News of Interest

Air Cadet Tom (14) hailed a hero
Thursday, 29 September 2016 By GEM Staff Reporter in Local People

Tom Wood (left) and Colin Galton.

A busy Saturday in a barber’s shop in a bustling Vale town. A regular customer – an older gentleman – takes his place in the chair for a short back and sides, and appears to suffer a heart attack.
The initial reaction of many might be panic, or at least a fervent wish that a doctor is waiting in line, too.
But not so for young Tom Wood, who works occasional Saturdays in Galton’s Barbers on Commercial Street in Llantwit Major.
Tom, aged 14, a pupil at Cowbridge Comprehensive School and a Cadet Sergeant in 2300 (St Athan) Squadron Air Training Corps, knew what to do.
With Colin Galton, owner of the barber shop, and passers-by, they positioned local resident Eric Reid on the floor ready for emergency treatment.

One member of staff called for an ambulance, while Mr Galton sprinted the 160 yards there and back to fetch a defibrillator from the police station; and Tom then began cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Mr Reid.
“I couldn’t feel or hear Mr Reid breathing,” began Tom, “so my CPR training, which I learnt in the Air Cadets, kicked in.
“I didn’t really think about it; it was instinct and training.”
Tom, whose ambition is to join the RAF Police, performed CPR on Mr Reid until a community first responder attended, followed by the ambulance service.
The air cadet then handed over his life-saving work to the emergency services, which later included the Wales Air Ambulance.
Mr Reid was taken to Heath Hospital for further treatment, but his family announced on September 26 that he died on Saturday.
Mr Owen Jones, a great-nephew of Mr Reid, told The GEM: “Had it not been for the actions and calmness of this young man, Eric – who had had a good innings – would have died then and there on the floor of a barber shop.
“I am very impressed that a 14-year-old handled the pressure so well and acted so quickly and decisively.
“Tom is a credit to his family and those who taught him CPR,” said Mr Jones.
Group Captain Roger Simon, Regional Commandant Wales and the West Air Cadets, said: “The Air Training Corps works hard to give its members valuable and practical skills that prepare them for the many challenges that they will face in the future.
“First Aid training is just one example and I am glad to hear that Cdt Sgt Wood was able to use his training to assist in an unexpected medical emergency.
“I am grateful to the family for their recognition and praise of Tom’s actions which were in keeping with the finest traditions and values of the Air Training Corps.”
Mr Galton, praised by the Reid family alongside Tom and others who assisted in stabilising Mr Reid, explained his actions, and said: “The defibrillator in Llantwit Major is in the police station, which is not manned round the clock, and it was chance that an officer was there.
“The officer was great, and answered as soon as I used the phone outside the station, but you have to wonder if inside the police station is the best place for a defibrillator.”
This sentiment was echoed by other businesspeople in the town.
Staff at the Net Cafe in the town suggested that a defibrillator should be “easily accessible and available round the clock”.
Another local businessman asked: “If the police station were open all day, then fine, but it’s not, so where should it be located and who should be trained to use it?
“Put a defibrillator in the wrong place and someone might fool around with it.”
Flying Officer Rachel Fowler, commanding officer of 2300 (St Athan) Squadron said: “As a squadron, and as his CO, we are so proud of Cdt Sgt Tom Wood. He showed bravery and maturity beyond his years facing a situation that even many adults have not been faced with.
“Tom was able to put into practice skills he had learnt whilst a member of the ATC, not just the first aid skills, but also the skills to be able to deal with and stay calm in stressful situations.
“He is a brilliant young man and an asset to our squadron, as well as his family and community.”
Flying Officer Fowler told The GEM that she will nominate Tom for a Commandant’s Commendation and a St John’s Ambulance award.
The GEM extends condolences to Mr Reid’s family – and admiration for the teenager’s actions.


Video of the 1977 Silver Jubilee review of the RAF by Her Majesty the Queen

In the year that Virginia Wade won Wimbledon, Her Majesty the Queen undertook a review of the Royal Air Force at a special ceremony held at RAF Finningley on Friday 29th July, as part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations, marking 25 years of her reign.

Only last month did British Movietone release the footage on their YouTube channel with this description: Her Majesty the Queen completes her Silver Jubilee Reviews of the Armed Forces by reviewing the Royal Air Force at RAF Finningley.

Watched by members of her family, the Queen presented a new 'Queen's Colour' which was then slow-marched past the Royal Dias. The Queen and Prince Philip toured the Airfield, inspecting the many aircraft assembled there and meeting members of the Aircrews. The day ended with a fly-past of the many types of planes operational in the Royal Air Force today. The first to fly through were 'Jet Provosts' in the formation of the numbers 25. The Review ended with a display by the RAF's world famous aerobatic team the 'Red Arrows'.

Just one minute in to the video, during the playing of the national anthem, you can see the hangars in the background, one of which forms the home of Vulcan XH558 and Canberra WK163 today. After the impressive Vulcan scramble, at 6:20 look for the Canberra aircraft flying on the lead Vulcan's wingtips. A truly remarkable collection of aircraft.

Memorial to officers slain in Cyprus
23 Aug 2016 

<b><i>The memorial features a four-ton<br>rock brought over from Cyprus</b></i> 
The memorial features a four-ton
rock brought over from Cyprus
A new memorial has been unveiled to honour the memory of police and military servicemen who gave their lives during a four-year conflict in Cyprus.

A service was held at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire on Sunday (August 21) as officials welcomed the monument, dedicated to those who died in the 1955-1959 Cyprus Emergency.

The memorial, which features a four-ton rock brought over from the island, contains a time capsule bearing the names of the 371 British soldiers and 21 police officers killed in the fighting.

Sara Thornton, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, laid a wreath at the ceremony.

She said: “This unique memorial… provides us with an opportunity to bring together the policing and military families to remember the sacrifices that were made by our officers.

“Our thoughts remain with the family, friends and colleagues of those who fell during this conflict.”

The Cyprus Emergency was a series of conflicts between British forces, a Greek Cypriot nationalist group known as ‘Eoka’, and the Turkish Resistance Organisation.

Those who fell are buried in a military cemetery on the island, which has been largely inaccessible to families as it has been trapped in a United Nations buffer zone since Turkey invaded in 1974.

It is hoped the new memorial will finally give the friends and families of the officers and servicemen a focus for remembrance.

Phillip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “It’s a real pleasure to see the effort put into this project take shape and welcome this memorial rock to Staffordshire.

“The National Memorial Arboretum is a beautiful place of commemoration and is the pride of the county.

“It will make a fitting home for the rock, which remembers and pays tribute to the hundreds of service personnel who lost their lives during conflicts in Cyprus.” 


RAF Waddington unveils new Lancaster and Vulcan sculpture
Station Commander Group Captain Al Marshall and sculptor James Sutton.
Station Commander Group Captain Al Marshall and sculptor James Sutton.

RAF Waddington has unveiled a new sculpture created to celebrate its centenary.

The stainless steel sculpture was revealed outside the station headquarters by sculptor James Sutton and Station Commander Group Captain Al Marshall.

The artwork includes the Lancaster and the Vulcan soaring through the sky.

The planes are mounted on 'air streams' which are engraved with images of Lincoln Cathedral and the RAF Waddington logo.

The sculpture was commissioned by the base at the end of last year and Mr Sutton has since been working to turn his vision into reality.

He told the Echo: "I was randomly approached out of the blue which was a bit of a surprise which was nice.

"They were keen for someone local to do it.

"I specialise in stone carving but in the last five years I've done more metal work.

"I came up with lots of designs based on the brief they gave me, then they picked their favourites and I explored from there.

"The heritage centre logo has a very similar composition."

Mr Sutton has only ever seen the sculpture inside his studio and was pleased to see it installed at the entrance of the air base.

He said: "It's taken twice as long as I thought it would, but it looks like I wanted it to so that's always good.

"Installation is always stressful, especially with the opening on the same day. You never know how long it's going to take. I'm very relieved now it's in.

"You have an idea in your head and it's nice to see it realised. It's been lovely."

Mr Sutton brought his wife Helen, daughter Rose, 6, and son Jesse, 4, for the unveiling.

Station Commander Group Captain Al Marshall said: "It's absolutely fantastic, just as we hoped it would be.

"It's sizeable and it's striking. And it's in a great position so everything who is coming in and out the station will be able to see it, hopefully for the next 100 years.

"There's two iconic aeroplanes for the station. The Lancaster from the Second World War and Vulcan from the Cold War era.

"It's got the etchings of Lincoln Cathedral which is there to celebrate the very strong relationship between the station and the city of Lincoln and Lincolnshire who continue to provide huge support to the station, the personnel and the families."


Welcome to a ‘new’ mainline locomotive - Avro Vulcan XH558
Class 37 Diesel-Electric locomotive made by English Electric at ‘The Vulcan Foundry’ now carries the name ‘Avro Vulcan XH558’ in official naming ceremony at Crewe.
Class 37 locomotive '558' carrying her new registration and nameplate at Saturday’s official naming ceremony. Loco images courtesy of Paul Lindley.

'Avro Vulcan XH558' returns to the public in a different guise!
The Trust has recently established a relationship with Direct Rail Services (DRS) and a very important ceremony took place at the DRS Depot in Crewe at the weekend which will lead to a number of benefits for both organisations. DRS purchased a heritage Class 37 Diesel-Electric locomotive in 2015, rescuing her from an uncertain future with the objective of carrying out a major refurbishment programme and returning her to mainline working. On completion of the project it was generously proposed to the Trust that she should be named 'Avro Vulcan XH558’ and re-registered to number37558, an offer which was immediately accepted.
The outcome of all of this activity culminated in the official Naming Ceremony, which took place on Saturday when Trust Chairman, John Sharman carried out the official unveiling in front of a large crowd and in the shadow of the locomotive, which is in pristine condition and a great credit to DRS.

John unveiled an impressive name plaque which will now be carried around the country by 37558 and be seen my many thousands of people as she goes about her business. DRS have also donated a full size duplicate of the plaque which will now go on display at The Vulcan Experience within Hangar 3.
John said:
"I am absolutely delighted that we have entered into a mutually beneficial partnership with such a prestigious and well known company as DRS. I am sure that our supporters will delight in seeing the name 'Avro Vulcan XH558' once again being carried around the country by such a fine machine, which not only carries the same name and registration number, but was also built in the early 60's at the Vulcan Foundry in Newton-le-Willows by English Electric - a classic synergy with both the Vulcan and Canberra and like them, an outstanding example of British innovation and engineering prowess."
One of the cast nameplates unveiled at the ceremony on Saturday. Another nameplate has been cast that will be displayed in Hangar 3 at Doncaster in a few weeks’ time, marking the special relationship we are forging with DRS and XH558’s namesake.

Yesterday, the locomotive was shunted back to Derby for the completion of the work and full commissioning before entering service in September. When we have more details of movements and likely places to spot her, we will advise you here in these newsletters.  



RAF WWII hero's final resting place identified after almost 75 years

The final resting place of a RAF Wellington Bomber wireless operator has been recognised after his grave was identified almost 75 years after his aircraft was shot down.

At a service on 16 June in Schiermonnikoog Cemetery, The Netherlands, the grave of Sgt James Bent was rededicated in his name during a moving service attended by surviving members of his family.


Red Arrows pull out of Farnborough Air Show aerobatics after Shoreham disaster

The Red Arrows will be restricted to flypasts, rather than aerobatics CREDIT: MOD
Ben Farmer, defence correspondent
15 JUNE 2016 • 7:41PM

The Red Arrows will not perform aerobatic stunts at Britain’s biggest air show for the first time in more than 50 years, because of safety fears after the Shoreham disaster.

RAF chiefs have decided the risks of flying high-speed manoeuvres at low heights over built-up areas at the Farnborough Air Show are no longer “tolerable”, and the jets will be restricted to flypasts.

The decision means the RAF’s world famous aerobatic team will not perform one of their crowd-pleasing routines at the flagship air industry show for the first time in their 52-year-history.

Aviation enthusiasts described the decision as a “huge disappointment” for crowds of up to 80,000 people expected to attend the Hampshire show next month.

Farnborough is the latest air show to curtail or cancel displays this year after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) imposed tight new safety regulations after the Shoreham crash.

Eleven men were killed when a vintage Hawker Hunter jet ploughed into the A27 during a display on August 22 last year.

Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Turner, in charge of safety for the Red Arrows, said there had been a period of “introspection” after the Shoreham crash and the RAF had decided the risk at Farnborough was no longer “tolerable”. The risk has increased as Farnborough Airport has become increasingly hemmed in by houses and buildings over the years.

To recap the red arrows will only carry out flypasts in formation at Farnborough 2016. Going to disappoint a lot of people.

The Red Arrows’ normal 22-minute display ranges over a five mile area and features nine jets passing each other as close as 15ft apart, while travelling at 800mph at a height of sometimes only 50ft above the tree tops.

An aircraft malfunction, bird strike or collision at that speed could cause “multiple third-party casualties”, he said.
He said: “The position we find ourselves in is either we seek to clear the area of civilians, or we tolerate the risk and frankly right now, we the RAF have decided that that is not a risk worth bearing given the Shoreham public reaction.”

AVM Turner said it was not possible, given the time, to tailor the Red Arrows normal display specifically for Farnborough.
The display team will still attend, but will be restricted to flypasts and ground demonstrations. He said the team still intended to display at all other air shows where they are booked to appear.

An RAF spokesman said: “The high speed and dynamic nature of the traditional Red Arrow’s display is no longer appropriate due to the large amounts of local housing, business areas and major transport links underneath the planned display area.”

Howard Wheeldon, an aerospace analyst said: “Clearly it’s a huge disappointment, but it has been done for all the right reasons and I am not surprised given the tight restrictions put on air shows by the CAA.”

Organisers said no other air displays had cancelled at the biennial show and there would still be aerobatic displays. The size and scale of the Red Arrows display makes it uniquely risky.

A statement for the air show said: “In light of the accident at Shoreham last year the nature of their display will change. The RAF has conducted an assessment of the risk associated with flying their display at Farnborough. Due to the high speed and dynamic nature of the Red Arrows aerobatic routine, the RAF has decided it will not be possible for them to perform their traditional display at Farnborough this year.”


Farnborough Airshow: 'Safety fears' cast doubt over Red Arrows display

There are reports that the Red Arrows aerobatic display has been dropped from the Farnborough International Airshow next month due to "safety fears from RAF top brass".

The Royal Aeronautical Society (RAS) said on Tuesday that following tighter Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations due to the Shoreham disaster, the display by the Red Arrows could be reined in.

In its Aerospace Insight blog, RAS stated: “With new CAA safety regulations introduced after the 2015 Shoreham disaster and the recent spate of military flying display team crashes in the past week, the flying display this year at Farnborough could look different than in previous years.

New safety measures in place“Insiders now confirm that the Red Arrows traditional aerobatic display at Farnborough has been dropped due to safety fears from RAF top brass.”

RAS has quoted an RAF spokesman as saying that the Red Arrows will be attending the airshow and ‘are going to be flying at Farnborough’ but when directly questioned about the aerobatic display, referred to a short-notice media briefing due to take place this week.

Get Hampshire has also been made aware of the media briefing but as yet does not know what it entails – organisers are keeping tight-lipped on the details.

The RAS report goes on to say: “More than one highly-placed source has now confirmed that due to the new post-Shoreham CAA rules and a review of the safety and risk case by RAF duty holders, the Red Arrows flying at Farnborough will be limited to straight and level passes (possibly in conjunction with the F-35B) and no aerobatics.”

It adds that the RAF is yet to directly confirm this ahead of the media briefing.

Get Hampshire contacted the airshow’s head of PR and the public relations team for the Red Arrows and is awaiting a response.


Relief as aircraft take off from RAF Waddington once again
By CharlotteJ_LE | Posted: June 14, 2016

Sentinel aircraft

A Sentinel, one of the planes said to have been spotted taking off from RAF Waddington. 

Aircraft have taken to the skies from RAF Waddington once again.

Regular flight stopped when work began on the runway back in 2014.
Now some aircraft have been able to take off once again as works on the runway draw closer to being finished.

Some planes including five Squadron Sentinels are said to have been spotted taking off from the runway.
Fourteen Squadron Shadow aircraft were said to have been seen taking to the skies.

A spokesperson for RAF Waddington said: "We have recommenced limited routine flying operations from RAF Waddington by AIR ISTAR assets; however, the overall runway resurfacing and refurbishment project is ongoing and contractor works will continue over the coming months as we progress towards full airfield operating capability."

Phil Bonner, of the Aviation Heritage Centre, said: "It's really nice to have the aircraft back at Waddington after such a long time and it's nice to see aircraft flying around the circuit again."

The return to skies is a relief for one business owner, who saw his income drop by 80 per cent when the runway works started.
John Robinson owns the Sentry Post café next to the airbase.

But when the planes stopped flying, his customers stopped visiting and the threat of closure has been looming overhead ever since.

He said: "We've seen very dark days, we almost went out of business.
"Now we feel there's light at the end of the tunnel.
"They're still saying it will be November when the runway is fully reopened.
"They've only got 600 foot, two thirds, of the runway reopened.
"In a way I can't blame customers for not visiting.
"If the planes aren't going to be there people go elsewhere where they can see them.
"We lost 70 to 80 per cent income overnight and it's not picked up. We almost had to close down, we used our reserves."

Mr Robinson said weekends used to be their quietest days but are now their busiest thanks to motorcyclists coming for meets.
He said: "It's still a frightening prospect but now there's limited flying it does just fill us with a little bit of hope.
"We're taking such a small amount I don't know any other business that would have survived it.
"I'm glad we saved money while the air show was here.
"This second year of works has been a killer for us.
"It's a great place we made it into a great community. Hopefully when the flights resume things will pick up. But then it's winter.
"We're just not sure whether we're going to get through this winter but we just hope we can."


WWII B-17 gunner revisits England, dies at Battle of Britain Bunker
By Travis M. Andrews 
Washington Post
Published: May 26, 2016

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Melvin Rector long carried England in his heart after he helped defend it during World War II, but 70 years passed without him stepping foot back in the country.

The 94-year-old finally decided to leave his home in Barefoot Bay, Fla., to visit Britain earlier this month. The National World War II Museum in New Orleans conducts a travel program through which interested parties can visit certain sites of the war. He signed up for one, in hopes of visiting RAF Snetterton Heath in Norfolk.

He served there with the 96th Bomb Group in 1945 as a radio operator and gunner on B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, flying eight combat missions over Germany during the spring of the war's final year. On four of these missions, his plane came under heavy fire. One almost proved catastrophic, and the plane returned to base with holes dotting its wings.

One of the aircraft on which he served as a gunner was the Memphis Belle, the first heavy bomber to complete its tour by flying 25 missions with its crew intact. It went on to have a post-war career raising morale and money for the U.S. Army. Writes historian John Buescher of the warplane:

"After both crew and plane completed their respective 25th mission, the crew received the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross. They were then ordered in June to fly the Memphis Belle back to the United States for a cross-country tour, the aim of which was to increase morale back home and to sell War Bonds. . . . When the Memphis Belle completed its tour (the first heavy bomber to do so), it was a joyful event, not only for the crew, but also for the entire air command and the American public."

The B-17 Flying Fortress garnered such attention that not one but two films were made about it: a documentary in 1944 and an eponymously titled drama in 1990, starring John Lithgow, Matthew Modine and Harry Connick, Jr.

Rector was excited for his return to the place that made this great plane famous.

"He planned it for like the last six months," Darlene O'Donnell, Rector's stepdaughter, told Florida Today of the trip. "He couldn't wait to go."

On Rector's long flight over the Atlantic, the pilot of his American Airlines flight summoned him to the cockpit so the two could take a photograph together. "The flight attendant stopped us and said, 'Mr. Rector, the captain would like to meet you,'" Susan Jowers told Florida Today.

She had become almost a daughter to Rector after serving as his guardian during a 2011 Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C., and she accompanied him on this tour.

On May 6, Rector stepped foot on British soil for the first time in 71 years. The group first visited RAF Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon.

Rector toured Battle of Britain Bunker, an underground command center where fighter airplane operations were directed during D-Day. After climbing back into the sunlight, he told Jowers he felt dizzy. She grabbed one of his arms, and a stranger grabbed the other.

There, just outside the bunker where Winston Churchill famously said, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few," Rector died quietly.

"He walked out of that bunker like his tour was done," Jowers said.

Sandy Vavruich, Rector's daughter, said it's how he would have liked to pass on, even though he sadly never did make it to RAF Snetterton Heath.


"He couldn't have asked for a better way to go," she told Florida Today. "It was quick and painless. He had just gotten to see two planes, and he passed away between them."

Before repatriating his remains to the United States, a small service for the fallen hero was planned in Britain. It did not remain a small service.

"They just wanted something very simple. And when I found a little bit of background out about Melvin, there was no way we were going to just give him a very simple service," Neil Sherry, the British funeral director in charge of Rector's service, told ITV London News. "I wanted it to be as special as possible."

Though Jowers expected no more than four people, word of Rector's war record reached the American and British Armed Forces. The American Embassy donated a flag to drape over his coffin, and the room filled with servicemen and women and London historians who had never met Rector but wanted to pay their respects to their spiritual brother in arms.

One of them was U.S. Army Maj. Leif Purcell. He may not have known Rector, but he attended the funeral on May 18.

"Representation from the Royal Air Force and the British Army I saw here was phenomenal," Purcell told ITV London News. "I was expecting just to see myself and maybe two or three other U.S. service members and a priest, and that was it. So it was very delightful to see."

Speaking to the congregation, one U.S. serviceman said, "I do know of his sacrifice and his family's sacrifice, so you do him and his family a great honor by being here today."

Jowers was pleased.

"He certainly got a beautiful send-off," Jowers told Florida Today. "People everywhere, from Cambridge to London, heard his story."

Vavruich, who lives in Gloversville, N.Y., was also touched by the outpouring of respect. She, along with Rector's five other children, will have the opportunity to pay their respects on June 9 at First Baptist Church of Barefoot Bay. Rector's remains were repatriated to the U.S. on Tuesday.

"He completed his final mission," Jowers said.


It's official! RAF Scampton to host new Lincolnshire airshow from 2017

By CharlotteJ_LE  |  Posted: May 26, 2016

The show will be a permanent fixture on Lincolnshire's calendar.

Lincolnshire will have its own airshow at RAF Scampton every year from 2017, the RAF Charitable Trust has confirmed.

Speculation has been rife that Scampton, the home of the Red Arrows, would step in to fill the void since it was announced in September RAF Waddington would no longer host the county's annual airshow.

The RAF Charitable Trust, which runs the biggest military air show in the world, in Fairford, Gloucestershire, announced today that Scampton would host a show on September 9 and 10 next year - and every year after that.

Andy Armstrong, chief executive for the trust said the Scampton airshow would be run by its own dedicated team, who would draw on the experiences learned by the charity in Fairford, to ensure the event was a success.

He said: "Visitors will have a great show. There will be everything from enthusiasts to those having a family experience.

"What I've learned is don't try to do bigger and better. Be different. That's what we'll get here, a different show. It's the home of Red Arrows. It has the history of the Lancaster and the Dambusters.

"It's also the centenary of the station which starts in October. These are themes that will come through."

Mr Armstrong said the Scampton airshow would be run by its own dedicated team, who would draw on the Trust's

No details have yet been released on the type of aircraft which will be at the event, but it is expected the Red Arrows will make an appearance.

Mr Armstrong said: "It's going to be like Glastonbury. We'll announce the date then announce the acts in due course.

"This is the home of the Red Arrows, I think people would be disappointed if they weren't here."

"I guarantee a fun packed air show everyone will enjoy. The plan will be to start modestly in 2017 and build.

"We don't want to think too big and fall on our face. We'll be cautious initially to make sure everything works properly then build from there.

"We want to leave every year with people wanting more."

Proceeds from the event will go to the trust, one of the RAF four main charities, whose interests lie in youth and aviation.

At the Royal International Airshow Tattoo under 16s go free, and the trust plans to make ticket prices the same at RAF Scampton.

Pilots return to Woodborough - 50 years after 'life changing' plane crash

By JemmaPage  |  Posted: May 26, 2016

L-R Mike Sedman and Tim Thorn return to Woodborough where their plane crashed 50 years ago

L-R Mike Sedman and Tim Thorn return to Woodborough where their plane crashed 50 years ago

Tears were shed and church bells rang out as two pilots were reunited in the quiet Nottinghamshire village where their planes collided with another 50 years ago.

Tim Thorn and Mike Sedman visited Woodborough yesterday; half a century after the crash between two Provost jet trainers showered the area with debris – narrowly missing youngsters who were on their way to school.

