The Royal Air Force celebrated the history, dedication, and sacrifice made by thousands of Jamaican service men and women, on the anniversary of Windrush.
RAF Wittering held a special luncheon and presentations event attended by The Forgotten Generations (TFG), an initiative that records the life stories and experiences of people from British African and Caribbean countries.
The fascinating history of 139 (Jamaica) RAF Squadron and their contribution to World War Two was highlighted at the event, as well as the stories of those who arrived in London on 22 June 1948, aboard HMT Empire Windrush. It is believed nearly one third of the passengers were RAF airmen making the journey from Jamaica.
Founder and retired RAF Engineer, Warrant Officer Donald Campbell, presented a picture of the Caribbean poppy to RAF Wittering, accepted by the Station Commander, Wing Commander Case.
"Thank you everyone involved in today’s event, particularly our Project Officer, Corporal Messam. Cultural events like this are an enormously beneficial learning opportunity and it has been a privilege to welcome our guests and listen to their experiences and insights."
Wing Commander Case
RAF Wittering Station Commander
The luncheon was then held at the RAF Wittering Heritage Centre. An authentic Afro-Caribbean atmosphere was created through the cultural cuisine of mutton curry with rice and peas, cooked by RAF Wittering’s Catering Flight, accompanied by the sounds of steel drums by the Coldstream Guards band.
Jamaican born and newly appointed Honorary Air Commodore, Dr Marcia McLaughlin, represented the Royal Auxiliary Air Force at the event. She works with 7644 Squadron providing a unique editorial and production service to the RAF, following an experienced journalism career and as founder and editor of the Phoenix News organisation.
"The welcome from the Officers and people has been amazing, the information I have received has been overwhelming. Today for me as been remarkable."
Dr Marcia McLaughlin
Honorary Air Commodore, 7644 Public Relations Squadron
Also in attendance was Mr Albert Jarrett. Born in Jamaica, Albert joined the RAF in 1942 as a RAF Driver and weapons instructor during World War Two. He notably crossed the Atlantic, despite the tremendous risk of attack from U-Boats and Bismarck class battleships.
"I spent more time on the range with new recruits. I was very small, and they couldn’t understand why I was so good at using the rifle, so they kept me behind to teach the recruits. It is wonderful, this is the memory. I’m so pleased at 98, not many of my type around and I’m so pleased to be here."
Mr Albert Jarrett
Meanwhile, the RAF Community Engagement Team attended a flag raising ceremony, at the Grand Central in Birmingham. This event, hosted by the Lord Mayer of Birmingham’s Office, saw a live stream of the new Windrush Monument being unveiled by His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, in Liverpool Street Train Station, London.
There will be many further events celebrating Jamaican history and aviators contribution to service over the coming months.