Personnel from 504 Sqn, based at RAF Wittering, were among those present at a special renaming ceremony of a Steam Locomotive at Nene Valley Railway near Peterborough on 27 May 2023.
The event, led by Air Vice Marshal Ranald Munro, Commandant General of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, was attended by special guests and reservist personnel from across the RAF including 504 Squadron’s Honorary Air Commodore, Veronica Pickering who unveiled the name plate. The Band of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF) provided a musical backdrop and there was a flypast by a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Chefs from 504 Sqn’s Catering Flight also made a commemorate cake featuring an image of the Steam Locomotive which was enjoyed by over 100 guests.
The RAuxAF is marking 100 years of volunteer reserve service in the RAF in 2024, and to mark the occasion the Battle of Britain Class locomotive No:34081 has temporarily changed its name from “92 Squadron” to “Royal Auxiliary Air Force”.
The Battle of Britain Locomotive Society was keen to support the Royal Auxiliary Air Force with a temporary name change after learning that 41,000 RAF Volunteer Reserves were killed in action whilst serving with the RAF in World War II.
In addition to new name plates, the engine’s cab now carries the medal ribbon of the Queen’s (now King’s) Volunteer Reserve Medal, beneath its temporary new number 34111. The QVRM/KVRM is a state honour awarded to Reservists who have given exemplary service to the country.
The locomotive “Royal Auxiliary Air Force” will now go into a maintenance programme to prepare it to pull passenger services next season to commemorate the RAuxAF 100th anniversary. At the end of the season, the locomotive will resume its name “92 Squadron” and the “Royal Auxiliary Air Force” brass name plates will be auctioned to raise funds for the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Foundation which works to maintain the various memorials to the Service and its personnel and curate the history of this unique and valued component of the Royal Air Force.
Speaking at the event, Air Vice Marshal Ranald Munro, Commandant General of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, said: “I must thank sincerely the Battle of Britain Locomotion Society for allowing us to re-name this locomotive for the duration of our 100th anniversary and the RAuxAF Foundation and Sqn Ldr Alfred Hall for coming up with the idea. I must also thank the Nene Valley Railway for their hard work to make this event happen.”
Squadron Leader Kaye Slater, Officer Commanding 504 Squadron, said: “As 504 Squadron enters its 95th year since its formation, it was a privilege for our serving personnel and Association members to attend this historic event to commemorate the Royal Auxiliary Air Force’s century of meritorious, dedicated service.”