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Breakaway Battle of Britain commemoration held by Royal Air Forces Association in Newark war memorial gardens

A breakaway Battle of Britain commemoration took place on Sunday organised by veterans who refused to surrender to coronavirus.

Newark’s Battle of Britain commemorations were cancelled in their traditional form of a parade involving veterans and personnel from RAF College Cranwell due to covid fears on social distancing for participants and a crowd of hundreds.

VETERANS were socially distanced during their
              breakaway Battle of Britain tribute at Newark War Memorial
              on Sunday morning.
VETERANS were socially distanced during their breakaway Battle of Britain tribute at Newark War Memorial on Sunday morning.

In tribute to their forebears members of the Newark and Balderton branches of the Royal Air Forces Association branches took the controls of their own event, which was in addition to a separate wreath-laying by civic dignitaries that took place half an hour earlier.

VETERANS were socially distanced during their
              breakaway Battle of Britain tribute at Newark War Memorial
              on Sunday morning.
VETERANS were socially distanced during their breakaway Battle of Britain tribute at Newark War Memorial on Sunday morning.

Standards from the two branches were joined by that of the Newark Branch of the Royal Naval Association and RAF Police veterans.

VETERANS were socially distanced during their
              breakaway Battle of Britain tribute at Newark War Memorial
              on Sunday morning.
VETERANS were socially distanced during their breakaway Battle of Britain tribute at Newark War Memorial on Sunday morning.

Social distancing and track and trace were utilised and a marshal stood at the entrance to the war memorial gardens to ensure there were no transgressions.

VETERANS were socially distanced during their
              breakaway Battle of Britain tribute at Newark War Memorial
              on Sunday morning.
VETERANS were socially distanced during their breakaway Battle of Britain tribute at Newark War Memorial on Sunday morning.

It took place 24 hours before the government’s Rule of Six came in and was attended by less than 20 people.

VETERANS were socially distanced during their
              breakaway Battle of Britain tribute at Newark War Memorial
              on Sunday morning.
VETERANS were socially distanced during their breakaway Battle of Britain tribute at Newark War Memorial on Sunday morning.

Organiser Chris Gangel said it was felt the anniversary could not go unmarked and such a small ceremony could be carried off safely.

Alan Mellor, clerk to Newark Town Council, said: “I had concerns about the number of people who could attend and its informal structure, but after conversations with the RAFA I was more comfortable with the steps taken.”


A HEROIC gas man was thrust into the world of the armed forces to help fight Covid-19.

Cadent worker Leigh Corke was suddenly recruited to take on the role, which saw him join the RAF police for a three-month tour of duty in the midst of the pandemic.

Leigh had signed up for the RAF Reserve five years ago to support his son, who at that time was considering a career in the forces.

And on a normal day, the 55-year-old compliance officer is based at the Cadent depot in Rayleigh, and would typically monitor the activities of his colleagues who operate and maintain the gas network across East Anglia.

But when the Covid crisis hit, Leigh was called up for full-time service with the force to help out with Operation Rescript - the UK military operation launched to support authorities in the national coronavirus effort.

Leigh, from Essex, said: “We were on standby for Covid-19 related operations and in the interim I carried out all the duties of a regular RAF policeman at RAF Honington’s police station.

“When I signed up, I wanted to show my son that if your dad can do it, you can, but if I’m totally honest, I didn’t anticipate getting through the selection and training at the then age of 50.

“But I did and five years later I am still in.

“My son went on to join the RAF and he is now a qualified aircraft technician working on Chinooks and Puma helicopters with a tour of Iraq under his belt.”

Leigh, who has worked at Cadent since the company was formed in 2017, was initially expected to serve in the pandemic for six months.

But after manning requirements for Operation Rescript were curtailed and employers given the option of requesting their employees return to work early, Leigh returned to his job at Cadent.

Leigh’s 2020 tour of duty is the latest episode in a career with the RAF which first began when he signed up as a regular in the 1980s.

His RAF role involves carrying out the same duties as civilian police, though his beat is restricted to policing military bases and service personnel.

Usually he is required to work a minimum of 27 days a year of duty - typically these are fulfilled by attending monthly weekend exercises and a two-week annual training camp, with the scope to do more if desired with other training opportunities, around the world.

Leigh has served six years as a firefighter and after completing his service joined Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.

He added: “My experience as a reservist and a veteran within Cadent is only positive - I found it was quite a smooth transition.

“I think the Cadent Military Group is a great network where like-minded people can keep in touch. At times you realise that being military or ex-military, not everybody may think quite the same as you.”



   South West  Business  
Counter-intelligence expert recruited by C3IA
l-r: Mark George and Matt Horan

Cyber-security specialist C3IA Solutions has recruited a new team member who has worked in counter-intelligence for the RAF and will operate in the company's threat and risk management department.

C3IA, based in Poole, Dorset, works in the public and private sectors, and has a team of more than 100 working for it both as employees and on contract.

Mark George joined the RAF police 23 years ago and then moved into counter-intelligence and has worked around the world. Latterly, he has been supporting the special forces in Hereford where he lives.

He said: "I have just left the RAF and my skills have enabled me to move into the private sector with C3IA Solutions.

"I was aware of the company during my counter-intelligence work and I know they have a strong reputation.

He added: "My work in the RAF involved all types of security, including physical security and information assurance – or cyber security."

Matt Horan, security director of C3IA, added: "There is a scarcity of people with the right skills for the work we do, so we're extremely pleased to have recruited Mark.

"He has had a long career in counter-intelligence and along with the skills he has the experience and a high level of security clearance.

"Our business has been very busy through the pandemic with so many people working from home and a need to keep them secure."


Paul Randle
Paul Randle

A former RAF serviceman with a distinguished career in uniform has been exposed as a "shameless paedophile" addicted to looking at pictures of child abuse.

Paul Randle was found with more than 2,000 indecent images, some showing a newborn baby being sexually abused.

Swansea Crown Court heard there were another 118,000 pictures and videos on his computers which police had not examined or categorised.

Tom Scapens, prosecuting, said Randle was arrested after police raided his Ammanford house on the morning of November 6 last year.

Officers seized a number of devices including a Samsung tablet from the property, and a subsequent forensic examination found more than 2,000 indecent images of children - from categories A, the most serious kind, as well as B and C - along with software for accessing the dark web, open links to known paedophile sites, and a link to an online photo storage facility.

The prosecutor said among the images found was one of a naked newborn baby being sexually abused by a woman.

Another 118,000 images were located on various devices but not examined.


Air Vice Marshal Al Gillespie, Air Officer Commanding No 2 Group visited No 1 (Specialist) Police Wing personnel at RAF Halton yesterday. AVM Gillespie was shown a myriad of specialist capabilities showcased from RAF Special Investigations Branch (SIB) and Counter Intelligence and Security Squadron. The aim of the day was to provide the AOC with an overview of evolving security and investigative practices, including work on digitisation and projects to support the next generation RAF


RAF Police Cpl Heather Romy, 23 joined the RAF at the age of 22. Heather wanted a job that she would find challenging, rewarding, offering opportunities to learn, develop and progress.
Heathers current role is within the Law Enforcement at RAF Odiham. To progress her career Heather has been able to take advantage of the many courses offered in the military, expanding her knowledge and understanding of interview skills and techniques, ultimately applying for a role in Serious Investigation Branch.
Heather said “I love all the paperwork side to Policing; organising a case file and completing an investigation for it to be sent off feels like a great sense of achievement.
Law Enforcement duties can include conducting criminal investigations, assisting with welfare or security concerns as well as patrolling.


RAF Benson launch 'big black dog' mental health challenge

RAF Benson mental health campaign, Tracy
                      Barrow and big black dog

RAF Benson mental health campaign, Tracy Barrow and big black dog

AN UNUSUAL mental health awareness campaign has been launched at RAF Benson which will see individuals carrying around a big black dog.

Flight Sergeant Tracy Barrow has served with the RAF Police for 20 years and she has seen how mental health can impact individuals and families. She refers to depression as a metaphorical black dog, following the individual at all times and casting a shadow over their life.

To help raise awareness of mental health issues and encourage open conversation, Ms Barrow will be carrying a big black dog around with her at all times. She will also be encouraging others to do the same.

Having experienced her own mental health struggle following an operational deployment in 2012, Ms Barrow believes that she was fortunate to have a support network to help her through those difficult times.

She said: “I didn’t ask for help because of the stigma. Reducing the stigma of mental health is the most important thing. It’s okay not to be okay”.

She has also chosen to fundraise for the RAF Benevolent Fund and PTSD Resolution, who both provide support and help to service personnel and veterans with mental health conditions. The flight sergeant set herself a target of £500, which she has already exceeded within days of the challenge beginning.

It is hoped that other RAF units will also take on the challenge.


The FP Fce provides Air FP advice and training through its Defence Engagement Prog to over 20 nations worldwide. #RAFPolice from No 4 RAF Police & Security Sqn regularly deploy to Nigeria delivering essential police and security training to the @NigAirForce Police


No 1 (Tactical) Police Sqn based at Royal Air Force Honington provide the Royal Air Force with a highly trained combat policeman able to provide policing and security in all environments. They are able to deploy alongside their RAF Regiment counterparts providing them protection in dealing with captured personnel and handling evidence. Alternatively they are equally as happy deploying to provide security to RAF aircraft around the globe and providing policing and security to RAF ceremonial events.

During WW2 RAF Police were engaged across the globe, notably on Juno Beach on 6 Jun 1944 where 2 RAF Police Cpl's landed at 10.20 with a party of Army assault troops.


RAF Police Cpl Fearnside supported Exercise Red Flag as a Cyber and Information Security Specialist. This RAF Police capability sees those with a knowledge and willingness to work with complex computer systems sit alongside a keen investigative mindset of a service police person.

Ex Red Flag saw Typhoons from 
RAF Lossiemouth, Sentry and Rivet Joint from RAF Waddington and personnel from units stationed across the country train at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada alongside counterparts from across the US Armed Forces and the Royal Australian Air Force.


RAF Force Protection Centre Continues to Deliver Training

The impact of Coronavirus has not stopped the RAF Force Protection Centre (FPC), RAF Honington, continuing to deliver a training course which prepares RAF personnel deploying to high threat locations around the globe.

Personnel have worked tirelessly to ensure the continued delivery of the Global High Threat course together with other essential outputs whilst conforming to Government and Defence guidelines to protect staff and students. They have ensured the safe delivery of training and engagement, enabling the RAF to continue to deliver on operations and represent the UK on the global stage.

The delivery of Force Protection training for RAF personnel is essential to the sustainment of operations. The team of talented Non-Commissioned Officers at the FPC quickly adjusted the Global High Threat course to manage the risks to the training audience and the staff. Integrating methods of social distancing to the teaching of combat first aid, weapons handling, marksmanship and tactics, to recognise and defeat threats required a great deal of planning that relied on support from across RAF Honington.

The FPC depends on high-quality people, bringing their experience from force elements, to be instructors within the Tactical Training Flight. During these testing times, they demonstrated flair and professionalism that was reflected in the feedback from the broad range of ranks and trades that attended the course. 156 RAF personnel have been trained throughout 2020 to meet the RAF’s essential commitments to four different Operations globally.

Close Quarter Battle facility
Close Quarter Battle facility training
Patrol Exercise
Patrol Exercise



Staffed ambulances and training helps RAF Honington team prepare for NHS support role

The co-responder team at RAF Honginton has undertaken extra training and received two double staffed ambulances to enable them to support the NHS and the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST).

The team took an intensive clinical upskills course organised by the EEAST to bolster their existing skills and pave the way for six of their team to begin support work for the NHS.

WO Karl Phillips, co-response team leader, said: “The training provided by professional clinical trainers from EEAST was superb. These people worked exceptionally hard to ensure we received the very best theoretical and practical training available in order to properly prepare us for the task. This was further enhanced by Covid-19-specific training, including PPE, hospital handover procedures and emergency transfer protocols.”

Picture credit: RAF Honington
Picture credit: RAF Honington

The team has personnel with varied experience, including RAF police personnel that are blue-light rapid response vehicle (RRV) driver qualified, to physical trainers and military transport drivers.

Two of the team have also completed advanced driver courses, qualifying them to drive the ambulances from RAF Honington.

Group Captain Matt Radnall, RAF Honington Station Commander, said: “I’m delighted that personnel from RAF Honington are able to provide direct support to the NHS ambulance service in our region. I know they are well trained and very much looking forward to playing their part in this incredibly important role.”


Man arrested in Chop Gate human remains investigation

Police are continuing to investigate the discovery of human remains at a remote farming location near Chop Gate, near Helmsley, on 31 March 2020.

While it is still too early to confirm the precise age of the bones, forensic archaeologists have identified them as male and they are likely to be more than half-a-century old.

With support from the Ministry of Defence, the RAF Police Forensic Team and various subject matter experts from the RAF and the Army, work is ongoing at the vacated property to remove military memorabilia found in outbuildings.

Material experts will be present throughout the search and recovery process. It is common practice for EOD and other experts to assist the police with advice on such operations.

As part of a joint investigation between North Yorkshire Police and the Ministry of Defence Police, a 72-year-old man from the York area has been arrested, interviewed and released on conditional police bail while enquiries continue.

Police say:

It is important to stress that the discovery of historic remains and burial sites are relatively common on North Yorkshire farmland.

Officers are keeping an open mind until more information is known, but this is not a homicide investigation.

We urge people to refrain from speculating about this legally active case on social media.


Man arrested over bones found on North York Moors farm

  • 6 hours ago
Police at Chop Gate in the North York Moors
                National Park
Image captionThe remains were found at a remote farm near Chop Gate in the North York Moors National Park

A 72-year-old man has been arrested in connection with an investigation into human bones found on farmland.

The remains were discovered in a remote location near Chop Gate in North Yorkshire on 31 March.

Forensic archaeologists said the bones are male and likely to have been there for more than half a century.

North Yorkshire Police said the arrested man, from the York area, has been interviewed and released on conditional bail.

The force is working on the investigation with the Ministry of Defence, the RAF Police Forensic Team and experts from the RAF and the Army.

The death is not being treated as a homicide.

A police spokesman said work was ongoing at the empty property, in the North York Moors National Park south of Stokesley, to remove military memorabilia found in outbuildings.

He said: "It is important to stress that the discovery of historic remains and burial sites are relatively common on North Yorkshire farmland.

"Officers are keeping an open mind until more information is known, but this is not a homicide investigation."

Anyone with information that could help the investigation is asked to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.


Corporal Andrew Harding from Number 3 (Tactical) Police Squadron based at Royal Air Force Honington has volunteered to provide extra resilience to the Regular Force during this unprecedented time.

Andrew who is currently providing Law Enforcement and Policing at Royal Air Force Waddington Police Flight said: “To serve in the military is a privilege, I often have to pinch myself to realise that at a later stage of my life, I am able to combine my civilian occupation with a military career.”

Fulfilling a lifelong ambition to serve his country, Andrew joined the RAuxAF in 2017 at the age of 50. Grasping every opportunity available to him he has been detached to Iceland as part of the NATO Air Policing Mission, spent a week in Norway learning Winter survival skills with the Norwegian Reserve Forces and is now playing his part in the UK Armed Forces response to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Cpl Harding is the owner and managing director of three companies specialising in high end property services and Human Resources. He has fantastic support from work colleagues, family and his partner who have supported his military ambitions.


RAF Police Corporal Steph Brandt from the Counter Intelligence Coordination Cell based at Royal Air Force Honington is providing vital support to the nhs.uk during the Coronavirus pandemic as an Emergency Care Support Worker (ECSW) for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Steph, who has been a volunteer Co-Responder for one year, said: “I am proud to be supporting the NHS throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The EEAS have condensed a six-week training course into five days to allow RAF Police and RAF Regiment from across the Force to be deployed as ECSW. They will crew co-responder cars and man double-staffed ambulances working primarily within Suffolk and West Norfolk, but they can be utilised across the Trust.


RAF Police Personnel Provide Vital Support to NHS

RAF Force Protection personnel have been committed to the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) to work as Emergency Medics, providing vital support to the NHS during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The EEAS have condensed a six-week training course into five days to allow RAF Police and RAF Regiment from across the Force to be deployed as Emergency Care Support Workers (ECSW).  They will crew co-responder cars and man double-staffed ambulances.

RAF Police Corporal James Saunders from No. 1 (Tactical) Police Squadron based at RAF Honington became a volunteer Co-Responder because he wanted to make a difference. He said:

I am very proud to be involved in the frontline fight against COVID-19 pandemic, not only for myself but also as a representative for the Royal Air Force. I endeavour to continue what I am doing to provide support for the NHS during this significant time and uncertain future.

