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RAF celebrate Black History Month 2022

RAF held several events for Black History Month that celebrated the countless stories and contributions  of those from Ethnic Minority backgrounds, throughout our shared history and heritage.

Black History Month has given us the opportunity to reflect on how our previous historical successes were based on harnessing the talents of everyone in the team, irrespective of background.

Improving our knowledge of the cultural backgrounds our people come from, capitalising on everyone’s inherent skills and diverse thinking, and ensuring everyone can give their best because they feel part of the team. these sound like the tenets of good leadership, and elements that are essential for greater operational effectiveness.

Air Commodore Shaun Harris
Race & Ethnicity Advocate

RAF Marham

RAF Marham celebrated the life of the late Squadron Leader Ulric Cross DFC, DSO, the most decorated Caribbean airman of World War Two.

Cross trained as a navigator and was posted to 139 (Jamaica) Squadron, at RAF Marham in 1944. He then joined the Pathfinder Force, where he had the dangerous and difficult task of marking targets for bombing raids.

On one occasion, Cross was attacked over German territory, but managed to fly his Mosquito aircraft back to the UK with only one functioning engine. This earned him the Distinguished Service Order for,

fine example of keenness and devotion to duty.

His daughter, Lady Hollick OBE, unveiled a plaque at the RAF Marham Aviation Heritage Centre memorial wall, in memory of her father. The Kohima Epitaph was read by one of the students from Cherry Tree Academy Marham followed by the Last Post and Reveille played on the steel pan drums.

Image shows RAF aviator and civilian removing a cloth from a small plague on a memorial wall.
Lady Hollick unveiling the plaque with RAF Marham Station Commander, Group Captain  Wigglesworth.

RAF Marham then presented World War Two veterans Ralph Ottey and Alford Gardner with their war medals, which they had not received since returning to Jamaica at the end of the war.

Image shows two veterans chatting together.
 Alford Gardner and Ralph Ottey.

Group Captain Wigglesworth, RAF Marham Station Commander, and Lady Hollick OBE presented Ralph Ottey the 1939 – 1945 War Medal and Alford Gardner the 1939 – 1945 War Medal and the Defence Medal.

Image shows RAF Station Commander and veteran shaking hands.
RAF Marham Station Commander, Group Captain  Wigglesworth with veteran Ralph Ottey.

Runnymede memorial

RAF Personnel visited the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede, to honour those 20,458 Servicemen and women of the Commonwealth Air Forces who lost their lives during operations during World War Two and who have no named graves.

Read more about the Runnymede memorial event.

Image shows RAF aviators at the  Air Forces Runnymede Memorial.

RAF Northolt

RAF Northolt held a multicultural day to celebrate Service Personnel from eight different countries.

Image shows RAF aviators in the seated audience of a presentation room.

Guest speaker Eve Pitts, the Church of England’s first Black female vicar, attended the event. Speakers shared words on their heritage, showing the range of personnel from all different background serving in the RAF. 

Image shows RAF aviators serving themselves food in a canteen.

A delicious feast on the dishes from each nations represented was then enjoyed.

Image shows self catering food canteen.

RAF Wittering

RAF Wittering celebrated Diwali with a delicious lunch, that not only fed personnel’s appetites but also their understanding of Sikhism and Hinduism.

Pradeep Gogna, Warrant Officer Bali Flora and Squadron Leader Michael Masters attended the event, which was a great success and appreciated by all.

Image shows traditional Diwali decorations on a tables with a Hindi god statue and rose petals.

Food was shared to celebrate the spiritual idealism that light will fight darkness, good will conquer evil, and knowledge overrule ignorance. 

Traditional dress attire, decorations and tables with deity statues and candles were present.

Image shows a traditional sari dress on tailor a mannequin.

The RAF strives to be inclusive and diverse, recruiting, training and growing talented personnel from all backgrounds.