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Thousands Pay Tribute To Fallen At National Memorial Arboretum
The annual ride brings people from all across the UK and further afield together to remember those who ‘can no longer ride by our side’.

More than 7,000 motorcyclists have gone to the National Memorial Arboretum to pay tribute to those commemorated on the Armed Forces Memorial.

The ride has been taking place each year since 2007, with people attending from across the UK and overseas.

There are 11 designated start locations across the country, with the majority of the bikers heading together to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

As part of the annual tradition, the motorcyclists are saluted by Northern Ireland veteran David Andrew for five hours as they arrive.

A service of remembrance took place at the Arboretum once all bikers had arrived, with Anthony Cooper laying a wreath at the Armed Forces Memorial.

Anthony was injured in Afghanistan by an IED, losing both legs, his right eye, two fingers on one hand and fingertips from the other.

Anthony Cooper during Ride to the Wall

Philippa Rawlinson, Managing Director of the National Memorial Arboretum, said: "This is my first ever Ride to the Wall and the sight of thousands of riders streaming in to pay their respects is simply incredible.

"Today provides a fantastic example of people coming together from across the UK and further afield to pay their respects in their own way."

Martin Dickinson, Founder of Ride to the Wall, said: “Each year we gather at Ride to the Wall to remember those who can no longer ride by our side.

"We ride to make sure that the names on the walls of the Armed Forces Memorial will never be forgotten."

The annual ride has generated almost £1 million to the National Memorial Arboretum, with the event raising £151,000 in 2018 alone.


Photo gallery: Benches at Castle Dyke and the Broad Street war memorial in Stamford commemorate 100 years of the First World War, the Royal Air Force and RAF Wittering

Take a look at these photos featuring three distinctive new benches installed in Stamford to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War, the Royal Air Force and RAF Wittering.

Stamford-based photographer Don Lambert was behind the idea, and lots of people and businesses contributed to make the project happen.

The benches can be seen on the corner of Castle Dyke and Bath Row in Stamford, and by the war memorial in Broad Street.

Those contributing included Alex Pistolas, Ash Ltd 2, Peter Stevens, Maureen Jalili, Patricia Reed, Paul Mills, Andrew Moore, Dave Hudson, Tom Riley, The Green Man, Stamford Endowed School, Vision Express Stamford, the M&S staff, Sue Bishop, The Crown Hotel, Stamford Civic Society and Stamford Town Council Grant Fund.

Councillors who contributed part of their annual community grants and gave personal donations included David Brailsford, Brian Sumner, Brenda Sumner, Bill Turner, Mike Exton, Breda Griffin, David Taylor.

Former Stamford mayor Tony Story, who is retired from the RAF, said: “Don and I would like to thank everyone involved for their generosity and support given to help create this permanent memory in Stamford of those who fell in both World Wars and later conflicts, and the special relationship between RAF Wittering and Stamford.

“It is hoped these visual and tactile reminders of the past century’s conflicts will be seen and used by all age groups including our younger generations acting as a permanent reminder of sacrifices made to ensure our freedom today.”

One of the benches features eight silhouettes of RAF aeroplanes alongside its red, white and blue roundel.

Group Captain Tony Keeling, Station Commander at RAF Wittering, said: “A big thank you to Don and Tony for bringing this project to life. They’re beautiful designs and I’m certain these benches will be very well used over the coming years.

“What makes it special is the way that local people, businesses and organisations have funded this project.

“It is an expression of the genuine goodwill the people of Stamford have for the Royal Air Force. That goodwill makes a real difference to us at Wittering.”


THE Queen’s Flight will be back at RAF Benson this month for the first time in almost 25 years.

The Royal Air Force’s VIP transport Squadron, 32 (The Royal) Squadron, will return to its historic home temporarily until October.

The short relocation is necessary due to runway resurfacing work takling place at RAF Northolt in West London, where 32 Squadron is currently based.

The Queen’s Flight was established as the King’s Flight at RAF Benson in 1936, when Edward VIII was on the throne, and remained there for more than half a century.

In 1996, 32 (The Royal) Squadron was formed at RAF Northolt from the merger of the Queen’s Flight and 32 Squadron to provide VIP transport to UK military and government leaders.

Group Captain Adam Wardrope, station commander at RAF Benson, said: “In our 80th anniversary year, we are delighted to temporarily welcome 32 (The Royal) Squadron back to RAF Benson. We have been working closely with our colleagues at RAF Northolt to ensure that we can deliver the same outstanding level of service to their passengers while minimising the impact on our local community.

“While those in the local area will see BAe 146 aircraft, and on occasion small helicopters transporting passengers, operating alongside the RAF Benson Puma and Chinook helicopters for the period, we do not expect there to be a significant increase in air traffic.

