Royal Auxiliary Air Force History
2000 to 2015
THE RAUXAF MOBILISES FOR WAR
HANDOVER OF HONORARY INSPECTOR-GENERAL
At the turn of the century, Lord Monro of Langham, a former Spitfire pilot with 603 Sqn and the then current Honorary Air Commodore of 2622 (Highland) Sqn handed over as the Honorary Inspector General to Air Vice-Marshal Barry Newton CB CVO OBE, himself the Honorary Air Commodore of 606 (Chiltern) Squadron. A number of famous RAuxAF flying Squadrons that were disbanded in 1957 were re-formed from1999 – 2000. The Units that were re-numbered were:
The Offensive Support Squadron at Cottesmore was re-badged to become No 504 (County of Nottingham) Squadron.
No 1 Maritime Headquarters Unit was re-badged to become No 600 (City of London) Squadron
No 2 Maritime Headquarters Units was split into two Units to become No 602 (City of Glasgow) and No 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadrons
The Helicopter Support Squadron based at Benson was re-badged to become No 606 (Chiltern) Squadron.
The Air Defence Role Support Squadron based at Leeming was re-badged to become No 609 (West Riding) Squadron.
The Air Transportable Surgical Support Squadron based at Leuchars was re-badged to become No 612 (County of Aberdeen) Squadron.
The re-formation of these famous Second World War Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons (except for 606 Sqn) was seen as a major step in acknowledging their part in history. 606 Squadron had not been established before.
THE FORCE CELEBRATES ITS 75th ANNIVERSARY
The Royal Auxiliary Air Force marked the 75th anniversary of its founding by presenting a bronze eagle to Her Majesty The Queen, our Air Commodore in Chief, at Sandringham House. Later in 2000, the Force hosted Her Majesty and His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, at a Royal Reception in the Royal Air Force Club, London. Every RAuxAF Squadron was represented at the event and both Her Majesty and His Royal Highness spent a considerable time speaking with Squadron personnel.
THE RAUXAF IS MOBILISED FOR THE SECOND GULF WAR
Although 4626 (Aero Medical Evacuation) Squadron and 4624 (Movements) Squadron provided key personnel to support the first Gulf War an Order in Council was required to mobilise the Royal Auxiliary Air Force in support of wider operations. Mobilisation for Operation TELIC in 2003 was made under Section 54 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 by the Secretary of State for Defence on 7 January 2003. This allowed the RAuxAF to be mobilised to meet a situation short of General War. The Second Gulf War, code named Operation Desert Shield, loomed in 2003 and a decision was taken to introduce a limited voluntary mobilisation scheme to allow RAuxAF personnel to stand alongside their regular counterparts in conflict. This decision was not taken lightly as a number of other actions were also required as part of the wider mobilisation of the Force. Close liaison with civilian employers through the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Associations was necessary and a Board was set up at Innsworth to consider appeals from employers or reservists against mobilisation and to agree financial arrangements for certain specialist reservists who would be financially disadvantaged by leaving their civilian occupations. Many lessons were learned during the mobilisation and both the RAF and the RAuxAF benefited greatly from the process and subsequent operations. Overall, mobilisation of the RAuxAF was an outstanding success and over 1,000 reservists were called up for duty. At the end of Operation TELIC, the Chief of the Air Staff said, “We could not have done it without the Auxiliaries”. In years to follow it became the norm to mobilise and to integrate RAuxAF personnel with regular personnel during operations.
RAUXAF HOSTS THE INTERNATIONAL RESERVES SYMPOSIUM (IARS)
In 2005, Spain stated that it was unable to host the IARS and the Inspector RAuxAF, supported by HQSTC, suggested – and it was agreed – that the UK should step in and host the event. The venue for the gathering was focused in the Town Headquarters of 603 Sqn in Edinburgh. No less that ten countries were represented including Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Holland, Norway, the USA, Switzerland, South Africa, and Sweden. The International guests were also hosted at RAF Leuchars and the Director Reserve Forces and Cadets, Major General the Duke of Westminster, travelled to Edinburgh and addressed the Symposium. The Commander in Chief of Strike Command, Air Chief Marshal Sir Brian Burridge KCB CBE ADC hosted the final Symposium Dinner in the Royal Scots Club in Edinburgh.