The duo, who were based at RAF Syerston, in Flintham, near Newark, were ejected from their seats after the collision at 5,000 feet with another plane.

They parachuted into the middle of the village's main street and, miraculously, there were no injuries or damage to property.

Mike, who was 21 at the time and had been learning how to fly for two months, said: "We haven't been back to the village since. It has been quite an emotional experience as the crash has always been in the back of my mind.

Wreckage from the crash

"It's very humbling to come back. The welcome we received was quite extraordinary. We have met people who were there at the time and children who have been learning about it at their school."

The event took place at the Nag's Head pub in Main Street, where a flag was raised by 13 children from Woodborough Primary School.

Church bells at St. Swithun's, where there is a plaque to commemorate the crash, rang at 8.46am – the time the collision was recorded.

Mike, now 71 and living in Oxfordshire, said: "It was a life-changing experience in many respects. I wouldn't have met my wife if it wasn't for the crash and the accident itself was a once-in-a-lifetime moment."

Part of the plane's wing fell into the yard of butcher Walter Hill, a cockpit dropped into a farmer's yard and debris fell on the village's playing field.

The airmen were taken to Nottingham General Hospital but neither had serious injuries.

They spent two months in different hospitals across the country, and could not fly for a further four months due to the pressure on their backs after they were ejected.

Tim, who was 23 years old at the time and had been flying for four years, said: "I tried to avoid the collision but it didn't work so we had to eject ourselves. As soon as we pulled the handle, everything that happened next was a blur."

L-R Tim Thorn, Stephen Derry, Mike Sedman and Peter Bearne

The reunion was organised by Peter Bearne, of ITV Central news, and Stephen Derry, who works at the Nag's Head pub.

Mr Derry, who remembers the crash took place on his seventh birthday, said: "I was travelling on a bus from Lowdham and as we passed the church we looked up in the sky and saw two planes crash.

"I got to the school and one of the pilots landed about 10 yards in front of me with his parachute. We were ushered into the school building by our headteacher and then we just go on with the school day."

Farmer David Rose, who witnessed the crash, shook hands with the pilots at the event.

The 78-year-old said: "It's still so vivid in my mind. I suddenly heard three explosions from the sky and rushed into the road.

"Suddenly, these bits and pieces started dropping around me; nuts and bolts and bits of engine. I ducked for cover and looked out and saw this parachute coming down.

"One of the chaps landed right in front of me on the road. I asked him if he was ok and drove him to his friend who was about half a mile away.

"The wreckage was left all across the village."

The Nottingham Evening Post's front page from the day the crash happened.


Ancient floppy disks are still used in U.S. nuclear computer system

Many government agencies, U.S. and international alike, have a reputation for sometimes using tools that are horribly out of date.

But according to a report from a congressional watchdog agency, a particularly vital arm of the U.S. government may be using the oldest tech you could possibly imagine.

According to a new report from the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO), at least one part of the U.S. Defense Department (DoD) still uses floppy disks in one of its systems.

the DoD uses 8-inch floppy disks in a legacy system that coordinates ... the nation’s nuclear forces

What's a floppy disk you ask? Well, decades ago, instead of using USB sticks, data was transported between computer systems using a thin square plastic case that contained a magnetic disk (which is where the data was stored).

But most systems today wouldn't be able to accept a floppy disk even if the user wanted to, so the presence of such an outdated piece of technology is pretty surprising, particularly within the halls of such a historically technically advanced part of the government.

The revelation, surfaced on Wednesday in a report from CNBC, is included in a GAO research document titled "Federal Agencies Need to Address Aging Legacy Systems."

In it, the document states:

Federal legacy IT investments are becoming increasingly obsolete: many use outdated software languages and hardware parts that are unsupported. Agencies reported using several systems that have components that are, in some cases, at least 50 years old. For example,the Department of Defense uses 8-inch floppy disks in a legacy system...

More troubling is the fact that the old school floppy disks are used as a storage solution for the DoD's Strategic Automated Command and Control System, which "coordinates the operational functions of the United States’ nuclear forces," including intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombers. The floppy disks are used as a part of the section's IBM Series/1 computer (a system from the '70s).

The good news? The agency plans to update the ancient system in 2017, according to the GAO report.

In the meantime, let's hope the fate of peace on Earth doesn't come down to an 8-inch floppy disk that not even the smallest, poorest business office would ever think of using.


The monarch dabbed her eyes with her gloved hand during a ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

Queen Elizabeth II at the National Memorial Arboretum

The Queen wiped away tears from her eyes at the unveiling of a memorial to soldiers killed in service.

The rare public display of royal emotion came as the monarch joined wounded veterans and serving personnel from the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment for the ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

A total of 32 members of the infantry regiment have died in its service since it was formed in 2006 following the merger of the King's Own Royal Border Regiment, the King's Regiment, and the Queen's Lancashire Regiment.

Queen Elizabeth II views the new Duke of Lancaster's Regimental memorial

After the unveiling of the statue of the "Lion of England" featured on the regiment's royal badge, the Queen placed a wreath beneath it.

She also hailed the work of the memorial's creators - stonemason Nick Johnson and sculptor Georgie Welch, who crafted the lion from clay before it was cast at a Gloucestershire foundry.

The heraldic lion faces northwest in tribute to the origins of the regiment that recruits in Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester, and of which the Queen is Colonel-in-Chief.

Queen Elizabeth II's signature in the visitor book after a service at the National Memorial Arboretum

Speaking after the service, Ms Welch, said: "The Queen said it was very lifelike and that it had a real look of power. She also said it looked fearless.

"I was so nervous I couldn't stop my knees shaking, but the Queen was absolutely charming."

Mr Johnson said: "I don't think you can get any higher honour than to meet the Queen."

After the service, the Queen signed a visitors' book before meeting injured servicemen and women, including Invictus Games gold medallist Corporal Luke Reeson.













Work has begun at RAF Marham in Norfolk to make way for its new lightning aircraft which will arrive in 2018.

The stealth fighters F-35 Lightning Force will replace the current Tornado squadrons.

The upgrades at the base are costing £20 million including three new buildings to allow the maintenance, repair and upgrade of the aircraft to be carried out on the base.


Eyesore RAF camp demolished to make way for flats

Buchan Braes artist impression

An “eyesore” RAF camp at the entrance to a Buchan Coast village is being transformed into a modern apartment complex.

The new Buchan Braes flats in Boddam have been built in the former officer’s mess of RAF Buchan’s domestic base.

The accommodation and mess areas of the former base – which was vital for coordinating the UK’s air defence strategy before it became and unmanned radar station in 2005 – are now making way for a new neighbourhood.

And developers hope the site near the A90 Peterhead to Aberdeen route will prove popular with commuters and those looking to enjoy the beautiful coastline.

Site owner Pamela Buchan, who also owns the nearby Buchan Braes hotel, said: “We demolished the huts and the sergeant’s mess is all that’s left. There are 11 flats being created in the mess.

“The huts were an eyesore and they’ve been completely demolished.”

And architect Richard Slater, from Michael Gilmour Associates, said: “We’re trying to regenerate the whole Buchan Braes site so getting people on the site is vital.

“There’s already a hotel, dentist and a business centre. This is about a sense of community – it’s critical to get people there to complete it.”

Planning permission for 20 residential properties on the site was granted by Aberdeenshire Council in July, and this initial build of 11 flats represented the first phase of the scheme.

One flat is already complete and work will take place to landscape the area where the RAF accommodation huts once stood.

Royal Air Force station Buchan was opened in 1952 as one of the UK’s two air defence control and reporting centres.

The domestic accommodation was built in Boddam to house the personal of the base which played a key role in intercepting Russian planes en route to Cuba.

Permanently manned operations ended in 2005 and the Buchan family converted part of the accommodation into the Buchan Braes hotel.


RAF Waddington and Scampton centenary parade through Lincoln

Lancaster bomber WILL fly in this display season


Signatures at the Swan

With four USAAF airfields within 6 miles and a US hospital only 4 miles away, Lavenham was a popular destination for US service personnel. The Swan Hotel in Lavenham was one of the favourite meeting places in the village and servicemen of the United States Army Air Force, Royal Air Force, Corps of Military Police, the Army, Royal Engineers and Royal Army Service Corps are known to have relaxed and socialised here. Many of the servicemen during this time signed the wall of the small bar, known as the airmen’s bar in their honour.

The Eighth in the East are working in partnership with the Stour Valley Community Archaeology Group to record the many WW2 and post-war signatures. Many of the signatures are fading so the project aims to record and research the signatures before any more fade and dissapear with time.

The wall panels have been professionally photographed by a local Lavenham photographer and have been enlarged in order to transcribe and decipher the signatures. Volunteers from the Stour Valley Archaeology Group are now carrying out the transcibing process and creating a database of names. Following this they plan to research the names and discover more about the individuals behind the signatures, along with their stories.

All of the data and photographs will then be stored at the Suffolk Record Office, the Swan Hotel and on the IWM American Air Museum website and will be accessible to all.

The project has already a large following and as a result many relatives of servicemen


Arrests In Cyprus For Drugs And Explosives Possession

Four Cypriot men have been arrested for possessing drugs and explosives after Sovereign Base Area (SBA) Police officers and the Cyprus Police swooped on a private residence in Ypsonas village yesterday evening.
During the raid, which involved a total of 20 police officers from both forces, a large amount of highly explosive TNT was discovered along with approximately six kilograms of cocaine and a large quantity of another substance believed to be cannabis.
After discovering the explosives, the search was immediately halted while the area could be evacuated and experts could attend to the scene to make it safe.
SBA Police officials have confirmed that as soon as the area is clear, officers will continue with the search to see if anymore drugs can be found.
Since the arrests yesterday, €37,000 in cash has been seized from houses within the Republic of Cyprus that belong to the men in custody.
The four men are currently in court and the SBA Police have asked for them to remanded for eight days while they continue working with Cyprus Police on the investigation.
SBA Police Chief Superintendent and Akrotiri Divisional Commander, Nigel Avron said:

"The recovery of significant quantities of controlled drugs and the arrest of four people in Ypsonas yesterday evening suspected of involvement in the supply of controlled drugs is as a result of working closely with our colleagues in the Cyprus Police.

"This highlights our determination to work in partnership to tackle drug supply which would have no doubt reached the streets of towns and cities throughout the island, which as we know, has the potential to blight so many people’s lives"
This seizure of drugs and explosives marks one of the largest ever seen within the SBAs.
The investigation continues.



An Act of Remembrance at the Memorial in Victoria Park, Leicester. Remembering the 50 RAF Officers murdered by the Gestapo. Special mention was also made of the victims of the Brussels Attacks. Organised by City of Leicester RAFA Branch


Military Post Preserved

The British Forces Postal System is vital for anybody in the military and their families.
That service is now guaranteed to continue and grow in strength with the Royal Mail and the MOD renewing their contract by signing the Forces Mail Settlement.
The contract ensures that overseas personnel are able to receive post from loved ones from around the world at affordable rates.
British Forces Post Offices (BFPO), based all over the world, handles service personnel’s mail while it is overseas and the Royal Mail takes over its handling when it reaches the UK.
Did You Know?

The Royal Mail is celebrating its 500th birthday this year.
Henry VIII knighted Brian Tuke as the first Master of the Posts in 1516.
During the First World War BFPO delivered two billion letters.
An e-bluey is a letter than can be sent directly online and printed in theatre.
During the first three months of the Invasion of Iraq in 2003 over 250,000 e-blueys per month were sent.
More than 80% of the letters sent between British forces and their family and friends on operations are e-blueys.


Veteran David Littlemore wants to remember soldiers buried in no man's land by bringing a rock back from Cyprus


Amazing story of downed World War 2 RAF crew who survived 11 days in freezing Atlantic in a tiny dinghy

The six men at the moment of rescue



A familar story

A SUPPORT group for ex-RAF personnel is so desperate for new committee members it has axed a 70-year-old rule to allow it to take non-RAF veterans.

The Oxford and District Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) hopes the new rule stating that members do not have to have served in the air force could save their branch.

The group, which offers support, day trips and other activities, says its membership has been declining at an "alarming" rate.

An Oxford Mail appeal just six months ago helped save the branch from folding when Leonard Davis from Blackbird Leys came forward to be chairman, but three other vital positions - secretary, treasurer and welfare officer - still need to be filled.

Branch publicity officer Kath Mulligan said the roles needed to be filled urgently.

Mrs Mulligan, who joined the Women's RAF in 1958 aged 18, said: "We are at a last ditch situation at the moment and hoping something amazing happens.

"There just aren't the younger retirees out there interested in joining us and our membership is declining at an alarming rate.

"The problem never seems to be solved with our branch.

"Our treasurer and welfare officer have had to retire to be on hand to look after their spouses and our secretary due to heavier commitments elsewhere."

The branch, which was formed in 1945, holds monthly meetings with a speaker, organises collections and arranges outings to places like the Imperial War Museum.

It was set up as a welfare support organisation for current and past members of the RAF "family" so they are never alone or in need.

George Reade, from Risinghurst, resigned as secretary to take care of his wife Gillian who had alzheimers and died aged 75 in 2013.

The 80-year-old, who did national service at RAF Stafford for two years from 1953, encouraged younger volunteers to come forward.

He said: "It's a great group to be involved with and we need people to come forward.

"It's about reproducing the camaraderie that was there when we were in the RAF and everyone enjoys each other's company."

The retired accounts manager at British Leyland said he believed former air force personnel were often hesitant to volunteer for things.

He said: "When I was stationed at RAF Padgate near Warrington our corporal said to us 'does anyone like darts?'

"A young chap raised his hand and the corporal said 'great, well dart out of here and get me a packet of crisps'.

"We all learnt not to volunteer for anything unless we were completely sure what it entailed."

The welfare officer visits members at home or in hospital and organises hotel breaks.

Mrs Mulligan said the role required IT skills and completing a paid-for course at RAFA Head Office but said it was "very rewarding".


The Duke of Edinburgh opens The Prince Philip Barracks at MOD Lyneham

MOD News Team, 11 March 2016 — Events

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh visited the refurbished MOD Lyneham today to officially name the new Prince Philip Barracks in his honour.

The Duke of Edinburgh is Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), whose regimental headquarters are now located at The Prince Philip Barracks.


The visit began with a Guard of Honour outside the Brunel Building, where the Duke of Edinburgh was met by the Master General REME, Lieutenant General Andrew Figgures CB CBE and Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General Andrew Gregory CB. His Royal Highness then went inside the building to tour some of the facilities. The Duke of Edinburgh spoke to soldiers and officers from the newly formed 8 Training Battalion REME, the REME Arms School and the School of Army Aeronautical Engineering.

The hosting party went on to visit one of several technical training facilities on the former RAF site, which now house a range of Army training equipment including tanks, armoured vehicles, weapons and sophisticated technical training aids. The Duke of Edinburgh and the Lord Lieutenant spoke to some of the soldiers and instructors about the training at the school.


Then, hosted by the Master General of REME and the Regimental Headquarters and watched by some of the 1,800 military personnel working and training at MOD Lyneham, The Duke of Edinburgh unveiled a plaque to commemorate the official opening of The Prince Philip Barracks. The visit closed with His Royal Highness meeting the families of those based at the barracks and having lunch in the Princess Marina Officers’ Mess.


Colonel Mike Pendlington, Commandant of the Defence School of Electronic and Mechanical Engineering, part of the Defence College of Technical Training, said:

It is a privilege to continue to celebrate REME’s relationship with His Royal Highness by naming The Prince Philip Barracks in his honour. The day has been a great success and an opportunity to demonstrate how training continues to improve and evolve to the benefit of the British Armed Forces.

His Royal Highness has been Colonel-in-Chief of the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers since 1969.


'Gagged' ex-MoD cop who 'saw UFO at Greenham Common' BREAKS nearly 30-year silence

A FORMER MoD policeman has broken a 27-year silence over a bizarre UFO sighting over a nuclear missile base he claims was covered up.

The whistleblower, who has not been named amid fears he could be accused of breaching the Official Secrets Act, came forward after a recent sighting of what he described as an identical UFO.

The man, now aged in his 70s, came forward after Vanessa Cloete revealed a picture she took of an alleged UFO hovering over the Charnham Park area of Hungerford in Berkshire.

The ex-officer claimed he and a colleague witnessed the same type of object fly down towards them above Greenham Common nuclear missile silos one night in the late 1980s.

Greenham Common, famous for its anti-nuclear protests, was used by the RAF and US Army Air Force, but it closed in 1993 after the Cold War.

The man claims he was made to sign the Official Secrets Act and told never to discuss the event and a US "Men in Black" suited officer swore them to secrecy.

He said: “It looked exactly the same as the photograph in the paper.

“I want the people in Hungerford and Lambourn who saw it to know they’re not alone and that someone believes them.”

Ms Cloete snapped several pictures of the UFO above her home last June.

Other people have since reported sightings of what has become knows as the Hungerford UFO.

But the retired officer is the only ex-offoicial to step forward.

He added: “I was on patrol near the missile silos with a colleague when we tried to fill up with fuel from the pumps.

“They suddenly failed for no apparent reason and then we saw it – just like the photograph, a big, glowing ballbearing with a halo round it.

“It swooped down and my colleague said: ‘What the hell is that?’

“I know what aircraft and balloons look like. It was neither.

“It was just floating above the runway.”

He claimed it sped off at an “impossible speed” and they later informed the control room.

He said next day he was grilled by top brass in the presence of a black-suited American and warned never to mention it.

He added: “It’s been on my mind ever since and the photograph brought it all back.”

regardless of what he saw, the image snapped last year was investigated by the world's biggest UFO research organisation.

The Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), however, concluded it was likely an out of focus photograph of the planet Venus, which is often seen very bright with the naked eye.

MUFON provided similar examples of strange coloured orbs that were the result of blurred images of Venus.




Gulf veterans pay for their own memorial

Veterans lay wreaths

More than 2,000 people gathered in Staffordshire yesterday to pay tribute to 47 men who died a quarter of a century ago during the Gulf War but who had until now been denied a permanent memorial.

All but one of the men’s families attended the outdoor service at the National Memorial Arboretum. They were joined by high-ranking veterans of the British campaign, by Khaled al-Duwaisan, the Kuwaiti ambassador whose country donated half of the memorial’s £70,000 cost, and by hundreds of military supporters, including one whose leather jacket read: “I like you. I’ll kill you last.”

For many it was a moment of closure, of peace and of joy as battlefield colleagues posed for photographs together, some catching up for the first time in 25 years.

For others there was lingering anger at the government’s failure to “lift a finger” to help to fund the memorial. “It stinks that families and veterans have had to open their pockets when the Ministry of Defence should have given us a blank cheque,” said Kevin Doughty, a former combat medic who launched the campaign for a national Gulf War memorial four years ago.

“I wrote to George Osborne and asked for a donation but it was declined,” he said. “And then he gives £1 million to the police force for a memorial right here at the arboretum.”

Mr Doughty fell back on traditional campaigning methods. Over four years, veterans parachuted out of planes, ran sponsored marathons and motorcycled around the country to raise enough money for the three-spoked silver memorial with 47 paving stones bearing the names of those who died.

The conflict began in 1990 when a US-led coalition fought the Iraqi army after the country had illegally invaded Kuwait. It ended when Saddam Hussein’s forces were driven from Kuwait in February 1991. Until today, no memorial has existed commemorating those who died.

The monument, designed by an RAF veteran, Ian Beadles, has three pillars to represent each of Britain’s armed forces and its centre stone has an image of the Gulf Medal engraved in black granite. There are 48 poppies, one for each of the 47 who fell and one to remember those who died since the Gulf War ended.

Rebecca McFadden, the sister of Jason McFadden, a driver in the Royal Corps of Transport, said she was pleased that the memorial had been organised by fellow veterans. “It was the people who knew Jason raised money for him,” she said.

“That means a lot. It means he’s not forgotten”. Her brother was 19 when he was killed by a cluster bomb on February 26, 1991, the day the war ended. “He’s always close to us,” his mother, Elaine, said. “Now he’ll be a bit closer.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “We continue to honour the contribution of all those who served in the first Gulf War.” He said that the government had supported the installation of a memorial at St Paul’s Cathedral, where a service was held on Friday attended by the Duke of Kent and Earl Howe, the defence minister.

Mr Doughty dismissed the service as a “last-minute gesture” that many of the families had boycotted. “It’s just a plaque, it’s not a memorial,” he said. “There’s been a lack of support from the MoD for 25 years. The families received an invitation only two to three weeks ago.”

One family member did not attend the St Paul’s service out of anger at not being permitted to lay wreaths. “This event is much more personal,” said Ken Sydee, the stepfather of Lance Corporal Terence Hill, an ambulance driver who died at 26 on the penultimate day of the war.

The pain of the collective loss was reflected in the lonely sound of the bugle that preceded the ceremony. It set the mood for the padre who conducted the service to read out the names of each man killed during Operation Granby, the name given to British efforts to liberate Kuwait. “We will remember them,” he proclaimed, a phrase repeated back to him by the crowd.

Natasha Bolam, 28, told how she was only four when she heard that her father, Corporal Alan “Geordie” Bolam, had been killed. She had taken comfort from discovering his life through his friends.

“Our dad’s military family told stories that brought our dad to life,” she said. “To me, to my sister, and to my brother Michael he is, and he always will be, our hero.”

The Kuwaiti ambassador, who helped to unveil the memorial and laid the first wreath, said that his country would always be grateful for the help provided by Britain. “We will never forget that you stood with us in the dark days. You are always with us and we are always with you.”


A memorial remembering the British military personnel who died in the first Gulf War is to be unveiled 25 years after the conflict ended.

The monument, which has 47 paving stones with the names of those killed, will be opened at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.

The opening will be marked with a public dedication service later.

The first Gulf War began in 1990 and ended when Iraqi forces were driven from Kuwait in February 1991.

A US-led coalition fought the Iraqi army during the war after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was declared illegal by the UN.

The new memorial has three pillars to represent each of Britain's three armed forces and its centre stone carries the image of the reverse of the Gulf Medal engraved in black granite.

Beneath the centre stone there are 48 poppies, with one poppy for each of the 47 killed and one poppy to remember the veterans who have died since the Gulf War ended.


The RAF discovered that a 15 year-old

‘Gate Guard’ Grand Slam bomb – was

actually LIVE!!!!

Apparently when Lincolnshire County Council were widening the road past RAF Scampton’s main gate in

about 1958, the ‘gate guards’ there had to be moved to make way for the new carriageway. Scampton was

the WWII home of 617 Sqn, and said “gate guards” were a Lancaster…and a Grand Slam bomb.

When they went to lift the Grand Slam, thought for years to just be an empty casing, with an RAF 8 Ton

Coles Crane, it wouldn’t budge. “Oh, it must be filled with concrete” they said. Then somebody had a horrible

thought …. No!….. Couldn’t be? … Not after all these years out here open to the public to climb over and be

photographed sitting astride! …. Could it? …. Then everyone raced off to get the Station ARMO. He carefully

scraped off many layers of paint and gingerly unscrewed the base plate.

Yes, you guessed it, live 1944 explosive filling! The beast was very gently lifted onto an RAF ‘Queen Mary’

low loader, using a much larger civvy crane (I often wonder what, if anything, they told the crane driver), then

driven slowly under massive police escort to the coastal experimental range at Shoeburyness. There it was

rigged for demolition, and when it ‘high ordered’, it proved in no uncertain terms to anyone within a ten mile

radius that the filling was still very much alive!

Exhaustive investigations then took place, but nobody could find the long-gone 1944, 1945 or 1946 records

which might have shown how a live 22,000 lb bomb became a gate guard for nearly the next decade and a

half. Some safety distance calculations were done, however, about the effect of a Grand Slam detonating at

ground level in the open. Apart from the entire RAF Station, most of the northern part of the City of Lincoln,

including Lincoln Cathedral, which dates back to 1250, would have been flattened.

The Grand Slam was a 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) earthquake bomb used by RAF Bomber Command against

strategic targets during the Second World War. It was the most powerful non-atomic bomb used in the war.

Known officially as the Bomb, Medium Capacity, 22,000 lb, it was a scaled-up version of the Tallboy bomb

and closer to the original size that the bombs’ inventor, Barnes Wallis, had envisaged when he first

developed his earthquake bomb idea. It was also nicknamed “Ten ton Tess”.

