On Friday 19 June 2015 the Royal Air Forces Association held its Annual Remembrance Service at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire. It provided an opportunity to commemorate members of the RAF who have selflessly given their lives to their country and for relatives to remember loved ones.
The service was led by the Venerable (Air Vice-Marshal) Jonathan P M Chaffey QHC BA MA RAF, Chaplain in Chief of the Royal Air Force and the Rev (Sqn Ldr) Chris Carré, Station Chaplain of RAF Cosford. Music was provided by the RAF Association Band under the musical direction of Peter Skellon BEM. Readings were delivered by our President AM Sir Dusty Miller and Secretary General, Nick Bunting. The RAF Association Dedication was led by Second World War fighter pilot Eric Carter.
Eric is one of only four surviving members of a secret mission, code-named ‘Force Benedict’. Sanctioned by Winston Churchill in 1941, Force Benedict was dispatched to defend Murmansk, the USSR’s only port not under Nazi occupation. If Murmansk fell, Soviet resistance against the Nazis would be hard to sustain and Hitler would be able to turn all his forces on Britain.
Following the service everyone followed the Association’s standards to the RAF Association garden of remembrance for a wreath laying ceremony. This was followed by a flypast by a Dakota from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, then another by two helicopters (a Squirrel and a Griffin), also courtesy of the Royal Air Force.
Luke Follos, his mother, grandmother and other family members were at the service. Luke’s grandfather, Cpl PR Swansborough, served as groundcrew from 1939 until 1960. He was stationed at many places within the UK, as well as Changi. Luke said: “Grandad passed away last year, so we have placed a stone in the memorial garden for him as a tribute to what he did for his country.”
Retired Gp Cpt Nicky Loveday was there to pay tribute to her friend Flt Lt Simon ‘Bean’ Broadway. She raised a glass of wine to him, saying: “Bean was a very special person who lived life to the full. The Association’s remembrance garden is a nice place to come and remember him, along with many other members of the RAF family.”
Secretary General Nick Bunting said: “The RAF Association Annual Remembrance Service is a very important event in our calendar. I was pleased that so many friends and family members were able to make the service to remember their loved ones - this is what being part of the RAF family is about.”
For the family, friends or colleagues wishing to celebrate the life of a person or organisation associated with the RAF, they may place a personalised remembrance cross or stone in the RAF Association Remembrance Garden. Stainless steel inscriptions are set into the zephyr grey stone and headed with the RAF Association Wings emblem. Donations given for these crosses and stones are used by the charity to help support serving and former RAF personnel and their families in times of need.
The Association encourages anyone making a visit to the Arboretum to visit the garden year round to pay their respects.
Further information on the garden or remembrance stones and crosses is available from email@example.com or by calling 0116 268 8791.
RAF Association Annual Remembrance Service 2015
Royal Air Forces Association President AM Sir Dusty Miller KBE lays the wreath on behalf of the Association
13 Erewash Branch members including our Standard Bearer Alex Burton 5th from the left attended the the Remembrance Service