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.

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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 alongside Her Majesty’s coffin during its lying in state in Westminster Hall.

*     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.

RGK

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.

NMA Event 2022 – Order of Service

REMEMBRANCE

Officiating Chaplain: Padre Mike Elliott RAuxAF 

We meet in the presence of God, who is our creator, redeemer and judge. We remember with thanksgiving and sorrow those whose lives, in world wars and conflicts past and present, have been given and taken away. We pray for all who, in bereavement, disability or pain, continue to suffer the consequences of fighting or terror.

We especially give thanks today for the men and women of the Auxiliary Air Force and Royal Auxiliary Air Force who have served our country since 1924, during the Second World War and, in the years since then, all those who have served with pride and honour.

Opening Prayer

God our refuge and strength, bring near the day when wars shall cease and poverty & pain shall end, that earth may know the peace of heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Bible Reading: Group Captain Paul White Inspector RAuxAF

John 15, 12-17

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.  I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.  You did not choose me but I chose you.  And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.  I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

This is the word of the Lord

All: Thanks be to God

Ever-loving God, we remember those whom you have gathered from the storm of war into the peace of your presence.  We especially remember those whose memorial stones are already here, and those whose new stones we will dedicate today, and all who died for their country whilst serving in the Auxiliary Air Force and Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

As we recall the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom and justice, so let us commit ourselves in faithful service to strive for all that makes for peace, to seek to heal the wounds of war and to work for a just future for all humanity.

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, calm our fears, bring justice to all peoples and establish harmony among the nations, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Act of Remembrance: Group Captain Richard Mighall RAuxAF Foundation

They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old.  Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.  At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

All:  We will remember them.

The Last Post: RAuxAF Band trumpeter

Two Minutes Silence

Reveille: RAuxAF Band trumpeter

When you go home, tell them of us and say: ‘For your tomorrows we gave our today’.

Laying of the wreaths: Chaplain invites those with military wreaths to lay them at the Memorial beginning with the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Wreath laid by Air Vice-Marshal Ranald Munro, Commandant General RAuxAF.

The Collect of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force

Almighty and everlasting God, who created the stars, the heavens and the earth, we commend to your fatherly protection all who serve in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, that, together with the Royal Air Force we may be a safeguard to our most gracious Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth and a sure defence to our country.   Protect and support us and our families, as we seek to serve with integrity and respect, and grant that we may prove to be worthy successors of those who, by their valour and sacrifice, did nobly serve their day and generation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

DEDICATION OF MEMORIAL STONES

Almighty God, who has taught us to value each and every life, we ask your blessing on these new Memorial Stones.

Presentations: Wing Commander Jeff Metcalfe RAuxAF Foundation:

Maurice Farrelly Jon Wilkes George Furniss
Sir Michael Oswald Donald Macdonald
Michael Tinley Harold Macdonald

 

Reflection

We ask that theses Memorial Stones will remind us, in this place of tranquillity and peace, to reflect on the sacrifices of others and to remember these individuals.

The Lord’s Prayer

All: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.

The Blessing

God grant to the living, grace; to the departed, rest; to the Church, the Queen, the Commonwealth and all people, unity, peace and concord, and to us and all God’s servants, life everlasting; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you, now and always.  Amen.

Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022

In this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list, Wing Commander Howard Leader RAuxAF and Squadron Leader Mike Cairns RAuxAF, both from 7644 (Public Relations) Squadron RAuxAF, were awarded the prestigious Queen’s Volunteer Reservist Medal.  It is expected that they will receive their awards later in the year.

Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

To mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the Foundation’s Chairman has sent, on behalf of Trustees, a message of Loyal Greetings to Her Majesty.

Also, the Jubilee logo has been added to the Home Page, and action is in hand to to plant and dedicate a tree at the site of the RAuxAF Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum under ‘The Queen’s Green Canopy Plant a Tree Scheme’. This will probably take place in late Spring in 2023 in conjunction with the planting and dedication of a QVRM tree, again at the RAuxAF Memorial.