When the success [of the Tallboy bomb] was proved, Wallis designed a yet more powerful weapon… This

22,000 lb. bomb did not reach us before the spring of 1945, when we used it with great effect against

viaducts or railways leading to the Ruhr and also against several U-boat shelters. If it had been necessary, it

would have been used against underground factories, and preparations for attacking some of these were

well advanced when the war ended. —Sir Arthur Travers Harris (1947).

On 18 July 1943, work started on a larger version of the Tallboy bomb, which became the Grand Slam. As

with the original Tallboy, the Grand Slam’s fins generated a stabilizing spin and the bomb had a thicker case

than a conventional bomb, which allowed deeper penetration. After the hot molten Torpex was poured into

the casing, the explosive took a month to cool and set. Like the Tallboy, because of the low rate of

production and consequent high value of each bomb, aircrews were told to land with their unused bombs on

board rather than jettison them into the sea if a sortie was aborted.

After release from the Avro Lancaster B.Mk 1 (Special) bomber, the Grand Slam would reach nearsupersonic

speed, approaching 1,049 ft/s (320 m/s), 715 mph (1150 km/h). When it hit, it would penetrate

deep underground before detonating. The resulting explosion could cause the formation of a camouflet

(cavern) and shift the ground to undermine a target’s foundation.

Unlike Tallboy, Grand Slam was originally designed to penetrate concrete roofs. Consequently, it was more

effective against hardened targets than any existing bomb. The first Grand Slam was tested at the Ashley

Walk Range in the New Forest, on 13 March 1945. By the end of the war, 42 Grand Slams had been

dropped on active service



Aston Martin creates 750 jobs in St Athan

Aston Martin is to build its new luxury car in south Wales, creating 750 highly-skilled jobs.

The DBX Concept car will be hand-made in a super hangar at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan.

It is a major coup for Wales, which took two years to secure the deal ahead of 20 locations across the world.

As well as attracting one of motoring's most prestigious names, it is expected to create around 1,000 jobs with suppliers and local business.

Aston Martin chief executive Andy Palmer called it a "momentous day for Wales" at a news conference in Cardiff on Wednesday.

The development will include a skills academy, which will make St Athan and the Vale of Glamorgan a centre of excellence.

Work on the factory will start in 2017 and production will start three years later.

"We have a wealth of craftsmanship here. It takes 200 hours to make a car and to do that we need skilled labour and we have got that skilled labour in Wales, in Great Britain and that played a big part in out decision," said Mr Palmer.

The company is also bringing more work to its factory and headquarters at Gaydon in Warwickshire bringing the total of jobs created to 1,000.

The value of the deal is in the hundreds of millions of pounds, although the Welsh government will not comment on the amount of support it is giving.

In its 103-year history Aston Martin has only sold just over 70,000 cars.

To continue to survive at the luxury end of the market it has been looking at broadening its range to appeal to younger - and female - customers.

The car - which is an all-electric 4x4 and expected to cost at least £160,000 to buy - was unveiled at the Geneva motor show last year.

Mr Palmer said then that the company envisaged a world "perhaps a world not too far away, when luxury GT travel is not only stylish and luxurious but also more practical, more family-friendly and more environmentally responsible".

The design team had in mind a driver who was a young woman, American - and rich. The fictitious customer was dubbed Charlotte and seen as "an attractive lady, cool, in her 30s".

First Minister Carwyn Jones said it was the start of a long-term relationship between Wales and Aston Martin.

"We will work together in building on the strong foundations of our partnership to nurture a prosperous and rewarding future for this iconic company and its skilled workforce in Wales," he said.

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb called the announcement an "enormous boost" for Wales and the British car industry.

He added: "It is a genuine example of a 'one nation' achievement, with both the UK and Welsh governments working together to attract this prestige manufacturer to Welsh shores."

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, Mr Palmer said the company had chosen Wales because it was "the best offer".

"I don't simply mean in terms of money. What really swung it was the passion and the professionalism of the people we dealt with in Wales," he said.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart AM said: "We had an excellent relationship with Aston Martin at official and ministerial level.

"The important thing for us was ensuring that Aston Martin stayed in the UK, a fine company for the UK.

"We fought very hard to ensure we were on the list and now we've achieved having it.

"This is a win not just for Wales but for the UK."

RAF Gibraltar In £8 Million Runway Resurfacing

Flights in and out of RAF Gibraltar has been secured for the next 20 years following completion of a £7.9 million runway resurfacing programme by DIO.

No military aircraft are currently stationed there, but RAF, Commonwealth and aircraft of other NATO nations will periodically arrive for transient stopovers, exercises, or other temporary duty. Administered by British Forces Gibraltar, the station is a joint civil-military facility that also functions as Gibraltar’s civilian Airport.

David Graham, DIO’s Deputy Head of Programme and Projects Delivery International, said:

“Investing in infrastructure to enable military capability is a huge part of what DIO delivers for defence so I’m really pleased with how quickly and smoothly this project has progressed. This was only possible because of how closely DIO, Lagan Construction, RAF Gibraltar and the government of Gibraltar worked together to mitigate any possible problems.”

The refurbished runway is expected to last for around 20 years.


Accountant Zowie Davis accused of defrauding RAF Honington of £100,000

Zowie Davis, 38, is alleged to have committed one count of fraud by abuse of position while she was working at RAF Honington, near Bury St Edmunds.

The former accountant is accused of defrauding the RAF of £100,000 and appeared in front of magistrates in Bury St Edmunds yesterday.

Davis did not indicate a plea at the magistrates’ court hearing and was told the matter could only be dealt with by a crown court due to the amount of money involved.

She is alleged to have committed the fraud between June 2012 and October 2014 while she was employed as an accountant on the base, which is home to the headquarters of the RAF Regiment and the RAF Police.

The charge reads: “While occupying a position, namely accountant, in which you were expected to safeguard or not to act against the financial interests of Her Majesty’s Forces at RAF Honington, you dishonestly abused that position intending thereby to make a gain, namely over £100,000, for yourself.”

Speaking only to confirm her name age and address, Davis did not enter a plea and has been given unconditional bail to appear at Ipswich Crown Court.

She confirmed a Honington address in court but has spent the last 17 months in a mental health unit.

Davis was sectioned under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act and has been receiving treatment at Wedgwood House, the mental health unit at West Suffolk Hospital.

Prosecuting on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service, Tess Mann said: “The defendant is charged with an amount of fraud to the value of £100,000.

“That sum alone makes it not suitable to summary disposal [at a magistrates’ court]. I ask you [the bench] to send it to crown court.”

The CPS position was not contested by Davis’s defence and the magistrates’ bench told Davis she would be dealt with by Ipswich Crown Court.

She has been given unconditional bail to appear for a preliminary hearing at Ipswich Crown Court at on March 21 at 10am.


Tragedy of Ravenscar plane crash

Wreckage behind Stoupe Brow Farm.

In the early hours of February 16 1944, the seven-man crew of a Halifax bomber suffered cruel luck when their aircraft made a successful forced landing on the coastal cliffs above Robin Hood’s Bay – and then slid to destruction over the rocky precipice that lay in its path.

The aircraft, which belonged to No.640 Squadron, based at Leconfield, near Beverley, was returning from a mass raid on Berlin.

Crew of C8-P (Peter). Back (L-R): Sgt Graham Leitch(rear gunner); F/O Hugh Barkley (pilot); Sgt Alf Elkington (flight engineer); F/O Lindsay Sommerville (bomb aimer). Front (L-R): Sgt Derek Brown (mid-upper gunner); Sgt Bill Jackson (navigator); F/Sgt Jock Smart (wireless operator).

Crew of C8-P (Peter). Back (L-R): Sgt Graham Leitch(rear gunner); F/O Hugh Barkley (pilot); Sgt Alf Elkington (flight engineer); F/O Lindsay Sommerville (bomb aimer). Front (L-R): Sgt Derek Brown (mid-upper gunner); Sgt Bill Jackson (navigator); F/Sgt Jock Smart (wireless operator).

Heavily protected by night-fighters, flak and, at that time of the year, an almost continuous layer of 10/10 cloud, Berlin was always hard; always testing. Prior to the attack on February 15-16, Bomber Command had already launched some 2,600 four-engine bombers in four raids against the German capital since the year began. The cost had been high: 171 aircraft had failed to return and 1,197 aircrew had been lost.

The raid that took place on February 15-16 was the fifth attack in three weeks. The combined effect of night-fighters and heavy flak in the target area accounted for 43 of the 891 bombers detailed for the raid. This was an improvement on previous loss rates, but it still represented 300 aircrew as casualties of war.

Flying Officer H. Barkley and the crew of the 640 Squadron Halifax C8-P (Peter) had survived that particular carnage but the re-crossing of the North Sea posed its own challenges: the Germans were disrupting the Allied ‘Gee’ navigation system that was being used to ensure that returning crews could always ‘fix’ their geographical position relative to their base. Like a number of returning crews, Barkley was not sure where he was in relation to his airfield. He was not the only one.

Mervyn Harris, wireless operator of Halifax C8-Y-Yoke (pilot Sergeant Roy Crockett), later recalled that his own navigator also had some difficulties on that return trip from Berlin. At one point the navigator had informed his pilot that they were possibly 50 miles from base but that he could not give him a course to steer because Jerry was jamming the Gee signals. Harris had then immediately used the ‘Darkie’ channel to request a ‘QDM’. Darkie was a short range aid to navigation that allowed a ‘lost’ aircraft to make radio contact with its base (or a ‘Tracking’ station) to obtain the appropriate course to steer (the QDM).

Stoupe Brow Farm from the old railway line.

“I called up and got an instant reply and the course to steer. As I gave the ‘Message Received’ signal, bedlam broke out: almost every aircraft was calling. I heard one very faint call sign which did not get much of a chance of a reply because he was drowned out by closer aircraft. I believe that it was Flying Officer Barkley’s aircraft. I knew the wireless operator (Jock Smart) quite well.”

As luck would have it, Barkley made landfall near Ravenscar - shortly before 01.30am and nearly an hour after the other crews had landed. It was dark and the weather was not good: there was cloud down to 1,500 feet and the generally poor visibility was reduced still further by occasional showers. It was not the best combination to ensure a satisfactory outcome but an additional complication was that Barkley still did not really know where he was. By that time, his wireless operator was using the ‘Darkie’ channel.

Vic Dagnall was living in Scarborough when I met him in the late 1990s. But in February 1944 he was a wireless mechanic at the RAF’s Radio Tracking station at Ravenscar: he was probably the last person to communicate with P-Peter before it crashed. Fifty years on, he recalled what happened that night:

“I was on watch and listening in when the set came into action and the pilot asked me for his position. I immediately switched over to ‘transmit’ and gave him ‘312º. 10 miles Scarborough’ (I think it was 312º, but I can’t now fully recollect), which was all that we were allowed to say. I kept switching over from ‘transmit’ to ‘receive’, but there was nothing. It was stone dead from his end. I kept repeating ‘312º. 10 miles Scarborough’, all the time. Then I heard an explosion, and I knew what it was. He’d been circling before that. It must have been about five minutes from getting the first call to the time he actually crashed.”

Vic Dagnall served at Ravenscar Tracking station.

Vic Dagnall served at Ravenscar Tracking station.

At 01.30am, Barkley’s Halifax came down behind Browside, a rocky precipice above the Scarborough-Whitby railway line, some three miles north-west of Ravenscar. Seemingly anxious to find a landing space (perhaps because he was short of fuel), Barkley had for some reason turned the Halifax on to a West-East direction and had made a wheels-up landing in a field some distance behind the outcrop – but the distance proved to be not far enough. The plane’s momentum drove it through four stone walls before the disintegrating bomber reached the precipice. Then it temporarily became airborne before crashing down on to the land just behind Stoupe Brow Farm, then the home of Mr Hayes Duck and his wife, Gertrude.

The wheels and engines took an erratic course down the slope and, amazingly, missed the farmhouse by a few feet. However, they demolished the walls and gateways at the south side of the building as they plunged down towards the sea. One engine ended up on the Scarborough-Whitby railway line below Browside.

There were no survivors.

Hayes Duck was the first man on the scene. His wife stayed indoors and went about heating water for first aid purposes. He found six bodies strewn across their yard and one a bit further down the hill. He, with other men to help him, gathered up the dead fliers and carried them to a shed beside his house and then he went indoors to tell his wife that first aid was not necessary.

Vic Dagnall told me just how close Barkley had come to succeeding:

‘People said that had there been another ten or twenty yards to spare he would have stopped before the precipice. But there wasn’t - and he went over the top.’

Details of Bill Norman’s book Halifax Squadron (the wartime bombing operations of No.640 Squadron, Leconfield) can be found at Email


Behind The Scenes At £15.7 Million Remembrance Centre Build

Building work on a new multi million pound remembrance centre at The National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, has now reached the halfway point.


Ex-RAF policeman receives medal for services to community

A FORMER RAF policeman, who is also part of the Devizes Royal British Legion, has received a British Citizen's Medal for services to the community.

Andy Davies, part of the Wiltshire branch of the RAF Police Association, has dedicated over 30 years service to local communities.

He said: "I feel deeply honoured to be receiving this award and would like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement, without whose help I could never have achieved much of what I have been able to.

"Many people think that armed forces veterans are simply old men and women in blazers just reminiscing about their military service when in fact many of them are actively engaged in supporting their local communities and raising money for charities.

"Whilst many veterans often need help, there are just as many providing help to everyone within their local communities every single day, and I feel privileged to be part of that."

A former nine-time British tae kwon do champion and European silver medal winner, Mr Davies runs a martial arts and fitness gym in the Bristol area.

Many thanks to Brendan Harper for this


'Blind' RAF pilot saved by wingman who talked him down
Dramatic rescue at RAF Leeming during a routine training flight in a Hawk jet

An RAF pilot who lost his sight in the middle of a training flight was talked down through a safe landing by a comrade who flew behind him, it has been disclosed.

The dramatic rescue happened last week at RAF Leeming during a routine training flight in a Hawk jet.

The unnamed pilot radioed to base after he was suddenly lost vision because of a suspected medical problem while flying solo above North Yorkshire in the BAE Systems single-engine training jet.

At one point the pilot’s vision was so bad that commander’s considered having him eject into the North Sea because there was little chance he could land safely, sources said.

But the prospect of him suffering ejection injuries, as well as losing the plane led them to dispatch another pilot, Flt Lt Paul Durban, to try to talk him down.

Flt Lt Durban, a 39-year-old father of two who flew Tornados in Iraq and Afghanistan before becoming an instructor at RAF Leeming, flew close behind the stricken pilot to talk him down.

A source said: “They think he had an infection in his eye and he just couldn’t see. The other pilot flew behind him and talked him down. They got him down safely and the plane is OK. Flt Lt Durban is fine too, though I think he was pretty exhausted.”

The RAF on Sunday confirmed the incident on January 28, but refused to comment on the condition of the stricken pilot. Sources said his vision was thought to have been affected by the sudden deterioration of an eye infection.

An RAF spokesman said: “During a routine training sortie on Thursday, one of our pilots temporarily suffered a partial loss of vision. To assist in the recovery of the aircraft to RAF Leeming, the pilot used the radio to request the assistance of a wingman and was promptly joined by another aircraft from the same squadron.

“The impaired pilot flew in formation back to RAF Leeming with the other aircraft where the pilot landed the aircraft uneventfully. Flying in formation, and conducting an approach to land as a formation, is a skill practised daily by RAF fast jet pilots.”

The RAF’s 100 Sqn use Hawk jets at RAF Leeming, near Richmond in North Yorkshire, to train forward air controllers and to act as enemy jets in practice missions. They are also flown by the RAF’s aerobatic team, the Red Arrows.


RAF and GCHQ spies foiled IS attacks in Bath, London, Brighton and Ipswich claims the Sunday Express

The Royal Air Force (RAF) foiled a potential terrorist attack in Bath, the Sunday Express has revealed.

Two pilots said to be "sympathetic to Islamic State" passed coded messages over the Mayday channel, it is claimed in the Sunday newspaper. They were unaware that this channel was being monitored at the time.

The report reveals the RAF sent these messages to GCHQ spies in Cheltenham, who spent seven hours decoding them. They realised the airline pilots, who were unknown to the authorities, had discussed attacks in Bath, London, Ipswich and Brighton.

The conversation took place in the wake of the horrific terror attacks in Paris in November 2015.

The location of the pilots is not known but their voices and identity are known to the authorities.

Speaking to the Sunday Express, a senior intelligence source said the targeted cities have been given "extra surveillance."

On Sunday afternoon, Bath MP Ben Howlett issued the following statement: "Today's shocking news shows why we need to keep national security at the highest level of importance. The RAF have done a sterling job to intercept messages from those who are intent on destroying everything we value.

"I am proud that our Government is investing heavily in our intelligence and security services, including the vital work of GCHQ in the West of England. While Bath residents should always remain vigilant, we should never give in to terrorists by changing our daily routine."

The current UK threat level is severe meaning an international terrorist attack here considered highly likely, according to MI5.


Modern air force demands a lot of Leeming

Near the largest army garrison in Europe, North Yorkshire also hosts the region's largest RAF base - Philip Sedgewick finds out what goes on behind (and above) the fences

RAF Leeming has a distinguished history – built just in time for the Second World War and fully operational by 1940, it saw a succession of heavy bomber units stationed there, notably Lancasters from the Royal Canadian Air Force. Post-war it became a training base and, following the Cold War thaw, Tornados operated from the North Yorkshire base as part of the nation’s fighter defences until 2008.

With the modern Royal Air Force in number terms, if not potency, a shadow of its former self, air bases are expected to house a variety of different units and in this, RAF Leeming is no different.

Its main flying unit is 100 Squadron, an unusual unit even for the RAF. Known as aggressors, these highly experienced pilots fly sinister-looking black painted Hawks and act as the enemy to the air force’s younger top guns. Locals will be well used to seeing them in the skies above North Yorkshire, although confrontations tend to take place over the North Sea in a specially monitored area away from the public.

Being close to the electronic warfare range in Cumbria, RAF Leeming is attractive to visiting aircraft. These supersonic flyers travel at eight miles per minute and can reach the Lake District in the time it takes to find a parking space on a busy market day.

The station hosts regular exercises. Recently, aircrew from Turkey and Germany spent three weeks there. Exchanges within Nato are common; presently 100 Squadron has a US pilot who normally flies an F-15 Eagle.

The station commander is a former Harrier jump jet pilot Group Captain David Bradshaw. His father, Geoff Bradshaw, now approaching 90, flew Spitfires, and son David always wanted to be a pilot.

Gp Capt Bradshaw says the operational tempo is as high as ever. He makes the point that the RAF does not just consist of aircrew and provides a vital service in support of air-power operations with 90 Signals Unit having a home at Leeming. Required to maintain a high state of readiness at all times, they also have a member of the USAF on staff.

Made up of soldiers, Marines and RAF personnel, the Joint Forward Air Controller Training and Standards Unit is a further highly important team resident at the station. Acting as forward controllers in a given conflict situation, its members instruct aircrew on what needs to be done – a low flypast to scare the enemy, dropping bombs or firing rockets, all to ensure the safe use of air power among our troops.

The 2 Force Protection Wing, 34 Squadron RAF Regiment, 609 (West Riding) Auxiliary Squadron and the Northumbrian University Air Squadron all operate from Leeming. There is also an RAF mountain rescue unit, one of several throughout the country on permanent call out to assist the civil and military authorities. The base is parent to 100 other scattered units such as Air Training Corps, RAF Fylingdales and RAF Linton on Ouse. Station medical personnel often work alongside the National Health Service.

As the largest RAF unit in the North-East and seventh largest RAF base in the UK, Leeming is like a small town. Together with civil servants and dependants, 3,000 staff, mostly Royal Air Force men and women, make up its resident working population.

Highlighting the ready-response RAF of today, one of Gp Capt Bradshaw’s vital roles is to set-up when necessary an Expeditionary Air Wing, as they did last year as part of the Baltic Policing Mission.

He said: “We essentially do what we do, just somewhere else.

“The station is on a constant state of high readiness to respond anywhere in the world.

“ It is a part of the job we do and, yes, it does leave the base short, but the operational mission comes first.”

Gp Capt Bradshaw insists his main priority is to ensure all his personnel are well looked-after. He said: “I believe they are what is important about the RAF – our staff are at the heart of what we do.”

Keen to emphasise the base personnel's community and charity work, integration locally is a high priority. They entertain 2,000 schoolchildren annually for the Crucial Crew event and recently hosted a dinner for St Teresa's Hospice; local pilots and air traffic controllers are often invited onto the base.

As station commander, getting out and about and meeting people is a preferred aspect of his role. In alleviating any problems he prefers persuasion to formal military orders; he is, however, ultimately responsible for discipline, although he says his staff are "well-behaved" lot.

On the need for high levels of security, Gp Capt Bradshaw empathises with his army counterparts at Catterick Garrison. The base has its own RAF Police who work in conjunction with the local force providing both policing and security. He said: “It is a balance between guarding against complacency and the rights of the people who live and work here, many of whom are not military personnel, but their families.”

Gp Capt Bradshaw has served in Germany, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. He regards the pinnacle of his flying career as operating his Harrier from HMS Illustrious, of which he is rightly proud.

His previous posting was as part of the F-35 Lightning development team at High Wycombe. Presently in the United States, the joint US/UK new aircraft is expected to enter service with the RAF in 2018.

Optimistic about the future, Gp Capt Bradshaw sees the Royal Air Force as an attractive career and hopes to attract recruits from all walks of life into a new reserve squadron – 607 County Durham. Early indications are that there is a real interest in the RAF Reserves.

Married to Olivia, with two children, Gp Capt Bradshaw enjoys living in North Yorkshire and cycling across the Dales. As a pilot, flying is his passion and he gets airborne at least twice a week, often taking ATC cadets aloft for instruction.

Asked if he is jealous of Major Tim Peake, the UK’s astronaut currently on the International Space Station, Gp Capt Bradshaw gives a wistful smile. Slowly, he replies: "Yes, of course I am. I’d love to be up there.


What a wonderful and welcoming visit Ann and I had yesterday to the RH ,Chelsea where we the guests of Harry Puttick and Madge Cole .They gave a very informative and interesting tour of the whole site( bar he Chapel which is undergoing a major refurb) as is many other external parts as part of a £30m refit of the pensioners accommodation and facilities.Both our hosts are regular attendees of the Armed Forces Day events in Scunthorpe each year ( 2016 date is 18/6/16) and this visit was their way of saying thanks to us for looking after them whilst at the AFD.

We had a great lunch with many hundreds of pensioners ( some 320 in total are housed there) followed by a nice afternoon in the great bar and lounge.Some very useful gifts were to be had from the on site Gift Shop and a very interesting tour of the museum followed this.Harry saw service in Suez and is a BEM medalist and Madge served in NI and Malaya and holds campaign medals for both zones.The whole site is in lovely condition and is well worth a visit should you get the opportunity for an arranged visit and tour. We both are looking forward to a second visit when there a formal occasion in operation,to enjoy the unique spender of the very British affair.

New Pay Model For Armed Forces

A shake-up of Armed Forces pay across all three Services has been announced by the Defence Secretary.

A new model has been created which aims to simplify and modernise pay for Armed Forces personnel, with the reforms coming into place as of April this year.

The current pay system, introduced in 2001, was the first integrated ‘tri-service’ pay system - a major advance at the time.

But it's been criticised in recent times as being overly complex, with some service personnel expressing dissatisfaction at shortcomings and inefficiencies.

The reforms to core pay will apply to all Armed Forces regulars and reservists up to the ranks of Commodore, Brigadier and Air Commodore, except specialists like professional Aviators and Special Forces on bespoke pay scales.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
"These reforms will deliver a simpler, better and fairer system of pay for our Armed Forces. They will enable us to better target pay to skills and ensure that we continue to recruit and retain the right people.
Rank will continue to be the main determinant of pay and incremental progression will remain a key feature of the new system.

Other ranks will now be put into four different categories.

Supplement 1 will cover support trades, Supplement 2 is for fighting forces, Supplement 3 for specialist technical roles, while Supplement 4 will only apply to Army Air Corps pilots.

The model dramatically reduces the number of possible core pay scenarios from 128. The Ministry of Defence argues that this will provide a pay system that will be easier to understand for service personnel, allowing individuals to more accurately predict their future pay.

More from Forces TV: What Is The Armed Forces Covenant?

It added that the new system will be much simpler, and also fairer because it will end ‘flip-flopping’ where some personnel found their pay dropped as they were promoted.

The reforms, which have been praised by the heads of all three Services, will include pay protection to ensure that no service personnel take a pay cut on transition to the new model.

