Kevin Hamilton-Sturdy

Warrant Officer Kevin Hamilton-Sturdy  607 (County of Durham) Squadron


Kevin Hamilton-Sturdy came from Northern Ireland and joined the Royal Air Force on 29 Nov 77. On successful completion of training as an Aircraft Mechanic (Airframe) he was promoted to Leading Aircraftsman and posted to the Visiting Aircraft Section at RAF Leuchars, and whilst there, he was promoted to Senior Aircraftsman, being detached to the Master Diversion Airfield Team at HMS Gannet, Ayrshire, between 1979 and 1980.

In 1980 on posting to 431 Maintenance Unit at RAF Bruggen, he was employed in airframe structural repairs and aircraft salvage and transportation duties on the RAF Germany Phantom, Buccaneer, Jaguar, Pembroke, Wessex, Hunter and Harrier aircraft platforms.

In 1981 after successful completion of further trade training to Aircraft Technician (Airframe) and promoted to Junior Technician, Kevin was posted to Rectification Flight at RAF Leeming, servicing Jet Provost, Bulldog and Chipmunk trainer aircraft.  In 1983, he was posted to Harrier Servicing Flight at RAF Gutersloh, undertaking second line maintenance to Major standard and Harrier Field Force repair operations.  Promoted to Corporal in 1984, on his return to the U.K. in 1986, he was employed in the Lightning Aircraft Servicing Flight then Lightning Training Flight at RAF Binbrook.

With Binbrook’s closure, he was posted in 1987 onto 72 Squadron at RAF Aldergrove.  Here he maintained the Wessex and Puma helicopters which were heavily committed to Operation Banner in Northern Ireland. During this tour, he was awarded the Strike Command Certificate of Merit for Engineering initiative and inventiveness.  Promoted to Sergeant in 1990 a move to RAF Benson followed in 1991, onto second line maintenance on Wessex Servicing Flight until its closure, then to first line Wessex on 60 Squadron in 1992.  Later in 1992 he was selected to assist in the creation of an Engineering Operations Cell at RAF Aldergrove and on the project’s completion in early 1993, he moved to the post of trade specialist on the Puma aircraft of 1563 Flight in RAF Belize. Returning later in 1993 to RAF St Athan he was initially SNCO IC the second line Hydraulic Bay, before taking over the engineering documentation cell on the VC10 Major servicing squadron.

In 1995, he was again posted to Ireland, where he worked on the Puma and Chinook Helicopters of 230 Squadron on Op Banner. On promotion to Chief Technician in 1997, he initially led the 30 plus engineers on ‘D’ shift, prior to being made the Airframe Trade Manager. In this role he was additionally responsible for the preparation of aircraft for VIP flying in the province, including transportation of members of the Royal Family.  In 1999, a posting to RAF Leeming placed him in Engineering Operations, in the support of the Tornado F3s and Hawk aircraft of, 11, 25 and 100 Squadrons.  On promotion to Flight Sergeant in 2007 and as Operation Banner drew to a close, he again served on the Pumas of 230 Squadron as Flight Sergeant ‘X’ Shift.  During this tour, he deployed as Detachment Engineering Officer on Operation Crichton, part of Operation Telic in Northern Iraq.  As 230 Squadron withdrew from Ireland, Kevin returned to RAF Leeming in 2009 as the interface between BAe Systems and the Tornado Project Team on the Reduce To Produce (RTP) Tornado spares recovery programme.

In 2010 on deployment on Op Fusillade, as part of Op Herrick, he stood up the post of Warrant Officer Quality, Continuous Improvement Team (QCIT) on 903 Expeditionary Air Wing, returning as Flight Sergeant Business Support to RTP at RAF Leeming in 2011.

On promotion in May 2013, he moved to his final posting in the regulars, as Warrant Officer Engineering and Supply Squadron at RAF Honington.

During his career, Kevin has been detached to or led aircraft maintenance detachments, to a number of European countries plus Norway, Kenya, the Republic of Ireland and Singapore and as a keen rugby player has toured to numerous locations, including Canada.


On finishing regular service, he took up the post of Squadron Warrant Officer on 607 (County of Durham) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force in 2015.


WO Sturdy sadly passed away in his sleep in 2022 and leaves his wife Kate, and their three children, Ross, Moya and Ethan.  Throughout his career Kevin was renowned for his superb ability and professionalism and is sorely missed by all who knew him.

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.

KVRM Dinner 2023

The King’s Volunteer Reserves Medal Association held its Annual Dinner on 24th March at the RAF Club, Piccadilly, London. The KVRM (previously the QVRM) is a tri-service award presented to reservists for exemplary and meritorious service in the conduct of their duties.


This year, the Association welcomed several medal recipients who were dining for the first time including Corporal Jane Jones of 2620 Squadron based at RAF Marham. She was hosted by Group Captain Gary Bunkell (former OC 2620 Squadron) who is treasurer of the Association. They are pictured in front of a painting of the presentation of the Sovereign’s Colour for the Royal Auxiliary Air Force by the late Queen. The Royal Parade which took place in 2010 at RAF Marham also saw 2620 Squadron receiving its first Standard. Both Corporal Jones and Group Captain Bunkell were participants in the 2010 event.


During the evening Warrant Officer Shobha Earl, a QVRM recipient and former Command Warrant Officer for the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, was appointed to the Committee of the KVRM Association.

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.

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