RAF Police and RAF Regiment co-responders will be working primarily within Suffolk and West Norfolk but they can be utilised across the Trust. #InThisTogether

Cpl James Saunders 1 (Tactical) Police Sqn, RAF
Cpl James Saunders 1 (Tactical) Police Sqn, RAF Honington
Cpl James Saunders 1 (Tactical) Police Sqn, RAF
Cpl James Saunders 1 (Tactical) Police Sqn, RAF Honington


Freeman: Upper-class British pilot who mysteriously disappeared

BENSON Railton Metcalf Freeman looked every bit the archetypal English officer and gentleman: serious, smartly dressed, complete with the moustache that was oh so fashionable among RAF officers in the early days of World War Two.

Benson Railton Metcalf Freeman

Benson Railton Metcalf Freeman (Image: NC)

Born in 1903, the son of a Royal Navy officer, public school educated and a graduate of Sandhurst, the elite Army officers training college, he came from the ideal background. He had originally joined The King's Own Regiment but transferred to the Royal Air Force around 1926 and qualified as a pilot. In 1931, still only 27, Freeman left the RAF and settled down as a gentleman farmer in the Forest of Dean. But by the time he was conscripted back into the RAF in January 1940 as a transport pilot during the so-called Phoney War, he harboured a dark secret. He was a committed fascist who would go on to betray his own country during its darkest hour in the most deplorable way.

I uncovered the strange, disturbing story of Pilot Officer Freeman - a British flying officer, yet a traitor to his country - during research at the National Archives in London. His background was conventional enough for a wealthy young man in the early 20s.

But when I dug a little deeper, I was astonished to learn that he had felt he was fighting on the wrong side in the war.

In 1937, as Hitler prepared for war, Freeman had joined Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists which brought him to the attention of the Gloucestershire Police. On May 26, 1940, a memo was sent to the force's chief constable from one PC Edgar Day of St Briavels station in the Forest of Dean.

According to Constable Day, "when in conversation with other persons he [Freeman] has stated that our country would be better if ruled the same as GERMANY, and he has expressed his admiration for Sir Oswald Mosley".

Although many among the upper echelons of British society had admired Hitler's rise to power and rebuilding of Germany, it was clearly cause for concern now that war had broken out.

The upper-class landowner had come to the attention of the local constabulary via his subscription to the BUF's publications. Clearly, in the explosive atmosphere of the late Thirties, the police had begun monitoring recipients of the far-right party's literature. PC Day went on to report, in the musty document still held in the National Archives, that despite his beliefs, Freeman had "re-joined the Royal Air Force and is now believed to be stationed at Farnborough"

Except that by May 26, Pilot Officer Freeman wasn't at Farnborough any more. He was in Germany, a prisoner-of-war.

He had flown to Merville in northern France with 24 Squadron on May 23, but his plane was believed to have been destroyed by German forces. The following day, he was captured.

On June 20, the Air Ministry wrote to the Provost Marshal - the chief of the RAF's police.

The letter - marked "Secret and Personal" - reveals that: "Amongst his kit we found the attached membership card of the British Union (of Fascists)."

The RAF Police were asked to investigate, but it was too late. Freeman ended up as a POW in Dulag Luft near Frankfurt, one of the specialist camps where the Germans held Allied aircrew. And he wasted no time in making known his political views.

According to his files, fellow officers reported violent arguments with him and, eventually, the senior British officer in his camp told the German commandant he could no longer guarantee Freeman's safety.

An MI5 file, dated October 1944, reveals British officials had been aware of what Freeman was up to.

In 1942, messages had been received about Freeman's activities "through most secret channels", likely to have been MI9, the section of British Intelligence responsible for liaising with prisoners-of-war.

It's revealing that senior British officers in the POW camp were so concerned about Freeman they used this sensitive line of communication to alert the authorities in the UK to his activities.

But if the British commanders in the camp weren't impressed with Freeman, the Germans certainly were. He was moved to Berlin and given a well-paid job as a producer at the English section of the Foreign Broadcast Department of the German Foreign Ministry where he worked alongside William Joyce - the notorious traitor "Lord Haw-Haw" - helping to write scripts for his programme, Germany Calling.

At the radio station Freeman, now using the name "P. Royston", presented a weekly programme called JAZZ Cracks, an odd mix of jazz and "wisecracks", which his former boss in Berlin described as being "anti-Jewish, and anti-Bolshevik, and criticisms of the British Government."

By August 1944, it seems Freeman felt he could do more to further Hitler's cause. His next move was even more audacious than becoming a Nazi propagandist: he now joined the Waffen SS, Hitler's elite paramilitary force, responsible for some of the most vile war crimes ever committed.

Not that this was an opinion Freeman shared. "The SS," he told his MI5 interrogators after the war, "has always been pro-English and anti-communist." It is not known if or where he fought, or against whom, but his belief in the SS postwar remained inviolable.

Had he known earlier "what a sincere body, entirely pro-English" they were, he told his British interrogators, he'd have joined the Waffen SS earlier.

Prince Of Spies by Alex Gerlis

Prince Of Spies by Alex Gerlis (Image: NC)

He even offered to return to Germany in an effort to contact "the leaders of this organisation which has now gone underground" so that they could assist in what he predicted would be an inevitable war between Britain "and the Russians whose aim is to control Europe". Just in case his interrogators failed to get his message, Freeman insisted "the war would have ended long ago if Churchill, certain other leaders in this country and the Jewish financiers had been willing to fight the Bolshevik menace along with Germany".

Freeman, it should be said, wasn't the only British prisoner-of-war to switch sides. There were about 100 such "renegades" as they became known, some 50 of them joining the British Free Corps - a failed attempt to form a British unit of the SS.

By 1945, as the tide of war turned against the Nazis, MI5 had a "British Renegades Warning List" in operation, alerting Allied forces in Europe to the traitors to look out for. Freeman - still using the name Royston - was eventually caught and returned to the UK, where he was court-martialed at RAF Uxbridge in September 1945.

He was found guilty on three out of four charges, including serving in the Waffen SS, working for the Germans and accepting money from them.

Freeman could, and arguably should, have been sentenced to death for both of the first two charges, but instead was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

This was a remarkably lenient sentence for a traitor. Freeman was a British officer who'd not only broadcast Nazi propaganda (the crime which had cost Lord Haw-Haw his life) but had also joined the SS. One would have thought Freeman would have been relieved at not receiving the death sentence, but his arrogance was unabated.

He told his lawyer his sentence showed how "rotten" Britain was. "The Germans would have had the honesty to shoot me."

This tone of defiance continued. In April 1947, he wrote from Wormwood Scrubs jail complaining he'd been "been imprisoned in the State's criminal establishments and my wife has been left to her own resources". Strangely, that is the last we hear of Benson Railton Metcalf Freeman.

If he served his full sentence, he'd have been in his early 50s when he was released in 1955. But it is as if he - and his wife Muriel - disappeared into thin air.

It is so intriguing. I based a character on him in my novel, The Berlin Spies. Going by the codename Captain Canterbury, my fictional creation Bramley Arthur Sefton Bevan is a British officer captured by the Nazis who ends up working for German Intelligence.

His actions would be almost unbelievable, were they not based on the entirely true story of Freeman. My own Captain Canterbury believed he had got away with his own treachery for 30 years until justice of a type caught up with him.

As for Freeman himself, where he was by the 1970s remains a mystery. Freedom of Information requests to both the RAF and the Ministry of Justice have failed to provide any clues as to when he was released or what happened to him when he was. I have no doubt he was a traitor. Had he secretly been working as a British double agent, that truth would have emerged by now. Maybe he had friends in high places prepared to protect him. Perhaps the truth was more prosaic than that.

He may well have been rich enough to be able to simply move to another part of the country (or abroad) and assume a new identity.

Or could it be that by this time, with the Cold War now underway, British traitors seemed less important? If any Daily Express reader has any information on what happened to Freeman I'd be most interested to know.

Alex Gerlis is the author of a number of Second World War espionage thrillers including bestsellers The Berlin Spies, The Best of Our Spies and the recently published Prince Of Spies (Canelo).

Memories of Burtonwood airbase


Pictures by Eddie Whitham

AFTER many year working for the press, local photographer Eddie Whitham changed his career path, becoming the official photographer at the former US Army Burtonwood airbase.
Here Eddie recalls his time at the base including some never seen before photographs at the base which last saw active service during the Gulf War, having previously been the largest US Army airbase and supply depot in Europe. The base was originally built for the RAF and  opened in April 1940 and played a vital role during the Second World War. At it’s height there were 18500 US personnel stationed at Burtonwood.

Royal Air Force Burtonwood (or RAF Burtonwood) was a former Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces base that was located in Burtonwood, 2 miles (3.2 km) Northwest of Warrington in Lancashire, England.  In 1946 the base was transferred back to the United Kingdom however United States operations continued. The base officially closed in 1991 and since then the runway and all of the associated buildings have been demolished. RAF Burtonwood Heritage Centre was opened on part of the former base at Gulliver’s World and focuses on the lives of the servicemen, the war and the airplanes at the base. The facility was transferred to the United States Army Air Forces in June 1942 to become a servicing centre for the United States Eighth, Ninth, Twelfth and Fifteenth Air Forces aircraft. Burtonwood was also known as Base Air Depot 1 (BAD 1), although an RAF presence continued in the form of the RAF Police who maintained security on the site until the mid 1960s.

Burtonwood was the largest airfield in Europe during the war with the most USAAF personnel and aircraft maintenance facilities. The roar of the engines in the test beds could be heard for miles around, especially at night. According to some sources Burtonwood was placed strategically so that it was out of range of Luftwaffe bombers, but this is not true, as several Nazi air-raids were made on the facility.
During their leave periods, American servicemen from Burtonwood virtually took over the centre of nearby Warrington.
Facts about the Base: 16.85 miles of fencing — 18 miles of roads – 4.65 rail track – 13 hangars – 1054 nissen huts – 22 warehouses covering 3,535,990 square feet. During the Second World war 4,243 iconic B17 Flying Fortress planes were made ready for battle at Burtonwood along with 43,381 P47 Thunderbolt aircraft passing through the Base .  In 1948/49 Burtonwood was again instrumental in supplying the Berlin Air Lift. The next big event in the history of the base came when during the Gulf war in 1990 the base was a main supply facility. The Base finally officially shut down in 1991 to be replaced by the Omega development and housing, most recently the Chapelford area.
Pictured below are some of the 600  iconic “Willys Jeeps” which were stored at Burtonwood in the later years. One jeep built in 1947,when it was being serviced in 1990 had ONLY 17 miles on the clock! It had never been in service and the only time it moved was for service or being moved around the warehouse. The Willys jeep was and probably is still a very sort after vehicle and when they were transported out of Burtonwood there were many inquiries about them. To save space on the transporters they ‘piggy backed’ so that more could be moved at one time.

Picture Gallery

For more pictures CLICK HERE


Two years after a ban was lifted on women battling in frontline roles: Just 19 and 5ft 4in, how Georgia fought her way into the RAF boys’ club

Georgia Sandover sips her cup of tea and tries to explain how it feels being the first — and only — woman in the RAF Regiment.

‘When I joined up, I didn’t think I would be the first female [to make it]. I thought someone else would be here before me.’

The petite, shy redhead, who today wears black leggings, a cotton T-shirt and just a hint of mascara, looks even younger than her 19 years. Yet a few weeks ago, in January, she passed a gruelling selection course to become the first female member of the RAF’s frontline infantry regiment, which defends British bases overseas from attack.

It’s a role that could see her facing a daunting enemy much sooner than she might have imagined; Georgia’s unit — 1 Squadron — is now on standby to help tacklecoronavirus, guarding key sites such as Downing Street, Parliament and the country’s nuclear power plants.

Georgia Sandover, 19, (pictured)  from Norfolk, who is the first woman to join the RAF regiment, completed a 20-week selection course

We’re sitting on sofas in a communal area at RAF Leeming, in North Yorkshire, for yet another first — her first ever interview. Like so much else, Leading Aircraftman Sandover takes it in her stride ‘You’ve just got to go for it really,’ she says of her training so far. ‘You always have that feeling in the back of your mind, am I good enough? But if you dig in and you’re determined to do it, you can do it.’;"That’s the attitude that saw her sign up for a gruelling 20-week RAF Regiment selection course alongside 42 male recruits, even though only one other woman has ever tried it since a ban on females in frontline roles was lifted two years ago.

It’s the attitude that saw her succeed, time and again, while more than half of the boys dropped out.

To pass, the would-be recruits had to perform a series of fitness tests including marching 4km carrying 40kg (over 6st) — then speeding up and doing 2km more in just 16 minutes. Georgia dragged a 110kg (17st) sandbag at speed and carried 40kg the length of a rugby pitch and back, both exercises designed to test her ability to get a wounded colleague out of trouble.

Then there were the ‘live fire’ drills with an L85 automatic rifle and bayonet practice to ‘channel aggression’.

Just 18 recruits made it through. Georgia was one of them, despite being just 5ft 4in; an astonishing achievement. She says she did nothing differently to the other trainees but admits: ‘Sometimes you’ve got to put in double the effort to be able to do well.’

She adds: ‘I’d worked so hard to get to the training, I always thought: “Why give it up now?” The role was something I wanted to do.’

Georgia began thinking about the military, after
                  spending Sunday nights watching BBC drama Our Girl
                  with her parents. Pictured: Georgia at training

Georgia began thinking about the military, after spending Sunday nights watching BBC drama Our Girl with her parents. Pictured: Georgia at training

Unlike many of her new comrades, Georgia isn’t from a military family.

But her parents, Sharon, a retail worker — who burst into tears when her daughter called to say she’d made it into the regiment — and Tim, a mechanic, could not be prouder of how far she has come.

‘I was quite a girly girl as a child,’ Georgia recalls, playing dolls with her little sister, Izzy, now 15, and learning how to sew.

‘When I was younger I was always testing make-up to see what worked for me, wearing it at high school. Now I only wear it for special occasions!’

She started thinking about the military while spending Sunday nights in with her parents watching BBC drama Our Girl. Back on screens as of last week, it followed 18-year-old Molly from her home in East London to working in the most dangerous places on earth as an army medic.

Becoming animated, Georgia explains: ‘She (Molly) was in a council estate with her mum and dad, struggling for money and work. Then she sees an army recruitment poster and realises she can thrive.

‘She overcame a load of stuff. I feel like I can do the same.’

Georgia may not have had the same tough upbringing as her binge-drinking heroine who left school with no qualifications — as she grew up in the countryside on the outskirts of the quiet market town of King’s Lynn and then in her parents’ current three-bedroom home in Downham Market, Norfolk. But she has certainly overcome great odds to be where she is.

Georgia also spent time watching SAS Who
                  Dares Wins, in which Special Forces soldiers put 30
                  people through gruelling challenges. Pictured:
                  Georgia in uniform as part of the RAF Regiment

Georgia also spent time watching SAS Who Dares Wins, in which Special Forces soldiers put 30 people through gruelling challenges. Pictured: Georgia in uniform as part of the RAF Regiment

Always sporty, at school she craved adventure. ‘Any adventurous training or activity holidays I would always want to go on,’ she says, mentioning caving and canoeing for starters, while she trained most nights of the week after school with a swimming club.

Our Girl wasn’t her only inspiration; she spent hours glued to any programme she could find about the military, including SAS Who Dares Wins, in which Special Forces soldiers put 30 people through gruelling challenges.

‘I wanted an active job. I didn’t want to be stuck inside,’ she says.

By 16, her decision was made, and she signed up for a ‘uniformed public services’ course at the College of West Anglia, near her home. The only question now was which force she would join.

One of her teachers — Rob Cooke, a former Gunner — inspired her to join the RAF Regiment in 2018, when she was fresh out of college.

She didn’t know it at the time, but the stars were moving into alignment for Georgia’s military career.

First, a ban on women serving on the front line was lifted in 2016 by then Prime Minister David Cameron.

Military critics labelled the move a ‘bad error of judgment’. Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said it would lead to a ‘reduction in standards’. Others said women would simply never pass the physical tests.

In September 2017, the RAF became the first service to open all combat roles to women, followed swiftly by the Army and Navy.

Corporal Louise Carroll, 30, an RAF policewoman,
                  is also facing being called up to help fight

 Corporal Louise Carroll, 30, an RAF policewoman, is also facing being called up to help fight coronavirus

Two years later, hardly any women have moved into these roles. Some have attempted selection courses and failed. Others are thought to be too intimidated to try.

Last December, it emerged that only one female recruit had even signed up to the Royal Marines’ commando course, despite 1,000 women originally showing an interest.

One exception to this rule is Captain Rosie Wild, 28, of the Royal Artillery, who in February became the first woman to pass the Parachute Regiment selection course, the toughest one outside the Special Forces.