As the new pay model was announced, Armed Forces Minister Penny Mordaunt said it would attract and retain motivated people, adding that the restructure was needed and that it is not a cost-saving exercise.

Meanwhile Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, said:

"Pay is a key element of the package that attracts and retains skilled, motivated individuals within the Armed Forces. This new pay model, which both meets the needs of the services and offers a good deal for our people, has my whole-hearted support."

The shake up only applies to core pay. Allowances are not part of this review, neither is retention pay, which the 2015 Defence Review said would be phased out.


Around 1,100 jobs secured at Marshall in Cambridge thanks to new £369m Hercules MOD contract

By Cambridge News  |  Posted: December 30, 2015


Around 1,100 jobs have been secured at Marshall's base in Cambridge after it agreed a new six-year, £369 million contract to maintain a key Ministry of Defence aircraft.

Marshall will lead the continued in-service support of the MoD's RAF Hercules C-130J fleet until 2022.

The Hercules had been set for retirement in 2022, potentially leaving a gaping hole in Marshall's order book.

But last month's strategic defence and security review revealed the Hercules would be given a new lease of life, as part of plans to "recapitalise" the RAF's air transport fleet and enable UK forces to "intervene globally at speed".

The Hercules aircraft is billed as one of the RAF's workhorses, carrying troops, supplies and equipment in support of operations around the world.

Recently, they have been involved in humanitarian relief efforts in Iraq, Nepal and South Sudan.

The new deal has secured 1,200 UK jobs overall, 1,100 of which are based in Cambridge.

"This contract is further evidence of what the growing defence budget with £178 billion investment in equipment means for the UK," said defence secretary Michael Fallon.

"It will secure around 1,200 skilled jobs and ensure our essential RAF transport aircraft are prepared for operations for years to come."

Marshall carries out C-130 maintenance for a number of other clients across Europe, such as the Dutch Air Force.

The RAF currently operates a fleet of 24 Hercules aircraft. Under the new contract, by 2025 there will be 14 of the aircraft in service, with the other 10 being decommissioned in 2016 and 2017.

Steve Fitz-Gerald, CEO of Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, said: "It is a privilege to be part of the C-130J Joint Team and to have contributed to the achievements being recognised by the Minister's acquisition award.

"Next year marks Marshall's 50th anniversary of our first engagement with the RAF in support of its C-130 fleet, and we look forward to continuing that partnership to provide the highest levels of availability, affordability and innovation."

Work will also be undertaken by Lockheed Martin and its sub-contractors at sites in Havant, Stansted and Cheltenham, while Rolls-Royce will maintain the engines.

The three companies have been working together on the programme with the MoD since 2006.

The MoD also says it has secured savings of £64 million for the taxpayer as a result of the negotiations.

Adrian Baguley, the director of air support at DE&S, the MOD's procurement and support organisation, said: "This new deal for UK C130J Hercules support builds upon improved performance at a lower cost that will deliver strategic and tactical air transport capability and excellent value for UK Defence.

"It represents the culmination of excellent work by DE&S, working closely with the three principal industrial suppliers and the RAF customer."

It has been reported that Special Forces units led the calls for the Hercules to remain in service, preferring the aircraft to the larger Airbus A400M, which is beginning to enter service with the RAF.

The Hercules is thought to be better suited to operating undetected behind enemy lines, while its smaller size makes it easier to land on rough surfaces than the Airbus.

Earlier this month, the efforts of the joint Hercules team were recognised by the Minister for defence procurement Philip Dunne, who presented the companies involved with an award.

Could new maritime patrol aircraft bring spin-off for Kinloss?

Written byTanya McLaren
NEWS that a new fleet of maritime patrol aircraft will be based in Moray has been widely welcomed, with hopes high that there may be some spin off for Kinloss in the future.

Could there be a spin-off for Kinloss from the new aircraft going to Lossiemouth?The Nimrod MRA4 which was due to come into service at the former RAF Kinloss base was scrapped back in 2010, a decision which paved the way for the airforce to move out of their military base at Kinloss, creating a time of uncertainty in Forres and the surrounding area.
Kinloss Barracks is now home to the Army’s 39 Royal Engineers, who have gained great support in the local community. The Royal Engineers at Kinloss operate an air support unit, and although the New P8 maritime patrol aircraft will be based at RAF Lossiemouth, hopes are high that with an available runway and some remaining infrastructure buildings that some collaboration may be possible.
Local businessman Bob Hellyer who is a former Nimrod air electronics operator and captain said that in his view, the decision to base the aircraft at Lossiemouth was a strategic decision.
“There isn’t a lot of available infrastructure for the aircraft in Lossiemouth at the moment,” he said. “The fighters have taken up a lot of the available space and buildings.”
“In my opinion, Lossiemouth cannot house all nine aircraft.”
He added: “There will be requirement for an OCU (operational conversion unit) and operational squadrons along with associated buildings, as well as a simulator and other support structures. Kinloss still has a simulator building and the runway is still ‘in use’ in as much as it is a NATO diversion aircraft, it would be perfect for some use.”
Mr Hellyer said that crews from Kinloss had been working out in America getting ready to fly the Posiedon aircraft, which he said “made sense” as they were also used by other countries in NATO, which would facilitate good working together.
“It’s a very positive annoucement and I think it is good news,” he added. “We had the best crews and the best equipment available in the world and I hope this will still be the case.”
The announcement to procure the new fleet was made by Prime Minister David Cameron last Monday, as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review.
He confirmed plans to buy nine new Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft which will share the Lossiemouth base with Typhoon fighter aircraft.
Speaking on the Good Morning Scotland programme, the BBC’s defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said: “There was a debate as to whether the new maritime patrol aircraft should be based in Lincolnshire, at RAF Waddington, where a lot of the surveillance aircraft the RAF has are based, or in Scotland - and the decision has been taken that they will be based in Lossiemouth.”
Mr hellyer said that the old Nimrod so-called ‘‘sneaky peak’ aircraft based at Waddinngton also relied on Kinloss for servicing, which he said was why Waddington was taken out of the equation.
The UK’s fleet of Nimrod surveillance aircraft were based at RAF Kinloss until they were scrapped in 2010 as part of the defence review. The Ministry of Defence is currently relying on French and Canadian aircraft during a search after a reported sighting of a Russian submarine off the Scottish coast.
Mr Hellyer said that most people in the maritime reconnaissance community supported the new aircraft, and after speaking to former Nimrod crew and current serving personnel, he was confident that there woujd be some of the ‘old skills’ and personnel retained.
Leader of Moray Council, Cllr Stewart Cree also voiced his support for the news.
“I’m delighted to hear that the military presence in Moray is to be strengthened,” he said. “We argued and campaigned vociferously against the closure of RAF Kinloss, and were deeply disappointed when the decision to scrap the Nimrod fleet was announced.
“In the changing global situation the re-establishment of a maritime surveillance and patrol facility here on the Moray coast line makes perfect sense”.
Moray’s MP Angus Robertson, and MSP Richard Lochhead have both long argued that the controversial scrapping of the Nimrod programme, which ended aircraft basing at Kinloss, was a major mistake, leaving a maritime nation with no maritime patrol aircraft.
Commenting in the wake of reports of a a search off the coast of Scotland for a Russian submarine, with the UK relying on Maritime Patrol Aircraft capability from allies, Mr Robertson said the news was long overdue.
“Lossiemouth is one of the busiest airbases in the UK and has a wealth of expertise to welcome the new aircraft in the coming years,” he said. “The loss of the Nimrod was a blow for the RAF, a blow for the community in Moray and a blow for our local economy. The reversal of the Government’s previous decision to scrap MPA capability is welcome for both protection of our vital maritime assets and for our local communities in Moray. Moray’s communities will undoubtedly provide a warm welcome for new RAF personnel to Moray as this decision takes effect in the coming months and years.”
Mr Lochhead called it “welcome news” for Lossiemouth and for Moray after the tragic and widely condemned scrapping of the Nimrod programme.
“With this u-turn by the UK Government it seems that hard lessons have been learned. While it is too late for the loss of RAF personnel from Kinloss it is good news that we are getting Maritime Patrol Capability back to a Moray base.
“Moray’s economy will get a boost, as will our communities who have long been welcoming and supportive of the many personnel who have been based here over the decades, many of whom have made it their home.”
• The P-8 Poseidon is a modified version of Boeing’s 737-800 passenger aircraft, as used by budget airlines Easyjet and Ryanair
• It is designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
• The aircraft can carry and launch torpedoes, depth charges, SLAM-ER missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and other weapons.
• It can also drop and monitor sonobuoys, which are used to help locate and trace submarines.
• The P-8 can fly at altitudes of up to 41,000 feet and at speeds of up to 490 knots.
• It can fly up to 4,500 miles from its base without refuelling.

Armed Forces Memorial at Alrewas to close for up to year

Armed Forces MemorialImage copyrightNational Memorial Arboretum
Image captionThe Armed Forces Memorial has attracted more than 2 million visitors

The Armed Forces Memorial in Staffordshire is to be closed for up to a year for repair and improvement work.

The scheme, at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, follows the award of a £3m grant from money gathered from UK banks in Libor fines.

Work at the monument includes adding better drainage and a new stone-paved surface.

The arboretum said it was creating an area featuring images of names on the monument.

The Armed Forces Memorial has the names of more than 16,000 people who have died on duty or as a result of terrorism,

The repair and improvement scheme includes lighting work and maintenance to stonework, with some damaged panels being replaced.

It is due to close on 12 November and re-open by Armistice Day 2016.

For the period of the closure, the arboretum has created a new area featuring information about the Armed Forces Memorial and images of every name on its walls.

Military assets deployed in support of Falkland Island government in cruise ship rescue.

In support of the Falkland Island Government, British forces based in the Falkland Islands yesterday responded to a distress call by the 10,000 tonne cruise ship ‘Le Boreal’. The ship reported suffering a major engine room fire, which caused the loss of all power and left the ship drifting. A north-westerly gale placed the ship in real danger of grounding on Cape Dolphin, East Falkland.

The master ordered the ship, with 347 passengers and crew, to be abandoned early yesterday morning. Working closely with the Falkland Islands Government, British Forces enacted a major search and rescue plan. Two Royal Air Force Sea King Search and Rescue helicopters were scrambled, along with two other support helicopters, a C130 Hercules and a Voyager aircraft for command and control. The Royal Navy patrol vessel HMS Clyde was despatched to the scene, as were Dutch tugs which support British Forces in the Falkland Islands.

In an operation coordinated from Mount Pleasant, Royal Air Force Search and Rescue helicopters, supported by British International and Bristows helicopters, successfully winched 79 people from the deck of the Le Boreal and from two life rafts in the water. All of these evacuees were brought to the British Forces Base at Mount Pleasant where they received care, clothing, food and medical attention. HMS Clyde assisted two further lifeboats with over 200 evacuees on board, ensuring they were brought to safety.

All passengers and crew from Le Boreal have been accounted for and are being looked after on the Falkland Islands. The vessel itself is now in a stable condition and two Dutch Tugs, under contract to British Forces, are now assisting to bring the vessel alongside in the Falkland Islands for a detailed assessment of her condition.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

This successful rescue in the Falklands this morning demonstrates how our Armed Forces are always ready to help those in peril. The swift action taken by Royal Navy and Royal Air Force crews, working with civilian counterparts, saved many lives and prevented this developing into a human tragedy.

Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands, Cdre Darren Bone, said:

We responded with everything we had yesterday to assist in what was an extremely complex and hazardous rescue operation in difficult conditions but I am delighted that we can report all of the passengers and crew of the vessel are safe and well and the vessel itself in a stable condition. This was a huge team effort involving close liaison with the Falkland Islands Government and I am enormously impressed with the reaction by all the British forces involved, it was an exemplary performance all round.


RAF Wittering Bomb Disposal Squadron Memorial To Warrant Officer



Warrant Officer John Francis ‘Tommy’ Tomiczek was remembered at a poignant memorial outside 5131 Bomb Disposal Squadron’s headquarters at Royal Air Force Wittering on 12 November.

Warrant Officer John Francis ‘Tommy’ Tomiczek. Image courtesy of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

A commemorative plaque was dedicated to Warrant Officer Tomiczek in a service attended by his family and every available member of the Squadron. Tommy’s warrant was presented to his widow, Tracey, by Squadron Leader Mike Stocks, Officer Commanding 5131 (BD) Squadron.

The memorial at 5131 (BD) Squadron

Warrant Officer Tomiczek died in September this year of complications resulting from his battle with cancer. Station chaplain, the Reverend Sqn Ldr David Haslam, addressed the gathering and spoke of Tommy’s two families; his wife and children, and his service comrades.

The comparison thoughtfully reflected the close bonds of the bomb disposal community, which has sadly lost one of its most experienced and respected members. For Warrant Officer Tomiczek’s family, the service was a dignified and appropriate memorial.

Tracey, Tommy’s wife of 32 years said; “It was beautiful, very fitting. So many of Tommy’s colleagues came to the service today, and it was lovely to hear just how highly they thought of him. The whole day was a great tribute to Tommy and I'm sure he would be so impressed with what the Squadron has done in his honour.”

Officer Commanding 5131 (BD) Sqn presents Mrs Tomiczek with her late husband’s warrant

Flight Sergeant Dave Lowe is a senior explosive ordnance disposal operator at 5131 (BD) Squadron, he worked alongside Warrant Officer Tomiczek for years and remembers his working relationship very clearly.

Flt Sgt Lowe said; “Tommy was a great man to work with, but that’s what you find when someone is so passionate about their job. He would never have asked you to do anything he wasn’t prepared to do himself, he taught so many so much and will be greatly missed but fondly remembered.”

Warrant Officer Tomiczek enlisted in December 1980. His career included a host of major operations from the last 35 years and saw him ascend to the highest achievable non-commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force.

Sqn Ldr Mike Stocks said; “It’s easy to be sentimental at occasions like this, but Tommy was a calm and factual man and our service reflected that. Good bomb disposal officers are steady and rational; those qualities made Tommy an excellent role-model for everyone on the Squadron.”

Sqn Ldr Stocks continued; “I’m pleased that Tracey, Shaun and Rikki were with us today. It was important for us to let Tommy’s family know just how much the Squadron valued him, not just for his technical expertise but also for the content of his character.”

RAF Wittering gratefully acknowledges the kind co-operation of the Tomiczek family in the production of this press notice.

Editor: Ed Palmer

Photographers: Cpl Paul Robertshaw and courtesy of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2015

From Tom Padget who was most impressed with the field kitchen menu of Beef Wellington

thank you to

VC10 rebuild is now complete

Published on: 3rd November 2015

After an eight month dismantling process, a 70 mile journey along the M6/M54 motorway and a four month rebuild, the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford is pleased to announce that its latest acquisition, VC10 serial number XR808 is now complete and on public display. 

The media, aviation fans and visitors alike have followed the aircrafts journey to Cosford every step of the way and the Museum is thrilled to see the aircraft fully reassembled and in its new display position next to the Lockheed Hercules C130K Mk3.

The VC10 arrived at Cosford in June and was partially reassembled on the airfield at RAF Cosford before being moved onto the Museum’s site for completion. Since then the rear fuselage along with the outer wings, fin, tail plane and engines have all been carefully refitted onto the aircraft in the rebuild area directly outside the Museum’s Hangar 1.  

VC10 Tail fitting at Cosford VC10 at Cosford
VC10 XR808 tail being fitted and engines back in the nacelles 

The VC10 was moved into its display position during mid-October and the final task of attaching the starboard outer wing was completed the following week.

VC10 moving into display position VC10 moving past the Cold War
VC10 XR808 during its move into display position 

The VC10 was originally designed and built by Vickers-Armstrong and then later by the British Aircraft Corporation and entered service with Royal Air Force in 1966.  This dual-role aircraft enabled the rapid deployment of troops and their weaponry and fast jet aircraft to many theatres of operations around the world and proved one of the RAF’s most significant assets for nearly 50 years.  The RAF VC10’s allowed true global mobility offering a combination of speed and range never previously attained by an RAF Transport Command aircraft type.  Having served for such a long period of time in a wide variety of roles, it would not be possible to accurately portray the history of the RAF without an example of the type – therefore it is essential that such a pivotal aircraft is preserved by the RAF Museum

Ian Thirsk, Head of Collections at the RAF Museum said: 
“The VC10 is an icon of the British aviation industry and one of the most significant aircraft types ever to serve with the Royal Air Force. We are delighted to have XR808 on public display at Cosford and indebted to GJD Services for all their dedication and professionalism in making this a reality. BAE Systems Heritage and the RAF Charitable Trust have also played a crucial part in making this project possible and we thank them for their continued support.”

VC10 XR808 at Cosford Oct 2015 VC10 on display at Cosford 2015
VC10 XR808 now on display next to the Lockheed Hercules C130K Mk3

The dismantling, transporting and rebuild process was carried out by GJD Services, a specialist maintenance and aircraft salvage company based at Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire.  

Gary Spoors, Accountable/Engineering Manager at GJD Services said:
“Taking an idea that something can be done and turning that theory into a reality is always driven more by the belief that it can be achieved than all the drawing, planning and measuring involved.  The challenge of dissembling, moving and reassembling a Vickers VC10 has certainly been a team achievement and without the dedication and good will of all involved this would not have been being as successful as it was; from the GJD guys who gave 110% to the task, the teams from the haulage, transport and crane companies, to the RAFM staff I take my hat off to all involved and wish to thank everyone who supported us along the way.  As a company, we are not often given the opportunity to show off, but now we can point to BOB and be very proud of what we have achieved.”  

The transportation of the VC10 was made possible thanks to the support of BAE Systems Heritage. 

Howard Mason, BAE Systems Heritage Manager, said:
"We are delighted to be able to once again support RAF Heritage and the RAF Museum in ensuring that this iconic example of British engineering is preserved as part of the national collection of examples of aircraft that have served our country over the last century.”

For more information about BAE Systems Heritage visit:

RAF Charitable Trust Chairman Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson said:
 “One of the aims of The RAF Charitable Trust is to inspire and encourage young people to think about aviation and the technology that underpins it and to become involved themselves in this exciting career. Where better to do this than within the fuselage of this aircraft which will serve as a “living classroom”? The VC10 played such an important part in the technological history of the aerospace industry and was a key part of the Royal Air Force for nearly 50 years. In its history, the VC10 has transported UK VVIPs and the UK Armed Forces globally; it had a key weapons resupply role in the Cold War to the RAF in Germany; and as an air to air refuelling tanker it was a pivotal force multiplier for over 20 years. The Trust intends the teaching facility that it will provide to be motivational to as many young people as possible and we are pleased to be supporting such an inspirational project. My thanks go to the MoD Defence Equipment and Support organisation AT/AAR Project Team, GJD Aero Tech and the RAF Museum technical team for delivering this amazing engineering and logistic project.”
For more information about the RAF Charitable Trust visit: 

For further information please visit the Museum website or call 01902 376200.  The Museum is open daily from 10am and entry to the Museum is FREE of charge.

From Facebook 2/11/15

I am so proud with my Usha she became first Nepalese girl joined in the British Royal NAVY  - Gurka Chhabi Jung Thakuri

Kinloss could again host RAF surveillance planes after scrapped Nimrods



Kinloss BarracksKinloss Barracks


A Moray military base could again host surveillance aircraft – just four years after the RAF’s fleet of Nimrods was scrapped.


A Westminster defence review – which is due to be published in the next few weeks – is widely expected to recommend the return of maritime patrol aircraft (MPA).


The decision not to replace the Nimrods and close what was RAF Kinloss and is now an Army barracks was met with widespread criticism from both the Moray community and defence experts.


The UK has since had to borrow Nato planes to scan its waters for submarines amid an increased Russian military presence around Britain’s coastlines and its airspace.


The Ministry of Defence is now understood to be pricing nine Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft, which could cost about £150million each.


RAF Waddington, near Lincoln, is strongly placed to accommodate any replacement for the Nimrods as it is the air force’s current intelligence and surveillance headquarters.


Kinloss is also under consideration to host a detachment of the MPA, while the former RAF base at Leuchars in Fife is also expected to be a leading contender.


Moray MP Angus Robertson rallied behind the calls for a return of MPA to Scotland and Moray.


He said: “We require MPA as a priority, which should be stationed in Scotland, given the geographic proximity to their tasks.


“Kinloss has been home to MPA for decades and could easily operate the joint air force and Army facility.


“The UK is the only northern European nation with armed forces without MPA. This is totally ludicrous, not least because of the ongoing security situation in the world and concerns over submarine incursions into our waters.”


Last night, a retired RAF engineer, who was formerly stationed in Moray, said: “It’s general knowledge the RAF are currently costing buying the P-8.


“We are the goalies defending the UK from all the Russian stuff coming over the Baltics and Norway and the UK has been embarrassed by having to bring in the US, French and German MPA to do surveillance for us.


“The Army have done nothing at Kinloss, compared to what they have been allowed to do to some of the old RAF bases in England.


“You have to ask why those brand new buildings are being kept there, if not for the air force to return.”


An MoD spokeswoman said last night: “The Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 is considering the current and likely future national security risks and in turn the capabilities the armed services will need to address these risks in the future.


“No further capability decisions have been made.”

Photographer Andy Rouse had the best seat in the house when he was lucky enough to photograph the iconic Avro Vulcan bomber XH558 as it flew over Beachy Head, East Sussex on its recent 'last chance to see' tour before it is mothballed forever.

VIDEO: New footage shows how Lincolnshire RAF base raised more than £20,000 in six months

Read more: 

Queen's airfield is not safe for planes, secret MoD files show

RAF Northolt, London, which is used by the Queen is unsafe aviation report reveals

Princess Diana's coffin is carried from an aircraft after arriving at RAF Northolt from Paris back in 1997
Princess Diana's coffin is carried from an aircraft after arriving at RAF Northolt from Paris back in 1997 Photo: PA

8:45PM BST 10 Oct 2015


The VIP airfield used by the Queen and Prime Minister is unsafe, according to a classified Ministry of ­Defence report obtained by the Telegraph.

Dangers to “existing operations” at RAF Northolt, London, are so serious it “could not be licensed in its current form” by the aviation authorities, the report says.

It is able to operate only under dispensation as a “Government aerodrome”.

The situation is “inexcusable”, it is claimed, and could “end in an accident”.

'Such a situation couldn’t possibly exist at any civilian aerodrome'
Will Curtis, managing director of Biggin Hill airport


Northolt is the base for the RAF’s 32 (The Royal) Squadron, which operates a fleet of BAE 146 executive jets for military commanders, ministers and the Royal Family. It was used 340 times by ministers last year.

But the report says the site in west London suburbia is surrounded by “substantial numbers” of buildings which “significantly” intrude into the recommended safe zones for taking off and landing.

The obstacles include a block of flats, an industrial estate and a petrol station.

Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry arrive at RAF Northolt after the death of the Queen Mother back in 2002

In some cases they come within a few feet of the aircraft undercarriage, leaving little margin for pilot error.

The normal flight path also leads to aircraft “crossing the public roads just outside the boundary at very low heights,” the report says.

On West End Road, planes fly just 9 metres (29ft) above traffic, the report says.

Hazard lights are meant to stop vehicles when aircraft take off and land. But many drivers ignore them.

“The safety of the travelling public, flight crews and local residents is at very serious risk,” said Will Curtis, managing director of rival Biggin Hill airport.

He added: “Such a situation couldn’t possibly exist at any civilian aerodrome. The margins of safety that are normally assured for civilian aircraft are absent here, but aircrew are not aware that they are absent.

“By saying it is safe, you are misleading aircrew, and that will end in an accident. It is inexcusable behaviour.”

At the eastern end of the runway, there are 267 buildings or obstacles intruding into the safety zone for aircraft landing, the report says.At the western end there are 198 which intrude into the take-off safety zone.

Northolt’s constrained site also gives it inadequate “runway end safety areas,” which are designed to allow aircraft space to overshoot the runway in an emergency.

Temporary hangars which housed Typhoons at RAF Northolt as part of the security for the 2012 London Olympics

“The existing runway end safety areas do not comply with the recommended length and width,” the report says.

"The probability of [an accident] is highest near to the runway ends."

After a 1996 accident in which a plane overshot the runway, ploughed through the boundary fence and hit a van on the A40 main road, seriously injuring its driver, beds of gravel aggregate were installed at both ends of the runway to stop aircraft breaching the perimeter. However, the report says that “there are concerns about... the performance of this system and its safety in use. An aggregate bed can cause significant damage to an overrunning aircraft, difficult access for emergency vehicles and provides an open textured bed that would accommodate spilt fuel, which adds to the fire risk."



