshal Richard Maddison, Air Officer Commanding No 22 Group, represented the Chief of the Air Staff.  Other attendees included the Commandant General and the Inspector of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, two Trustees from the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Foundation and family, friends and former members of 602 Squadron including a close relative of Archie McKellar DSO DFC*, a Battle of Britain fighter ‘Ace’ who started his flying career with 602 Squadron.

Following the parade the City hosted a magnificent reception in the City Chambers where the new Standard was proudly displayed.


No 602 Squadron – the first Auxiliary Squadron – was formed at Renfrew on 15 September 1925.    Formed initially as a bomber squadron, ‘Glasgow’s Own’ as it was known locally, became a fighter unit and was equipped with the Spitfire just in time to acquit itself so well during the Battle of Britain.  In fact a Spitfire of 602 along with a Spitfire of 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron jointly shot down the first German Bomber of World War Two.  Sadly, all the Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons were disbanded in 1957.  The original Squadron Standard presented by Douglas, the 14th Duke of Hamilton, Honorary Air Commodore of 602 Squadron, was laid up in Glasgow Cathedral where it remains to this day.

To great acclaim, the Squadron was reformed on 1 July 2006.  The City hosted a reception in the City Chambers to mark the event and the Sovereign’s Colour for the Royal Auxiliary Air Force was paraded.  The then Inspector read out a message of good wishes from Her Majesty The Queen to the assembled company.


601 Squadron Receives New Standard

In 1954, in recognition of its outstanding peacetime and wartime service since its formation in 1925, 601 (County of London) Squadron was presented with a Standard by its Honorary Air Commodore, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.  In 1957, the Squadron was disbanded, and in 1961 the Standard was laid up in St Clement Danes Church.

The Squadron reformed in 2017, and, on 21st July 2022,  the Squadron  was presented  with a new Standard at a Service held at the Royal Air Force Museum which was lead by the Chaplain in Chief, The Reverend Doctor (Air Vice-Marshal) Giles Legood. The Standard was presented by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, to Squadron Leader Andrew Burnett of 601 Squadron with the Squadron’s Commanding Officer, Air Vice-Marshal Malcolm Brecht, standing alongside.  It was then paraded with the Queen’s Colour Squadron in slow time, quick time and with an advance in review order. Music was provided by the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.

Attendees included 601 Squadron’s Honorary Air Commodore, Air Chief Marshal Sir Glen Torpy, along with many of the Squadron’s Honorary Group Captains, volunteer regular reservists, affiliates and alumni. There were also  representatives from, inter alia, the Royal Air Force, the Royal Auxiliary Air Force,  the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Foundation, the Air Training Corps  the Royal Air Force Museum and local civic dignitaries.


Following the parade, there was a reception for all attendees in the splendid surroundings of the RAF Museum. The Chief of the Air Staff gave a short address as did the the Chief Executive Officer of the RAF Museum and the Squadron Commander.


The Royal Air Force News feature on the event can be seen here.

RAuxAF Foundation Memorial and Stone Dedication Service 2022

On 22 June, Reserve Forces Day,  RAuxAF Trustees hosted a RAuxAF Memorial and Memorial Stones Dedication Service at the National Memorial Arboretum. The senior attendee was Air Vice-Marshal Ranald Munro, Commandant General RAuxAF. He was accompanied by the Inspector RAuxAF, Group Captain Paul White, along with representatives from 16 RAuxAF Squadrons. Also present were the families or representatives of the following 7 deceased Auxiliaries for whom Memorial Stones were dedicated:

Maurice Farrelly – represented by family
Sir Michael Oswald – represented by Trustee
Michael Tinley – represented by Trustee
Jon Wilkes – represented by family
Donald Macdonald (died on active service) – represented by family
Harold Macdonald (died on active service) – represented by family
George Furniss (died on duty) – represented by family

Group Captain Richard Mighall,  Chairman of Trustees, gave a short presentation about each of the 7 individuals prior to the Service; details  can be seen here.

The Service was conducted by Padre Wing Commander Mike Elliott from 600 (City of London) Squadron, and a trumpeter from the RAuxAF Band played the Last Post and Reveille. A copy of the Order of Service can be found here.

The RAF News media report of the event was provided by 7644 (VR) Public Relations Squadron and can be seen here.

NMA Event 2022 – Memorial Stone Dedications

Extract from Presentation given by Group Captain Richard Mighall, Chairman of Trustees

Maurice Farrelly. The First Stone is dedicated to Senior Aircraftman Maurice Farrelly. Maurice’s military career began when he enlisted in the Royal Air Force as a driver. Later he joined the Territorial Army and at the same time became an instructor with the Wallsend Air Cadets Squadron. His civilian employment was with the North-Eastern Ambulance Service as a driver – a role he relished and for which he received recognition for his excellent service. In 2002, he joined 609 (West Riding) Squadron at Royal Air Force Leeming where he worked as a chef. The following year, he was mobilised and deployed to Kuwait and Iraq on Force Protection duties. He retired from the Force in 2005. At the beginning of the pandemic and throughout the first lockdown in 2020, he worked as an ambulance driver with minimal protective clothing just getting on with the job and helping others.  In early February 2021, during the second lockdown, Maurice himself contracted Covid 19 and tragically passed away 2 weeks later. He was 63. Maurice was one of the unsung heroes of the National Health Service. He is sorely missed by his wife Mary and wider family.