“We are also working closely with other local airspace users to ensure that air safety is maintained for all.”

At times, there will also be visiting Leonardo AW109 helicopters, which are similar in size to the Puma helicopters that have operated at Benson for many years

Wing Commander Caz Viles Officer commanding 32 (The Royal) Squadron, said: “RAF Benson is the historic home of VIP flying for the Royal Air Force, so we are grateful and honoured to return there during the runway works at Northolt.

“Although the squadron’s location will be different our role remains the same: to get the right person to the right place at the right time.

“The Northolt and Benson teams have been working together brilliantly to make that happen.”

In October, a £23 million contract to resurface the runway at RAF Northholt was awarded to Lagan Aviation Infrastructure.

The work will extend the life of the runway by 10 to 15 years and ensure military flying operations continue.

RAF Northolt, which is the last military airfield inside the M25, is home to 33 supported units.

RAF Benson says it cannot give details of aircraft operations but does not expect there to be a “significant” impact on the community. It has asked residents to remain vigilant and report anything of a suspicious nature to the RAF Police or Military Provost Guard Service at RAF Benson on (01491) 837766 ext 7450 or (01491) 827247.

Meanwhile, the base has asked Benson Parish Council for permission to erect “no drone zone” signs in areas that are likely to be used for drone flying, notably Sunnyside recreation ground. Areas falling within 5km of the airfield are inside the zone.

Benson Parish Council chairman Bill Pattison said: “There will be signs going up in places where they think people might go and fly a drone. It’s so open around here it could be anywhere.

“With the possibility of dignitaries being in the area now as well, they are going to be really stringent.”

Councillor John Sharman asked if the base would consult with the council, saying: “I don’t like signs.”

Cllr Pattison replied: “They have said they are not going to go silly with it.”


RAF Linton-on-Ouse was built in 1937 and served as an important part of Britain's defence in the Second World War.

It also became a training base for Royal Air Force and Royal Navy pilots.

In July 2018, the Ministry of Defence, who own the site, announced its permanent closure would take place in 2020.

But in a series of 'last opportunities' for members of the public to visit the Memorial Room, a museum-like space in memory of the fallen, pre-arranged guided tours will begin until the site is almost decommissioned.

An RAF spokesperson said: "RAF Linton-on-Ouse has performed with distinction in its important roles in the RAF's history.

"Apart from flying many bombing raids over enemy territory during World War Two, losing over 1300 aircrew in the process, its fighters were an integral element of the nation's air defences from 1946 to 1957.

"The Memorial Room at Linton will be opening on a pre-booked basis to members of the public on a selection of Sunday afternoons this year.

"It will open at 2pm for guided tours on April 7th and subsequently on the first Sunday every month, up to and including October.

"This year’s visits may well be the last opportunities for members of the public to view the Memorial Room prior to the RAF drawdown from the site."

The guided tours will be free, and visitors are advised to register to call 01347-847660. Larger groups are advised to call 01347-847673.


New veterans ID cards rolled out to service leavers

All service leavers will receive a new ID card to mark their time in the armed forces.

ID card

An example of the new Veterans ID card

A new ID card for armed forces veterans, which will help them access specialist support and services, has started to be issued to service leavers.

From today, any personnel who have left the military since December 2018 will automatically be given one of the new ID cards, which will allow them to maintain a tangible link to their career in the forces.

The cards allow veterans to easily verify their service to the NHS, their local authority, and charities, helping them to access support and services where needed.

All other veterans will be able to apply for a new ID card by the end of this year, to mark their time in the armed forces.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood said:

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the ex-forces community, and we are working hard to ensure they receive the support they deserve.

These new cards celebrate the great commitment and dedication of those who have served this country, and I hope they can provide a further link to ex-personnel and the incredible community around them.

Veterans UK - which manages pensions and compensation payments for the armed forces - local authorities, service charities, NHS and GPs will also benefit from the change, as they will not have to conduct time-consuming checks to identify individual veterans.

The new ID card is one of three that are available to service leavers. Personnel leaving the armed forces are also able to keep their military IDs, known as the MOD Form 90, allowing them to maintain their emotional connection with their service. Additionally, veterans can access a range of discounts through the Defence Discount Service, the official MOD-endorsed service for the armed forces.

Last year saw the launch of the Strategy for our Veterans, published jointly by the UK, Welsh and Scottish Governments, which sets out the key areas of support for those who have left the armed forces. The consultation closes this Thursday (21st February).

All relevant Government departments have a responsibility to ensure that the military community is treated fairly, and not disadvantaged by their service, as part of the Armed Forces Covenant. The new ID cards will ensure the process of validating service is as straightforward as possible, so that ex-forces personnel can access support for issues related to their service quickly, where needed.