'By saying it is safe, you are misleading aircrew, and that will end in an accident. It is inexcusable behaviour'
Will Curtis, managing director of Biggin Hill airport


The report, entitled “Project Ark” and classified “confidential,” was compiled in 2012 by a consultancy, Mott McDonald, for the MoD, to assess how far Northolt met minimum Civil Aviation Authority safety standards. All civilian airfields must comply with the standards to receive a CAA licence, or since 2014 a certificate from the European Air Safety Agency.

The consultants concluded that the “extent of [Northolt’s] non-compliance issues” was “sufficient to state that the aerodrome could not be licenced in its current form. That conclusion would apply with the existing operations and is not related to whether or not the aerodrome was to be developed as an airport [for civilian traffic].”

They said that “the CAA would not licence the existing runway configuration… primarily due to the substantial number and degree of obstacle infringements at the east end of the runway… A fully compliant runway would require the runway to be shortened to such an extent that it would not be… of much use in the military or civil sectors.”

Minor improvements have been made since the report was written in 2012. At the time, Northolt’s runway had a “landing distance available” (LDA) of between 1592 and 1684 metres, depending on which direction you approached it from. The runway has now been slightly shortened. It currently has an LDA of 1502- 1555 metres, giving aircraft a little more room to overrun at the runway ends.

A Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 aircraft at RAF Northolt

But the report says the Northolt runway needs a far bigger reduction in its LDA, to 1250 metres, to be safe. This would mean, however, that many aircraft types, which need a longer runway, could no longer use the base. It has been ruled out by the MoD.

The MoD has also rejected plans to replace the “problematic” gravel beds designed to stop aircraft overrunning the ends of the runway. Plans were drawn up to install a safer “engineered materials arrester system,” made of a special type of concrete “honeycomb” which crumples under an aircraft’s weight and brings it safely to a stop. But this was abandoned on cost grounds.

The report adds that it would be “impractical and certainly very costly” to remove all the obstacles around the base that endanger aircraft on the flightpath. “If necessary, it might be possible to remove a small number of buildings that are significant obstacles,” it says. “However, even in combination, these do not resolve the infringement issue.”

Northolt celebrated its centenary this year, making it three years older than the RAF itself. It is the oldest Air Force base in Britain still home to RAF aircraft and has witnessed dozens of historic events, including the return of the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales, from Paris after her death in 1997.

Military airfields are regulated by the Military Aviation Authority (MAA), which aims to follow the same standards as the CAA but has granted exemptions to Northolt. However, most users of Northolt are in fact civilian. As well as the Royal Squadron aircraft, which themselves carry many civilians, up to 12,000 civil flights a year, mainly private jets, now use the base, which markets itself as “London’s premier business aviation airport.”

Many ministerial and Royal flights from Northolt are now made on civil aircraft.

The document obtained by the Telegraph was released following court action by Biggin Hill and another rival to Northolt in the business jet market, Oxford airport. In January this year, the two airports sued the Defence Secretary, claiming Northolt should be regulated by the CAA.

They lost, but had not at that stage seen the full Mott McDonald report, raising the possibility of further legal action.

The MoD insisted that the airfield was safe and that where it did not meet CAA standards acceptable “mitigation” was in place. A spokesman said: “RAF Northolt’s aerodrome safety standards are fully regulated by the MAA. A recent judicial review confirmed that no changes are required in relation to current aerodrome standards which are fully published and promulgated to civil users who operate at the aerodrome.”


Moray soldiers sent to Middle East to fight Islamic State

Hercules taking part in Exercise Joint Warrior at RAF Lossiemouth
Hercules taking part in Exercise Joint Warrior at RAF Lossiemouth

Gunners from Moray have been deployed to the Middle East to help in Britain’s fight against the Islamic State.

Nearly 20 personnel from 51 Squadron RAF Regiment, based at RAF Lossiemouth, have been deployed over the last six months to provide vital support in Iraq.

The RAF’s C-130J Hercules provides support to the air force when it is carrying troops, passengers or freight.

The gunners – who form part of the Air Mobility Protect Team (AMPT) – keep it safe, and have been spending about 10 weeks at a time on the mission.

Made up of force protection specialists from the RAF Regiment and RAF Police, the AMPTs deploy to any hostile location to provide all-round defence to the aircraft, its passengers and its load.

They also assist the crew with any customs and immigration processes there might be at their destination.

The AMPT is currently active in the ongoing Operation Shader — the code name for British participation in the ongoing military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The operation began in late September last year, following a request for assistance by the Iraqi government.

Corporal Greg, a RAF Police junior non-commissioned officer on the AMPT, said: “On Operation Shader, our role is to provide on the ground security to the Hercules aircraft whilst it moves passengers and freight in to and around Iraq.”

Leaving the aircraft before any of the crew or passengers, the AMPT position themselves at various points around the aircraft, ready to control access and restrict anyone unauthorised from approaching.

Should the need arise, the team are armed and ready to counter any risk to life that might be presented.

Corporal Greg added: “Our presence gives the passengers extra reassurance that they’re being protected and well looked after when they enter or exit high threat areas.

“It also gives the crew additional capacity to focus on their other duties knowing their aircraft is in safe hands.”

Bomber Command Memorial unveiling: 'It was just something

you had to do, you just got used to it'

"I felt elation as much as anything for doing the job I did," he said.

"The squadron was more like a club than anything because we all knew each other intimately. We competed again each other in friendly competition to see who could mark their targets the best.

"We knew what we were going out there to do and we have to be quick as we had to mark the target three minutes before the Lancaster would light it up.

"I was not scared and it was just something you have to do, you just get used to it."

Arthur Spencer, 94, from Weston-Super-Mare was part of the Lancaster 97 Squadron and he was based at Woodhall Spa. He joined after he left sixth form and was a navigator.

"Looking back I think about how frightened I was but I was very lucky to have a good pilot," he said.

"I still remember my first trip to Germany and when we got there I went to the front of the aircraft and saw that there was searchlights everywhere.

"I did not understand how anyone could survive, but you just have to get on with it. It is great that there is a day such as today to remember the people who gave their lives. Sometimes I think I am so lucky to be alive."

Frank Tilley, 92, from Hitchen was part of the 617 Squadron and he was a flight engineer for the Lancaster.

"It all happened 70 years ago and when I came out of the force I, like 99 per cent of the others wanted to forget about it all and get on with a career.

"I felt uneasy about mass bombing in civilian areas."

Last British Dambuster George 'Johnny' Johnson says Bomber Command Memorial 'brings airmen home'

The last surviving British Dambuster George 'Johnny' Johnson has spoken of his immense pride at seeing a permanent Bomber Command Memorial unveiled in Lincoln.

The 93-year-old former bombardier's bouncing bomb damaged the Sorpe dam in Germany on the night of May 16/17, 1943.

He is the last surviving British veteran of the famous RAF 617 Squadron which launched the bouncing bombs on Nazi targets in World War Two.

And speaking at the Bomber Command Memorial unveiling, Mr Johnson said he was delighted to see a permanent memorial to his fellow airmen.

"This memorial makes me very proud," he said.

"It is a tremendous tribute to the 55,00 aircrew who gave their lives to the defence of this country.

"Politicians past and present have ignored those people and we are fortunate that we have managed to get this Bomber Command Memorial. It is tremendous. It is an appropriate act of respect.

"Relatives will always be able to come here and see that every care has been taken to ensure their brothers, husbands and sons have been remembered. The fact it is in Bomber County makes it so much more important.

"On a return journey when you got to the Cathedralyou knew you were home. You would be alert and get in the front turret just in case but you were ready for bed.

"It means that those people named on this memorial have come back home – a place they know so well."

Paul Beaver, trustee of the International Bomber Command and one of Britain's leading aviation historians said: "This is a fabulous day and a realisation of Tony Worth's dream.

"We need to preserve this for generations if we are going to remember these people in the future. The next generation of children need to understand why they did it and how they did it.

"They volunteered and they had no idea what they were going to do. We still some money and will have to raised £3m to do the rest of it.

"The great people of Lincolnshire have been shaken until there is no money left and have been so welcoming."


Drawings reveal Germans' World War Two boobytrap bombs

By Nick HighamBBC News
Army mess tin with concealed explosiveImage copyrightAntony Thompson/TWM
Image captionOne of Fish's drawings shows an Army mess tin adapted for nefarious purposes

Drawings of wartime boobytrap bombs, including an exploding chocolate bar and devices intended to sink ships, have been rediscovered after 70 years.

The drawings were made by a young artist called Laurence Fish for MI5's counter-sabotage unit.

There is an incendiary bomb designed as a Thermos flask, an army mess tin with a bomb hidden beneath the bangers and mash, and a high-explosive device concealed in a can of motor oil.

There is a magnetic limpet mine for a ship's hull which explodes when detached.

And there are timing devices ranging from the highly complex to the remarkably simple - like a test tube full of dried peas which expand as they absorb water and push two contacts together.

All were unpleasant weapons dreamt up by German sabotage experts to spread havoc among their British enemies.

The exploding chocolate bar, it is rumoured, was intended as part of an assassination attempt on Winston Churchill - though how it was supposed to reach him, and how the Germans might ensure that it was Churchill himself who tried to break off a slab, rather than a member of his family or his staff, isn't clear.

Army mess tin with concealed explosiveImage copyrightAntony Thompson/TWN
Image captionOne of Fish's drawings shows an Army mess tin adapted for nefarious purposes

The 25 drawings, exquisite examples of 1940s draughtsmanship, were commissioned from Laurence Fish by Victor Rothschild.

Rothschild and his secretary (later his wife) made up two-thirds of MI5's tiny counter-sabotage unit.

The third member was a seconded police detective inspector, Donald Fish.

When Rothschild was looking for someone to document the disguised and booby-trapped devices he was uncovering, Fish suggested his son, a self-taught draughstman who had learnt his trade before the war working for Alvis cars.


The idea was that the drawings would serve as a kind of manual for anyone who had to defuse similar devices. And there were plenty of them.

The historian Nigel West, who has written several books on espionage, says: "The Germans during the Second World War were very keen on destroying ships and their cargoes leaving neutral ports for the United Kingdom.

"The idea was to starve Britain into submission. And they created some very ingenious devices which could be smuggled aboard ships and placed in the cargo holds with long-term timers: they wanted the ships to catch fire or to sink whilst out at sea."

Motor oil can with concealed explosiveImage copyrightAntony Thompson/TWN
Image captionAnother of the boobytrap devices documented was a motor oil can with an explosive inside

Rothschild was a larger-than-life character, a scientist and self-appointed expert on many things, who as the fourth Baron Rothschild later became head of Prime Minister Edward Heath's pioneering Think Tank.

He was also brave. He won the George Medal for defusing a booby-trap device concealed by the Germans in a consignment of onions which had come by ship from Spain via Gibraltar.

A Royal Navy lieutenant had lost an arm and an eye tackling a similar device.

Rothschild gave a running commentary over a field telephone as he worked, so that his secretary could take notes and keep a record of every step he took, in case something else went wrong.

'Amazing' partnership

"Rothschild was immensely generous with his family's money," says Nigel West.

"He didn't draw a salary; he almost certainly paid Fish for the illustrations himself; he made his family house up at Tring available to MI5 officers who were bombed out of their houses in central London.

"And when MI5 needed an office in Paris upon the liberation, Victor just simply made available one of his mansions."

Rothschild, who was a lieutenant colonel, commissioned drawings from Laurence Fish, a humble aircraftsman, via letters stamped "Secret". They show evidence of a close working relationship.

"They got on so well together," says Fish's widow, Jean Bray.

"It was an amazing combination.

"Rothschild had very great respect for Laurence... I don't know why, but it worked well."

Keel bombImage copyrightAntony Thompson/TWN
Image captionThe Germans hoped to starve Britain into submission by destroying supply ships

Fish kept the letters. But the drawings vanished. Rothschild had his favourite framed and hung it on the wall of his study. A couple of others were known from photographs. Otherwise, nothing.

Then a few weeks ago, members of the Rothschild family were clearing out their house in Suffolk when they discovered a sheaf of drawings in "deep storage" in a chest of drawers.

Rothschild's daughter Victoria realised what they were and got in touch with Jean.

Rotating disc

In the 1950s and onwards Laurence became a successful poster artist, graphic designer and landscape painter, putting his wartime work behind him.

"It was interesting work obviously," Jean told me, "and it must have been very concentrated work, but he wasn't going to make any money out of it so as soon as the war was over he'd got to do something that earned him a penny."

In her husband's old studio at the top of their home in the pretty Gloucestershire village of Winchcombe she showed me the pile of drawings, carefully wrapped in brown paper, cardboard and tissue paper, that Victoria Rothschild Gray had sent her.

The exploding chocolate bar may be the most famous, but Jean's personal favourite is an exceptionally intricate 21-day timer involving a rotating disc.

At the top, it says, in especially bold letters, "Do not unscrew here." At the bottom, equally bold, are the words: "Unscrew here first."

Now Jean hopes that a museum or archive will agree to take the pictures: freehand precision drawings made long before the age of computer-aided design, and a fascinating record of fiendish wartime ingenuity.

Cromwell Weir tragedy: Service remembers dead soldiers

RAF helicopter at Cromwell WeirImage copyrightNewark Advertiser
Image captionAn RAF helicopter was involved in the recovery operation following the accident

Ten soldiers, who died when their boat went over a river weir in bad weather 40 years ago, have been commemorated at a service.

The Royal Engineers regiment sappers, of Grangemouth, Falkirk, were on night-time exercise when the vessel capsized at Cromwell Weir, on the River Trent.

One man survived, in what remains the 131 Independent Parachute Squadron's largest peacetime tragedy.

About 100 people attended the memorial service at the lock, near Newark.

'Shock and sadness'

The sappers were taking part in the Trent Chase, an 80-mile night exercise from Stoke to Hull, on 28 September 1975.

They unwittingly went over the weir, known locally as the Devil's Cauldron, when conditions were also worsened by a high tide.

John Lee, president of the Airborne Engineers' Association, organised the service to remember the soldiers.

Plaque which marks the Cromwell Weir tragedy
Image captionThe granite memorial with all the names of the soldiers can be found at Cromwell Lock

The former Lt Col, who took part in the exercise that evening, said he knew some of the men who died.

He said: "[My memories] are one of complete shock and sadness. Half of the troop had been wiped out overnight."

He said the only survivor, Sapper Pat Harkin, was a "strong swimmer" who managed to hold on to the upturned boat.

A retired police officer, who did not want to be named, arrived at the scene after electricity board staff, who were fixing navigation lights on the weir, raised the alarm.

By the time he arrived, the officer said it was pitch black and he could hear just one man shouting from the water.

The officer, then aged 20, along with another member of the force, managed to save him after they rowed out in a small boat.

The men were from the 300 Troop 131 Independent Parachute Squadron of the Royal Engineers (Territorial Army)

US Army Honours British Soldiers Over Kabul Attack

Nine British soldiers have received the U.S. Army Commendation Medal this afternoon, in recognition for their quick actions during a green-on-blue attack in Afghanistan.
In June 2014, a briefing was taking place in a courtyard at the British-run Afghan National Army Officer Academy, just outside Kabul. Suddenly, a man wearing an Afghan National Army uniform opened fire from just a few metres away. In just twenty seconds, he'd fired thirty rounds into the small crowd.
It was a shocking, daylight attack during a routine site visit by US officers. Major General Harold Greene was killed in the attack, the highest ranking US officer to be killed in 13 years of war in Afghanistan.

Funeral for U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene

The assailant was also killed, with no conclusive explanation given for his actions. Fifteen other troops were injured, including Afghan officers, a British Captain and a German Brigadier General.
The Close Protection Team that day included nine British soldiers from the Royal Military Police. As soon as the shooting started they sprang into action. Cpl Davis-Smith was shot in the arm as he ran to protect Major General Bathurst. Three others, including the team leader Sgt Ford, began giving life-saving first aid to Captain Hutton, who was shot several times.
The US Army Commendation Medal recognises their actions that day, along with their heroic and meritorious service.














'Heroes' gather for George Cross and Medal commemoration

George Cross and Medal holders, who have performed acts of the greatest heroism or displayed the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger, gathered today to mark the 75th anniversary of the medals.

Duke of Kent giving Chris Finney GC his commemorative coin set
Duke of Kent giving Chris Finney GC his commemorative coin set

The Duke of Kent presented the medal holders with a boxed set of two coins: a new one bearing an image of the Queen, the other of her father King George VI. All have been individually engraved for each of the GC and GM holders.

Commemorative coin set presented by Duke of Kent to George Cross and Medal holders
Commemorative coin set presented by Duke of Kent to George Cross and Medal holders

Minister of State in the House of Lords, Earl Howe, said:

“It is an honour to commemorate the valiant acts performed by George Cross and Medal holders.

“It is right that today we remember those people who took actions of supreme gallantry in the face of danger, often at great risk to their own lives. They represent the best of Britain by selflessly defending our people, both at home and abroad.”

George Cross and Medal holders with the Duke of Kent at Royal Hospital Chelsea
George Cross and Medal holders with the Duke of Kent at Royal Hospital Chelsea

Members of the Armed Forces can receive the GC for acts of gallantry not in the presence of the enemy, for example, military explosive ordnance disposal personnel. Civilians also receive the GC.

Winston Churchill introduced the medal in 1940, as Britain came under intense air attack. Although awards to recognise civilian gallantry not in presence of the enemy already existed, none held the prestige of the equivalent award for gallantry in battle, the Victoria Cross.

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Davis GM, 53, an Ammunition Technical Officer, was awarded his George Medal in 2003 after he neutralised numerous explosive devices in Northern Ireland where the risk to his own life was extremely high.

Lt Col Davis, of 29 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Search Group in Aldershot, said: "It is particularly poignant to be here today as this year is also the 75th anniversary of the formation of Bomb Disposal and it was to recognise the bravery of our forebears and the civilians who worked alongside them in the devastation of the Blitz that this award was first created."

Lt Col Mark Davis GM and the Duke of Kent
Lt Col Mark Davis GM and the Duke of Kent

You can read more about the George Cross and Medal here.

The George Cross
The George Cross

Below are the extraordinary stories of three recipients of the GC and GM.


The Royal Marine Reservist dived onto a live grenade to save his comrades in Afghanistan.

On 9 February 2008, he was serving with the Commando Reconnaissance Force, tasked to conduct reconnaissance of a compound where it was suspected that Taliban fighters made improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Lance Corporal Matt Croucher, a Royal Marine Reservist who dived on a live grenade to save his comrades in Afghanistan
Lance Corporal Matt Croucher, a Royal Marine Reservist who dived on a live grenade to save his comrades in Afghanistan (2008)

L/Cpl Croucher was at the head of the group as they began extraction. As the team moved silently through the dark compound, L/Cpl Croucher felt a wire go tight against his legs.  This was a trip-wire connected to a grenade booby-trap, positioned to kill or maim intruders in the compound.  He heard the grenade’s lever eject and it fell, now armed, onto the ground immediately beside him. 

L/Cpl Croucher made a rapid assessment of the situation: he shouted “Grenade”, then “Tripwire” to warn his comrades to find cover before the grenade exploded. 

He had no way of knowing how long the device’s fuse would take to function as low light levels prevented him from determining the type of grenade.  L/Cpl Croucher decided not to seek protection for him, but attempted to shield the other exposed members of his team from the impending explosion as time was running out.

He threw himself on top of the grenade, pinning it between his day sack, containing his essential team stores, and the ground.  L/Cpl Croucher lay on the grenade and braced himself for the explosion. He prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for his fellow marines and completely disregarded his own safety,

As it detonated, L/Cpl Croucher absorbed the blast effect of the grenade and the majority of the fragmentation was contained under his body.  His equipment and protective clothing prevented lethal shards hitting his body and he suffered only minor injury and disorientation from the effects of the blast.  But L/Cpl Croucher’s day sack was ripped from his back and completely destroyed; his body armour and helmet were pitted by grenade fragments. 

The only other injury to his team was a slight wound to the Team Commander’s face.  The others escaped unscathed.

Matthew Croucher GC
Matthew Croucher GC

L/Cpl Croucher, from Birmingham, was the first reservist to receive either a George Cross or Victoria Cross since recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan began.

He was deployed to Afghanistan, attached to Taunton-based 40 Commando Royal Marines in the autumn 2007. Five months later he faced down death by diving on a trip wired grenade to save the lives of his men.

He showed extraordinary bravery, self-sacrifice and devotion to duty by acting to save his comrades with the knowledge that he was unlikely to survive. 


The morning of 20 Aug 2009 was the same as every other had been for Rifleman Jacobs over his previous four months in the Upper Sangin Valley, Helmand Province: he was on patrol with his Vallon mine detector leading the way along one of the most heavily IED’d stretches of road in the whole of Afghanistan.

A member of Rifleman Jacobs’ Company was clearing an alleyway to allow a Sappers’ tractor to turn, when there was an enormous explosion that fatally wounded the soldier.

The casualty was lying on top of another IED that had been partially unearthed by the first explosion. Under risk of insurgent attack, the plan was to recover the fatality from the alleyway.

Jacobs volunteered knowing that a second device was just beside his comrade’s body. Jacobs, alone bar a single cover man, immediately set about clearing the area up to and around the body. As he did so, he confirmed that the secondary device, lying on the surface, was not touching. As he moved back up the alleyway towards his cover man, another device suddenly exploded, killing his comrade.

Jacobs was seriously wounded by the blast, with severe fragmentation damage to his eyes and bleeding heavily from multiple wounds. But he had the presence of mind and experience to drag him back onto the safe route he had just cleared and into a position where his extraction would be safer for others.

Jacobs had, with a singular sense of purpose, placed himself in the most dangerous of positions in order to recover the body of a comrade killed in action, fully aware that the smallest of mistakes would be fatal. His sheer personal courage and startling determination, unswerving courage, selflessness, devotion to duty and dedication to his comrades was faultless.

Rifleman Jacobs, aged 26, left the Army in 2013.


Chris Finney GC, former Household Cavalry
Chris Finney GC, former Household Cavalry

Chris, then 18 and serving in the Household Cavalry, saved the life of a colleague in a friendly fire incident in Iraq, on 28 March 2003.

Trooper Finney was part of D Squadron Household Cavalry Regiment who was probing forward along a waterway north of Basra some thirty kilometres ahead of the main force of 16 Air Assault Brigade.  

Their mission was to find and disrupt the numerically vastly superior, and better equipped, Iraqi Armoured Division in the exposed desert.

Trooper Finney, a young armoured vehicle driver with less than a year's service, was driving the leading Scimitar vehicle of his troop, which had been at the forefront of action against the enemy for several hours.

In the early afternoon, the two leading vehicles paused beside a levee to allow the troop leader to assess the situation in front. Both vehicles were hit and caught fire and ammunition began exploding inside the turrets when they were suddenly engaged by a pair of Coalition Forces ground attack aircraft.

Finney managed to get out of his driving position and was trying to get cover when he noticed that his vehicle's gunner was trapped in the turret. He climbed on to the fiercely burning vehicle, placing himself at risk from enemy fire, as well as fire from the aircraft, should they have returned.  

Despite the flames, exploding ammunition and smoke, Finney managed to haul out the injured gunner, get him off the vehicle, and move him to a safer position nearby, where he bandaged his wounds.

The troop officer in the other Scimitar was wounded and there were no senior ranks to take control. Finney realised the need to inform his headquarters of the situation despite his relative inexperience, the shock of the attack and the stark risk to him. He broke cover, returned to his burning vehicle and calmly sent a lucid situation report by radio.

He began helping the injured gunner towards a Spartan vehicle of the Royal Engineers which had moved to assist. He continued to help the injured gunner comrade towards safety despite the impending danger of a second attack from the aircraft. Both fired their cannon and Finney was wounded in the lower back and legs and his comrade in the head.  

After getting the injured gunner to the waiting Spartan vehicle he saw that the driver of the second Scimitar was still in his burning vehicle.

Finney attempted to rescue him as well, despite his wounds and the continuing danger from exploding ammunition. He valiantly attempted to climb up onto the second vehicle but was beaten back by the combination of heat, smoke and exploding ammunition. He collapsed, exhausted, a short distance away and was recovered by the crew of the Royal Engineers Spartan.

During these attacks and their horrifying aftermath, Finney displayed clear-headed courage and devotion to his comrades, out of all proportion to his age and experience. He acted with complete disregard for his own safety even when wounded.

Mr Finney, aged 30, from Devon now runs a garden centre.