As for the RAF Regiment, based at RAF Honington in Suffolk, one woman other than Georgia has attempted the course — in 2018 — but failed on endurance marches and other fitness tests.

All of which is to say that Georgia is an incredibly capable, resilient and strong young woman.

She also has a keen sense of fun. She takes me to a hangar full of armoured vehicles to show me what she might end up doing in the regiment.

Having changed into combat fatigues, military-issue boots and a dark-blue beret, she looks at home as she points out a Foxhound patrol vehicle that can protect against roadside bombs and comes with a 7.62mm machine gun.

Cpl Carroll says: ‘If women pass all the tests,
                  gender shouldn’t come into it. It definitely isn’t a
                  man’s world, there is a place for us'

Cpl Carroll says: ‘If women pass all the tests, gender shouldn’t come into it. It definitely isn’t a man’s world, there is a place for us'

‘That’s what I’d like to drive,’ she says, beaming. Then she adds: ‘A lot of the lads I trained with want to be snipers, but that’s not for me.’

Ah yes, the ‘lads’. How does any young woman cope with being surrounded by teenage boys at their most masculine?

She insists that rather than being a hindrance, they quickly became her chief motivators on the training course.

‘The lads, with their banter, always tried to cheer you up. They were motivating, trying to make you laugh.

‘At the start, they had to get used to me — but they wouldn’t leave me out of anything. They would always say, “We are going out to get food, do you want to come?” They would always include me.’ She mentions, by the by, that she ate the same as her male comrades during training.

‘You just burn it off straight away. We were all in same boat, and I made some close friends.

‘You haven’t got bods (slang for lads) that aren’t really into it. You know at that point people really want to pass out.’ There is, however, one male passion she finds hard to understand.

‘I never played computer games, that’s the thing. The lads go on about these games — and I still don’t play them,’ she says.

There were certain practical considerations during training; for example, she shared an accommodation block with the men, but was given her own room with a lock, away from the lads’ bunks, just in case she wanted to ‘keep them out’.

The RAF police don’t take on frontline infantry
                  roles, and 40 per cent of their number are female.

The RAF police don’t take on frontline infantry roles, and 40 per cent of their number are female. 

She seems to have worried more about feeling isolated than needing space however, pointing out: ‘It also meant I could go see the lads, and be with them and not be on my own.’

In the field, the gender balance will shift slightly once again, as often there will be female medics around.

Bathrooms and shower blocks are often shared, she says, and the sign on the door is simply switched around depending on whether a male or female is using it.

Her comrade, Corporal Louise Carroll, 30, an RAF policewoman, whom I meet with Georgia, is also facing being called up to help fight coronavirus. The RAF police don’t take on frontline infantry roles, and 40 per cent of their number are female. 

She says: ‘If women pass all the tests, gender shouldn’t come into it. It definitely isn’t a man’s world, there is a place for us.

‘We bring something different to the table. It may not necessarily be brute strength, but we do have a proven place in the RAF.’

What about the ultimate test, I ask Georgia: would her male comrades trust her to get them out of danger on a deployment? ‘I believe so yeah,’ she says confidently. And that’s that.

Of course, lads or no lads, she hopes more women will follow in her footsteps.

‘My friends from school always ask what it’s like. They say they couldn’t do it,’ Georgia reveals. Luckily, she admits, she has a boyfriend who’s also in the RAF.

She clarifies that he didn’t do the selection course with her, which surely would have been an endurance test in itself for any young couple — but says doing similar jobs means they ‘understand each other’.

Georgia (pictured) believes practising different
                  scenarios has prepared her for a real threat

Georgia (pictured) believes practising different scenarios has prepared her for a real threat

‘I understand if he has to go away for a little while, and it’s not so hard. And he understands it from my perspective as well.’

At the moment, she says, her life is ‘training and exercises, mainly’, although coronavirus is clearly on everyone’s mind with canisters of hand sanitiser and warning signs everywhere on the base.

When she can, she wants to do a driving course — and get herself behind the wheel of the Foxhound vehicle she showed me earlier.

‘We are soldiers because we can end up on the front line,’ she says. ‘You would go on patrols around the base and surrounding areas to stop people attacking.’ She adds that she would be armed with her L85 rifle, which can fire 650 rounds a minute, at all times.

Is she ready to confront a real threat? Looking briefly at her superior, she doesn’t hesitate: ‘You practise it quite a lot, and you go on exercises to practise different scenarios. If it was real, we would all be confident enough to face what lies ahead.’

It’s clear Georgia takes her new role very seriously— and believes she is up to its challenges. But she privately admits that, when she’s feeling down, she still turns to her childhood inspiration, Our Girl, for comfort.

‘I still watch it. It is actually one of my favourite programmes — I just go from the beginning.

‘It motivates me,’ she says with a smile. ‘I feel I’m a part of that now.’


The day the RAF came to Pembroke Dock

OVER the coming weeks the Western Telegraph will regularly feature photographs from the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre’s archive, reflecting the community’s unique and long-lasting connections with all three armed services and its remarkable social story.

In the first of the series the RAF’s arrival is remembered.

Ninety years ago today (April 1) the Royal Air Force officially took over parts of the former Pembroke Royal Dockyard – neglected and forgotten since the Dockyard closure in 1926. It was a ray of hope for a beleaguered community. This opened a chapter which lasted nearly 30 years and the RAF made many changes inside the imposing dockyard walls for its flying boat operations.

This aerial photograph, taken in the very early 1930s, shows the dockyard as inherited by the RAF – before so many of the original structures were cleared and replaced by two huge hangars and other buildings.

In the early days the RAF presence was small and the first CO was a Flight Lieutenant engineering officer, Bill Liniker.

He is pictured with the first airmen, Air Ministry ‘works and bricks’ officials and the RAF Police contingent.

The names of the police are known and include surnames still familiar in Pembroke Dock today – Jim Dooley, Dick Johns, Jack Baskerville, Jack Perkins, Bert Greenaway and Charlie Morris. Bill Liniker became a Group Captain during the war.





The RAF has successfully completed the strategically important NATO Capability Evaluation (CAPEVAL) at RAF Leeming. Due to how heavily the RAF has been committed to global operations (predominantly in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria), this is the first evaluation of this type since 2004. As such, the personnel who have deployed on CAPEVAL have been required to re-familiarise themselves with NATO doctrine and how to deploy in a fully NATO compliant manner. NATO operations require the deployed force to deploy under three distinct pillars: Air Operations, Logistics (including air engineers) and Force Protection (FP) with an Headquarters (135 Expeditionary Air Wing)  that seamlessly commands and controls the deployed force. The Air Operations Pillar was provided by number One (Fighter) Squadron and II (Army Cooperation) Squadron of the Typhoon Force from RAF Lossiemouth who deployed with 10  Typhoon jets. The FP Force elements that deployed on the evaluation were commanded by number 7 FP Wing from RAF Coningsby who had  Number 1 Squadron RAF Regiment, Number 1 (Tactical) Police Squadron from RAF Honington, a role one deployed medical facility, two fully operationally capable Fire crews (providing CAT 5 Response) and a deployable combat administrative Team. Having all of these capabilities under a single FP Wing Headquarters is novel for the FP Force. The wider FP Force and FP Training Flights from across the RAF also supported the evaluation by providing instructors and sector commanders which were critical to the success of the evaluation.

The deployed force was evaluated by 120 NATO evaluators who came  from across the 29 NATO member states. The scenario tested the force against a near peer fictional enemy with over 350 realistic scenarios over a three day period. This was highly challenging for the deployed force who were required to operate in a demanding, realistic and complex environment. The outstanding achievements of the men and women deployed as part of 135 EAW should not be underestimated – NATO CAPEVAL 2020 has been a strategically important success for the RAF.

Wing Commander Paul Hamilton, OC 7 Force Protection (FP) Wing and the FP Commander for CAPEVAL stated:

The CAPEVAL journey has required 18 months of hard work from across the FP Force, the RAF Medical and Fire Services to ensure we achieved such a successful outcome during this challenging evaluation. The level of integration required from across  RAF specialisms should not be underestimated and I am immensely proud of how all the personnel under my command and the specialist wider FP instructors, who trained the deployed force to such a high standard, made this challenging evaluation so successful. I was humbled when the senior NATO evaluators stated that it was the best performance they have seen for some years. I would like to personally thank all those involved for their outstanding support.

Corporal Alex Bew from Number 1 (Tactical) Police Wing stated that:

For myself, CAPEVAL provided a unique opportunity to work alongside many other trades, offering me the opportunity to develop an insight into what each specialisation does to contribute towards Air Operations in a war fighting environment. In the space of four weeks it was clear that from what I saw that the confidence and interoperability within 135 EAW grew tenfold, culminating in a successful NATO assessment.

RAF Police tend to a suspected
                casualty during the NATO exercise
RAF Police tend to a suspected casualty during the NATO exercise
RAF Police carry out a CBRN task
                during CAPEVAL
RAF Police carry out a CBRN task during CAPEVAL
RAF Police providing control of entry
RAF Police providing control of entry
RAF Regiment and RAF medical teams
                perform a casualty evacuation
RAF Regiment and RAF medical teams perform a casualty evacuation
RAF Regiment providing Force
RAF Regiment providing Force Protection
RAF Regiment providing Force
                Protection for casualty evacuation
RAF Regiment providing Force Protection for casualty evacuation


The ⁦‪RAFFP Force HQ‬⁩ recently deployed a team to conduct a Train the Trainer package to Pakistan Air Force officers at Nur Khan Airbase.

The training will provide the skills required to self-sustain their own delivery of an Air FP Command & Control training course.

Join me is wishing RAF Police Cpl Isabelle ‘Jazz’ Dixon RAFP from ⁦‪RAF Akrotiri‬⁩ ‘GOOD LUCK’ at the semi finals of the Lord Wakefield Boxing on Sun 15 Mar. Jazz is boxing in the 54-57kg category

Attending the UK Armed Forces Sports Award ceremony today RAF Police FS Claire Bullen proudly accepted the Sports Team Award for UK Armed Forces Netball.
Claire Said: ‘As a player and the Team Manager of the UKAF Netball Squad I couldn’t be prouder of what we have achieved as a squad. I feel incredibly grateful to be a part of such an incredible group of women and to also call those women my friends is an honour. Sport is such a fantastic outlet which offers amazing opportunities and I would recommend anyone to give a sport a go. You never know where it might take you


The dark secret this man was hiding for years and how he's now helping men open up about depression

Nick has come a long way on his mental health journey after nearly taking his own life

A former RAF police officer who has battled depression for nearly six years has set up a group to help men talk about mental health issues.

Nick Marshall knows how desperate you can feel when battling the all-consuming illness.

For years the 35-year-old tried to mask the fact that he was struggling.

In June 2016 he first thought about taking his own life. It was in June 2018 that Nick, from Hunts Grove in Hardwicke, really began seriously to plan his own death.

It all came to a head when his wife was pregnant, he was working away with his job in the RAF in Lincolnshire and he had just been diagnosed with diabetes.

He came to realise that he had been ‘papering up the cracks’ and doing the bare minimum to get help in a bid to just keep people happy.

Nick has now come to terms with knowing that he will have depression for the rest of his life.

However now he has tools to help him get through some of the bad days and he wants to be able to provide a group for other men to come and talk to each other about what is troubling them.

Marshalling Men's Minds meet at Hardwicke village hall at 7.30pm every Wednesday.

Nick said: “I was in the RAF for 11 years as a police officer. The work-life balance did not help with my mental health and I deteriorated.

“I did not accept that I had depression and just masked it. I got a little bit of treatment from a military counsellor but I left the RAF in 2018.

“I had a really low mood, lack of motivation and no energy.

“I was not engaging with a support network and I deteriorated yet again.

“I nearly took my own life and that is when I left the forces.”

Nick says that people claim their own lives when they feel that there is no other option.

However, there was one thing that kept him from doing the unthinkable.

Nick said: “My son was only a few months old when I reached that point. He was the one thing that kept me from doing it.

“I did not want anyone else bringing him up and that is what stopped me.”

In the summer of 2018 it became too much for Nick and by October that year he had left the RAF.

He said: “Depression means for me that I can be very much up and down. I have been able to identify my triggers.

“With stress and depression everything is difficult.

“I identify when starting to feel down. I try to do something before it reaches depression.

“I know that I start feeling bad but it is about getting ten minutes to be able to feel good about yourself and building that up.

“It is about trying to have good days as well as bad.

“The group is about helping find the right tools for the right people.

“For some it is fitness. That releases endorphins for some and others might find that meditation is good for them.

“As part of the group sessions we identify safe place our mind. It is a visual representation of somewhere that you are able go in your mind to feel totally safe and in control.

“Others in the group physically remove themselves from a situation and walk their dogs.

“Others write things down and others record videos of how they are feeling.

“The biggest advocate of the group is to share and talk and share the wealth of information about how we are feeling and what we do to help ourselves.

“The group is safe and an environment for any man to off load issues and stresses in a controlled place.”

Men that attend are quite diverse.

Ages range from 19 years old to 70 years old. All different backgrounds and classes are welcomed and Nick says that all arrive to the hall on an even footing.

Nick would like to provide a place to help men get back on track with support.


Amy Cokayne interview: From her brief football career with Aston Villa to learning rugby on All Black soil

The England hooker will win her 50th cap this weekend against Wales

Amy Cokayne of England is tackled by Claire
              Molloy and Lauren Delany of Ireland
Amy Cokayne is tackled by Claire Molloy and Lauren Delany of Ireland during the 2019 Six Nations CREDIT: England Rugby

Amy Cokayne has no regrets about the brevity of her football career, which consisted of a season-long spell in goal for the mighty Aston Villa under-10s. The England hooker insists she was never destined for a career between the sticks and when her family emigrated to the rugby-mad nation of New Zealand, football was unsurprisingly dropped. “I was only nine when we moved out there and I didn’t really stick with football much after that,” said Cokayne. “It probably wasn’t a bad thing considering I’m only five foot five. I can’t imagine I’d have been very good in goal.” 
Her father, Ian, even made sure his daughter’s initials spelt out Aston Villa Football Club. “When my dad wanted to name me, he couldn’t think of a name beginning with ‘F’ that he actually liked,” the Harlequins player explained. “It was just going to be Amy Victoria F. Cokayne, but in the end he found one - Fiona.”

Cokayne will run out for her 50th Test cap when England take on Wales at Twickenham Stoop this weekend, despite being only 23. It is an impressive milestone for someone who up until last year was balancing international rugby with a military career in the RAF Police, thus forfeiting one of the groundbreaking contracts offered by the Rugby Football Union. Having a plan B is a well-trodden path in women’s rugby, with former England flanker Maggie Alphonsi and Danielle Waterman carving successful careers in the media spotlight since hanging up their international boots.
“I think I’ll stick to the RAF and let those lot carry on with that,” joked Cokayne. “I’m sure there’s a few girls within the team who would love to go into that side of things. You’ve Mo [Natasha Hunt] and Scaz [Emily Scarratt] who are already dipping their toe in the media stuff while being England players. I can’t imagine myself doing anything like that.”
Talk of keeping a low profile is reflective of her time at Feilding High School in New Zealand's Manawatu District, where she flew under the English radar while honing her rugby skills in an environment where her peers lived and breathed rugby. “My school coach got us all a rugby ball and we had to carry it around with us at school,” said Cokayne. “If there was any opportunity to practice handling skills, you would. Rugby is just so integrated into their way of life. Not that it isn’t over here, but it’s just on a whole other level over there.”
Simon Middleton,
          the England head coach celebrates with Amy Cokayne during the
          Women's Six Nations match at Energia Park, Donnybrook on
          February 01, 2019 in Dublin, Ireland
Amy Cokayne with England head coach Simon Middleton CREDIT: Getty Images
It was over a spontaneous Starbucks coffee in 2013 where Cokayne, who had previously flirted with the possibility of a Black Ferns career, met Gary Street, who would steer England to World Cup glory the following year. Having been impressed after watching a highlights reel of her, he persuaded the teenager to make the trip back across the world. A year later, a then 17-year-old Cokayne was invited to one of England’s World Cup training camps.
“It was quite cool to watch the World Cup and see them win it,” said Cokayne. “It was almost a realisation to how close I was to making it to that level as well. It was quite cool to be involved in a tiny part of their journey.”
She still counts many of the Black Ferns among her friends and it is why next year’s World Cup in New Zealand will be tinged with extra poignancy. “The World Cup is the pinnacle of any player’s career,” said Cokayne. “I’ll definitely be working hard to put my hand up for selection to go out there.”

It’s the ‘White Hat’ parade which means one thing.... Graduation week!

16 motivated, well trained and enthusiastic Acting Corporals raring to join their units next week - the end is in sight.....

