20240201-RAuxAF100 Tree Planting Press Release
WALES’ only squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force planted a tree in Cardiff to mark the 100 years since the service was founded.
Men and women of No. 614 (County of Glamorgan) Squadron were joined by families of wartime veterans from the squadron, councillors and other friends of the squadron for the ceremony in central Cardiff.
The tree commemorates both the 100th anniversary of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and the 10th year since the reformation its only Welsh unit, No.614 (County of Glamorgan) Squadron in 2014, having first formed in Cardiff in 1937.
The Flowering Cherry takes its place alongside other military memorials at Alexandra Gardens in Cathays Par in Cardiff’s Civic Centre, including the Wales National War Memorial and the Falklands War memorial.
The prayer for the Royal Auxiliary Air Force was led by Father Andrew James, Rector of the Parish of St Andrew Major and vicar of St Michael’s and All Angels church in Michaelston-le-Pit near Cardiff. This is 614 Squadron’s adopted church and where the first of the squadron to be killed in Second World War, Flt Lt Norman Merrett, is buried.
A poem written by a member of 614 Sqn from the Second World War was read by the son of another of the squadron’s war veterans.
Sergeant Denis Ager wrote ‘Maybe’ after successfully completing dangerous low-flying missions with 614 Sqn during the 1,000 Bomber raids over Germany in 1942. Ian Hooper’s father, Sgt Bill Hooper was one of the earliest recruits to 614 Sqn in 1937 and went on to serve with the squadron until 1944 alongside Sgt Ager.
Wing Commander Olly Walker, Officer Commanding, 614 Sqn said: “It was wonderful to see friends of the squadron gathered with us for the planting of this memorial tree.
“Our squadron’s roots are in Cardiff. From our earliest days at RAF Pengam Moors, our squadron grew from just a handful of founder members in 1937. As we grew, we went to serve across Europe in World War Two and following the war we returned to South Wales and are proud to have Cardiff as our home city again.
“Our roots here will continue to deepen, nurtured not just by the skill and dedication of our members but the support of veterans’ families, former members and the broader community in Cardiff and across our home county – the historic County of Glamorgan.”
He was joined in planting the Flowering Cherry by Group Captain (retd) Richard Mighall, Trustee Chairman of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Foundation.
The Royal Auxiliary Air Force, also known as the RAF Reserves, recruit men and women from all walks of life to serve in a variety of roles in support of the Royal Air Force.