Ceremony for RAF bomber shot down and killed during WW2

GravesImage copyrightMinistry of Defence
Image captionThe graves of the six RAF airmen were rededicated at the service

A bomber airman, shot down over the Netherlands and presumed dead more than 75 years ago, has had a ceremony in his honour.

Sgt Roy Penry Williams from Bridgend was part of a Wellington crew returning from a bombing raid in 1941.

The resting place of the six men was unknown but research showed they were buried in a grave at Leeuwarden.

Following an appeal to find Mr Williams' descendents, a stone was placed at the cemetery.

The RAF crew from 103 Squadron was returning home from a successful World War Two bombing of the German docks town of Emden.

But their plane was shot down by a Luftwaffe night fighter over farmland near Kleiterp.


Evidence submitted to the Ministry of Defence's (MOD's) casualty and compassionate centre confirmed the location of the communal grave.

After an appeal, the MOD tracked down Mr Williams's first cousin once removed, Elizabeth Joseph, 74.

She said: "I'm delighted that Roy and the other five crew members are being formally recognised for what they did, but I also remember how sad Auntie Ket (Sgt Williams's mother) was on hearing that Roy was missing, presumed dead."

Relatives of Sgt Williams and the other five crew attended the ceremony.

TrumpeterImage copyrightMinistry of Defence
Image captionThe service featured a trumpeter from the Central Band of the RAF
Sgt Roy Penry WilliamsImage copyrightRay Wells
Image captionSgt Roy Penry Williams was a radio operator during World War Two
Jeremy Corbyn branded "feeble" by RAF veteran over National Anthem silence
4:30pm Wed Sep 16, 2015
Chris Gangel said there was
Chris Gangel said there was
An RAF veteran branded Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn "feeble" for not singing the National Anthem at yesterday's 75th anniversary anniversary Battle of Britain Memorial Service.
Retired Flight Sergeant Chris Gangel, from Newark, said he saw it as a snub to all veterans and all those who played a part in the Battle of Britain.

He questioned Mr Corbyn's judgement for standing in silence at St Paul's Cathedral.

Mr Gangel, who was at the service as a guest of the Royal Air Force Association national office, said: "If you take the Queen's shilling you represent Her Majesty.

"In not singing he slighted those courageous Battle of Britain pilots and veterans everywhere past and present."

'There was disbelief and quite a bit of anger'

Mr Gangel, a veteran of the Falklands War who also served in Northern Ireland was an RAF policeman for 23 years.

He said it had been a wonderful service.

"As soon as we left the mutterings started," said Mr Gangel, who has acted as the Newark Town Crier and Mayor's officer.

"There was disbelief and quite a bit of anger.

"I'd seen a Battle of Britain pilot in his 90s struggle to his feet to sing the National Anthem.

"You always sing the National Anthem, irrespective of politics. At civic military services, the National Anthem is always sung.

"He was feeble. It was incredibly poor judgement or incredibly poor advice.

"I believe many ex-Servicemen will not now be voting Labour. It was the talk of the Newark RAFA club and no-one was happy.

"For the RAF, the Battle of Britain is our paramount achievement."

Corbyn defends his actions

Mr Corbyn was next to Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, a former Magnus schoolboy, and his wife at the service.

The Labour Party said Mr Corbyn, who was elected leader in a landslide vote by party members at the weekend, had stood in dignified silence.

Mr Corbyn, who came in for widespread criticism after the service, said today: "I was at the Battle of Britain memorial yesterday. I was there out of respect for that amazing moment in British history.

"I was always thinking about my family, my mum and dad who were there at that time in London and worked as air raid wardens during the Blitz, and it was a respectful ceremony and I stood in respect throughout it."

A party spokesman said Mr Corbyn would play a full part in similar future events, and that would include singing.

RAF veteran receives medals - 75 years on from Battle of Britain

RAF veteran William Clark finally received his World War II medals today, 15 September, on his 95th birthday - and on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

 Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, presented the former fighter pilot and prisoner of war Mr Clark with the Africa Star, 1939-45 Star and the War Medal on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Mr Clark, who is originally from Kent but now lives in Nottingham, only applied for his medals this year so that he could wear them to unveil a memorial to World War II aircrew at RAF Debden this weekend. 

He said:

"I am delighted to be awarded my medals by the most senior officer in the RAF officer, rather than being presented them by the postman in a little cardboard box. It was very exciting and a proud moment."

RAF veteran William Clark RAF veteran William Clark

He enlisted with the RAF in April 1940, aged 19, and was under training during the height of the Battle of Britain. Mr Clark welcomed the opportunity to pay tribute to the RAF veterans who took part in the battle, describing himself as ‘just one of the many, who followed “the Few”.

The former fighter pilot learnt to fly Battles, Ansons and then Hurricanes before he was posted to Malta and then to 274 Squadron Amriya in Egypt on 13 July 1941, where his unit flew Hurricanes and Gladiators on fighter sweeps against the Nazis over the African desert.

But just after his 21st birthday, Mr Clark’s aircraft was shot down and he was taken prisoner by the Germans. 

He saw “little balls of fire” approaching him, fired by the anti-aircraft guns on the ground, and can distinctly remember the shock of the crash-landing after his plane was hit. Surviving the crash he then trudged in the desert’s midday sun wearing fur-lined flying boots, in heavy desert battle dress as he tried to evade the enemy.

Mr Clark said:

“It wasn’t a very pleasant experience and of course there was the shock. I was only just 21 and suddenly I was not in my normal environment – in the sky, in an aircraft.

“Here I was wandering about all on my own in a vast expanse of rock and sand. It was very, very lonely. I’ve never been so lonely in my life.”

William Clark in his RAF uniform William Clark in his RAF uniform

Mr Clark was captured and made a POW and spent the rest of the war being moved between prisoner of war camps in Italy, Austria and Germany, during which time he was promoted from Sergeant Warrant Officer.

He recalled the boosting food parcels, concert parties and escape plans as well as the hunger, boredom, lice and fleas. 

“Morale in the camps used to go sky high whenever the Red Cross food parcels were available. When they weren’t, things were pretty grim because the food was very, very meagre,” he said.

Mr Clark arrived home in the UK on 8 May 1945 – VE Day. His first glimpse of home was from the cockpit of a Dakota, when he saw bonfires being lit beyond the white cliffs of Dover.

He demobbed later that year, and went on to become a head teacher, marry and have two children.  

Mr Clark did not apply for his World War II medals until recently: “I thought ‘When am I going to wear them?’ So I never bothered asking for them. Then I was asked to unveil a memorial this week and was told I needed to wear my medals in memory of all those people I flew with who would never fly again.”

Minister in the House of Lords, Earl Howe, said:

“It is a privilege today to pay tribute not only to ‘The Few’ but also to other veterans, like Mr Clark, who courageously served in defence of our nation during the Second World War.

“I am pleased that Mr Clark has been presented with medals to reflect both his war-time RAF service and his country’s enduring gratitude.”

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford said:

It was a pleasure to meet William today and I was delighted to present him with his medals for his service in Africa on both his 95th birthday and the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.  It is wonderful to see so many veterans here today; the modern day Royal Air Force is proud to continue to serve the nation now as they so valiantly did then.”

RAF veteran William Clark at St Paul's RAF veteran William Clark at St Paul's


RAF Leeming is honoured to be granted The Freedom of the City of Ripon - and look forward to the parade on Sunday - 13/9/15

RAF Leeming Reservists Remember the Few


24 August 2015

News articles by date

RAF Leeming Reservists Remember ‘The Few’

Reservists based at RAF Leeming remembered ‘The Few’ during a service held at the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire.

Personnel from 607 (County of Durham) Squadron and 609 (West Riding) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF), commemorated the contributions of the Auxiliary Air Force (AAF) squadrons who bravely fought during the Battle of Britain.

20150824-RAF leeming-1

The event, marking the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, was attended by association members, serving members and families. This included a family member of Hurricane pilot, William Francis Blackadder (607 Sqn), who intercepted a German raid over the North Sea in 1940.

The Auxiliary Air Force is well renowned for its large contribution to enemy aircraft losses. Squadron Leader Jeff Metcalfe, Officer Commanding 609 Squadron, said: “The contributions made by Auxiliary Fighter Squadrons during the Battle of Britain should not be underestimated. They shot down between a quarter to one third of all enemy aircraft. I believe the efforts of the men and women of the Royal Air Force truly saved this country during the summer of 1940 and that achievement must surely rank alongside the great moments in this country’s history.” 

20150824-RAF leeming-2

Number 609 Squadron was the only fighter squadron without rest during the Battle of Britain and became the first Spitfire squadron to shoot down 100 confirmed enemy air to air.

© MOD Crown Copyright 2015

Battle of Britain anniversary: Spitfire flypast at Duxford airshow

A massed flypast of twenty Spitfires will form part of the Imperial War Museum’s commemoration of the Battle of Britain, in an “immersive and poignant” display

The Battle of Britain Anniversary Show will take place at Duxford, which was a key air field during the Second World War
The Battle of Britain Anniversary Show will take place at Duxford, which was a key air field during the Second World War Photo: IWM Duxford

The Battle of Britain Anniversary Air Show at Duxford airfield in Cambridgeshire marks the 75th anniversary of the air campaign waged by the Luftwaffe during the summer and autumn of 1940, and will tell the story through the eyes of those who worked at the site.

The thematic display will take spectators through the period’s history, from how the airfield – a key base for Spitfires and Hurricanes – prepared for active service during the Second World War.

The aerobatic displays will be combined with wartime music and the voices of men and women who served at Duxford, which is one of the Imperial War Museum’s five sites around Britain.

The Battle of Britain Anniversary Air Show at Duxford will include a flypast by 20 SpitfiresThe Battle of Britain Anniversary Air Show at Duxford will include a flypast by 20 Spitfires  Photo: IWM Duxford

Living history groups will recreate the daily life of RAF Duxford as a Battle of Britain Fighter Station in 1940. Visitors to the event, which takes place over a weekend in September, will hear the audio memories of Battle of Britain pilots, recalling waiting to scramble.

 Waterloo visitor guide

The highlight will be a flypast of 20 Spitfires, commemorating the “Duxford Big Wing”, a tactic that saw large formations of fighter aircraft attack German planes. The technique, espoused by Douglas Bader, a flying ace based at Duxford, was controversial, but it remains a significant part of the airfield’s history.

 The best battlefield tours

Spectactors will also see a Hispano HA-112 MIL (Buchon) aircraft and Supermarine Spitfires that will “chase off” the enemy aircraft to commemorate the beginning of the Battle of Britain, which took place between July 10 and October 31 1940.

Living history actors will recreate the scrambles that took place at Duxford during the Battle of BritainLiving history actors will recreate the scrambles that took place at Duxford during the Battle of Britain  Photo: IWM Duxford

Other highlights include the re-enactment of the Supermarine Spitfire’s arrival, and the importance of the radar stations that formed an integral part of the Air Defence of Great Britain. This will take place by way of a flying display involving an gyroplane, a de Havilland Hornet Moth and a Kirby Kite.

Other aircraft involved in the event include the Hawker Nimrod Mark I, Hawker Nimrod II, Gloster Gladiator, Hawk 75, de Havilland Tiger Moth and the Boeing Stearman. A flying display of North American Harvard and Yale aircraft will demonstrate the varying formations and tactics that the RAF used as the Battle of Britain continued.

The displays by heritage planes will be complemented by contemporary acrobatics including the Aerostars on the Saturday of the anniversary air show weekend and the Red Arrows on the Sunday.

The Battle of Britain Anniversary Air Show takes place from 2-5.30pm at Imperial War Museum Duxford on September 19-20.

Adult single-day tickets cost £27.50; £40 for two days. Child and disabled tickets from £18.15. Tickets must be purchased in advance. for more information.

Police issue social media warning to armed forces families

Lincolnshire Police is warning the families of members of the armed forces to be careful about what they post on social media.

Credit: Press Association

It comes after an allegation that a threatening letter was sent to one such family in the county.

It is understood the letter came from a group calling themselves 'The Circle of Allah'. The Ministry of Defence is aware of the threat and working with Lincolnshire police.

Bomber Command veterans sought for memorial unveiling

Memorial Spire
The memorial spire is one element of the International Bomber Command Centre

Every living veteran who served in Bomber Command during World War Two is being sought for the unveiling of a new memorial.

The International Bomber Command Centre is being built in Lincolnshire, which became known as Bomber County in the war because it had so many RAF bases.

The centre is due to open in 2016 but a memorial spire has already been erected at the site in Lincoln.

Organisers want to invite every veteran to the unveiling on 2 October.

They already have names of 900 veterans but believe there are more still to be identified.

Avro Lancaster takes off at dusk on a bombing mission
Almost half of the 125,000 Bomber Command lost their lives - more than today's entire RAF personnel
13th February 1946: Women workers removing debris from the shell of the Hof Kirche, the Catholic cathedral in Dresden, Germany
Bombing of German cities, including Dresden, killed between 300,000 and 600,000 people

Nicky Barr from the International Bomber Command Centre says they have made some new contacts.

"A lot of the veterans that we've now been able to invite weren't on any comprehensive database or squadron lists," she said.

"We've picked up thus far about 50 that come under that category. We suspect that there's probably, at an estimate, another 100 out there."

Design for the interpretation centre
The design of the centre is based on the shape of a Lancaster bomber

The spire stands higher than the Angel of North and will be surrounded by a "wall of names" recording the 55,573 men who lost their lives serving in Bomber Command.

Other elements of the centre will include an exhibition and education space called the Chadwick Centre, an amphitheatre and acres of landscaped gardens.

Anyone knowing of any Bomber Command veteran is urged to register their names by emailing or writing to The IBCC, 13 Cherry Holt Road, Bourne, Lincolnshire, PE10 9LA.


WW1 National Centre plans for Hemingford Abbots to be submitted

Part of site plan for Great War centre
Initial reaction to the new plans had been positive, project director Tony Cooke said

New plans are being submitted for a proposed £2m National Centre for the Great War in Cambridgeshire.

Tony Cooke, who is leading the project, hopes to construct the centre on the site of a former golf club at Hemingford Abbots.

It will feature replica trenches and vehicles and is expected to become an educational resource for schools.

A previous plan for the site on land at Dry Drayton was rejected by a council in June 2014.

Plans include a mock-up of a World War One trench system and a No Man's Land area, along with tunnels, a railway, training camp and replica tanks and vehicles.

Aerial view of proposed project site
The proposed site was previously a golf club

South Cambridgeshire District Council refused an initial application primarily because the development would be on green belt land in Dry Drayton.

New detailed plans will be submitted to Huntingdonshire District Council within the next two weeks for a former golf club site, which the group proposes to purchase.

Mr Cooke said initial reaction from the council had been positive as the new plot was brown belt land.

"This is a permitted use for brown belt land used for recreational purposes, so we're very optimistic," he said.

If the plans receive support, work could start in the autumn. It is hoped the complex could be open late spring 2016.

RAF Typhoons 'intercept Russian aircraft'

30 July 2015 Last updated at 19:57 BST

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has released footage which it says shows RAF Typhoons intercepting 10 Russian aircraft.

The Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia do not have enough aircraft to police their own skies so Nato members take turns.

The Typhoon aircraft took off from Amari, Estonia, after aircraft were detected by Nato. The Russian aircraft were "monitored by the RAF Typhoons and escorted on their way", according to the MoD.

Man's emotional 'thank you' to pilot who sacrificed himself to spare then nine-year-old



A schoolboy whose life was saved by an RAF pilot 75 years ago has placed an emotional "thank you" letter on his Lincolnshire grave.

Dennis Tunnicliffe, now 84, travelled from Derby to honour the pilot who saved his life by steering his Hurricane fighter aircraft away from the field where he was playing.

Pilot officer Aston Maurice Cooper-Key, based at RAF Digby, was engaged in an anti-aircraft training flight when his engine failed over Derby on July 24, 1940.

He had just joined the air base and was training for the Battle of Britain, which had started days earlier.

But as he prepared to land in a park at Normanton, he spotted a group of children playing and crashed the plane into a nearby railway embankment, where he died instantly.

In an emotional letter, Mr Tunnicliffe said: "I owed you my life for not making a forced landing on our playing field when children were playing.

"You went over us and landed on the railway where you sadly lost your life. This was a very brave thing to do."

Mr Tunnicliffe this week told the Echo: "It was very sad. I know he didn't die in action but he was equally brave in saving our lives and losing his own. He was only a lad at 21."

In the moments after the crash, he had tried to reach the stricken pilot, who had been thrown from the plane.

He has since built a model Hurricane in his shed and put the tragic pilot's name on the side of it.

PO Cooper-Key had been posted to RAF Digby in Lincolnshire little more than a month before his death and is buried at nearby Scopwick churchyard.

Mr Tunnicliffe was the driving force behind getting the pilot a memorial service with full military honours in 2008.

He has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and said: "I won't be around much longer.

"I've had three operations but they have said they can't do any more. I will be 84 on August 12 and I've had a good life."

Dave Harrigan of Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire said: "The pilot had the chance to bail out but didn't and purposely crashed into the railway siding by the side of the field.

"He had only been on the squadron a few weeks. Nobody really knew him. We were getting through pilots that quick.

"Most of the pilots coming out to Digby were arriving with fewer than 12 hours training on aircraft. He would have been considered a bit more seasoned but he was still new to that aircraft. That is why he was doing these patrols."


Aston Maurice Cooper-Key was only stationed at RAF Digby for a short while before he was killed.

He would, had he survived, have played a major part in the Battle of Britain in 1940.

but while he never fired his guns in anger, he is still regarded as a hero after steering his failing Hurricane away from kids on a playing field.

The Lincolnshire station went on to play a big part in the RAF's wartime fighter and bomber operations and was also home to some famous names.

It had become a fighter airfield within 12 Group, RAF Fighter command in August, 1937.

At first, pilots in 46 Squadron flew Gloster Gauntlet and Gloster Gladiator aircraft, but these were later replaced by the Hawker Hurricane Mk 1.

When war was declared, RAF Digby was home to three Hurricane squadrons – 46, 73 and 504.

In September 1939, 73 Sqn was sent to France and in May 1940, 46 Sqn went to Norway.

However before they went, they engaged an enemy squadron of Heinkel 115s off the coast of the Humber and shot down five of them into the sea.

As 1939 came to a close King George VI made the first of three formal visits to RAF Digby. In addition to inspecting No. 46 Squadron, he presented decorations to fighter pilots from Digby and several neighbouring stations.

The recipients included Guy Gibson who received his first DFC.

For six weeks in May and June 1940, the station was home to No 222 Squadron RAF on a rotational rest and recuperation break from fighting the Battle of Britain from RAF Duxford.

The squadron's most famous flight commander was the legless fighter ace Flt Lt Douglas Bader.

With the station's complement of pilots expanding nearby Wellingore Hall was requisitioned as a second officers' mess.

The station became home to day and night fighter squadrons and each played their part in the defence of the skies over Great Britain.

But while the RAF suffered increasing pilot losses, they continued to defend the skies above Britain until the Germans called off their attempt to invade the country.

The Battle of Britain may have been won but the war was still at its height and RAF Digby and its aircraft were still at the forefront of it.

However, in September 1942, the station became Royal Canadian Air Force Digby with satellites at Wellingore and Coleby Grange. The sorties flown included defensive air patrols by day and night, escorting bombers, 'Rhubarbs' attacking enemy ground targets in Europe and in 1943 night fighter missions over Europe in support of RAF Bomber Command operations.

When VE Day came on May 8, 1945, the station had been the wartime home to 30 RAF Squadrons – 13 Canadian, four Polish, two Belgian and one Czech.

Aircraft flown by pilots included: Hurricane, Spitfire, Defiant, Blenheim, Beaufighter, Mosquito, Mustang, Wellington, Oxford and Anson aircraft.

It had hosted the full range of visiting RAF heavy bombers and their crews, as well as no fewer than 54 USAAF B-17Gs in November 1944.

At the end of the war the station returned to the RAF and was handed over to Technical Training Command with a number of Trade Training schools arriving.

By 1953 most of the schools had relocated elsewhere and the station went on to a short period of care and maintenance until work started on October 1, 1954 to receive 399 Signals Unit and thus began yet another new chapter in the Station's history.

The Station continued to expand steadily throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

The arrival of the Army, initially in 1994, and later the Royal Navy and the US detachments, signalled the start of yet another era in the history of Digby.

On September 1, 1998, 399 Signals Unit merged with the newly arrived Special Signals Support Unit from Loughborough to form the JSSU(D). JSSU(D) merged with the rest of the station on 1April 2005.

Digby is not only a truly tri-Service environment but has a distinctly multi-national flavour to it, one that evokes memories of the last time the Station hosted overseas personnel.

The aviation heritage of RAF Digby and its satellite stations, spanning 1918 to 1945 is recorded and preserved within the RAF Digby Sector Operations Room Museum, which has been refurbished and restored to its appearance in Sep 1939.

The Ops Room, which provides a fitting tribute to Digby's wartime heroes, was opened in May 1997 and is open each summer May to September, or by appointment.

Army sheds 20,000 troops three years ahead of cuts target

Trooper Liam Davies, 21, from Wrexham, mans a .50 calibre machine gun on top of a Jackal with the 1st The Queens Dragoon Guard
2008 photo: Trooper Liam Davies, 21, from Wrexham, mans a .50 calibre machine gun on top of a Jackal with the 1st The Queens Dragoon Guards. Credit: PA

The British Army has been scaled down by more than 20,000, three years ahead of target, latest figures from the Ministry of Defence show.

Latest MoD figures, outlined in the department's monthly personnel report, show there are 81,700 full-time trained servicemen and women in the Army as of June this year, falling from 102,260 in 2010.

The level is below the planned reduction of the regular force to 82,000 by 2018 as part of the Army 2020 restructuring programme, which also seeks to bolster the number of reservists to 30,000.

The MoD said the Army had the "manpower we need at the moment", although the service faced challenges in recruiting.

However, former commanders have called the plan "incoherent".

Colonel Richard Kemp, who has commanded army formations in Afghanistan, told the BBC:

To have already made the cuts by 2015, it shows confusion and targets that don't match up ... it doesn't mean it's a good thing.

The whole plan was to cover the gaps with reservists, but if you've not achieved that then it must mean that we have got deficiencies.

Not only does that cause us concern about how we govern our people, but it is also the message we are sending to our enemies. That kind of message always shows aggression towards us.

British Army Jackals on patrol through the Eastern Desert in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
British Army Jackals on patrol through the Eastern Desert in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, 2008. Credit: PA

A MoD spokesman said:

This government is committed to an army of 82,000 and the funding is in place to deliver it. We have the manpower we need at the moment and, working with the army, we are taking clear action to keep driving recruitment upwards.


The restructuring plan has previously been branded a ''shambles'' amid low recruitment levels of Army reservists.

By April this year, the trained strength of the volunteer Army Reserve had reached 21,030, up by nearly 1,000 on the same time last year, as a review suggested recruitment had "turned a corner".

Across all branches of the military, including the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, the trained full-time personnel numbered 143,200 as of last month, the latest figures show.

BEHIND THE HEADLINES: Making a difference with the armed forces' reservists

Around 100 people from the South-East Wales business community attended a presentation on the benefits of employing reservists earlier this month. CIARAN KELLY investigates what being a reservist involves for both employer and employee

REPRESENTATIVES from the Army, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy were all present for a presentation at Rodney Parade, Newport, to promote how reservists can benefit business.

Despite Wales making up just five per cent of overall UK population, nine per cent of the three services are from Wales.

With high-quality training, reservists offer significant benefits to employers, with transferable soft skills like leadership, teamwork and communication.

Reservists add value to business with this high-quality training and it is estimated that they are worth £377 million to employers, which works out as £16,800 per reservist.

As role models, they have a strong cultural mindset with committed values and having already been tested in demanding circumstances, reservists can deal with high pressure situations

With transparent openness about how long reservists may be away for, and the period of notice required before they are called up for service, relations between the armed forces and employers have never been better.

Reservists are not mobilised for a lengthy period of time and their family and employer is taken into account. Whether they are called also depends on the scale and nature of the threat.

There’s a period of notice in advance, which is nine months in the Army and three months for the air and navy.

With mobilisation, when there’s a requirement to deploy reservists, they are asked to volunteer. The MoD pay for the employer to advertise cover for the job and any increase in costs is covered.

Added to this the fact that the cost for employers is practically nothing. Employers are only asked to support the reservists’ training, rather than the individuals having to use their annual leave.

As part of this so-called corporate covenant, companies including the likes of Tesco, HSBC, BT and National Express have been quick to pledge their support for reservists.

