As part of Black History Month, Royal Air Force Marham hosted the Royal Air Force Black History Roadshow this week with a number of events happening across the Station.
On Wednesday 19th October there was an unveiling of a plaque at the Royal Air Force Marham Aviation Heritage Centre memorial wall in memory of the late Squadron Leader Ulric Cross DFC, DSO. Squadron Leader Cross was the most decorated Caribbean airman of the Second World War. Squadron Leader Cross trained as a navigator and was posted to 139 (Jamaica) Squadron at RAF Marham in 1944. The unit was so named as it flew bombers paid for by the people of Jamaica. Squadron Leader Cross joined the Pathfinder Force where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The Pathfinder Force had the dangerous and difficult task of marking targets accurately for bombing raids, during which they were targeted by German searchlights followed by flak and bullets. On one occasion flak destroyed one of the engines of the Mosquito that Cross was flying in, they returned back to the UK over German territory at a reduced speed and with only one engine. In 1944, Squadron Leader Cross was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his ‘fine example of keenness and devotion to duty’.
The memorial plaque was unveiled by one of Sqn Ldr Cross’ daughters, Lady Hollick OBE. 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.
Ahead of the unveiling World War II veterans Ralph Ottey and Alford Gardner were presented with medals from Royal Air Force Marham Station Commander, Group Captain Fred Wigglesworth and Lady Hollick OBE. Ralph Ottey received the 1939 – 1945 War Medal and Alford Gardner received the 1939 – 1945 War Medal and the Defence Medal. Both Ralph and Alford had returned to Jamaica straight after the end of the war without receiving their medals.
Royal Air Force Marham Station Commander, Group Captain Fred Wigglesworth said “ This touching event captured our hearts and imagination, bringing to life the memories of inspirational RAF Marham veterans. I was bursting with pride to award Ralph and Alford their WWII medals and unveil the plaque in memory of Sqn Ldr Ulric Cross. It was particularly poignant for this to happen during Black History Month”.
After the service at the Heritage Centre the group moved to the Lightning Operations Centre where one of the meeting rooms was named in honour of Squadron Leader Ulric Cross, where a display, including replicas of his medals, was unveiled.
Earlier in the week there was a lunch in the Junior Ranks Mess where diners were treated to different dishes from across the Commonwealth. Set up in the dining room was the ‘Cultural Explosion’ where personnel were on hand to display and talk about different cultures and history from a number of Commonwealth countries. On display were textiles and items from Fiji, some sweet treats and snacks from Trinidad and Tobago and items from Nigeria.
The dining hall was filled with the sounds of the steel pan drum, played by Petty Officer Joseph, the organiser of the event.