International Women’s Day is 8th March and this week we are introducing you to the amazing women who contribute every day to the RAF, at RAF_Wittering and Defence. This is RAF Police Cpl Burdell


RAF on Exercise Indradhanush

RAF Personnel under the command of No.8 RAF Force Protection Wing have arrived at Hindan Air Force base to take part in Exercise INDRADHANUSH. This exercise will see the Force Protection Force (RAF Police and RAF Regiment)working alongside Garud Regiment and Indian Air Force Police and Security personnel.

Ex INDRADHANUSH is part of an ongoing bi-lateral UK/Indian Air Force exercise programme which commenced in 2013 with previous iterations involving fast jet, air transport and force protection personnel both in India and the UK. 

Wing Commander Lee Wales, Officer Commanding No. 8 RAF Force Protection Wing said:

"The FP Force are looking forward to training alongside the Garud Regiment and the IAF Police and Security; the training will strengthen relationships between both forces whilst exchanging Tactics, Techniques and Procedures and demonstrate FP Armoured Vehicle capability."

The RAFP are deploying on Exercise INDRADHANUSH to demonstrate the crucial role they play in securing and enabling the delivery of Air Power through cross-domain Protective Security and Counter Intelligence.

The RAF Regiment will demonstrate the Complex Air Ground Environment (CAGE) - the environment in and around an operational airfield and how a specialist Force Protection Force ensure the Service's capabilities and personnel are PROTECTED whilst enabling air operations.



Congratulations to Number 5 RAF Police Squadron who are the winners of the 2019 De Putron Trophy.

The De Putron Trophy is awarded annually to the regular or reserve RAF Police formation that has shown the greatest achievement, leadership, exceptional standards and endeavours, and is awarded following the assessment of a submission by the RAF Police Sqns

Provost Marshal Group Captain David Wilkinson said:

“The video demonstrates the attributes of the Sqn in an innovative production designed to engage and inform our community. My congratulations to all involved with this production and to the teams involved with the Sqn submissions, the standard of which has truly surpassed expectation.”

The De Putron trophy was commissioned in 1948 by the former Provost Marshal, Air Commodore De Putron CB, CBE, RAF.




RAFP Cpl Natalie Fields came 1st in parallel giant slalom, 1st in Snowboarder Cross and overall 1st place female Snowboarder of the Championships at the Ski and Snowboard Championship 2020 in Saalbach-Hinterglemm.


Bereaved mum to hold charity ball in memory of military husband

Mandy Small, who is organising a charity ball, pictured with her son Jamie Picture: SSAFA

A Suffolk mum is hosting a charity ball, after her military husband, Chris, took his own life in 2016.

Mandy Small, who works at Ipswich Hospital as a rehabilitation assistant, will host the event on Saturday, March 14, at Hungarian Hall in Woodbridge. The event will raise money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, after they supported her and her son.
Chris, who served in the Royal Logistics Corps, had served 21 years as a chef in the Royal Logistics Corp, including gruelling tours of Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland and two of Afghanistan. But after he took voluntary redundancy in 2014, he found it difficult to adjust to civilian life.
Mandy who served 12 years in the RAF Police, and her son, Jamie, were supported by their SSAFA caseworker, who provided vital practical assistance and emotional support, as well as bereavement counselling for Jamie.
The mum said: "SSAFA quite literally saved my life. The charity ball is a great way for me to say thank you for what they did for both me and my son."
The charity ball will feature entertainment including a live band, DJ and magician, as well as a raffle and silent auction.
Tickets are £65 per head, with tables for 10 available at £650. Ticket details are available here.


E-fit of man released after reports of serious sex assault at RAF base boxing event
The alleged offence occurred at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire following a boxing event

E-FIT released by The RAF Police Special Investigations Branch (SIB) (Image: Evening Gazette)

An E-fit has been released of a man police would like to speak to following a serious sexual assault at a RAF base.
The RAF Police Special Investigations Branch (SIB) are currently investigating a sexual offence which occurred at RAF Leeming.

It took place at the RAF station in North Yorkshire following a boxing event on Friday, September 27.

Officers said that the man in the E-FIT may be able to assist them with their inquiries and have encouraged him to get in touch.
He was believed to be wearing a denim shirt, dark skinny jeans and converse trainers.

RAF Police SIB have asked anyone who saw anything unusual or suspicious in the early hours of the 27 September 2019 or has any information about the incident to contact them on 01400 266402 or 01400 266408.

They can also contact the RAF Police Confidential Crime line on 0800 432 0771.


Bizarre moment herd of cows captured by military police after going missing near RAF base

This is the bizarre moment a herd of runaway cows were rounded up by military police.
The cows were captured by military police after they went AWOL near an RAF base.

Around 20 of the animals were spotted blocking roads.
The creatures were seen stomping over a play park outside RAF Shawbury.
The RAF base is situated near Birmingham, in nearby Shropshire.
The incident unfolded on Tuesday morning (January 7).

A spokesperson tweeted: “Residents near RAF Shawbury woke up to an unusual alarm this morning – a herd of cows! Having been alerted, the RAF Police and MPGS rounded up the suspects with @WMerciaPolice stopping traffic to assist the farmer in safely getting them back to the farm.
“Happy Moo Year!”


Congratulations to all the RAFP personnel who have been named in the New Years Honours List
CAS Commendation
Sqn Ldr A P Kerslake, Flt Lt G Bryant and Cpl K L Ractliffe
AOC 1 Gp Commendation
FS G D B Simpson , Cpl S C Cluney and Cpl A J Poynton
AOC 2 Gp Commendation
FS A P Myers, Sgt P Taylor, Sgt S J Hill, Cpl A P Purnell and Cpl C A Wilkinson
Team Commendation
RAF College Cranwell Police and Security Flight

A Forces mural of epaulettes and rank slides to honour PC Andrew Harper, who was killed in the line of duty.


RAF Force Protection complete Short Term Training Team in Nigeria

RAF Force Protection deployed a short term training team in Nigeria for a few weeks. RAF Force Protection consists of the Royal Air Force Police and the Royal Air Force Regiment who provided expert training to the Nigerian Air Force, teaching them various specialist skills and how to deal with various situations.

Week One In the first week No. 5 Force Protection Wing completed week one of the Air Force Protection in the Complex Air Ground Environment (CAGE) package to the Nigerian Air Force Regiment and Police.


Teaching the students the vulnerability and criticality of Air Power; the complexity of the environment; the external and internal threats to an airbase; and how to mitigate those threats through a range of Active Defence, and Tactical Policing and Security measures. Week one has focused on the principles of those activities and developing the range of skills that can be employed, from conflict management and stop and search for the Police, and counter threats for the Regiment.

Week Two Week two enabled the Nigerian Air Force Police with learning about the protection of their critical assets and the role of Air Transport Security, both aspects being key to enabling successful and effective Air Operations.

For the Nigerian Air Force Regiment this has started with learning about the Ground Defence Area, and how they can dominate the area around their Air Bases to protect their assets and deny their adversaries the freedom of movement to conduct attacks

Half Marathon

No. 51 Squadron RAF Regiment Gunners, currently deployed in Nigeria delivering training to the Nigerian Air Force Regiment, ran a ½ Marathon to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund and Child Bereavement. Finishing on the highest peak on Nigerian Air Force Base Kaduna, known to the team as Lions Rock, it was a fitting end to good few weeks of training.

Complex Air Ground Environment (CAGE)

The Nigerian Air Force Regiment have started understanding the Complex Air Ground Environment (CAGE), the threats they may face and how to operate within this critical environment to enable the delivery of airpower. All training is being delivered by the Nigerian Regiment Training Centre Instructors, with members of No. 51 Squadron RAF Regiment providing oversight and mentorship

Graduation and Completion

No 4 RAF Police and Security Squadron completed the foundation package with the Nigerian Air Force Police, concentrating on General Police duties and Personal Safety Training No. 5 RAF Force Protection Wing also completed the Final Training Exercise with the Nigerian Air Force Regiment and Police. Conducted at Nigerian Air Force Kaduna, the exercise tested the Nigerian Regiment and Police across the fundamental areas of Airfield Defence and Security; preparing the students for the challenges they will face on current operations. The exercise draws to a close of training, graduating another 700 personnel, and arming them with the skills required to protect their airfields and critical infrastructure to enable the delivery of Nigerian airpower

The graduation ceremony took place, delivering Force Protection in the Complex Air Ground Environment training to the Nigerian Air Force Regiment and Police. The reviewing officer for the graduation was the Nigerian Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal S Abubakar. The graduation was also attended by Head of the British Defence Staff (West Africa), Air Commodore P Warwick CBE.


Last week the RAFP Special Investigations Branch attended a D-Day veterans party at the Aylesbury Branch of the RBL. Everyone got into the Christmas spirit when guests were presented with Christmas boxes full of festive treats


Slaidburn twin brothers celebrate 90 years of fun and laughter as they mark milestone birthday
It's a huge milestone to celebrate your 90th birthday, but to have your twin brother by your side, is an incredible achievement.
Generations of family will gather this weekend as lifetime Ribble Valley brothers Peter and Brian Walker turn 90 on Friday.

Peter and Brian Walker when babies

Born on November 29th, 1929, in the village of Slaidburn, Peter was born first, but his shocked parents Murray and Margaret, plus older siblings Gerald and Freda had no idea another baby was set to arrive.

A family spokesman said: "Our great-grandmother (Peter's mum) had no idea she was expecting twins. Once the doctor delivered Peter, he dropped the bombshell that he thought another baby was yet to come! Brian arrived an hour later."
The brothers attended Slaidburn School, leaving at the age of 14. Brian went to work on a farm outside Slaidburn, while Peter worked at the Co-Op shop in the village as a delivery boy. They both completed their National Service together in the RAF Police after training for six months. They were then involved in working to build the main water pipe that passed through Slaidburn.
Brian went onto work at various other places as a garage manager/stores person, including Dutton Transport and Keith Clement’s Auto-electricians.

Brian married Marie Cliff on December 9th, 1950, in Slaidburn. They moved to Clitheroe for a while and then moved back to Slaidburn, where they still live today. They have five children, 13 grandchildren, 20 great grand-children and three great great-grandchildren. Brian and Marie also fostered 39 children over a period of time.
Peter married Hazel Turner on March 31st, 1956, in Clitheroe. They have lived in Clitheroe all their lives. Hazel has since passed way. After working on the water pipe in Slaidburn, Peter had his own building construction business. The couple have two children, two great-grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The two brothers have a history of sharing important moments throughout their nine decades. They love to play snooker and spend lots of time playing for fun or competitions.
The families are grateful for the brothers' long lives and there will be double celebrations over the weekend as they mark their 90th birthdays.

The young men Peter and Brian Walker

RAF Police training Nigerian Air Force Police in the protection of their critical assets and the role of Air Transport Security, both aspects being key to enabling successful and effective Air Operations


No. 5 Force Protection Wing have completed week 1 of the 3-week Air Force Protection in the Complex Air Ground Environment (CAGE) package to the Nigerian Air Force Regiment and Police

Police teaching Tactical Policing and Security measures. Week 1 has focused on the principles of those activities and developing the range of skills that can be employed, from conflict management and stop and search


RAF veteran's powerful film about how he went from hero to living in PTSD hell

A war hero left with PTSD after serving in Afghanistan has made a moving and powerful film about his illness.

Luke Dallison, a 12-year RAF veteran, aims to highlight mental illness in the military and tell how the MoD turned its back on him.

The film reveals how Luke went from being a fit RAF Police corporal to a traumatised war veteran within four years.

The hour-long documentary, Aftershock: A Love Story, follows Luke, his wife Nikita and four kids over two years.

It shows the family’s struggles in dealing with Luke’s PTSD as well as injuries caused by a back condition.

A 15-minute trailer for the film, by director Julia Stovell, got 180,000 views when it was posted on Facebook .

Harrowing last letter of Iraq war hero before he took his life in PTSD despair
In the film Luke criticises the military for a lack of help, saying: “They teach you to give everything – when you need something it’s not there.”

Luke’s hell began when he had to check phones taken off Afghan civilians entering huge UK base Camp Bastion. To his horror, many mobiles had been used to film child sexual abuse.

Luke, now 35, left the RAF in 2017 but still sees the images in his mind. He said: “The videos were sickening.

“They made me very angry and I wanted to take it out on the Afghans.”

Luke, from Telford, Shrops, fell into a spiral of mental and physical pain which began with him punching a wall and led to a suicide bid.

Luke's wife Nikita and two of their children


Congratulations to Cpl Poynton who received The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of his drive & determination; leadership and command performance & his direct contribution to the security of
RAF Coningsby

This week the Royal British Legion launched it's #TributeInk campaign. Provost Officer Flight Lieutenant Tash Kenny was honoured to be part of this amazing tribute and shares why she chose her tattoos. ‘My tattoo of a Spitfire symbolises the reasons why I joined the RAF, learning about the importance of air power during WWII sparked my passion for the military. I also had the Latin phrase, “per ardva ad astra” inked on my arm, which translates as “through adversity to the stars”. She added: It’s the Royal Air Force’s official motto and relates to me on so many personal levels. Like other forms of art, tattoos have the ability to give you hope even when things aren’t turning out like you planned – and having a Spitfire and Chinook incorporated into a quarter sleeve represents the past and present for me. They’re iconic images that make me feel proud to serve my country.’
See their Tribute Ink exhibition at the NationalMemorialArboretum and online to discover the compelling stories of comradeship, bravery, sacrifice and Remembrance behind tattoos in our Armed Forces today.


Couple reached a junction in life - and decided to turn an old railway signal box in Devon into a luxury holiday let (which can shunt their earnings up by £1,000 a week)

A couple who gave up their careers in the RAF to buy a former railway station are now making a lucrative living after turning its old signal box into a holiday let.

Richard and Nikki Curzon moved into the converted station at Loddiswell, Devon, five years ago with their two children and set about transforming the small railway building into a rental cottage.

They now let the quirky two-bedroom cottage out for up to £1,000 a week.

Richard and Nikki Curzon bought the old Loddiswell
              railway station in Devon in 2014 for £700,000 and
              refurbished it to a stunning standard

Richard and Nikki Curzon bought the old Loddiswell railway station in Devon in 2014 for £700,000 and refurbished it to a stunning standard

The self-catering accommodation has an occupancy rate of 90 per cent, which allows the couple to run it as their full time job.

The Curzons live in the main four-bedroom house, which used to be the ticket office, waiting room and toilets at the old countryside station. 

The station was on the so-called Primrose Line, a picturesque route from South Brent to Kingsbridge that spurred off the main Exeter to Plymouth line.

Like many rural railways, it was closed in 1963 as part of the infamous 'Beeching cuts' - a reduction in route network and restructuring of the railways in Great Britain, as proposed by Dr Richard Beeching, the former Chairman of British Railways. 

The couple, who both used to be in the RAF, said they
              spent £20,000 on refurbishing the property and now rent
              out The Signal House (pictured) while they live in the
              main building that used to be the old ticket office and
              waiting rooms

The couple, who both used to be in the RAF, said they spent £20,000 on refurbishing the property and now rent out The Signal House (pictured) while they live in the main building that used to be the old ticket office and waiting rooms

The quirky two-bedroom property can fetch up to
              £1,000 a week and is popular because visitors are now
              seeking more 'experience-based lettings', according to

The quirky two-bedroom property can fetch up to £1,000 a week and is popular because visitors are now seeking more 'experience-based lettings', according to Cottages.com

The old platform and track bed has long since been grassed over and now forms part of the 4.5 acres of gardens to the property.

The Curzons bought the converted house for £700,000 in 2014 and now rent the Signal House out through cottages.com.

Sherilee Jordan, regional sales director at cottages.com, said: 'These days, holidaymakers are more interested in booking experiences.

'Interestingly, we have found the annual income is around 45 per cent higher for owners who let such interesting properties.'

Mr Curzon, 45, served in the RAF police while his wife was an engineer.

The self-catering accommodation has an occupancy
                rate of 90 per cent, which allows the couple to run it
                as their full time job

The self-catering accommodation has an occupancy rate of 90 per cent, which allows the couple to run it as their full time job

The Curzons decided to leave the RAF as it was
                quite disruptive for their young family and then saw
                that Loddiswell Station was for sale online

The Curzons decided to leave the RAF as it was quite disruptive for their young family and then saw that Loddiswell Station was for sale online

They said they became fed up with having to disrupt their family life by moving around with the service.

He said: 'My wife and I reached the stage a few years ago where we didn't think service life and being away on tour was right for our young family. There was a lot of disruption with schooling.

'For a while we discussed running a business from home and then saw Loddiswell Station for sale online.

'We have no real connection to Devon but we were both taken with it.

'At the time there was no planning permission in place for the Signal Box to be used as a self-catering business.

