The RAF reflected during this poignant period of Remembrance 2022, to commemorate the memory of those who made sacrifices for our security and the way we live today. We will not forget those who have served before.
This year marks 104 years since the end of World War One and signing of the Armistice activating peace negotiations, on 11 November 1918. Many Remembrance services were held across the UK, with RAF aviators wearing the poppy to mark their respects and laying wreaths at memorial sites. Below are further ways the RAF remembered those who had fallen.
Cardiff Field of Remembrance
Air Officer Wales, Air Commodore Adrian Williams, attended the opening of the Cardiff Field of Remembrance to mark the start of Remembrance events.
Rows of crosses adorned the grounds in front of Cardiff Castle, featuring the names of some who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
As a current serving member of the RAF Reserves, Remembrance is an opportunity to remember all the servicemen and women who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Air Specialist 1 Michelle
Personnel Support Officer, 614 (County of Glamorgan) Squadron
RAF Honington East Wretham Memorial Service
Aviators from RAF Honington paid tribute during their annual service at East Wretham Memorial, organised by the Thetford & District Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association.
12 Czechoslovak and 2 Polish airmen are laid to rest in the Commonwealth War Graves Plot at St Ethelbert’s Church. No 311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron RAF was formed at RAF Honington on 29 July 1940 and moved to East Wretham in September 1940. As a Bomber and latterly a Coastal Command Squadron, 311 Squadron flew over 3000 sorties in World War Two and sank several enemy vessels in the fight against the German U-Boat and surface fleet. One of the most noteworthy actions being the sinking of the German blockade runner Alsterufer in the Bay of Biscay.
Officer Commanding Support Wing, Wing Commander English, was honoured to lay a Station Wreath alongside Czech Defence Attaché Brigadier General Vratislav Beran, Slovak Defence Attaché, Colonel Vladimir Stolárik, and Polish Defence Attaché, Colonel Mieczyslaw Malec.
Officer Commanding Force Protection Centre, Wing Commander Ben Alcock welcomed the Czech and Slovak Defence Attaches back to RAF Honington to lay a wreath at the 311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron Memorial which was officially commemorated in July 2020 to recognise the 80th anniversary of its founding.
A total of 273 311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron personnel lost their lives; one of the highest loss rates across the RAF Squadrons in World War Two.
Defence Christian Network Remembrance Service
The RAF led the annual Armed Forces annual Service of Prayer and Remembrance Service at Shrivenham. The Defence Christian Network organised the event with Armed Forces’ Chaplaincies, to honour the Fallen and pray for the living alongside the local community.
InsideAIR explored how serving personnel and veterans reflect whilst on deployment. The episode discusses with members of 83 Expeditionary Air Group, as they remember from afar, in the Middle Eastern desert.
RAF Music Services
RAF Music Services supported the National Service of Remembrance, as well as the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.
With a familiar and forlorn first note, the Last Post is a powerfully poignant piece often played during this reflective period. Members of the RAF Music Service shared how incredibly moving it is to play and what the music means to them.
Corporal Anthony McCarthy played a beautiful rendition of the Last Post on piano, in the setting of St Clement Danes, the Central Church of the Royal Air Force. This piece was arranged by Miles Nottage.
Also, RAF Trumpeters performed during pre-match ceremonies at over 20 football clubs across the UK. Corporal Cartlidge played at Stoke City Football Club; Sergeant Ringham played before QPR's Loftus Stadium; Sergeant Hynd played at Villa Park for Aston Villa; and Corporal Belfield at the Stamford Bridge Chelsea stadium.
Renowned Remembrance artist Jacqueline Hurley exhibited her beautiful and poignant expressionistic artwork at St Clement Danes Church, the central church of the Royal Air Force, London.
Depicting tributes and scenes of Remembrance, the evocative military poppy paintings were well received.
I am delighted to have my paintings exhibited in St Clement Danes Church, the central church of the Royal Air Force. I can think of no more meaningful venue during Remembrance week, as we all pause to remember those gave their lives for our freedom today.
Renowned Remembrance artist
An Unknown Women in War statue (sometimes referred to as female Tommy’s) was placed on the roundabout at Burghfield, in honour of sacrifices and contributions made by women in war past and present. Money from the donations have also been used to purchase 23 large poppies, that will be placed on lamp posts throughout the village for future Remembrance periods to come.
The site lies close to HMS Dauntless, the World War Two training base for Women’s Royal Navy Service which is now used as accommodation for RAF Odiham. The statue has been named 'Rosalind,' after a former Women's Royal Navy who completed her training at HMS Dauntless.
Mrs Sally Reid proposed the idea and facilitated the purchase of the statue.
I am always overwhelmed how generous people are and how we come together for remembrance, it is a living memory for so many and continues to be part of our lives in whatever conflict we have been involved with, I am delighted that we have a Women in War figure to represent what females did and continue to do during times of troubles, even more excited we have named her after my mother who completed her training in the Navy here.
Wing Commander Affleck
RAF aviators shared some of their stories, in respect of those who had given the ultimate sacrifice.
Squadron Leader Claire Mepham-stone, Chief of Staff at RAF High Wycombe, has deep family connections to military service and a love of the country they serve.
Her grandmother was a cook in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force at RAF Manston, Kent, and was part of No 11 Group Fighter Command, that played a pivotal part during the Battle of Britain.
Claire’s grandfather was an Army veteran, involved in the 1944 landing on Sword Beach – one of the most famous of World War Two. In the end, nearly 700 British lives were lost on Sword Beach and became one of the most horrific and key battles throughout France, Belgium and eventually, the invasion of Germany.
Remembrance is a time to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, for those who have and continue to serve, and for those who carry with them the wounds of conflict both physically and emotionally. We owe it to them to remember and to continue their legacy.
Hazel Crozier, Curator at RAF College Cranwell, has researched and commemorated service personnel who were lost over the 20th and 21st Century, including:
- Royal Flying Corps
- Royal Naval Air Service
- Royal Air Force
- Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
- Royal Army Ordinance Corps
- Special Operations Executive
- Auxiliary Territorial Service
She has spoken to many veterans from World War Two, striking home how much was endured and why it is so important to remember the sacrifice made by thousands.
From a personal perspective, I remember my Great Uncle Private James Crozier who was killed in action on 1 October 1915 in the Battle of Loos and who has no known grave. Also, my grandfather, Lance Bombardier Arthur Crozier of the Royal Horse Artillery who was wounded in action 1914-1915 with a “Blighty” wound and honourably discharged back home in 1915.