The cards will complement the NHS’ commitment to providing specialist health support for veterans in every part of the health service, enabling ex-service personnel in England, Scotland and Wales to access treatment where they have been affected by their service. Last year, NHS England announced that dedicated mental healthcare services are up and running in every part of the country, backed by £10 million of investment, with increasing numbers of GPs and hospitals becoming ‘Veteran Aware’, in order to fully address the needs of those who have served.

Any veteran in need of support can contact the Veterans’ Gateway – the 24 hour service which signposts ex-forces personnel to the wide range of support available to them, including housing and financial advice, career guidance, and medical care from the NHS. Since being set up in 2017, the Veterans’ Gateway has already received over 20,000 contacts, advising ex-forces personnel and their families.


Security guard is fined £430 for attaching blue lights to his girlfriend's Ford Mondeo and taking an armband marked 'RAF police' while on patrol

A security guard who fitted flashing blue lights to a car and bought a peaked cap and ‘RAF police’ armband to use while on patrol has been fined £430.

Clive Eglen, 52,  attached blue warning beacons and black and white chequered transfers to his girlfriend’s Ford Mondeo.

Eglen, from King's Lynn, Norfolk, appeared in Magistrates’ Court yesterday where he received a fine of £430 for using the the lights on a non emergency vehicle.

Clive Eglen from King's Lynn, Norfolk, was fined a total of £430 for fitting blue flashing lights to his girlfriend's Ford Mondeo, pictured

Clive Eglen from King's Lynn, Norfolk, was fined a total of £430 for fitting blue flashing lights to his girlfriend's Ford Mondeo, pictured

The security guard denied impersonating a police officer when he was stopped on April 26

The security guard denied impersonating a police officer when he was stopped on April 26

Police found an 'RAF police' armband and a peaked cap when they searched the car

Police found an 'RAF police' armband and a peaked cap when they searched the car

The court was shown pictures of the dark green 51-plate Mondeo with black and white chequered transfers on its sides and rear side windows.

The judge also heard an armband marked ‘RAF police’ and a peaked cap was also found in the vehicle.

Eglen was stopped by police in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, on April 26 last year and told police during an interview that he used the car as part of his work as a security officer.

The 52-year-old, who was originally charged with impersonating a police officer, but denied this in a hearing last July, pleaded guilty to having blue warning beacons fitted.

In mitigation, Hugh Cauthery told the court on Monday that Eglen found the blue lights on eBay and believed he could use them on private land.

The driver bought the car about three years ago for £400 and said he used it informally for security purposes, driving it only on private land.

Eglen said he bought the car three years ago for £400 and used it informally for security purposes and driving it only on private land

Eglen said he bought the car three years ago for £400 and used it informally for security purposes and driving it only on private land

The defendant had been asked by the owners of a car boot and storage company, who were having trouble with the travelling community, to use his vehicle as a deterrent.

Mr Cauthery told the court that the vehicle was never used on a public road with flashing lights and that nowhere on the car did it say ‘police’.

Eglen had been stopped a number of times by police with lights fitted to his vehicle but no concerns had been raised before the instance last April.

The Ford Mondeo had since been impounded but the court allowed it to be released after instructing Eglen to remove the lights and anything that makes it look like an emergency vehicle.

Eglen was fined £300 and ordered to pay £100 costs and £30 victim surcharge.

After receiving his court bill, Eglen apologised to the court and said he did not know it was illegal to have blue lights on a car even if it is not being used on the road.


Council leaders sign off £400,000 to help build permanent home for Doncaster’s XH558 Vulcan bomber


Council leaders and South Yorkshire metro mayor Dan Jarvis have agreed to give £400,000 to help build a permanent home for the iconic XH558 Vulcan bomber. The Sheffield City Region Combined Authority signed off sum to the Etna Project Heritage Hanger,  which will house the famous Cold War era aircraft at Doncaster Sheffield Airport.  The money is set to provide a secure and permanent base for the restored bomber and other heritage assets. Space will also be made available for conferences, corporate and private events and educational activities for young people aged 7-14. It will also provide an ideal airfield viewing area and create a total of 25 jobs.  SCR bosses predict the scheme will generate 4.3 million to the local economy over 10 years.  Dr Robert Pleming, speaking on behalf of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust ,said:“The funding from the Sheffield City Region will be vital in delivering this heritage hangar, ensuring that XH558 is given the home she deserves and that the public can once again visit this iconic aircraft. “We look forward to being able to announce the completion of contractual arrangements, and will keep supporters of the Vulcan up to date with our progress.” 


