For the last decade, Association members have been looking forward to the 100th Anniversary of the Squadron’s formation on 23rd February 2017. A good number of members attended the Anniversary Service at St Clement Danes on 24th February, but more were planning to attend the main event at RAF Leeming on Saturday, 18th March.
Furthermore, our Secretary was determined that we should have an extended weekend experience starting with a “Meet and Greet” in the Officers’ Mess on Friday morning before setting off to either the Wensleydale Creamery at Hawes or the Aviation Museum at Elvington. At the Creamery, we witnessed a demonstration of cheese making and toured the exhibition area, which included a chance to overlook the production line before enjoying a good lunch. I understand that those who visited Elvington also thoroughly enjoyed their visit. In the afternoon, we all returned to Leeming and, after a brief visit to the Squadron hangar to see the excellent History Room, we went on to a full up “Meet and Greet” in the Officers’ Mess when all the Squadron guys and gals were present with their families for a buffet supper.
On Saturday morning, most members visited the Black Sheep brewery for a guided tour and light lunch. Back at Leeming, the Squadron Open Day started at 1230 with a good static display line up including a Tornado, a couple of F16s from Belgium, Typhoons, a Red Arrow Hawk plus more from 100. Also in the line-up were some armoured vehicles of The Royal Lancers Regiment, who are based in Catterick. The Squadron has set up an affiliation arrangement with the Regiment mainly because their insignia and cap badge is also a skull and crossbones.
Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cornwall, arrived early and spent a lot of time touring the crowd line of the parade square set up at the end of the hangar; she came over to the dais where many Association members were seated and chatted away to us before the parade started. The RAF Regiment Queen’s Colour Squadron performed a drill display accompanied by the RAF College Band before the Squadron Standard was marched on. The afternoon’s events finished with a Hawk flypast and another chance for HRH to meet some of our veterans before she left. After a break to relax and change, we all returned to the Squadron Hangar for the Gala Dinner, which was excellent and very efficiently served considering there were 450 people present. This was followed by some enthusiastic dancing until late into the night.
Our Sunday service in St Bede’s was well attended with the Squadron Standard on the altar and a chance afterwards to examine our Role of Honour. We had a very short AGM in the Junior Ranks Mess where we elected two new honorary members: Mike Purdie – CO when the Association was formed and Stéphane Cottel from Marly in France, who has devotedly looked after the grave sites of five Lancaster crew members lost in WWII.