'I'm not sure what we would have done if it wasn't granted but luckily it was.'

The station was on the Primrose Line, a pretty
                route from South Brent to Kingsbridge that spurred off
                the main Exeter to Plymouth line. Like many rural
                railways, it was closed in 1963 as part of the infamous
                'Beeching cuts'

The station was on the Primrose Line, a pretty route from South Brent to Kingsbridge that spurred off the main Exeter to Plymouth line. Like many rural railways, it was closed in 1963 as part of the infamous 'Beeching cuts'

It cost the Curzons about £20,000 to refurbish and the Signal Box now has two bedrooms, a shower room on the ground floor and an open-plan living area and kitchen upstairs.

Mr Curzon said: 'Being self-employed has some great perks. The location is wonderful, the walks on our doorstep and woodland and river are fantastic for the kids and our guests alike.'

The Signal Box costs from £565 a week to rent and can be booked through www.cottages.com


A war veteran who battled severe post-traumatic stress for years is hailing a £499 device being used by the NHS as a miracle cure.

Luke Dallison’s life has been transformed by a mobile phone-sized ­device.

The Alpha Stim attaches to his earlobe and passes a small electrical current through his brain.

Before using it, dad-of-four Luke, 33, was a broken man. Scarred by service in Afghanistan, he would duck for cover if a ­balloon burst.

The device is for ­patients with anxiety disorders in a handful of NHS hospitals.

But it may be rolled out further if it is ­officially approved by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – Nice.

The Sunday People’s Save Our Soldier campaign is fighting to get heroes with PTSD the care they deserve.

Luke, pictured here with wife Nikita at Buckingham Palace, says no drug nor treatment helped his PTSD 

Luke, who sought help from 13 ­psychiatrists in three years, said: “I was suicidal. I couldn’t leave the house.

"No drugs or other ­treatments worked but my entire life changed after trying this little device. I truly believe it could save lives.”

His wife, Nikita, 28, said: “PTSD broke him into pieces. I lost my husband and our children lost their father.

“Medication and conventional treatment made him aggressive and suicidal.

“After the first time he used the Alpha Stim he was so calm and exhausted.

“He slept properly for the first time since he finished his tour in Afghanistan in 2013. I’d been dubious but it was a miracle.”

But he says the Alpha-Stim has transformed his life

In February 2017 he met former Army Major Cormac Doyle, who set up The Bridge Charity for veterans with ­mental health issues, and began using the device.

Two months later he was discharged from the RAF Police after 13 years’ service.

Luke attributes his PTSD to the atrocities he saw while based at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan in 2012. He also injured his back from years of carrying heavy kit.

His PTSD was instantly diagnosed but he said he received minimal support and was “passed around like a broken toy.”

Luke, here with wife Nikita and his children, believes the device that is being rolled out on the NHS could save more lives 

Luke, of Telford, Shropshire, said: “I’d stopped taking the meds. They’d turned me into a zombie.”

Nikita, mum to Elijah, six, Austin, three, Leyland two, and five-week-old Cohan said: “If he ever heard a balloon pop he’d crouch down and grab our kids to protect them.

"He couldn’t go into shopping malls, and he had constant night terrors.”

Luke’s back injury confined him to a wheelchair but since using the Alpha Stim he has found work as a risk ­consultant on major ­infrastructure projects.

His still uses it up to four times a day for 30-minute stints without side effects.

Alpha Stims could be rented to NHS patients for £70 – compared with £600 for a course of cognitive behavioural therapy.


A POO-dunnit has gripped an air base where a pooper has caused £3,500 of damage.
The hunt is on for the culprit who turned a common room into a right officers’ mess.

A stealth pooper has caused £3,500 of damage at RAF Brize Norton.

He fouled sofas, tables and the floor when he was caught short at RAF Brize Norton, Oxon. Carpets will need replacing and some furniture has had to be dumped.
One insider said: “It doesn’t get much lower than this and nobody can understand who would do such a thing. It is the talk of the base.”
The mess was discovered by military personnel and RAF Police are investigating.
They are hunting a male seen near the common room before the grim discovery.
He was wearing a T-shirt and light-coloured trousers.
The insider added: “It was pretty disgusting. Whoever did this should be ashamed of themselves. It was a terrible job for the cleaners to tackle.

“Everyone wants to know who the mystery poo merchant is. They would have to have been very ill — or very drunk.”
In a letter seen by The Sun, the RAF Police appealed for “anyone who may be able to assist with our inquiries”.
A spokeswoman for RAF Brize Norton said last night: “As this is a live investigation we cannot comment any further on the matter.”

RAF take crime prevention course
08TH APRIL 2019

The Royal Air Force (RAF) have become the first part of the British military to have personnel take accredited crime prevention qualifications.

Some 18 RAF Police from bases within the UK and abroad attended the classroom phase of the Level 4 Certificate in Crime Prevention for Practitioners at RAF Honington in March. The qualifications were delivered by the Police Crime Prevention Academy, who worked with the RAF Police Training Delivery to deliver the first accredited crime prevention qualification taken by a military police service.

Academy Head of Learning and Development Guy Collyer said, “It is always a pleasure to support the work of our armed forces. We sometimes forget that they have their own communities to look after as well as the nation. Preventing crime is viewed as a priority and we are happy to be able to provide these qualifications to those who find them useful.”

The Level 4 Certificate is for those working in a specialist crime prevention role. The course covers the context of crime; the application of a problem solving process; correct and effective use of security products; site security surveys and environmental visual audits; working in partnerships and related legislation; and running a crime prevention initiative. The Level 4 Certificate provides a stepping stone to the Level 5 Diploma in Crime Prevention – Designing Out Crime.

The certificate is among accredited, regulated and portable qualifications in crime prevention and designing out crime which began in September 2018. They’re for police and others that have a statutory duty to work on crime, in local government, fire and rescue, health and probation. The qualifications are also available to private sector businesses, such as security managers, architects and planners.

As well as scheduled national delivery, the qualifications can be delivered locally depending on numbers. To find out more contact: info@crimepreventionacademy.com.


Britain commemorates WWII "Great Escape" heroes

 Members of Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF) on Sunday marked 75 years since the so-called "Great Escape" at two remembrance ceremonies in Poland, where the legendary event took place.

Details of the moving ceremony were released in London on Monday by the British Ministry of Defense (MoD).
The Great Escape saw 76 prisoners of war from the RAF and its allies break out of Stalag Luft III on the night of March 24, 1944 through a tunnel they dug underground.

More than 600 prisoners had taken part in the tunnel-building operation which lasted over 15 months and was led by RAF officer Squadron Leader Roger Bushell.

Incarcerated in the heavily guarded camp, the prisoners were determined to prove to their German captors that they could escape.
At the ceremony on Sunday, one of the participants was Corporal Paddy Flint, an RAF police officer and a relative of Bushell.
Flint, who held a photo of Bushell as he marched in the guard of honor, said, "I am related to one of the escapers, Squadron Leader Roger Bushell. It means a lot to me to be here today as it's the first time I've ever seen his grave. Seeing the names of all the escapers on the gravestones, especially Roger's, was very emotional and really hit home."

Standing alongside Polish armed forces personnel, RAF personnel formed the guard of honor first at Poznan Cemetery, where 48 of the Great Escapers are buried, and later at the site of Stalag Luft III, the German-run prisoner of war camp where the escape took place during World War II.

An RAF C-130 Hercules from RAF Brize Norton performed a flypast with four Polish Air Force F-16s over the ceremony at the Stalag Luft III camp.

"All but three of the escapers were re-captured and 50 of them were executed under (Adolf) Hitler's orders, which subsequently launched the largest British military police investigation in history. This was conducted by the RAF Police which identified that 72 Nazis participated in the executions. Of these, 38 were tried and sentenced while the fate of the rest varied," the MoD said.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, lay a wreath alongside the grave of Air Commodore (Retd) Charles Clarke, a prisoner of war at the camp when the Great Escape took place.

"Today we honor the courage and sacrifice of those who were imprisoned here and lost their lives trying to escape. But today is also a celebration of the intrepid adventurers who sought to regain their freedom from here: their ingenuity, their daring and their spirit. We continue to celebrate that spirit in today's Royal Air Force," Hillier said.


RAF personnel marked 75 years since the Great Escape today at two remembrance ceremonies in Poland, where RAF & allied personnel escaped from a prisoner of warcamp during the Second World War.

Alongside Polish armed forces personnel, RAF personnel formed the Guard of Honour first at Poznan Cemetery, where 48 of the Great Escapers are buried, and later at Stalag Luft III, the German-run camp where the escape took place.

To mark the start of the remembrance service at Stalag Luft III, an RAF C130 Hercules performed a flypast with four Polish Air Force F-16s.


Military police quiz instructors and recruits over a spate of rape and sexual assault claims at their own training school

A spate of alleged sex crimes, including two rapes and an assault, is being investigated by military police – at their own training school.

Service detectives are questioning instructors and recruits at the Defence School of Policing and Guarding (DSP G) near Portsmouth, where the incidents are said to have taken place.

Hampshire Police have also been drafted in and defence chiefs have launched a separate internal inquiry into the ‘culture’ at the DSP G facility.

The DSP G provides an introduction to police
                training for up to 100 Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air
                Force recruits each year. Pictured above is Southwick
                House in Portsmouth [File photo]

The DSP G provides an introduction to police training for up to 100 Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force recruits each year. Pictured above is Southwick House in Portsmouth [File photo]

A number of recruits have been arrested and questioned over two separate allegations of rape and one of sexual assault.

A source said: ‘There is a lot of shock at the base. You get an occasional isolated allegation of this nature at a training establishment, but this is much more serious.’


Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, talks to nominees for The Sun Military Awards, known as the Millies, at a reception in No 10.    

Judges' Special Recognition Award

Winner: RAF100
Wing Commander Kevin Gatland organised many of the year-long RAF festivities to mark the 100 year anniversary.

THESE breath-taking celebrations to mark 100 years since the creation of the RAF captured the nation’s hearts and inspired a new generation to take to the skies. As part of the year-long festivities, more than 75,000 people crowded into The Mall in London to enjoy a momentous day including a parade and stunning fly-by of 103 RAF aircraft.

Wing Commander Kevin Gatland, 37, who planned the fly-past, said afterwards: “It genuinely brought a lump to my throat, hearing the reaction of the crowd”.

Another 165,000 people visited the RAF 100 Aircraft Tour which travelled the country, and 1.6million children took part in special school activities and challenges.


Exercise Global Eagle

Exercise Global Eagle

RAF personnel joined their French allies to hone their skills in protecting airfields from attack.

Exercise Global Eagle saw over 200 RAF Police and RAF Regiment personnel from 2 FP Wg based at RAF Leeming join a similar number from Commando Parachutistes de l’Air 20 of the French Air Force at Caylus training area near Toulouse.

They trained together for two weeks to prove the interoperability of the FP Force in a multinational environment. Air FP scenarios included controlling air support, dealing with chemical and biological threats, detection of explosives and evacuation of captured persons.

Deputy Force Protection (FP) Force Commander, Group Captain Steve Horne said: 

“Exercise Global Eagle has been extremely valuable for ourselves and our French partners, both in terms of interoperability and sharing best practice.

“We’ve proved that we can work together across a range of scenarios and it shows the very close co-operation we have with our French colleagues as we progress along a force protection road-map that has been in place for a number of years.

“In addition, Exercise Global Eagle has given 2 FP Wing the opportunity to prove a new concept, that of a Force Protection Contingency Flight where RAF Regiment and RAF Police, including military working dogs, are trained to operate together in a contested environment and are held at high readiness.

“We’re very proud that the RAF is the main contributor to FP doctrine in NATO and our enduring relationship with partners ensures that Air FP provision is fit for the next generation of Air power.”

Wing Commander Morgan Williams, the commander of No 2 RAF FP Wing added:

“Exercise Global Eagle has given us an excellent opportunity to test our early-entry capabilities alongside our French colleagues. Deployed in defence of the Caylus Tactical Landing Zone, 2 FP Wg has exercised its RAF Regiment Gunners, RAF Police men and women, Military Working Dogs and Tactical Air Control Party alongside Paratroopers, CBRN specialists and Heli-Snipers of Commando Parachutist de l’Air 20 under the tactical command of the 2 FP Wg HQ. In a contested scenario against a hybrid force, the exercise has demonstrated the value of interoperable Force Protection specialists in securing and defending Air Force assets.

“Should we be called upon, I have full confidence in our ability to work seamlessly alongside our French allies in securing the global reach of our respective Air Forces”.

The RAF has worked closely with the French Air Force in many areas of the world recently, including Mali in North Africa and in hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean in 2017.


Happy 100th birthday: Civic leaders join celebrations for Shifnal war veteran Les Cherrington

Civic and community leaders turned out in force to wish the oldest war veteran in Shifnal a very happy 100th birthday.

Les Cherrington celebrates his 100th birthday. With Les at the front is friend Peggy Cross, Robert Harrop, the Mayor of Shifnal; Graham Cherrington, his son; Sheena Cherrington, his daughter, and family member Jan Rowe, with other friends and Shifnal Carnival Committee members in the background.

Les Cherrington celebrated in style on Saturday surrounded by councillors, the town's carnival committee and his family.

The day started with a presentation to Mr Cherrington, who was injured in the Second World War, at his Orchard Road home.

This was followed by a family dinner at nearby Haughton Hall Hotel.

As a longstanding member of Shifnal Carnival Committee, Mr Cherrington has been its carnival king for many years.

He said: "I've had an absolutely wonderful day. The councillors and the carnival committee came to see me at home and I've had lots of photos taken in the garden.

"I've had a lovely meal with the family.

"I'm rounding off the day with tea at the Premier Inn with my grandchildren and my great grandchildren."

His son Graham, 63, daughter-in-law Sheena, granddaughters Katie, 36 and Laura, 33, and their families travelled from Swindon, Berkshire, to mark the grand milestone.

Mayor of Shifnal Councillor Robert Harrop said: "Shifnal is very proud to celebrate the 100th birthday of a remarkable citizen of the town. We are very proud of Les.

"He wasn't feeling very well the day before, but he seemed very happy on his birthday and was able to celebrate with his family and friends.

"Les has been the carnival king for many years and in addition to that he is still a member of Shifnal Male Voice Choir. He is active in the community which is a remarkable achievement considering his age and that is the point of the civic celebration.

"He has given the community great pleasure over the years and we appreciate that."

Mr Cherrington also received a birthday card from the Queen alongside gifts from wellwishers.

Shifnal Town Council also installed two birthday banners in his honour next to the town clock.

Originally from Albrighton, Mr Cherrington was a soldier in the Staffordshire Yeomanry Queen’s Own Royal Regiment. He was injured during a battle in North Africa in 1943 when his Sherman tank was wrecked by a German field gun, but he managed to clamber free despite being badly burned and shrapnel nearly severing his left arm.

After he recovered he continued to serve his country for a further 40 years in the RAF police.

Other celebrations for the popular community volunteer included a social night at Shifnal Royal British Legion last week.


Shropshire Star

RAF police officers foiled a burglary in Cosford, recovering a 'significant quantity' of stolen power tools.

A member of the public confronted two would-be burglars in the village and he alerted the officers who confronted and detained both men. They were then arrested by West Mercia Police officers.

With both men in custody, police searched the vehicle the pair had travelled in and found a number of stolen goods. They then searched houses they were linked with and found more garden and household power tools.

PCSO Mal Goddard said: "There have been a number of burglaries in the surrounding area and the police have been able to identify the owners of some of the property recovered, this will be returned as soon as possible.

The arrests happened late on Wednesday and police are now attempting to trace the owners of the tools.

Wrekin News

Arrests made in Cosford incident

At 11:30pm on Wednesday the 22nd of August 2018, Police were called to Cosford to assist the RAF Police from RAF Cosford.

An alert member of the public had witnessed some suspicious activity and challenged a pair of men. As a result of his actions a burglary was prevented and two men were detained by the RAF Police and then arrested by West Mercia Police Officers.

Following the arrests of the two men, searches were conducted of the vehicle that they were with and a number of stolen items recovered.

Two further searches were carried out at addresses linked to the two arrested men and further stolen items recovered. Much of the equipment recovered was garden and household power tools from various manufacturers, this was all seized by Officers and will be checked into the Police property store.

There have been a number of burglaries in the surrounding areas and the Police have been able to identify the owners of some of the property recovered, this will be returned as soon as possible.

This will still leave a significant number of power tools and other items.

While checks will be conducted to see if the rightful owners can be identified, this is unlikely to be successful in all cases. If you have recently been a victim of a burglary in the area and will be able to positively identify your property, please ring 101 and refer to incident 0847S 220818.