Sir Michael Oswald. Our second Memorial Stone will be dedicated to Sir Michael Oswald. An old Etonian and Cambridge University graduate, Sir Michael did his National Service in the King’ Own Royal Regiment and served in theatre during the Korean war. A keen horseman and expert in stud management, he became responsible, initially, for the Queen’s horse breeding operation and subsequently for managing her very successful horse racing stables and activities. In 2001, he was appointed Honorary Air Commodore of 2620 (County of Norfolk) Squadron based at Royal Air Force Marham. An enthusiastic and extremely popular supporter of the Squadron, he accompanied its personnel on detachments to Cyprus and the United States, and he visited them when they were deployed on active service to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. He left the Squadron in 2009 and, after a protracted illness, died aged 86 in 2021.


Mike Tinley. Next on the list is Group Captain Mike Tinley. Mike joined the Royal Air Force in 1950 and trained as a navigator. During his distinguished career, he flew on Shackletons, Neptunes and Nimrods. His last tour in the Royal Air Force was as Station Commander of Royal Air Force Turnhouse. He retired from the Force in 1983 when he joined the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. Because of his extensive maritime experience, he was appointed Commanding Officer of No 2 Maritime Headquarters Unit based at Royal Air Force Mountbatten.  In 1988, he became the senior serving officer in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force when he was appointed as its Inspector. He served in the role for 6 years until his retirement in 1994. For his distinguished service, he was awarded the CBE. He died in 2017 aged 86.


Jon Wilkes. The 4th Memorial Stone will be dedicated to Senior Aircraftman Jonathan Wilkes. Jon was born in 1968. On leaving school, he joined the Royal Air Force as a police dog handler. He served in the Falkland Islands, and, when he left the Service, he enlisted in the Prison Service spending his spare time as an Army cadet instructor. He joined 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron at Royal Air Force Cosford in 2016 where he trained as a chef. The epitome of military discipline with selfless commitment, he was highly regarded by his Squadron colleagues. Sadly, he contracted a rare form of cancer from which he died in 2021 at the relatively young age of 52. He leaves behind his loving wife Lisa and their 3 children.


Kem Macdonald and Don Macdonald. The 5th Stone will be dedicated to Flight Lieutenant Ken Macdonald and the 6th to Pilot Officer Don Macdonald. They were brothers, both were Cambridge graduates and both were Spitfire pilots on 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron.

Ken, the older of the two, joined the Squadron in 1935. On 16th October 1939, shortly after the war broke out, Ken was in a group of 603 Squadron pilots based at Royal Office Turnhouse who, along with 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron pilots, engaged and brought down the first enemy aircraft to attack Britain. For this action, Air Chief Marshal Dowding, the Head of Fighter Command, wrote ‘Well done; first blood to the Auxiliaries’.

A year later, on 28th September 1940, now based at Royal Air Force Hornchurch, Ken was leading a Flight of 603 Squadron Spitfires when they were attacked by some 30 German fighter aircraft. Ken’s aircraft was hit and badly damaged, and, realising that it would crash on the Army barracks below, he managed to steer it clear of the buildings. He then climbed out onto the aircraft’s wing but jumped too late and too low for his parachute to deploy. He died aged 28.

Ken’s younger brother, Don, joined 603 Squadron in June 1940 just before the start of the Battle of Britain. Two months later, on the 28th August, he took off on his first ever operational sortie to intercept enemy aircraft over the Channel. Sadly, he was shot down in flames, and his body was never recovered. He was just 22.

With their deaths, the Squadron had lost two brothers, killed in action, within the space of one month. Even more poignantly, their mother had lost two sons. She said ‘They tell me I’m not built to be the mother of heroes; I fear they are right’. In December 1940, less than 4 months after the death of her sons, she died of a broken heart.


George Furniss. Our 7th and final Stone relates to Plt Off George Furniss.  Born in 1924, George joined the Royal Air Force in 1943 aged 19. He trained as a pilot and served in the UK, Rhodesia and South Africa flying a variety of aircraft. Following demobilisation in 1946, he joined the Reserve Flying School in Doncaster and then, in 1951, 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron based at Royal Air Force Finningley. 616 Squadron was the first Squadron in the UK to receive jet aircraft when it took delivery of the twin-engined Gloster Meteor. George loved this aircraft, and at weekends, when away from his civilian work as Steelworks manager in Sheffield, he flew it as often as he could.

On the afternoon of 27th August 1953, George took off in a Meteor to undertake a ’rat and terrier’ exercise. Shortly afterwards, the aircraft’s starboard engine caught fire at low level over Spalding in Lincolnshire. Aware that if it crashed in the town, there could be many casualties, and to his eternal credit, he successfully manoeuvred it away from the built-up areas to open farmland. Unfortunately, the aircraft was by now descending so rapidly that he was forced to eject at too low an altitude to ensure his own survival. George was killed instantly. By sacrificing his own life, he saved the lives of many others. He was just 29 years old

We are honoured that today, there are 2 members of 616 Squadron who served with George those 69 years ago.

If you look at George’s picture in the Programme, you will see him proudly cradling his two twin daughters, Sheila and Gill. They were less than 12 months old when he died. We are doubly honoured that they too should be with us today as we remember and pay tribute to a heroic airman, their father.