RAF Regiment celebrates 75 years

Jane Reilly  |  Published: Feb 3rd 2017

This year 1 February marked the 75th Anniversary of the formation, in 1942, of the Royal Air Force Regiment. Formed in the storm and stress of war, the RAF Regiment was born of the official recognition of the necessity for an indigenous and credible RAF ground defence force for the sole purpose of providing close defence of RAF Airfields, the catalyst for formation being the fall of France in 1940. In January 1942 King George VI signed a Royal Warrant for “a Corps formed as an integral part of the RAF”, and the RAF Regiment was born.

This week the commemoration events started at RAF Halton with a photo session in Halton House.  Five members of the Initial Force Protection Training Flight (IFPT) dressed in uniforms of the RAF Regiment through the years.

Left to right (oldest uniform first) are Cpl David Bannister, wearing the blue 1942 RAF Service Dress, Cpl Kyle Gibbs, in the green 1944 Battle Dress, Cpl Matthew Atkinson in PCS Combat Fighting Order, front line Operations dress as worn in Afghanistan, Sgt Wayne Hopewell in Ceremonial Queen’s Colour Squadron Dress and Sgt David Hodgkinson in No.1 uniform. The medals depicted are from campaigns the RAF Regiment have been involved with since 1998.

The next event to mark the occasion was a Combat Fitness Test over eight miles carrying 25k of weight including their rifles. The weather was bad as they formed up at the Coslett Stand to complete the march around RAF Halton.  Later in the afternoon was a Port Call with the Station RAF Regiment personnel gathering to toast the anniversary.

Over 100 Regiment personnel ended the week of events with a formal dinner night in the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess with special guests, Station Commander, Group Captain James Brayshaw and speaker, Harry Foxley, a life-long member of the Regiment, full time and reservist for 40 years.  There were also vignettes from the Gunners in period costume and a formal toast to the Regiment.  During the dinner certain fines amounting to £200 were paid for ‘misdemeanours’ and will be donated to the Combat Stress charity. 

Warrant Officer Shaun Griffin from IFPT said: “The 75th anniversary of the formation of the RAF Regiment has been celebrated in the finest traditions of the Corps here at RAF Halton this week. The dinner night in the Warrant Officers’ & Sergeants’ Mess has proved a hugely successful conclusion to those celebrations, it pulled together five generations of RAF Regiment Gunner, each with a common bond of brotherhood. Reflections on the Corps proud military history by a number of well researched vignettes were extremely well received. The Station Commander provided a view on the future of the Corps, and the Royal Air Force’s 5th generation aircraft, which will present the RAF Regiment with a whole new set of difficult challenges. A challenge the Corp will meet as always, upholding its motto ‘Through Adversity’ - Per Ardua.”

Group Captian Brayshaw said: “My warmest congratulations to the RAF Regiment on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of their formation in 1942, celebrated at RAF Halton as a formal Dinner with Regiment Officer’s and other ranks from surrounding Stations.  I salute their reputation for professionalism and tenacity in their role as Air Force Protection and CBRN specialists meeting the current standing tasks of the Royal Air Force.”

The RAF Regiment have served in all theatres of the war and had gained an enviable reputation for tenacity and versatility during World War two. In recent years the RAF Regiment has been involved in operations in the Balkans, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, as well as maintaining Force Protection for RAF assets deployed in the Middle East. They returned to the desert in force in 2003, the majority of squadrons being involved in the invasion of Iraq.

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