Flight Lieutenant Rosie Callery, of the Royal Air Force  Police, is currently deployed on Exercise Long Look, a four-month exchange programme on which she will conduct various integrated tasks, exercises and training packages with the Royal Australian Air Force .

The RAF Officer from No. 3 Force Protection Wing, RAF Marham arrived at the end of April 18 and embedded in No. 1 Security Forces Squadron (1SECFOR) at RAAF Base Williamtown.

FLT LT Callery is the first of the UK Force Protection (FP) contingent to deploy on Ex Long Look with a FP specific focus.

Exchange Programme Long Look has been a military exchange event, conducted annually since 1976.

It epitomises the close working relationship that the UK Armed Forces has with both the New Zealand and Australian Defence Forces.

The RAAF is a Tier 2 partner in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme and offers opportunities for the sharing of practices and policies as both countries prepare to receive the platform.

FLT LT Callery is embedded into Security Flight at RAAF Base Williamtown and will assist with the development of Security Forces operating concepts in support of the arrival of Australia’s first F-35As later of this year.

“It’s been an incredible development opportunity working with security forces in preparation for the arrival of JSF at RAAF Base Williamtown,” she said.

As a reciprocal exchange, Flying Officer Josh Hablethwaite, RAAF Ground Defence Officer will deployed to RAF Marham in June, just in time for the first arrival of the RAF’s F-35 to the UK.

Both exchange officers will have the opportunity to gain a detailed understanding of how partner nations provide security for fifth-generation platforms.

FLG OFF Hablethwaite will also have the opportunity to view and conduct training activities with the RAF Regiment at both RAF Marham and RAF Honington.

As part of her exchange, FLT LT Callery also deployed with No. 2 Security Forces Squadron on Exercise Pitch Black, a multi-national large force exercise, at RAAF Base Darwin.

It featured a range of realistic, simulated threats which can be found in a modern battle-space environment and provided an opportunity for the exchange officer to observe large scale force integration and interoperability serials within Australia, and the training and integration of security operations directly supporting the ability to sustain air power.


Man retraces historic journey to Belgium exactly 90 years later
It was to commemorate those who died in World War One

A man has helped to commemorate those who died in World War One by retracing the steps of a historic journey to Belgium.

In 1928 the Royal British Legion arranged for war veterans and widows to visit the Somme and Ypres battlegrounds, followed by a march to the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium.

And now exactly 90 years later, Legion members have recreated the same journey.

Lincolnshire Co-op Funeral Services trainer Richard Kent, who volunteers as a standard bearer for the Legion's Washingborough and District branch went along to represent local people and pay tribute.

He said: "I think that commemorating the huge sacrifice that was made is as important today as it has been for the last 100 years.

Richard Kent
"To have such a high-profile event is great as it puts to mind the efforts and hardship they went through to leave us with the freedom we enjoy today."

The group travelled to Belgium to take part in the GP90 parade on August 8 and attended a ceremony at Menin Gate to commemorate the war's final 100 days.

Mr Kent said: "When I was a little boy my grandfather, who had been a gunner in the Royal Artillery in World War One, had been a supporter of the Royal British Legion."

Before his career with Lincolnshire Co-op, Mr Kent worked for 22 years in the RAF police advising on security.

He also spent nine years as the Royal British Legion's Lincolnshire County standard bearer, going on to compete for the regional and even national title.

The Royal British Legion and the RAF Benevolent Fund are being supported by Lincolnshire Co-op’s Community Champions scheme during summer, with more than £79,000 fundraised so far.

Over 151,000 Lincolnshire Co-op members have helped raise the money by shopping with their dividend card, and proceeds from the carrier bag levy are added to the pot.

“To support two charities that are dear to me is just wonderful,” he added.


Fitz breaks young hero's silence after 100 years

On a pilgrimage to the battlefield where his great uncle died 100 years ago, John Fitzpatrick got into a long chat with the 17-year-old boy soldier who had unhesitatingly answered the nation's call to arms.

Fitz during his forces days, with Jimmy.

 A professional dog trainer, he runs Cosford Dog Training

Private Ben Leeman, who was only 17 when he was killed in action 100 years ago

A Century of Silence

During a career in the forces spanning 36 years Fitz served in Northern Ireland, The Falkland Islands, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

It was a story Private Ben Leeman had not been able to tell for a century.

"Does anyone remember us?" he asked John. John - known as Fitz - was able to reassure him on that point.

Fitz's pilgrimage earlier this year was real, and now that imagined chat, used as a literary device, has been turned into a historical novel telling the story of the young soldier's life and experiences, called A Century of Silence, and available through Amazon.
"It is written in an original way, which sets it apart from any other book of its kind," he said.

Fitz has retraced Ben's footsteps, and as a former serviceman who faced danger in the hotspots of Northern Ireland, Iraq, and Afghanistan, he was able to draw on a special insight into the feelings the teenager would have experienced in battle.

Ben, from Grimsby, lied about his age to join up at the age of 15, serving in the 15th (Bantam) Battalion, Notts and Derby Regiment, The Sherwood Foresters.

He was killed in action during the opening days of the great German spring offensive of 1918.

But in 2013 Ben Leeman was just a name to Fitz, who runs Cosford Dog Training and lives at County Lane, Codsall Wood.

"I knew my Mam had an Uncle Ben, who her dad - my granddad - spoke about very rarely as he was invariably overcome with grief whenever he talked about his younger brother and his bitterness about how his own mother never fully recovered from Ben's death," he said.

Nor did he know much about the Great War, but everything was to change in 2014 when he and his father went on a 70th anniversary trip to Normandy

At the end of their visit his mother asked if he "fancied taking a trip up to the north of France" to find her Uncle Ben's name on a memorial wall of a cemetery.

A leisurely detour to Pozieres on the Somme took them around 10 hours, but was to have a profound effect on Fitz, and was to be the first of many visits to the area.

Their "chat," as described in the book, was during a visit to the memorial to mark the centenary of Ben's death, which was on March 24, 1918, at a place called Curlu Wood.

Ben was both a young veteran and a war hero, having fought on the Somme and in Flanders, and being awarded the Military Medal during the fighting at Houthulst Forest in October 1917.

Fitz is a former RAF Police Warrant Officer, who was head of the RAF Special Investigations Branch major crime team and then the senior instructor at the Joint Service Dog School before retiring in 2013. Since retiring he has been a full time dog trainer and behaviourist.

"The book was compiled using family records, public and military records, particularly the battalion diary of the 15th Battalion and the war diary of the 35th Division, and information supplied by amateur historians, who are real experts on just about everything to do with the Great War. The Regimental Museum of the Mercian Regiment was also very helpful," said Fitz.

"Being a former SIB investigator I never rely on documentary evidence alone. I have visited all the locations where Ben served and whenever possible walked exactly the same route taken as described in the war diary.

"I have a fairly accurate idea of how long it takes to tab from Maricourt to Curlu Wood, at 8.30am on March 24, because I did it myself 100 years after the event. I don't do things by halves.

"Some of the feelings experienced in battle, attributed to Ben, are personal. Service in Northern Ireland, a long time before any thought was given to a peace process, a tour in Iraq, and three tours in Afghanistan, gave me a bit of insight."


Congratulations to Cpl Mollie Shurmer who has been formally announced as the winner of the 2017 Securing the Skies Trophy. Mollie was selected by the Master of Worshipful Company of Security Professionals and Provost Marshal (RAF) as the RAF Police Protective Security NCO who made the most significant contribution to the protection of RAF mission critical assets during 2017. Mollie’s achievement was formally recognised by the Master at the Annual Military Affiliates Luncheon at the RAF Club
Corporal Mollie Shurmer has been employed on a Protective Security Section as the Air Transport Security specialist. Without formal training, she planned and delivered a comprehensive review of all security practices within the air terminal building. She identified areas where new technology would enhance building security and introduced modern scanning equipment, an Explosive Trace Detector and a Responder Bottle Scanning Unit, while ensuring full compliance with Air and CAA regulations. This exceptional display of initiative was instrumental in ensuring a vital, operational section was able to deal with risks to critical assets, Royalty, VVIPs and MPs, and highlighted her skills in identifying major risk management issues.
As a newcomer to Protective Security, Cpl Shurmer’s exceptional ingenuity and dedication is all the more impressive and has made a real difference to the security of RAF mission critical assets and their deployment across the globe.


Norfolk veterans conquer Warrior Games
David Rose, from Downham Market, taking part in the Warrior
        Games where he represented Team UK. Picture: Cyrus McCrimmon/DOD
        Warrior Games

David Rose, from Downham Market,  taking part in the Warrior Games where he represented Team UK. Picture: Cyrus McCrimmon/DOD Warrior Games

Simon Chapman, from Watton, took part in the Warrior Games
        where he represented Team UK. Picture: DOD Warrior Games
David Rose, from Downham Market, taking part in the Warrior Games where he represented Team UK. Picture: Cyrus McCrimmon/DOD Warrior Games

Two wounded Norfolk veterans amassed an impressive haul of medals at a sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.

Simon Chapman, from Watton, took part in the Warrior Games where he represented Team UK. Picture: DOD Warrior GamesSimon Chapman, from Watton, took part in the Warrior Games where he represented Team UK. Picture: DOD Warrior Games
David Rose, from Downham Market, and Simon Chapman, from Watton, were two of 40 veteran and service personnel who were selected by Help for Heroes to represent the UK at the Warrior Games.

Organised by the United States Department of Defence, the multi-sport event - which includes personnel from the USA, UK, Canada and Australia - was held earlier this month in Colorado.

Mr Rose, who has been an aircraft engineer with the RAF since 1986, brought home a silver medal in the 50m breaststroke, a bronze medal in the 4x50m relay and bronze medals in both the recumbent cycling time trial and road race events.

Due to nerve damage to his right arm, shoulder and hand caused by a cycling accident in 2009, the 48-year-old is in constant pain. His arm has a limited function with fingers often ‘clawed’ and the injury causes frequent muscle spasms.

David Rose, from Downham Market, taking part in the Warrior
        Games where he represented Team UK. Picture: John Leyba/DOD
        Warrior Games
David Rose, from Downham Market, taking part in the Warrior Games where he represented Team UK. Picture: John Leyba/DOD Warrior Games

“I was always into sport and outdoor activities but with injury I thought, wrongly, this was over - this took me to a very bad place,” said Mr Rose.

“Being shown and encouraged that I can still do sport has been a life changer.”

He added: “I feel so much taller having returned from the Warrior Games.”

Captain of the swimming team, Mr Chapman took a silver medal in both the 50m backstroke, 100m freestyle and bronze in the 200m freestyle.

Simon Chapman, from Watton, took part in the Warrior Games where he represented Team UK.

Simon Chapman, from Watton, took part in the Warrior Games
        where he represented Team UK. Picture: DOD Warrior Games
Picture: DOD Warrior Games  Simon Chapman, from Watton, took part in the Warrior Games where he represented Team UK.

The 49-year-old has served with the RAF for 32 years and is currently a Warrant Officer for the RAF Police.

He has a deficient muscle in his right leg sustained from a sporting injury and two prosthetic implants in both hips after a car knocked him off his bicycle.

The injury has significantly impacted on his daily activities with reduced movement and has left him unable to do any impact or contact sport which had a serious effect on both his mental health and confidence.

“Being selected was a huge confidence boost for me and is a massive turning point in my life,” he said.

“I have gone through a period of uncertainty, becoming a little despondent and de-motivated, but I have now found a sense of purpose.”


On 16th May 2018, Air Commodore Peter Squires, the Commandant of RAF College Cranwell, presented Flight Sergeant Bellingham with the Meritorious Service Medal, in the 2017 New Years Honours. This medal is only presented to Senior Non-Commissioned Officers and Warrant Officers, who have had a long and distinguished Service with exemplary conduct. Almost 28 years ago, she joined the Service as an RAF Police NCO and has travelled the world providing protective security to many military establishments.
Our congratulations go to Flight Sergeant Bellingham on her outstanding achievement.


North-east air force personnel in Nigeria to help defend bases from terrorists

Corporal Thomas addresses the Nigerian troops.

Air force personnel from the north-east are in Africa helping to prepare local troops in their fight against one of the world’s most notorious terrorist groups.

A team from RAF Lossiemouth is running a six-week training schedule for the Nigerian Air Force and Air Police to aid their efforts against extremist organisation Boko Haram.

The militant Islamist group has caused havoc in Africa’s most populous country for many years, through bombings, assassinations and, most prominently, abductions.

Now personnel from the Moray-based 5 Force Protection Wing (5 FP) have organised intensive training in close quarter battles, force protection, intelligence and special investigations.

They are also providing training for military working dogs.

The Lossiemouth crews are currently at the Kaduna Airbase, where temperatures are peaking at 38 Celsius, before they join the fight in the north-east of the country.

Aircraftman CJ Iwu, from the Nigerian Air Force, said: “The training is exhausting but very interesting. We have never worked such long days.

“My favourite part of the day is the flight competition. They boost morale and revise the day’s training.”

Senior Aircraftman Sam Walton, from 5 FP, said: “It’s good to compare their ability at the start of the day with the end of the day. Seeing progress is always really rewarding.”

The training programme is the sixth time that 5 FP – which includes gunners, RAF police officers, chefs, medics and technicians – has been deployed on during the exercise.

Nigeria’s chief of air staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, requested the assistance of the Scots due to intelligence that the country’s air bases will continue to be attacked.

He said: “All these reinforce the need to have a robust base defence concept that is capable of providing guidance for responding to a wide range of situations that may threaten our bases.”


RAF Leeming celebrate RAF 100 in Northallerton


The sleepy village near Grimsby that stood in the way of a Russian nuclear attack

With Britain facing the threat of World War Three and Cold War armageddon, a Lincolnshire RAF station was chosen as the country’s very first missile base

When Britain faced the threat of a Russian nuclear attack, a quiet village near Grimsby stood in the way.

Today, little remains of what was once one of the country’s most important RAF bases.

A hangar has been converted into a farmer's grain store, while other former military buildings are home to a peaceful Christian training college.

But as dawn broke over RAF North Coates on a late October’s Saturday in 1962, the staff there could have been forgiven for wondering if it was their last.

Here on the very edge of the Lincolnshire coast, rows of sinister-looking missiles pointed up at the sky and an unseen enemy. Their job: to seek and destroy enemy bombers that might appear at any moment.

The Bloodhound missile which was the UK's front line defence against Soviet attack from bases like RAF North Coates
 (Image: Chris Field)

Less than an hour’s drive inland, the pilots of the nuclear V-bomber force waited on full alert, ready to leave the ground within just 15 minutes and make for targets behind the Iron Curtain.

Britain was on the brink of war and the village of North Cotes was on the front line.

Today, the threat of a Russian nuclear attack has been in the news again after the Salisbury poisoning case and the stand-off over Syria.

But during the Cold War, the menace of Russian bombers was very real and anybody who thought rural Lincolnshire would not be a prime target would have been sadly mistaken.

RAF bomber bases around the county would have come under attack, along with a naval communications centre at New Waltham.

Targets across the Humber were targets for Russian nuclear weapons
 (Image: Getty Images)

North of the Humber, the city of Hull would have been nuked, as well as a radar station at Patrington.

To counter the threat, during the 1950s, Britain developed a fleet of supersonic fighter planes alongside, for the first time, surface-to-air guided missiles designed to seek and destroy enemy aircraft.

In 1958, North Cotes was at the centre of a media blitz when it was chosen as the country’s first missile base, “home to the Royal Air Force of the future”, with the most advanced weapons of their kind anywhere in the world.

The aptly named Bloodhound Missiles, with their ram-jet engines and sleek snouts pointing towards the sky, looked futuristic enough when they were installed at RAF North Coates in 1958.

It was sold to the public as a complete weapons system that would protect the country against the most determined of enemies.

Vulcan bombers and RAF Scampton in 1961
 (Image: Ken James)

Had they been fired in anger, Britain would have almost certainly been at war and on the brink of a nuclear exchange.

The first concern was to protect the V Bomber force, based at Coningsby, Scampton and Waddington, which carried Britain's nuclear deterrent, but boffins hoped eventually to design a weapon accurate enough to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles.

George Ward, the Air Minister of the day, said: "Ultimately it is to the development of the surface-to-air guided weapons system that we look for anti-ballistic missile defence.

"With the introduction of new equipment and better techniques we can expect Fighter Command to meet a bomber attack at a greater distance from our shores, and with a greater proportion of our fighter force, both by day and night".


RAF North Coates, on the very edge of the Lincolnshire coast, had a long and proud history as a base during two world wars. An attack squadron of fighter-bombers flew from here during the Second World War to menace German shipping in the North Sea.

In 1953, it was inundated by the great North Sea flood. Nevertheless, five years later it was chosen as the first base for Britain’s newest weapon.

