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.
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.
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|
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.
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.
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.