Among those present at the presentation earlier this month was Tony Bagnell, head of operations at the £35-million EADS research and development laboratory in Newport, who has employed dozens of reservists in the past.

He said: “I left Newcastle at the age of 16 to join the RAF.

“I spent 23 years in the RAF and 22 years in industry, so I saw both sides.

“They are high performers and I endorse their soft skills as well as the training they receive to support the business.”

There are seven army reserve units in Gwent, with five in Newport and two in Cwmbran.

The Army is the seventh-largest employer in Wales and 20 per cent of Army training takes place in Wales, with 385,000 training days held on private land in 2014.

Specialists represent five – 10 per cent of the force. They are niche posts, such as cyber specialists and linguists. They have minimum military training but are called when they are needed.

Some 70-90 per cent of army reservists are generalists, who are involved in the likes of engineering and communications.

Speaking of the appeal of employing reservists, Colonel Stephen Cartwright, a general officer from the Royal Regiment of Scotland, said: “The reservists are a great source of talent and hold the affection of the public.

“They are tested in demanding situations.

“They have a very strong cultural mindset and are role models hungry for success.”

If you are aged between 18 and 49, you are eligible to apply to be an army reservist.

There are 23,920 current reservists, with an eventual target of 34,900. Numbers have not been in marked decline as such, but there has not been an increase since the Second World War.

Leighton Owen, from Cwmbran joined the 104 Regiment 217 Battery at Raglan in March, 2008 and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010-2011.

He said: “It was always something I wanted to do and I’ve got so much out of it.

“I’ve got fitter and more punctual. Working with a team helps with your man management and you meet people from different social groups.

“It’s taken me all over the world, whether it’s rock climbing in Germany or skiing in California.

“I really enjoy it all still.”

The Royal Navy is made up of five arms: the ship in the surface fleet, the aerial fleet air arm, the covert submarine service, the amphibious royal marines, and the civilian fleet of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

Opened on October 15, 1980, HMS Cambria is the only Royal Naval Reserve unit in Wales, based in Sully in the Vale of Glamorgan.

As a member of the Royal Naval Reserve you could be giving vital logistical support to ship crews, sending detailed signal information to merchant shipping, or planning the landing of an amphibious task group.

There are three different categories: Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Naval Reserve ex-regular and Royal Naval Reserve with specialist skills.

More than 2,300 men and women currently serve as reservists in the Royal Navy alongside their normal day job and most have no previous military experience when joining.

Jobs within the Royal Naval reserve are varied, whether they are on shore or at sea. They can include: logistics, intelligence, diving, mine warfare, information systems, submarine operations and maritime trade operations.

Every exercise that a reservist takes part in is designed to underpin the operational roles they may encounter both in the UK and around the world.

Serving reservists take part in physical and mental challenges and activities involving practical leadership, basic weapon skills and sea survival.

Reservists normally commit to the equivalent of 24 days a year for training, which takes place mainly during the evenings and at weekends.

Reservists are paid for their time, with pay increases with seniority. However, new recruits can easily earn over a thousand pounds a year, in addition to a yearly tax-free bounty which ranges from £400 to £1,600 depending on the length of service.

The initial training to become a reservist takes place one night a week or at weekends for the first 20 weeks, followed by a two-week residential course at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall which includes an overnight exercise on Dartmoor. New recruits will then be given training for a specific role, ranging from logistics to submarine operations.

In recent years, personnel from HMS Cambria have been involved in operational deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, the Gulf and numerous exercises across the globe.

When needed, the Royal Naval Reserve supplements the full-time ranks with extra manpower, and in some cases provides additional specialist civilian skills.

New recruits must be aged between 16 and 40, have a basic standard in English and maths, and be able to complete a one-and-a-half-mile run within a specific time period.

Elsewhere, as a reserve with the RAF, you use your spare-time to develop transferable skills, increase your self-confidence, meet people from a wide range of backgrounds and enjoy adventurous training opportunities.

Roles are available from 18 right up to 54 years and six months of age.

Reserves commit a minimum of 27 days per year on a renewable 12-year basis. Each year includes a two-week (15 days) block for general RAF training, and at least 12 weekend or holiday days for additional training, trade training, or training exercises.

While you may get the opportunity to train overseas as part of your annual 15-day training block, most of your time will be spent on a nearby RAF base. Each one of these has its own role, from front-line operations to training establishments.

Like regular RAF personnel, reserves can be mobilised on expeditionary operations at some time during each 12-year contract.

They can be deployed to a UK, overseas or temporary base for up to six months, plus another six months for pre-deployment training and post-deployment relaxation with their families..

During your time away you could be travelling with your unit, filling in for another member of the RAF, or working alongside regulars and reserves from other services. You could also be part of a small team dedicated to a particular job, or a big disaster relief mission.

The RAF will cover your costs and provide advice and assistance to your family when you’re away. The maximum period you’ll be away from your employer is one year.

The RAF Reserves in South Wales are represented by 614 (County of Glamorgan) Squadron Royal Auxilliary Air Force.

The Cardiff-based unit was founded in 1937 and reactivated last year as part of the expansion of the reserves.

Squadron Leader Matt Best, explained how the reserves fit into the Royal Air Force.

He said: "Reservists are fully trained to do the same job as regulars and be deployed to the same places with all the same challenges faced by regulars.

"You'll be paid the same daily rate as a regular, but the added attraction of a tax-free bounty if you serve for 27 days in a year.

"That time can be made up of evenings, weekends and longer deployments.

"When we were involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, reservists played a big part in RAF operations there, but you could also be deployed in the UK or in support of civilian authorities as we were during the Olympics or on flood relief in 2013."

The Royal Auxilliary Air Force offers trades as diverse as intelligence analyst, driver and chef, with opportunities also in media operations, RAF police, or physical training.

Cathy Sharples is a reservist with 614 Sqn. The photographer works with the unit’s media flight and has recently returned from Estonia where she was covering the deployment of RAF Typhoon fighters to defend Nato airspace.

She said: "I love the fact you get to do exciting jobs like being deployed overseas, but whatever job you do, you get the chance to develop and be pushed to your potential and out of your comfort zone."

Squadron leader Gill Pritchard, of the 614 (County of Glamorgan) Sqn Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadron, has been involved with the reserves for 22 years.

She said: “I have gone on to serve in Germany, Cyprus and Afghanistan. I could not have achieved this without the full support of my employers.

“Through the reserves, I developed my personal and professional skills. My decision-making was enhanced

“They were totally different jobs but there were transferable skills. It did not encroach on my civilian employment.

“In fact, it added to it.

On Saturday 17th July cadets from 1F (City of Leicester) Sqn provided a guard of honour for one of their fellow cadets - Cdt Callum Mayes - as he embarked on a sponsored wheelchair push with his dad from Leicester to Blackpool. The wheelchair push is in aid of The Wheelchair Awareness Campaign and is expected to take Cdt Mayes, his Dad and other family members 8 days to complete.

Ex Army Vet Turned BT Engineer Confronts Unexploded Bomb

?As an ex-soldier, engineer Dave Owen knew exactly what to do when he spotted a Second World War incendiary device in a garden.
The rusting object, which looked like a military shell, was in the neighbouring garden of a customer’s home. Dave realised it may be an unexploded bomb and immediately told the woman occupier to remain indoors and to call the police.
Army bomb disposal experts arrived on the scene in Caernarfon, North Wales, and Dave led them to the shell. They confirmed it was WWII ordnance.
Police praised Dave for his actions and evacuated residents from neighbouring houses as a precaution. The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team took the bomb away to dispose of it safely.
Dave served 22 years in the Royal Corps of Signals, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Bosnia and Belize. 
He said: “The woman told me she had dug up the object the previous day. I calmly advised her to go indoors with her dog and to dial 101 for the police. I told her it could be a device from the Second World War and might be dangerous. She said: ‘Are you joking?’
“I didn’t tell anyone else about it because I didn’t want to alarm people. From my military experience, something that old can be unstable and liable to explode so it’s best not to take any chances.”



A coroner rules that march organisers were not well prepared and the increased risk of heat illness "had not been appreciated".



A coroner has ruled that there were "gross failures" by the Ministry of Defence in the deaths of three Army reservists who died during an SAS test week march.

Lance Corporals Craig Roberts and Edward Maher and Corporal James Dunsby died after the incident on 13 July 2013.

Delivering her ruling, Coroner Louise Hunt said there were "systemic failings" by the MoD, highlighting a lack of preparation, poor organisation and a "chaotic" response on the day of the event.

She said the failures did not amount to unlawful killing but that the deaths had been "contributed to by neglect" and that all three men would have survived if the march had been cancelled earlier.

SAS Inquests

She also expressed concern that the MoD still does not have a clear plan and guidance for the detection and treatment of heat illness.

Outside the court, Cpl Dunsby's widow hit out at MoD bosses in a powerful statement, while LCpl Maher's family said it was "unacceptable" that he had paid for his training with his life.


The coroner concluded that LCpl Roberts and LCpl Maher died of hyperthermia, while Cpl Dunsby died of major organ failure related to hyperthermia.

She said the three men and others taking part in the march had been "inadequately briefed" before they set off.

:: Live updates from Sky News reporters as the inquest rulings are delivered

It was one of the hottest days of the year with temperatures reaching 27C and humidity at times reaching more than 80%.

The soldiers had to complete a 16-mile march in 8 hours 45 minutes as they neared the end of an arduous six-month selection process believed to be the toughest in the world.

The coroner said those in charge of the event had not been adequately prepared and briefed and the increased risk of heat illness "had not been appreciated".

She said checkpoint checks were inadequate and commanders failed to fully understand the significance of soldiers withdrawing through heat illness.


If MoD protocol had been followed, the march would have been stopped on three occasions, she said.

The coroner said an emergency plan listed the wrong hospital as closest to the march and that mobile phone signal problems meant 999 calls were cut off, causing extra delays.

A tracking system intended to update the movements of individual soldiers every 10 minutes was also "not fit for purpose", she said.

LCpl Roberts was found collapsed less than half a mile from the finish in an area known as VW Valley.

The VW stands for voluntary withdrawal because of the number of people who drop out at this stage.

LCpl Maher's GPS tracker showed him stationary for at least 44 minutes before anyone noticed.

He was found dead, still clutching a water bottle in one hand and bar of chocolate in the other.

It took between 40-75 minutes for Cpl Dunsby's lack of progress to be noticed.

A paramedic told Solihull Crown Court that his body temperature was 40.4C, the highest he had ever encountered.

His body "appeared to be shutting down" the paramedic said.

He was rescued from the mountain and taken to hospital but died 17 days later from major organ failure.

Brigadier John Donnelley from the MoD said changes had been made to the SAS testing exercise since the three soldiers died.

He said: "I would like to apologise for the deaths of James Dunsford, Craig Roberts and Edward Maher - three fine soldiers.

"We have already made a number of changes to the exercise in terms of the way it is run as a result of our own investigations and from those of the Health and Safety Executive."





A TRIBUTE to the Dambusters has been unveiled in a German village which the bombers flew over en route to their targets.

The official unveiling of the memorial in Germany

Some 72 years after the famous raid, residents of Haldern on the Rhine have unveiled a stone memorial near where one of the Lancaster bombers crashed killing all on board in May 1943.

Policeman and historian Volker Schurmann, 36, became interested in the attack when he saw a photo of a bouncing bomb as a child. The 150 residents got behind his fund-raising efforts. The new memorial replaces a simple plaque unveiled two years ago on the 70th anniversary of the raid.

Mr Schurmann said: “There are many memorials around our village to Germans who fell during the war but now there is one more, to a British crew, and many in the village feel that this is right. In Germany we don’t celebrate war stories as in the UK but behind every victim there is a family. That is the main point.”

Carole Marner, niece of Flying Officer Phillip Burgess, was at the unveiling and spoke of the villagers’ generosity.

Carole, 72, of London, said: “I found it very poignant to be standing in a German village with people who had chosen to celebrate the Dambusters, including my uncle. Their generosity, the fact the villagers had worked and collected money, is wonderful.

Fallen heroes Robert Barlow, Samuel Whillis and Philip Burgess

Harvey Glinz and Jack Liddell

I thought it was really touching and in the spirit of reconciliation

Carole Marner, niece of Flying Officer

“I thought it was really touching and in the spirit of reconciliation.”

The others who died on May 17, 1943, were Flight Lt Robert Barlow DFC, Pilot Officer Alan Gillespie DFM, Pilot Officer Charles Williams DFC, Pilot Officer Samuel Whillis, Flight Officer Harvey Glinz and Sgt Jack Liddell.

The crew are buried at the nearby Reichswald war cemetery. They crashed into power cables while flying low on the approach to their target. The crowd of 250 people included relatives of six of the crew, RAF officials and residents. After the ceremony, the Haldern brass band played the Dambusters March.

Charles Williams and Alan Gillespie

The raid, in which 53 of the 133 aircrew died, saw 34 decorated, including Wing Commander Guy Gibson, who led the operation and received the Victoria Cross.

He was killed later in the war.

Lt Col Alison McCourt, who ran a unit in Sierra Leone for eight months, is being recognised for "her presence and personal touch".



A British nurse who ran an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone is being awarded an OBE for her work in fighting the deadly virus.

Lieutenant Colonel Alison McCourt was given just six weeks' notice before being deployed to the West African nation - one of three countries to suffer the most fatalities from the disease.

The mother-of-two, from Llandrindod in Wales, was instrumental in setting up the clinic and training staff. A citation for her award said "her presence and personal touch have been felt everywhere".

It went on: "No problem has been too small to overlook, no person too insignificant to receive her full attention and the patients admitted have been received with utter professionalism and compassion."

Lt Col McCourt, who was based in Sierra Leone for eight months and returned in May, said the recognition is a "huge honour", but insisted that the award was for her "entire unit".


She described the operation as "physically and psychologically demanding, but also professionally rewarding".

In total, 55 personnel have been recognised in the Operational Honours and awards list.

Meanwhile, Liberia confirmed that a third person has been diagnosed with Ebola on Thursday, nearly two months after the country was declared free of the disease.


The three villagers who have contracted Ebola "have a history of having had dog meat together", according to doctors. One of them, a 17-year-old boy, has died.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has urged Liberians not to panic.

Of the 11,220 deaths during the outbreak, 4,800 fatalities were reported in the country.





Ceremony honours veteran ‘whose colour saved his life’

Ronald Lisk-Carew

Ronald Lisk-Carew

A BLACK RAF veteran who said his skin colour saved his life in Nazi-occupied Europe will be remembered at a ceremony in Thame today.

Johnny Smythe is buried in St Mary’s Church cemetery in the town, where his relations will join military veterans and members of the Sierra Leone community to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth.

The RAF navigator was born in the West African country and moved to the United Kingdom to join the air force in 1940.

He flew 27 successful missions with Bomber Command during the Second World War before being shot down in November 1943.

The Flight Officer spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war.

He was liberated in 1945 and returned to Britain, where he qualified as a barrister.

He later moved back to Sierra Leone before returning to Thame to be closer to family.

At noon today, his sons John and Eddy will be at his graveside to pay tribute to their father along with current and former members of the RAF, including Ronald Lisk-Carew.

Mr Lisk-Carew, who was also born in Sierra Leone, was inspired to join the RAF by Mr Smythe and organised today’s event.

Eddy Smythe, who lives in Chinnor, said: “My father never spoke about the war. He threw out his uniform.

“It was only in his later years that we managed to pin him down.

“We knew the back story but he never really discussed the details.

“He was happier talking about his law practice and his achievements post-war.

“It makes me very proud.

“He was not into celebration or flaunting his achievements and his gravestone is very modest.

“Ronald has done this off his own back and I am very grateful to him.”

Mr Lisk-Carew, who moved to the UK in 1969 and served in the RAF until 1974, said Mr Smythe credited his black skin with saving his life after he was shot down.

The Senior Aircraftman said the war hero parachuted out and landed in a barn.

 When German troops found him, they were so shocked by his skin colour and height – he was 6ft 5in tall – that they did not open fire.

The 65-year-old said: “My school friends and I in Sierra Leone found out that Johnny and a few others had flown for the RAF.

“That was very exciting to us as young men. A couple of my friends wanted to serve as well but they did not have the opportunity.

“I was really chuffed.

“Johnny was such an inspiration to me so I thought we had to celebrate his life.

“That is how today’s event came about.”

When Mr Smythe was liberated by Russian troops, he was feted by them and toasted with vodka because he was black.

Mr Lisk-Carew plans to hold a vodka toast at today’s event and a member of the RAF will play The Last Post.

Mr Smythe moved to Thame in 1992 to be near his sons.

He passed away in 1996 aged 81 but his wife Violet, 88, is still alive and living in the United States, where the couple’s daughters Jennifer and Kathryn also live.

Mr Lisk-Carew added: “Today will be a very proud moment.

“He was a war hero.”

Ex-Harrow commander Richard Claydon told us about his goals for the future in Hillingdon, challenges fire crews face in the borough, and offers residents fire safety advice



Hillingdon's new London Fire Brigade borough commander said he looks forward to new challenges, hopes to reach out to vulnerable people, and wants to engage the community.

Richard Claydon, who will soon be reaching 30 years of service and was previously borough commander for Harrow, requested to move to Hillingdon for “more of a challenge”.

Speaking to getwestlondon, he said: “I’m excited! I live in Ruislip so I have a personal connection. Although it’s a safe and well-performing borough, there’s still challenges and it can always do better.”

Mr Claydon, 50, says his priority is helping the vulnerable people across the borough, such as the elderly, those with mobility issues, and those with drug and alcohol dependability.

“Most of the vulnerable people in the borough will have intervention from our partners so it might be London Borough of Hillingdon, adult services, children's services, safer neighbourhoods teams with the police, there's a whole raft of people that we work with.

“We're setting up a partnership referral scheme so our partners can tell us about vulnerable people within 48 hours - my mission is to have a fire alarm fitted with their permission.”


Richard Claydon has worked for LFB for 30 years


With the hard work of his crews, Mr Claydon hopes to raise awareness with home fire safety visits to give advice and guidance about fire prevention, as well as fit free smoke alarms, which anyone in London is eligible for.

He said: “We have a vulnerable person panel in Hillingdon where we discuss with the council and health and adult services the needs and how to help vulnerable people, some of whom have come to us for help.

Hillingdon fire brigade beat its target last year for fitting fire alarms and carrying out home safety visits, with 105% of targeted vulnerable people reached.

“The larger risks in fatal fires and high risk fires is sadly the people we don’t know about, so when I speak to these partners I can find out as the police or council may know about them so communication is key,” Mr Claydon added.

'Hillingdon borough challenges'

There has been a drop in the number of incidents and fire crews respond to 50% less cases than 10 years ago, which Mr Claydon says is down to the community safety and prevention work they do.

He added: “The biggest challenge in the borough is a recent spate of arson, such as on the old RAF camp. We did a lot of work with the RAF police, fire service and MOD and upped our presence so it seems to have gone away for the moment.

“The big danger here is danger to themselves because the buildings are derelict and once they’re alight they can develop into full fires. There’s also dangers to my crews that attend when they're fighting a fire in a derelict building.”

In a rolling 12 month period, between 2014-2015, there were 149 domestic fires. Recent causes of fires in Hillingdon include domestic fires started by candles and incense, smoking, and cooking accidents.

Mr Claydon was officially appointed on June 1. He is planning a day with the Hayes Gurkha community in July.

Hundreds attend funeral for former soldier with no friends or family

REVEALED: From postmen to pilots, the Army Reservists wearing their uniforms with pride
THOUSANDS of reservists will today reclaim the streets across the UK by turning up to work in their uniforms.

They are marking Reserves Day - which used to be Uniform To Work Day - as part of Armed Forces Week which reaches its climax on Saturday.

And they are shrugging off the threat of attacks by jihadis similar to the pair who murdered soldier Lee Rigby, 25, on the streets of south London in May 2013.

Reservists make up 16 per cent of the Armed Forces and the proportion is set to rise as the Army gets cut to 82,000 and relies more heavily on the reserve.

They are drawn from all walks of life, from binmen to bankers and pilots to postmen, and are currently serving in Afghanistan, Northern Iraq, Cyprus and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

They are also in the frontline of efforts to fight Ebola in Sierra Leone.

Among those marking the day with pride will be Daily Express IT specialist Andy Burrow, 49, who works in logistics with 4624 Squadron RAF Reserves.

Andy from North London and who previously served in the regular RAF as a weapons technician, said: "I work on Air Movements moving kit and personnel around and get to travel the world.

"I was in the RAF and realised I missed the military life-style.

"This is a very good way of combining life as a civilian with life in the military.

"We learn skills we can apply in civilian life and being in the military is a great confidence boost."

The Army Reservists have taken part by wearing their uniforms

I was in the RAF and realised I missed the military life-style. This is a very good way of combining life as a civilian with life in the military.

Army Reserve officer Kishn Singh Thandi, who is an insurance analyst with Willis Limited, said: "I feel so lucky that I'm paid to meet new people, develop my interests and broaden my horizons in my spare time with the Army Reserve.

"I've travelled to countries I'd never have been to otherwise, and seen a side of life I'd never have experienced.

"I'm really proud of what I've achieved with the Army Reserve and I hope that by raising awareness among my colleagues, I might encourage more people to join."

The director general, Army Recruiting and Training Division, Major General Chris Tickell, said: "Employers across Britain have already recognised the many benefits of encouraging their staff to join the Army Reserve, so this is a fantastic way for them to show their support.

"We know that Reserves benefit from outstanding leadership training, and are focused, driven and enthusiastic about furthering their careers.

Part time Reserves not only stand out in a competitive jobs market, they are highly valued by their civilian employers."

Minister for Reserves, Julian Brazier, said: "Reservists are a vital part of our Armed Forces and play a huge role in protecting the nation's security at home and overseas.

We are indebted to these men and women who give up their spare time to serve in the Reserve Forces so that should their country need them they are ready to serve; anywhere, anytime.

As Winston Churchill said, 'The Reservist is twice the citizen'.

"Reserves Day is an opportunity for all to recognise and celebrate the work of the Reserve Forces and the individuals themselves.

We are extraordinarily proud of our Reservists, and it's important we tell them that and show them our support on this day."

VC10 in six-hour trip to RAF Museum Cosford

21 June 2015

The fuselage was taken on a six-hour journey

A military aircraft has made a six-hour journey to its new home at a museum.

The 93ft (28m) long VC10 fuselage left Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire for RAF Museum Cosford, Shropshire, at about 07:00 BST. It will be on permanent display in the autumn.

The VC10 has been one of the RAF's most significant assets for nearly 50 years, the museum said.

A lorry took the fuselage on the M69, M6 and the M54 and through Shifnal in Shropshire.

It was too large to pass under a railway bridge at Cosford but went through Shifnal, the museum said

The fuselage had earlier been on motorways before arriving in Shifnal

The VC10 entered service with the RAF in 1966 and had the ability to carry up to 124 troops at a time with nine crew members or a freight load of up to 20,400 kg (44,974 lbs). It completed its final mission in 2013.

It will be positioned on the airfield at RAF Cosford for about five to six weeks and partially reassembled, before being moved on to the museum site in August.

It is scheduled to be placed on permanent display next to the Hercules in October.

A police escort was needed in Shifnal

It arrived at RAF Museum Cosford at about 13:00 BST

The museum's head of collections, Ian Thirsk, said: "For one aircraft type to have been in service for such a long period is remarkable in itself.

"However, when this is added to the variety of roles and worldwide scope of operations, it is clear this is a unique aircraft."

Royal Air Force Finalist In UK Workplace Race Equality Awards

The Royal Air Force has been recognised for its commitment to increasing Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) representation in the workplace, by being named as a Finalist in the Future Workforce Award category at the Race for Opportunity Awards 2015. Business in the Community’s race campaign celebrates its 20thanniversary in 2015 and the Awards are in their ninth year. The awards celebrate outstanding practice, innovation and dedication to race equality and inclusion in UK workplaces. The winners will be announced at the Awards Dinner on 6 October at the London Hilton, Park Lane.

Squadron Leader Glynis Dean MBE from the Royal Air Force said “we are absolutely delighted to be recognised as a finalist for the forthcoming Future Workforce Award category at the Race for Opportunity Awards 2015. This is testament to our commitment to delivering a sustainable diverse workforce in 2020 and beyond. The programmes we have maintained over the past six years have helped to develop student’s character traits and behaviours that underpin success in school and the workplace.”