RAF North Coates near Grimsby and how the base was laid out
 (Image: Google Maps)

In November 1958, the Duke of Edinburgh visited the base to inspect No. 264 Air Defence Missile Squadron. He was pictured examining one of the missiles, described at the time as the most advanced in the world.

One correspondent, writing in the Birmingham Mail, described watching a trial of the missiles, which flew at twice the speed of sound.

“As I watched one of the missiles being quickly placed in position on its metal launching frame. an aircraft made a dummy attack on the airfield. Long before I could see or hear it. a missile was turning swiftly towards the direction from which It was corning. Evasive tactics were of no use. Each time the aircraft made an alteration of course the nose of the missile turned.

“Had this been a real operation. the - aircraft would not have stood the slightest chance of coming anywhere near the station. A complex but swiftacting system of radar detection and guidance briefs the missile in a matter of seconds.

The Duke of Edinburgh inspecting a Bloodhound Missile at RAF North Coates in 1958

Despite the claims, the advanced technology was not without its problems. According to the website Bomber County Aviation Resource, radar operators were flummoxed when their screens began picking up moving objects in the Immingham area. Fortunately, the culprits turned out not to be Russian planes, but moving cranes on the docks.

The base was, of course, given top-level security, with night patrols by RAF police dogs and their handlers. It was expected to be ready to fire its missiles on demand.

A layout of a typical Bloodhound missile base like RAF Great Coates at the height of the Cold War
 (Image: London Illustrated News / British Newspaper Archive)

Group Captain James Leathart, the ex-Battle of Britain pilot commanding the station, told journalists: "If the political temperature goes up we can go into operational posture at any time."

That day almost came in October 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The United States had discovered a Russian plan to install nuclear missiles in Cuba and President John F Kennedy was under intense pressure to bomb or invade the island. With Britain ready to stand by its ally, Vulcan bombers were placed on a 15-minute standby.

Fortunately, diplomacy won the day and Britain’s missile bases were never called upon to defend the country during a nuclear war, despite several other close calls over the next three decades. By the late 1980s, with the Cold War winding down, the Bloodhounds were a relic of another age.

The base finally closed in 1990 and its staff quarters were transferred to other uses, including a private housing estate.

Today, the missiles are long gone but a grass airstrip, operated by the North Coates Flying Club, serves as a reminder that this quiet village was, for much of the 20th century, at the forefront of Britain’s air defences.


The RAFP Dog Demonstration Team in Swindon  sharing their capabilities and experiences with the public


Royal Air Force Veterans Return To The Rock For RAF 100

Two Royal Air Force veterans, Trevor Adams and Colin Jones, have returned to the Rock more than 60 years after they were first stationed in Gibraltar to celebrate 100 years since the RAF's formation on April 1.

Forces Radio presenter Hayley Hammond spoke to the former RAF policemen and asked about their memories of Gibraltar and how things have changed.

Trevor & Colin 1957
Trevor & Colin in Gibraltar 1957

The pair first met 61 years ago as Corporals in the RAF Police. Their friendship blossomed early as they shared room three, Devils Tower Camp and played chess together. A tradition they have kept to this day.

Trevor remembered how exciting it was arriving to do his national service:

Both men reflected that Gibraltar has changed “phenomenally” with lots of reclaimed land and buildings they do not recognise at all.

The pair also noticed differences in how the military operates and relationships across ranks. According to Colin:

“The informality of everything is just staggering and better… you can still have respect but it doesn’t have to be so rigid.”



Cardboard swastika found in soldier’s home, court told

Two serving British soldiers and a 23-year-old man are accused of being members of a banned neo-Nazi group.

A cardboard swastika was found on a windowsill at the barracks home of a serving British soldier accused of being a member of a banned neo-Nazi group, a court has heard.

Private Mark Barrett also had a photograph on his phone, taken at a different military base in the UK, showing a burning cross in a garden.

The 25-year-old married father and Royal Anglian Regiment colleague Lance Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen, 33, are on trial accused of being members of National Action.

A 23-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is also charged with membership of the group which was banned by the Government in December 2016.

Barrett’s barrister told jurors, when the case opened, that they would have to decide whether the soldier was “a casual racist or a committed fanatic”.

The jury at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday heard how military and civilian police searched his accommodation at Dhekalia station, Alexander Barracks, Cyprus, in 2017, and found the hand-sized makeshift swastika.

Officers also found a spiral-bound notebook with another swastika on the front, and written in German on an inside page was the phrase “Do not mix the blood of a race horse with that of a cart horse”.

Karen Robinson, prosecuting, said: “The page has been signed by Mark Barrett.”

Inside a black diary, also found in Barrett’s house, was the handwritten phrase: “God almighty created man in the image of a blond-haired, blue-eyed man, with the capability to show rose of cheek (n****rs can’t blush).”

National Action
The three men are on trial at Birmingham Crown Court (Joe Giddens/PA)

Barrett’s barrister told jurors, when the case opened, that they would have to decide whether the soldier was “a casual racist or a committed fanatic”.

The jury at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday heard how military and civilian police searched his accommodation at Dhekalia station, Alexander Barracks, Cyprus, in 2017, and found the hand-sized makeshift swastika.

Officers also found a spiral-bound notebook with another swastika on the front, and written in German on an inside page was the phrase “Do not mix the blood of a race horse with that of a cart horse”.

Karen Robinson, prosecuting, said: “The page has been signed by Mark Barrett.”

Inside a black diary, also found in Barrett’s house, was the handwritten phrase: “God almighty created man in the image of a blond-haired, blue-eyed man, with the capability to show rose of cheek (n****rs can’t blush).”

Ms Robinson described an image which jurors heard was taken at Kendrew barracks, Rutland, on April 22 2017, and found on a mobile phone seized at Barrett’s work station.

She said: “It shows a male pointing a bow and arrow towards a target at the end of the garden, with a burning cross, slightly ahead of him.”

The court heard that despite being searched on arrest in Cyprus on September 5 2017, Barrett was given back his wallet after “nothing evidential” was – at that time – found inside, according to officers at the scene.

Barrett then took a bank card from his wallet asked for it and car keys to be be passed to his wife, who was to remain on the base.

RAF police officer Sergeant Christopher Moss, giving evidence on a video-link from the island, said: “He handed me a Santander debit card and car keys so they could be handed to his wife, via a welfare officer.”

When the wallet was searched by police back in the UK, two National Action leaflets were discovered inside, the court heard.

Colin Aylott, Barrett’s barrister, asked Sgt Moss: “Since you made your statement have you been made aware within the wallet there were, in fact, folded up within it, two National Action leaflets subsequently found in a search of his wallet that took place in the UK?”

The RAF officer replied: “I was not aware at all, no.”

Another military police officer, Corporal Thomas Dutton, said Barrett was escorted by himself and a colleague to RAF Akrotiri, and they stayed with him throughout the five-hour flight to RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, and on to a police station in Coventry.

Asked how many times Barrett, formerly of Kendrew Barracks, Rutland, had been out of his sight, Cpl Dutton replied: “Impossible to say exactly, but minimal.”

Vehvilainen, an Army trainer from Sennybridge Camp, Powys, is also accused of possession of a terrorist manual – the manifesto of Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Breivik – and two counts of stirring up racial hatred connected to forum posts.

His barrister Pavlos Panayi QC told the jury on Wednesday it was “not in dispute that he is a racist”, but that did not make him a criminal.

The other male is also charged with three counts of possession of documents likely to be useful to terrorists and distributing terrorism material.

All three deny wrongdoing, and the trial continues.

Blind veteran from Milton Keynes to march at Cenotaph this Remembrance Sunday

Edward Archbold, 89 known as Ned, will be marching at the Cenotaph in London with more than 100 other blind veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women. Ned says: “I can’t wait to attend this year’s march. For me, Remembrance is about the pride of serving one’s country. It’s also about remembering the people who gave up their lives for the very same cause.”
Ned served in both the Royal Artillery 601 Field Battery and the Royal Army Service Corps. Ned was later transferred to the Royal Air Force (RAF), where he served in Ceylon with the RAF Police (Auxiliaries). “I was very proud to have served, and extremely proud to have been promoted to Lance Bombardier in the Army,” he said. “I also received a commendation in the RAF Police for tackling and arresting a baton-wielding intruder in the RAF camp.” It was not until 1985 that Ned’s sight began to deteriorate as a result of age-related macular degeneration. Ned says: “It was a horrible process. Gradual, but horrible.
“I found myself in the awful position of being unable to do most of the things that I’d previously enjoyed doing. I was unable to read or write. I couldn’t even see facial features.” Fortunately for Ned, social services put him in touch with Blind Veterans UK after learning of his military background. Ned maintains that the support the charity has provided him with has been hugely beneficial, particularly the IT assistance. He explains: “The IT support, specifically the Synapptic tablet device the charity has given me, has been fantastic. It’s given me the opportunity to keep in touch with family and friends, and for that I’m enormously grateful.” Ned is set to march with other vision-impaired ex-Service men and women supported by Blind Veterans UK as part of the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations in London on Sunday.
Chief executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB says: “Remembrance Sunday is always a very poignant time for our blind veterans and it is fantastic that Specsavers are able to support them to get to march at the Cenotaph. “Today, Blind Veterans UK supports more blind and vision-impaired veterans than ever before in the charity’s history and we have set an ambitious target to double the number of veterans we support in the next five years.” Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, providing vital practical and emotional support to help veterans discover life beyond sight loss. The charity estimates that there are currently 59,000 blind veterans that would be eligible to access its specialist support, most of whom are not currently aware of it. If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and are now battling severe sight loss, find out how Blind Veterans UK could help by calling 0800 389 7979 or visiting www.blindveterans.org.uk

Poppy Collecting 2017

congratulations to Amy Cokayne HQ RAF Sport Sportswoman of year 

Official of year runner up is Michelle Crolla

Caistor black belt Amy wins British judo title

Black belt Amy Atkins will fight for Britain next year after managing to win a national title without a training regime. A hectic schedule as mum-of-two and businesswoman denied Amy the time to prepare properly for her trip to the British Masters Judo Championships. But she came through four matches to win the women’s -63kg F2 (age 39-plus) title in Cardiff on her debut appearance at a British Masters tournament. By winning this title she is now ranked the British number one for her weight and age category “I wasn’t expecting anything really because I hadn’t really done any training,” she said. “I must have just had a good day. “With the gym to run and two little kids there just wasn’t the time, but I do a lot of exercise classes which helped me to stay fit.” Amy (39) took up the martial art at the age of nine and had a successful junior judo career which included a British Open title. She gained a coveted black belt aged 16 and gained her second dan seven years later.
While serving in the RAF, she also won national and international events representing the military all over the world, and now represents the air force as a reservist. But Amy, a second dan black belt, ranked her latest win among the best of her career. “I took judo very seriously when I was a kid,” she added. “But in terms of British Opens it is the best result I’ve had for a lot of years,“It’s brilliant and means I can give something back to the military who support me to go and compete.” Having joined up in 2000, she quickly received both the RAF and Combined Service colours and became Armed Forces champion for her weight category, a title she held for most of her career. Amy went on several tours of duty, including Iraq, but the birth of her first daughter Caitlin (5) persuaded her to return to civvy street in 2014. But within 18 months she re-joined the RAF Police Reserves, allowing her to continue with her RAF career and represent the service at judo. After second daughter Amber (2) came along, Amy came up with a business idea and decided to convert a disused Caistor warehouse into a gym.

BFit Lincs Gym has had more than 600 members through its doors since opening a year ago this week. Despite this heavy workload, Amy will have to find time for a training regime after earning a place in the British team thanks to her win in Wales. She said: “The next thing is to start training for the British team, and the next big competition is in Scotland in January. “I will compete in as many (international) matches as I can. “My kids have never seen me compete so I hope they will be able to come along, too.”


An RAF serviceman surprised his long-term girlfriend in the best way

Corporal Justin Duncan has served three tours of Afghanistan and is currently working in close protection

An RAF military police officer serving in Afghanistan has delighted his long-term girlfriend with a surprise visit to her Tunbridge Wells office today (Thursday).

Charlotte Cox, 32, who lives in Snodland, was not expecting Corporal Justin Duncan home until later this evening (October 5).

He said: "I've been based in Kabul for four months and have two weeks' leave. I'm a military police officer with the RAF.

"In Kabul I work in close protection, we're looking after a VIP for our duration. Where he goes, we go."

This morning a phone call to his girlfriend's desk from her office's reception informed her her 'brother' was waiting downstairs for her.

Miss Cox, who works in recruitment, said: "He had been messaging me saying he was at Dubai and his flight was delayed. i got a call from reception this morning saying my brother was here.

The pair are looking forward to spending time with each
          other, after four months apart

"I saw him sat there and said 'you have done it again!', it's not the first time he has surprised me like this. It's a nice surprise."

In the meantime the pair are looking forward to relaxing and in Cpl Duncan's case "eating some really good food".

He added: "We're going down to Cornwall to see my mum, I'm looking forward to eating some really nice food! The food in Afghanistan is edible - just about.

"We have proper dining facilities now and it's all shipped in from Dubai - it's better than it was. It used to be ration packs but there are good facilities there now!"

Cpl Duncan, also 32, has served in the RAF for 10 years and has seen action during three tours of Afghanistan. He currently he works in close protection and provides the security for a top British general.

The pair have been dating for six years.


Riders deliver vital supplies

Blood bikers: Former RAF dog handlers Martin Cadogan (left)
        and Ian Firth
Blood bikers: Former RAF dog handlers Martin Cadogan (left) and Ian Firth

A charity that helps ensure urgently needed blood and other vital medical supplies are delivered to Nottinghamshire hospitals out of hours is looking for more volunteers.

There are about 30 Blood Bike groups that each act as individual charities. Most also belong to the National Association of Blood Bikes.

Martin Cadogan, of Fernwood, joined the Nottinghamshire group, and his friend, Ian Firth, the Lincolnshire group.

Both are former RAF police sergeants and both served as dog handlers.

Martin said after they left the RAF they wanted to get involved with a charity.

“We are both keen motorcyclists and so the Blood Bike project seemed a perfect one to volunteer with,” he said.

Martin volunteers to be on duty from a Friday evening to Sunday, which he does every two months.

He picks up one of the liveried motorbikes from the group’s fleet that is ready to be used when he is called upon.

“We are very visible and because we are on a bike we can normally get through the traffic,” said Martin.

“It gives you a real sense of purpose and you are potentially saving lives.” 

The membership officer for Nottinghamshire, Mr John Devlin, said the Blood Bike idea started more than 50 years ago when a group of bikers were told how long it would take to get blood needed by a friend after an accident — and decided they could do better. 
The idea spread and groups have been set up across the country.

They offer an additional service to that of NHS Blood And Transplant, which provides transportation through the day.

Mr Devlin said at evenings and weekends the service available to hospitals was more limited so sometimes taxis were used that could prove expensive.

“We aim to replace purely that expensive service and provide free cover,” said Mr Devlin.

Last year they completed 1,086 jobs and have already done 769 this year. They achieve an average call-to-collection time of 34 minutes.

Items taken include blood samples and blood stocks, platelets, microbiology, swabs and donor breast milk. 

Mr Devlin said the trusts they worked with may still use taxis during the day and some, like Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, were only making part-use of them.

“We are ready and willing to do much more,” he said.

The Nottinghamshire group has almost 100 volunteers but wants another 20 riders to give them more flexibility.

Volunteers must be over the age of 25 and obtain a recognised advanced rider qualification.

Another ten to 15 volunteers are needed to act as controllers.

They operate from home, answering calls from hospitals and passing delivery details on to the riders. 

The service survives on donations and corporate sponsorship so is also looking for volunteers to help with fundraising.

More information is available at www.nottingham shirebloodbikes.org or www.lebbs.org


Airport-style security checks for Scampton Airshow visitors

Random vehicle checks will also be carried out

Visitors to the inaugural Scampton Airshow this coming weekend will have to pass through airport-style security checks on the way in.

Following terrorist attacks including in Manchester, London, Barcelona, Paris and Nice, the security services and organisers of the show are leaving nothing to chance during the event on September 9 and 10.

There will be several airport-style security scanners that visitors to the show will pass through on entry.

Measures also include armed police patrols, spot checks of vehicles and enhanced CCTV.

The current terror threat in the UK is classed as 'severe', which is the second highest of five after 'critical'.

But organisers say the precautions aim to ensure that the thousands of visitors expected at the show "feel safe".

An air show spokesman said: "Public safety is at the very heart of this air show and we are committed to making sure visitors feel safe at all times.

"A significant number of marshals will be highly visible at this year's show with support from RAF personnel and Lincolnshire Police. The team will all be engaging with visitors to ensure an enjoyable safe show for all.

"We are delighted to be working in partnership with Lincolnshire Police and RAF police to deliver you a safe and enjoyable show.

"All visitors will enter an through an airport style security system; so please arrive in plenty of time to go through these processes.

"We actively encourage any visitors who see suspicious behaviour to report it to either the police or to speak with other show staff who will act on your information.

"The Scampton site benefits from a dedicated control area which has extensive CCTV which will be continuously monitored and recorded for your safety.

"We wish you all a safe and extremely enjoyable day."


RAF Police Rugby also doing a sterling job collecting at Paddington this morning!

Battle of the Moray lawmen sees victory for Police Scotland

AN RAF POLICE TEAM lost out in a penalty decider in their charity match against Police Scotland at Borough Briggs, the home of Elgin City, earlier this week.

The game ended 1-1 after the regulation time resulting a penalties to decide where the trophy would go – that honour fell to Police Scotland who won 5-2.

A small crowd turned up to support the two teams who were raising money for the Lesser Borough Briggs Community Trust (LBBCT). Both teams’ goalkeepers were responsible for some great saves and each team had periods of dominance.

Both goals came in the last fifteen minutes, with an unfortunate own goal by the RAF Police team leading to a spirited fightback from them. Just five minutes later the RAF Police team had put the ball in the net at the other end of the pitch, and despite efforts from both sides the match ended 1-1.

The RAF Police team’s penalty kicks let them down and they missed three attempts, whereas Police Scotland scored the full five. Man of the Match was awarded to Flt Lt Nick Hanover of the RAF Police team.

Half time entertainment was provided by the RAF Lossiemouth Pipes and Drums. After the match the trophy, named the Jewel of Moray, was presented to Police Scotland’s captain PC Jamie Durkin by RAF Lossiemouth’s Station Commander, Group Captain Paul Godfrey. Final donations amounted to just under £500 for LBBCT.

On behalf of all the organisers Sgt Dave Halil expressed his thanks to everyone who had supported the even, saying: “It’s been a real team effort to get the match set up, but I’d really like to thank Elgin City FC and Gordon & McPhail for supporting us, and everyone who came along and donated some money.

“The money raised will go towards creating an all-weather pitch that will be available for all of the sports players of the future in an around Elgin.”

Police forces pledge support for Moray group’s artificial pitch dream

Officers from the RAF police and Police Scotland will go head-to-head to raise funds for the Lesser Borough Briggs Community Trust.
Scores between rival police forces will be settled on the pitch to boost a Moray group’s campaign to take control of a football pitch.

The group is preparing a bid to Moray Council to take control of the land next to the River Lossie in Elgin to maintain the pitches.

The grassland is currently held in trust for the people of the town by the local common good fund.

Dozens of children at a time have been playing on the park during the summer holidays as part of coaching classes.

And if the group’s plans are approved then an artificial surface could be put down on the grassland to allow sessions to take place whatever the weather.

Now the two police forces have pledged their support by asking fans to make donations to the trust as they make their way through the gates to a charity match between the sides.

Sergeant Dave Halil, from the RAF police, said: “We try to have a football match against our Police Scotland colleagues every year.

“We work really closely with them to ensure the safety and security of not just the RAF base, and RAF families in Lossiemouth and Elgin, but the whole community in the area.”

The match will kick off at Elgin City FC’s ground, Borough Briggs, on Monday, August 7 at 7pm.

The Firmin Sword of Peace, previously known as the Wilkinson Sword of Peace, is an award given to units of the British Armed Forces for activities above and beyond the unit's normal role that improve relations with the community, either within the United Kingdom, or overseas.
The award was established by British sword maker Wilkinson Sword in 1966, with the company presenting a ceremonial sword to one unit each of the Royal Navy, including the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, British Army, and Royal Air Force; each unit having been judged as making the most outstanding contribution to community relations within each service during the calendar year.
20 July 2017 - HRH Prince Harry of Wales presented the Firmin Sword of Peace to the RAF Police at RAF Honington today and it was received on their behalf by Group Captain Steven Horne, Provost Marshal & Commander RAF Police. The RAF Police had previously been awarded the sword in 2015.


Despite serving in Afghanistan and the Middle East during a military career spanning nearly four decades, an RAF veteran has finally conquered his biggest fear on his last day in uniform – riding a horse.

Ken Prentice has stood down as a warrant officer at RAF Lossiemouth following nearly 38 years of service.

Generations of military tradition dictates that personnel stepping down from the post are escorted from their station on horseback to mark the end of their duties.

And, despite having a fear of the animals, Mr Prentice bravely saddled up on a large mare called “Red”, measuring 16 hands three, before being paraded around the Moray base.

During his first-ever ride, the former warrant officer was led by Aneesa Parry from the Lossiemouth Saddle Club and Corporal Kerry Norgate as he waved farewell to personnel, including station commander Group Captain Paul Godfrey.

Before straddling the horse on the saddle, the former warrant officer stood on top of a chair before climbing aboard.

Horse handlers held Red still, so the nervous rider could size up the animal while settling his nerves.

Family and friends met Mr Prentice at the entrance gates to the base on his last day in uniform.

And despite stepping down from the role he has held for nearly four decades, the veteran is eager to continue serving in some capacity in the future.

He said: “I’m genuinely sorry to be leaving the Royal Air Force, but I hope that I can find a reserve role that will allow me the opportunity to continue to support the RAF.

“I was truly humbled to be led off the unit on what must be one of the largest horses that I have come across, and to see so many personnel present to witness the occasion.

“I couldn’t believe that, in my last few hours, I had to overcome my biggest fear and mount such a large horse. I had no idea that anything had been planned as it was my intention to leave quietly.”

Mr Prentice’s career in the RAF began in November 1979. During his long period of service in the forces, he has been posted to myriad bases across the UK as well as in Germany, Belgium and as far afield as the Ascension Islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean.

He said: “I have enjoyed every minute of my time serving in the RAF.

“My personal highlights have been representing the UK within the Nato Counter Intelligence World, being appointed WO (warrant officer) Counter Intelligence Squadron, fulfilling the role of principal security adviser to the UK Maritime Component Command in Bahrain on three operational tours and being WO to No. 4 RAF Police and Security Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth.”

Bedford man tells all about being a reservist ahead of Armed Forces Day

The Police Inspector with Bedfordshire Police joined the Royal Air Force Police just under two years ago and hasn’t looked back since. His current role with Bedfordshire Police is the management of the Rural Crime Team across the county but in recent months he’s been exploring further afield in the USA and Canada as part of his role as an RAF reservist. In January he spent five days travelling on a C17 Transport Aircraft to provide security as required for crew, cargo and aircraft. He was part of a four person team where the other members were all regulars. In July he will be supporting the security operation for the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford and providing support to the Police Flight at RAF Wittering, completing duties with the regular RAF Police personnel. “The reservist experience is an incredibly rewarding one,” he said. “It can be a challenge at times, but I’m lucky in that my employer, squadron and family are very flexible and understanding.

“A proportion of my duties have similarities to my day job as a civilian police officer. However the focus on protective security is an added dimension which supports my day job.” Bedfordshire Police currently employ fourteen reservists and in 2014 received a Silver Award as part of the Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme. The programme celebrates and recognises the support given to Defence personnel by employers that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to the Armed Forces Community. Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said: “Volunteers and reservists are a hugely important part of policing and supporting the armed forces and Mark is a shining example of skill sharing across the organisations.

“In much the same way that volunteers enhance our front line through the Special Constabulary and through watch schemes, it is tremendous that Mark is able to use his skills to help the RAF while also gaining unique experience to bring back to Bedfordshire Police. “I look forward to continuing the great relationship we have with our armed forces through schemes such as these.” So what is the secret to becoming a reservist? Married, with four children and a black Labrador, Corporal Mark Farrant knows all too well that it boils down to forward planning and good communication. “Make sure you have the support and understanding of your family. There will be times that it can cause additional stresses and pressures. “Make your decision jointly. Then you’re free to enjoy the experience of a lifetime,” he adds.


This image shows an RAF
Police Corporal and Police Dog Eron, from RAF Northolt (West London), on security duties outside the polling station set up at the South Ruislip Christian Fellowship Hall yesterday during the UK general elections.


Major public events this weekend including the FA Cup final are having their security reviewed with thousand of troops on standby to guard them.

Parliament was closed to the public and the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace was postponed on Wednesday, as the UK’s terrorist threat level was raised to its highest state in a decade. Armed Police will also be deployed to the Chelsea Flower Show.

The Army said no date had been set to pull troops back to barracks after around 1,000 soldiers on Wednesday took on guarding duties at high-profile buildings including Parliament, embassies and Sellafield.

Soldiers, armed with SA80 rifles, from the Parachute Regiment, Royal Artillery and foot guards regiments could be seen in London. Small numbers of Royal Marines and RAF police are also deployed.


Join the troops in the Military Village at Suffolk Show 2017

This year’s show sees the return of one of the Military Village, run by 6 Regiment Army Air Corps. As one of the most popular areas for interactive fun, the area will provide a window in to military life and a platform for the forces to display their capabilities. The village also enables show visitors to get hands-on with the hardware and provides an opportunity for service charities to work alongside the personnel that they support.

Major Jamie Milnes explains: “This year will see a broad spectrum of military personnel, their kit and equipment. The Apache Attack Helicopter will be at the centre of the display with Lynx and Gazelle helicopters available to sit in, to have a feel for what pilots and aircrew work with.

“No 1 Squadron RAF Regiment, 2623 R(Aux)AF Regiment and 3 Tactical Police Squadron will be on hand to let you look at the suite of combat vehicles and weapon systems, including snipers, mortars and heavy weapons, while The RAF Regiment and RAF Police will be on the ground displaying the Force Protection element of the Royal Air Force.”


‘Outstanding bravery’ of cops who saved ‘bomber’

Suspect who had coloured wires protruding from his jacket ‘could have been shot’ during incident near the Emirates Stadium

POLICE officers who tackled a suspected suicide bomber near the Emirates Stadium have been commended for some of “the most outstanding bravery ever seen”.

The team of constables were awarded the Met commissioner’s prestigious Excellence Award on Friday for their actions in subduing the man, who had wires and mobile phones strapped to his chest in Avenell Road, Highbury.

The bomb turned out to be a fake, but police chiefs said that the terrorist threat was so believable that the suspect would have “undoubtedly” been shot by armed officers had the constables not intervened.

PCs Jason Hodgson and Alex Field were responding to reports of a man walking the streets armed with a machete in January last year.

As they approached the suspect, he dropped the weapon and they were able to detain him after a violent struggle. PCs Sam Homer and Marc Woolmer joined the others at the scene and fired Tasers at the man.

Superintendent Nick Davies, who presented the officers with the award at Camden Town Hall, said: “At this point they noticed coloured wires protruding from his jacket and what appeared to be a trigger device. They noticed he appeared to be wearing some sort of improvised explosive vest, aware there was possible imminent danger to themselves and everybody else.”

They used two pairs of handcuffs to detain the man and “had the presence of mind to restrict his movements to prevent any triggers being used”, he said.

PC Wayne Pullen, a former RAF police officer with experience of improvised explosive devices, then “bravely undertook the task of searching the man”, SI Davies said.

He added: “The suspect looked every inch a genuine terrorist, he was clearly causing large fear within our community. He was in the vicinity of Arsenal football club, which would be a viable target.”

PC Pullen described the moment he began to search the suspect, finding several mobile phones, bits of circuit board and a web of wires wrapped around his torso.

“The key thing was to find out if it was a viable device. If it was, then we’d have to change our approach and begin evacuating the area,” he said.

There was a trigger on his chest with “what looked liked a viable positive and negative lead” coming from it and a battery wrapped in black electrical tape, he said.

He was eventually able to establish that it was not a viable explosive device.

“There was a white wire leading from the battery and I was able to follow it round to his back, where it came to a dead end,” he said.

The man was sent to a mental health hospital to receive the “appropriate” treatment, PC Pullen said, adding: “The way he was dressed and the way he behaved, I have no doubt it could well have ended a lot worse for him.”

PC Field said he spoke to bomb disposal experts, who later arrived on the scene, who confirmed that their intervention had saved a life that day.

“They said he would have had a bullet in his forehead if it wasn’t for us,” he said.

SI Davies said: “It’s quite difficult for me to effectively convey to you how we feel about these officers and how proud we are. The suspect could have been met by an armed officer and would have undoubtedly ended in a shooting, but for these officers bravery.”

WATCH: Heartwarming moment Harrogate girl is re-united with military dad


The magical moment a little girl from Harrogate was re-united with her daddy returning from deployment in Qatar has gone viral. A video taken by Hannah Caffrey of her four year old daughter, Emily, and husband, Jon, seeing each other for the first time in months has been viewed thousands of times over on Facebook.
Jon, a Sergeant currently on six months detachment in Qatar, had just landed at RAF Brize Norton for 10 days rest and recuperation when Emily ran towards him for a much-deserved cuddle. But the short time together was perhaps even more special, as little Emily was diagnosed with a brain malformation just last year. 
Hannah Caffrey said: "Because of the problems she has, she's not very vocal. I had explained to her in the car that we were going to see daddy but it wasn't until she saw him that I think she fully realised. "My daughter is the strongest little girl to go through what she's gone through already.
Emily with dad Jon as she rides her pony. Picture: Hannah
Emily with dad Jon as she rides her pony. Picture: Hannah Caffrey
"Emily was born at 28 weeks and we have travelled around the country since she was born, moving with Jon's postings but we have bought a house in Harrogate so we have a base. "Sadly she's one of those children that has a malformation of no name. Long term, no-one has any idea what it might mean, we don't know what she'll do, it's very much take every day as it comes and see what happens."
Although the family can Whatsapp and video-call while Jon is away, Hannah explains that it is difficult to get Emily to properly talk to her dad over webcam. She said: "He sees massive changes in her development and just in herself, she's turned into a proper little girl. He's overwhelmed by her, she is out and out a proper daddy's girl
Emily and Jon enjoying quality time together. Picture:
        Hannah Caffrey
Emily and Jon enjoying quality time together. Picture: Hannah Caffrey

"Seeing her for the last 10 days has been really good for him to see how much she's changed in that time." The couple also have another seven-month-old daughter called Molly and while Jon was home, the family celebrated Emily's fourth birthday.

Jon Caffrey said: The greeting I got from Emily when I arrived back in the UK was more than I could ever of hoped for, I have often seen other fathers being greeted by their kids but never knew how special it really was until Emily came running up to me like she did. Luckily the video hides it, but I was closer to tears than I like to admit. "She is a very bright and happy little girl and also very much a daddy's girl, which makes it all the more difficult to leave her as she understands enough to know daddy is leaving but can't comprehend how long for or why he isn't coming home everyday. "Although I have done several deployments in the past, this is the first time I have been away for any significant period of time since having children which makes it so much harder for both me and Hannah. Jon who usually works at RAF College Cranwell within the RAF Police Special Investigations Branch is not due back from his detachment until August. On Tuesday (May 2) Jon flew back to Qatar and said goodbye to his family who he will see again when he finally returns home in the summer.
He said: "Hannah, who is an amazing Mum and wife, has her hands full when I'm away, and I don't think people appreciate just how tough it is for military wives/husbands when their partners are deployed, especially when children are involved. "The 11 days I had back in the UK were amazing, especially as it was over Emily's fourth birthday, so we had a couple of parties for her as well as some good quality family time. "Sadly though that is all over now and I won't be back home to see them until August."

1 May 17

Wife claims husband left to 'suffer PTSD in silence' after serving in Afghanistan

A mum-of-three says her husband has been 'continuously let down' by the Ministry of Defence after developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Luke Dallison, who works for the RAF Police, spent seven months in Afghanistan in 2012 and now suffers from PTSD.

His wife, Nikita Dallison, is accusing the MoD of 'sweeping [us] under the carpet' after discharging the 32-year-old from their treatment centre - despite attempts to take his own life.

Mr Dallison has served with the RAF Police for 12 years.

Mr Dallison has served with the RAF Police for 12 years. Credit: Nikita Dallison

Nikita, who lives at the RAF Shawbury base in Shropshire, has shared a video discussing her husband's PTSD online, which has so far been viewed over a million times and shared by 30,000 people.

I first noticed his PTSD in early 2013. By 2014 he was a completely different person.

This is no longer just about my husband, but it's about thousands of others who are being or have been neglected by the system too.

I'd like the MoD to address the issues faced by servicemen and their families. I want them to improve the 'Duty of Care' they promised our loved ones in accordance with the armed forces covenant.

These men and women, these families, my husband are not just numbers. I want them to be treated with the dignity, compassion and respect that they deserve, that they are owed.


The mental health of our people is of the utmost importance, which is why we provide a variety of support including education and access to health services.

We encourage those that need help to come forward and get the assistance they deserve.