Sandra Kerr OBE, Race Equality Director, Business in the Community, said: “Congratulations to the Royal Air Force on being named as a Finalist in the Future Workforce Award category at the Race for Opportunity Awards 2015. They are taking action to create a workplace culture which puts race equality at the heart of their activity and have demonstrated a strong commitment to ensuring that ethnic minority talent has equal opportunity to progress at every level. It’s a huge positive to see that they recognise the UK’s changing demographics and are addressing the need to reflect the clients, communities and customers they serve, and I hope other organisations will learn from their example.”

A full list of the Finalists can be found online. The winners will be announced at the Race for Opportunity 20th Anniversary Dinner, which takes place at the London Hilton Park Lane on Tuesday 6th October 2015.

Officials confirm Waddington runway work is taking longer than expected

By PWhitelam_LE  |  Posted: June 11, 2015



The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that runway repair work at RAF Waddington will not now be completed until next summer, the BBC is reporting.

But the MoD is yet to confirm if the 2016 Waddington International  Air Show will go ahead.

This year's show was cancelled due to the £35 million rebuild of the 9,000 ft long runway, which had been due for completion by November 2015.

The BBC says it now has confirmation that waterlogged ground and extra work involving undergroundutilities  from the Second World War has delayed the completion date.



An RAF spokesman told the Echo: "The RAF is currently reviewing its air show commitments to consider how best to achieve effective  engagement with the general public, the results of this review will be announced later this year."

John Robinson, who has been running a cafe at the Waddington Aircraft Viewing Experience for five years, said the lack of planes so far due to the work has already affected his trade .

He said: "Without the aircraft here there is not much of an attraction.

"It has hit us very hard."

"We have heard that repairs have been extended into the middle of next year minimum, it could be longer which will put out next year's air show.

"This winter is going to be extremely difficult and we have put money away knowing it would be difficult."

One RAF enthusiast said: "Lincolnshire is the RAF - not to have an air show is a travesty.

Another said: "They might use it as a final excuse to cut the air show all together."

The air show started in 1995 and 2015 would have been in its 20th year.

The 2014 event attracted around 140,000 people over the weekend where there was seven hours of flying displays each day.


Trident whistleblower William McNeilly leaves Royal Navy

A submariner who went on the run last month after publishing claims about the safety of the UK's nuclear deterrent has left the Royal Navy.

Able Seaman William McNeilly, from Belfast, alleged the Trident missile programme, based on the Clyde, was a "disaster waiting to happen".

He went into hiding abroad but handed himself in to military police after returning to the UK last month.

In a fresh online post, he said he had been given a "dishonourable discharge".

He wrote: "All of the charges against me were dropped - there's nothing that I can be charged with now.

"I believe the Home Office are still doing their investigation, but that's nothing to worry about.

"Most people know that I acted in the interest of national security. However, I was still given a dishonourable discharge from the Royal Navy. On the claim that my sole aim was to discredit their public image.

"It is shocking that some people in a military force can be more concerned about public image than public safety."

He said he regarded the Royal Navy as being the "greatest navy in history" and insisted his sole aim had been to improve safety.

The former sailor said he had received support from some colleagues, adding: "A lot them wished me luck on completing my objectives. Some of them were shocked that I didn't receive an honourable discharge or wasn't kept in the service.

"Personally, I thought honourable discharge would've been nice but I didn't really care if it was honourable discharge or not. I just respectively told them that I'd accept any punishment as long as the accusations against me are true."

The Ministry of Defence confirmed the 25-year-old, who said he had mainly been held at HMS Nelson in Portsmouth since being detained by Royal Navy Police at Edinburgh Airport, had left the service.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that AB McNeilly has left the Naval Service, the details of which are a matter for the individual and his employer.

"Throughout the process Able Seaman McNeilly was still being afforded the duty of care that we give all our personnel, as was his family."

Naval regulations allow for service personnel to be dismissed if their views or actions are deemed to be incompatible with service life.

AB McNeilly was an Engineering Technician Submariner who had been on patrol with HMS Victorious, one of the four nuclear-armed submarines based at the Faslane naval base on the Clyde.

His 18-page report, called The Secret Nuclear Threat, included descriptions of incidents ranging from complaints about food hygiene to failures in testing whether missiles could safely be launched or not.

He described security passes and bags going unchecked at Faslane, alarms being muted "to avoid listening" to them, and stories of fires starting in missile compartments.

AB McNeilly said he raised these and other concerns through the chain of command on multiple occasions, but that "not once did someone even attempt to make a change".

An investigation was launched into the claims, which culminated in Defence Secretary Michael Fallon saying AB McNeilly's safety claims had not been proved and were either incorrect or the result of misunderstanding.

Mr Fallon insisted that neither the "operational effectiveness" of the fleet "nor the safety of our submariners or public have been compromised".

But in a debate on the issue in the House of Commons, former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said Mr Fallon's explanation was "an insult" to the public's intelligence.

Fighter jet on permanent sentry duty

A SPECTACULAR piece of RAF history has returned to stand sentry over its former home.

A Tornado F3 jet fighter has become the new “gate guardian” for RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire, watching over the base from which it once flew.

It replaces the old Gloster Javelin which used to fill the role but which found a new home at a Gloucestershire museum earlier this year.

The Tornado F3 began its life at Leeming in 1988, providing protection to UK airspace and squadrons from the base regularly intercepted Russian aircraft up until April 2008.

The type itself came the end of its lifespan in 2011, when it was replaced by the Typhoon, and since then the remaining F3s have been returning to Leeming to be run through a spares recovery programme run by BAE Systems.

The very last of them was picked from the programme and, after the valuable assets were stripped, the airframe was rebuilt and presented back to the base.

Station commander Group Captain David Bradshaw said: “Today is a really exciting day for all of us at RAF Leeming.

“Being able to take the last aircraft and placing it as a gate guardian will mean that all personnel coming onto Leeming in the future can reflect on our wonderful heritage and this wonderful aircraft.”

BAE Systems’ maintenance and upgrades manager Martin Marlow-Spalding said: “During its time in service, it has served its country really well as the main air defence aircraft for the UK.

“I’m delighted to see that the last one has been saved and as a gate guardian for Leeming it will act as a reminder of the squadrons which operated here.”

Ebola medal for over 3000 heroes

First published:
11 June 2015

A new medal has been created to recognise the bravery and hard work of people who have helped to stop the spread of Ebola.

The government has today (11 June 2015) set out the details of a new medal that will recognise the bravery and hard work of thousands of people who helped to tackle Ebola in West Africa.

The medal is expected to go to over 3,000 people who travelled from the UK to work in high risk areas to stop the spread of the disease.

This is the first time a medal has been created specifically to recognise those who have tackled a humanitarian crisis and is in recognition of the highly dangerous environment that workers were required to enter.

The medal has been designed by John Bergdahl, who has been an engraver for over 40 years and recently designed a new coin set to celebrate the birth of Prince George. Mr Bergdahl’s design was chosen following a competition run by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee. It shows a flame on a background depicting the Ebola virus – above this are the words “For Service” and below “Ebola Epidemic West Africa”.

The obverse bears a portrait of Her Majesty The Queen designed by Ian Rank-Broadley.

The medal will be awarded to military and civilian personnel who have been tackling Ebola on behalf of the UK in West Africa such as people from our armed forces, doctors and nurses from the NHS, laboratory specialists and members of the civil service and non-governmental organisations. Eligibility is set out in detail in a command paper published today.

The first awards of the medal will be made as early as this summer and will be ongoing thereafter. The Prime Minister will also host a summer reception to congratulate in person some of the recipients.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said:

The Ebola outbreak was one of the most devastating epidemics of our generation but we managed to stop its spread thanks to the hard work of British people who travelled to West Africa.

As a result of their efforts, many lives were saved and the outbreak contained.

This medal is about paying tribute to those people. They put themselves at considerable personal risk and we owe them a debt of gratitude.


Report: Airbus transport crash caused by “wipe” of critical engine control data

Calibration data zapped during updates on 3 engines, causing shutdown at 400 feet.

by - Jun 10, 2015 4:25pm BST

A protoype of the Airbus A400M at the 2010 Farnborough Airshow.

Airbus had already revealed that the fatal crash of an Airbus A400M military transport was caused by what was described as a "quality issue in the final assembly" of the electronic control units (ECU)—a fault in software configuration that led to a loss of control of the aircraft and resulted in the death of four crew members. Reuters reported additional details today provided by individuals familiar with the investigation into the crash, stating that a critical part of the configuration data in three of the aircraft's four ECUs—a file storing torque calibration parameters for each engine—was somehow "accidentally wiped" when the software was being installed. As a result, three of the aircraft's engines automatically shut down in flight.

Citing a safety document shown to Reuters, Tim Hepher reported that the pilot of the A400M would not have gotten an alert about the missing data until the aircraft was already at an altitude of 400 feet. No cockpit alert about the data fault would appear while the aircraft was on the ground. According to Hepher's sources, the lack of a ground warning was an issue raised during a safety review last year, but "regulators approved it on the basis that the chances of failure were small and the installation procedure included extra checks," people familiar with the matter said.

The A400M, which was on a final test flight before delivery to the Turkish Air Force, reached an altitude of 1,725 feet after takeoff before crashing during an attempted emergency landing. The aircraft struck an electrical pole at about 180 miles per hour.

The missing data made it impossible for the aircraft's central control system to interpret data coming from the engines' sensors. The aircraft's software is designed to shut down malfunctioning engines to prevent them from affecting the operation of the aircraft. But a software failure of more than two engines was never taken into consideration.

The data wipe appears to have been caused by the computer system used to install the flight control software and update calibration data. Airbus has instructed its European NATO buyers of the A400M not to use that software. Safety officials are still investigating how safety checks failed to spot that the calibration data had been deleted.

RIAT 2015 - MOD aircraft attendance

, Breaking News

The Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) has announced its list for July's airshow at Fairford, Gloucestershire. Here's what MOD plans to contribute.

We are planning to provide an extensive range of military aircraft to demonstrate the cutting-edge technology, range of capability and impressive flying skills of the RAF. This will include displays by:

Alongside these, there will be a wide-range of static display aircraft, including Tornado GR4 (from each Squadron), Tucano, Tutor, King Air, Hawk (208), Hawk (IV), Griffin, Squirrel and Voyager.

Meanwhile, in the United States the F-35B programme is making good progress. Royal Navy and RAF personnel have just returned from operational trials on board the USS WASP, working alongside the United States Marine Corps as we test ship/air integration in training missions over sea. Read the story here.

With both the UK and US focused on meeting operational milestones, there will not be an F-35B at this year’s RIAT – here’s our statement, from an MOD spokesperson:

The F-35 international programme continues to make good progress and as F-35B (STOVL) users, the US Marine Corps and the UK are working closely together. The USMC priority is to reach Initial Operating Capability (IOC) this summer, which takes precedence over attending international air shows.

You can find more information on the UK’s Aircraft Carrier Capability here.


Lancaster bomber to miss most of 2015 season

By Lincolnshire Echo | Posted: June 04, 2015


The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight which had to make an emergency landing after one of its engines caught fire looks set to miss much of the 2015 display season.

It has been reported that the UK's only flying Lancaster bomber will miss a number of air shows including RAF Cosford and Weston Air Festival in Somerset.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Lancaster Bomber was grounded indefinitely after an on-board fire near Coningsby

One of the engines caught fire on the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster during a practice run on May 7.

The plane landed safely at RAF Coningsby but was later unable to join a VE Day flypast as a result.

The original Thumper III 617 Squadron Lancaster B1, DV385 was one of a fleet of new Lancasters supplied to the squadron after the Dambuster Raid in 1943.

Warrant Officer Kevin Ball, from the BBMF, told BBC Lincolnshire: "The problems for us are really in the support structure – a lot of the cowlings were damaged – so it's getting those repaired."

He said: "It's not so much the engine itself – it's the surrounding structure, electrical looms and so on.

"We are looking to possibly air test during the last week of August, first week of September.

"If it all comes together maybe we will see her flying before the end of the season."

Read more:

The planned office blocks are part of the Uxbridge town centre extension, which will also include a hotel, museum, restaurants and shops


The planned office blocks


New offices at a former RAF base in Uxbridge would create around 1,000 new jobs, the developer has claimed.

Plans for just under 120,000sq-ft of office space at the St Andrews Park site - a sixth of the floor space at Buckingham Palace - have been submitted to Hillingdon Council by St Modwen.

The latest proposals are part of wider plans for the old Ministry of Defence land, which include 1,300 new homes, a 40-acre public park and a new primary school, John Locke Academy, which opened in September 2014.

The office development is the first phase of the Uxbridge town centre extension element, which will include a hotel, museum, restaurants and shops.


James Stockdale, St Modwen’s development manager, said: “Once we get the go-ahead for this commercial phase of the wider project we will be able to start to deliver the new jobs for the area, both in the long-term and also during the construction phase.

“We are making strong progress on the residential front with many homes already built, and occupied, with more now under construction.

“The excellent new John Locke Academy primary school is up and running, and we are very much looking forward to attracting new office occupiers and creating new jobs for the people of Uxbridge in the next stage of the development.”

St Andrews Park was one of six former RAF bases disposed of by the MoD, with services at those sites being relocated to RAF Northolt.

It contains the Grade I listed Battle of Britain Bunker, which is run by the RAF and will remain open to the public by prior appointment.

A spokeswoman for St Modwen said 150 new homes at the site were already occupied and it expected another 50-70 sales to be completed by the end of the year.


Armed Forces Day is coming

It’s one month to go until Armed Forces Day and plans are well advanced for a spectacular array of events up and down the country.

The centrepiece of this year’s celebrations will be the National Event, hosted by the historic Surrey county town of Guildford.

Guildford Council has announced an exciting programme of activities for Armed Force Day on 27 June. The day will begin with a special service at Guildford Cathedral, followed by a celebratory parade along the historic High Street and a fly-past of current and historic aircraft. The parade will include tri-Service personnel and will be supported by bands, veterans and Cadet Forces.

The focus of activity will then move to Stoke Park for an afternoon of exciting military demonstrations and entertainment. Highlights include the Royal Signals White Helmets Motorcycle display and the Royal Navy’s Raiders.

Aside from the National Event in Guildford, people are being encouraged to get behind the campaign and show their support for our Servicemen and women in a variety of ways. There are over 100 events registered across the UK for the public to attend, including an RAF Ice Hockey Match in Telford and an evening with the Stafford Military Wives Choir.

As well as events the UK is being encouraged to support Armed Forces Day online. Join the likes of Sir Derek Jacobi, Carol Vorderman and Lorraine Kelly by sending us your military salutes to @ArmedForcesDay using #SaluteOurForces. Find out more about the campaign on Facebook, Twitter or sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with the latest.

The week of Armed Forces Day begins on Monday 22 June when the Armed Forces Day flag will be raised on buildings and famous landmarks across the UK. Reserves day, on Wednesday 24 June, will be a chance to recognise the hard work of our Reserve Forces in the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force who have both military and civilian careers. Reservists will also be encouraged to wear their uniform to their civilian jobs on that day.


Group Captain Carol Vorderman - Carol Is First Female Honorary Ambassador For RAF Air Cadets and is supporting Armed Forces Day 2015.

Group Captain Carol Vorderman - Carol Is First Female Honorary Ambassador For RAF Air Cadets and is supporting Armed Forces Day 2015.

For more information on Armed Forces Day and details on how you can get involved, please visit our brand new website.

2015 Appearances confirmed to date.

We would encourage everyone to see XH558 display this year - her last season of flight.


Please note: XH558's planned participation is only confirmed when the date and location is listed on this page.

We have 16 appearances already booked for 2015, so now is the time to see which is the nearest to you, then put them in your diary, book tickets, line up friends and family for what will be a memorable 2015 experience. There will not be the likes of XH558 airborne after this year.

Here are the dates and locations confirmed to date.
Date: Venue / Location Type of event
Sat 6th June Throckmorton Display More info
Sun 14th June Cholmondeley Flypast More info
Sun 14th June Welshpool Display More info
Sun 14th June RAF Cosford Display More info
Sun 21st June Weston-super-Mare Display More info
Sun 5th July Shuttleworth Collection *NEW* Display More info
Sat 11th July RNAS Yeovilton U/T Display More info
Thurs 16th July RIAT Arrival
Fri 17th July RIAT - U/T Static
Sat 18th July RIAT - U/T Display More info
Sun 19th July RIAT - U/T Display
Sat 15th August Herne Bay Flypast More info
Sat 15th August Headcorn Aerodrome Display More info
Sat 15th August Eastbourne Display More info
Sun 23rd August Shoreham *NEW* Display More info
Sun 23rd August Bournemouth Display More info
Sat 29th August Dunsfold - Surrey Display
Sun 30th August Dunsfold - Surrey Display More info


U/T = Underwing Tours available for a small donation whilst operating conditions allow.


Please do await further updates and do not call or email the office or individual show organisers. They know no more than published here - thank you.


20 May 15

Medal for RAF helicopter nurse who has rescued 600
Sqn Ldr Thompson-Edgar received the Associate of the Royal Red Cross medal for her work evacuating and treating battlefield casualties in Helmand

 Photo: ©MOD Crown Copyright 2015
By Ben Farmer, Defence Correspondent

An RAF emergency nurse who has evacuated more than 600 wounded from the battlefields of Afghanistan’s Helmand province has been decorated for her life-saving efforts in the latest military honours.

Sqn Ldr Charlotte Thompson-Edgar served six tours in the country between 2007 and 2014 and is believed to have taken part in more helicopter evacuation missions than any other British nurse.

Sqn Ldr Thompson-Edgar, who serves with Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service, received the Associate of the Royal Red Cross medal which is given for exceptional services and devotion to duty.

The 40-year-old from Peterborough was at the forefront of care in Britain’s medical emergency response team helicopters which acted as combat air ambulances picking up wounded from across Helmand and dashing them back to the hospital at Camp Bastion.

The teams of four medics flying in a Chinook helicopter kitted out like an accident and emergency ward were credited with saving countless lives.

Together with the renowned hospital at Camp Bastion, they were able to provide speedy, life-saving care unprecedented in previous conflicts.

Sqn Ldr Thompson-Edgar told the Telegraph: “It’s been a very exciting six or seven years to see these unexpected survivors coming off the battlefield where in the normal environment they would have died.

“All of us are doing it for the soldiers on the ground. They are doing such a difficult job and the terrain that they are walking in is so dangerous. For their peace of mind and for their morale, knowing that they have a good, highly-skilled capability to come and pick them up if the worst happened, that’s why we were doing it.

“All of us have exactly the same objective and that’s just to make sure we get those guys back to hospital as soon as we can, ideally in a better state than they were on the battlefield.”

As well as carrying out missions herself, she has developed and commanded teams of nurses and become one of the military’s foremost experts in medical evacuation.

One of the casualties she helped pick up and save was Britain’s first surviving triple amputee of the war. Mark Ormrod lost both legs and an arm when he stepped on a homemade bomb on Christmas Eve 2007.

Sqn Ldr Thompson-Edgar said picking up the Royal Marines Commando, who is now a motivational speaker, had been a “privilege”.

She said: “He’s probably my biggest hero, he’s just done so much. Bear in mind how poorly he was when we collected him, he had such horrific injuries, so what he’s achieved today is just absolutely incredible.”

The missions were often highly dangerous. Helicopters frequently came under fire from the Taliban. The lowest point in her six tours was when a helicopter of her American counterparts was shot down in June 2010, killing five. The US Black Hawk, call sign Pedro 66, crashed and caught fire after it was hit in the tail by a rocket-propelled grenade as it tried to pick up a wounded British marine in Sangin.

Sqn Ldr Thompson-Edgar said: “That was horrible because we work very closely with our American colleagues and we had only had coffee with them half an hour before. It could very well have been us going up on that shout and it could have been a very different story.”

In the aftermath of the crash, British teams had to temporarily take over duties from the Americans and flew missions round the clock, roughly every two hours, for ten days.


18 May 15

Parade marks the end of proud history of No 3 Squadron at RAF Wittering


Years of proud military history ended at RAF Wittering on Tuesday 14th April with the disbandment parade of No. 3 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment. Weeks of rehearsal and planning culminated in a flawless disbandment parade, reviewed by former Chief of the Air Staff, and Honorary Air Commodore of the Royal Air Force Regiment, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton. More than two hundred service personnel, civilians and 3 Squadron veterans attended the disbandment parade. In spite of very cold and blustery winds, immaculately dressed and with superhuman precision, 3 Squadrons finest captivated the audience. The speech, given by Sir Stephen Dalton, reflected the distinguished history of No. 3 Squadron and he praised the unit for its outstanding contribution saying; 3 Squadron can be justly proud of the part is has played and the leadership, camaraderie and teamwork has served the Squadron well.


Weeks of rehearsal and planning culminated in the flawless parade, reviewed by former Chief of the Air Staff, and Honorary Air Commodore of the Royal Air Force Regiment, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton.


The unit can trace its ancestry back to 1922 when No 3. Armoured Car Company was formed in Basra, present-day Iraq, to support light bombers in their policing of large areas in the Middle East.

No. 3 Armoured Car Company was disbanded in 1925. In 1942 the Royal Air Force Regiment was formed and No. 2757 Squadron was absorbed into the new Corps. 2757 Squadron saw action in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany and was then re-named No. 3 (Armoured Car) Squadron in August 1947.

3 Squadron was disbanded, reformed and disbanded again during the mid-fifties, and was finally reformed as a Field Squadron in July 1987 at RAF Hullavington. It has since seen near continuous active service in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan and has accumulated a distinguished military record.

More than 200 hundred service personnel, civilians and 3 Squadron veterans attended the disbandment parade.

[years of proud military history ended at RAF Wittering on Tuesday 14th April with the disbandment parade of No. 3 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment. Weeks of rehearsal and planning culminated in a flawless disbandment parade, reviewed by former Chief of the Air Staff, and Honorary Air Commodore of the Royal Air Force Regiment, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton. More than two hundred service personnel, civilians and 3 Squadron veterans attended the disbandment parade. In spite of very cold and blustery winds, immaculately dressed and with superhuman precision, 3 Squadrons finest captivated the audience. The speech, given by Sir Stephen Dalton, reflected the distinguished history of No. 3 Squadron and he praised the unit for its outstanding contribution saying; 3 Squadron can be justly proud of the part is has played and the leadership, camaraderie and teamwork has served the Squadron well. EMN-151205-103712001]

years of proud military history ended at RAF Wittering on Tuesday 14th April with the disbandment parade of No. 3 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment. Weeks of rehearsal and planning culminated in a flawless disbandment parade, reviewed by former Chief of the Air Staff, and Honorary Air Commodore of the Royal Air Force Regiment, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton. More than two hundred service personnel, civilians and 3 Squadron veterans attended the disbandment parade. In spite of very cold and blustery winds, immaculately dressed and with superhuman precision, 3 Squadrons finest captivated the audience. The speech, given by Sir Stephen Dalton, reflected the distinguished history of No. 3 Squadron and he praised the unit for its outstanding contribution saying; 3 Squadron can be justly proud of the part is has played and the leadership, camaraderie and teamwork has served the Squadron well. EMN-151205-103712001

Sir Stephen Dalton, addressing the parade, reflected the distinguished history of No. 3 Squadron. He praised the unit for its outstanding contribution saying” “3 Squadron can be justly proud of the part is has played”.

He added that: “exceptional leadership, camaraderie and teamwork has served the Squadron well.”

No 3 Squadron’s Standard was placed into lodgement at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell, which means the squadron could reform if the need arose.

Group Capt Damian Alexander is the Station Commander at RAF Wittering, home of 3 Squadron.

He said: “No. 3 Squadron has been an integral part of life here at RAF Wittering for many years, they have brought honour and distinction to the Station, and of course we’re sad to see them go.

“We ought to remember that no expertise and skills are being lost from the Royal Air Force. The officers and gunners of No. 3 Squadron will soon join different Royal Air Force and RAF Regiment units, and they’ll continue to make a tangible contribution to defence.”

The parade took place last month but was only announced this week by RAF Wittering, which said “Government departments must remain impartial during a general election campaign”.

15 May 15


Final Flying Season Confirmed
The first post-restoration flight on 18th October 2007 – VTTST archive.
This is going to be a spectacular summer for Vulcan XH558 but also a very emotional one; it is with considerable sadness that we have to confirm that we are about to enter the final flying season. After she has landed from her last flight this autumn, there will no longer be a flying Vulcan. We are therefore going to work especially hard to make summer 2015 a memorable flying season for every Vulcan enthusiast across the country. We intend to use every flying hour available, taking her to more people than ever before, celebrating other iconic British engineering achievements and saluting the heroes of Britain’s legendary V-Force in which she played a vital role during the knife-edge tension of the Cold War.