New radar at Saxa Vord


In the footsteps of the Dambusters: Walking with ghosts in Lincolnshire

 617 Squadron (Dambusters) At Scampton, Lincolnshire, 22 July 1943
The 617 Squadron at Scampton CREDIT: GETTY

 Chris Leadbeater, travel writer
16 MAY 2018 • 8:30AM
A bomb before dinner seems a lot to digest, but there it is anyway – tucked beside the Twenties swimming pool, which has been turned into a fountain. It looks, at first glance, like a heavy roller for a cricket pitch, idle between innings. But a sign in front reveals the truth – that this is a prototype of the famous “bouncing bomb” cleverly devised by the British genius Barnes Wallis to target German dams in the heat of the Second World War.

It looks oddly at home on the lawn of the Petwood Hotel, the evening sun slanting across it. I have slipped out of the restaurant and across the terrace to inspect it – and as I do so, I hear a cascade of exuberant laughter from the lounge. Ghosts adrift on the early summer breeze? In a property built in 1905, which became a hotel in 1933, this seems almost within the realms of possibility.

Petwood Hotel
The prototype of the famous “bouncing bomb” looks oddly at home on the lawn of the Petwood Hotel CREDIT: DOUBLE RED/JAMES WRIGHT
The source of the mirth is a table of guests and a bottle of rosé – but the idea of guffaws echoing down the years is not so far-fetched. Petwood may have settled into a groove as a luxury retreat in the Lincolnshire village of Woodhall Spa, but it is still revered for having been the officers’ mess of the RAF’s 617 Squadron in 1944 and 1945. These dashing aviators called it “a splendid place remote from battle”. And they had earned their refuge.

On the night of May 16-17 1943, 133 of them had flown 19 Lancaster bombers towards Germany as part of Operation Chastise – a daring attack on the Möhne, Edersee and Sorpe dams in the Ruhr valley, with Wallis’s new bombs as a spear-tip. Largely a success, the raid made a celebrity of the squadron’s commanding officer Guy Gibson, and landed his men the joyful nickname “Dambusters”.

It is a word, and a mission, which has stuck fast to the British consciousness. This week, its 75th anniversary will be marked with everything from flyovers to nationwide screenings (Thursday) of the 1955 film that transported the derring-do to the cinema (with a DVD re-release to come, on June 4).

Petwood remains a treasure trove of memories, the Squadron Bar preserved as a salute. In a photo in one corner, Gibson stands on the terrace, flashing the cocksure smile that characterised his existence; above the fireplace, a frame of black and white shows the entire 617 Squadron at their home base, RAF Scampton – five long rows posed formally in front of a Lancaster, amid the puddles of July 9 1943. The sturdy tree limb above the bar apparently became wedged in the front of one of the bombers on 617’s other fabled mission – to assist in the destruction of the German battleship Tirpitz, on Nov 12 1944.

There are further echoes in the area: the memorial to the squadron on Royal Square in Woodhall Spa, where 204 men are listed as dying on duty in the Second World War, the words “Australia”, “Canada” and “New Zealand” after some of the names re-emphasising the global nature of the conflict; and Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre in East Kirkby, which has one of the three Lancasters still in operation.

Then there is the soul of the Dambusters, RAF Scampton – still a functioning base, but one that lets civilians peek at infrastructure, which sings of 1943. Upstairs in the RAF Scampton Heritage Centre, Gibson’s office has been restored to its appearance in 1943 – a dial-telephone on the desk, a pipe and ashtray, a pair of leather gloves, a chalkboard detailing the personnel for the May 16 mission.

 A still from The Dam Busters, a 1955 retelling of the mission
A still from The Dam Busters, a 1955 retelling of the mission CREDIT: STUDIO CANAL
There is context, too, in the next room, where a board names all 133 airmen who flew that night, with a poppy – 53 in all – next to each who did not return. And there is a frisson to entering the hangar behind, and knowing that it was here where the Lancasters were readied.

The hangar is currently given over to Bastion in the Air, an exhibition that examines Lincolnshire’s role in the air-defence of the realm during the First World War, via artefacts as varied as a new-build Sopwith Camel, and an officer’s cricket bat, taken to the Somme. It is part of a drive to celebrate the county’s links to aviation – which will bear further fruit in November with the unveiling of an art installation, next to the A46 at Hill Holt Wood, which will mimic the Angel of the North, but take the wing of a Lancaster as the core facet of its design.

“Lincolnshire has been at the forefront of flight in this country for more than a century,” says David Harrigan of Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire – an RAF veteran who has been instrumental in the exhibition’s creation. “It’s been that way since the first German zeppelins came over, using the Humber as a navigational aid.”

 Breaking Of The Möhne Dam
The breaking of the Möhne Dam CREDIT: GETTY
Bastion in the Air extends to The Collection, a museum at the heart of Lincoln – a city that understands its heritage. Its cathedral marries 11th-century magnificence to 20th-century remembrance in its trio of military chapels – including the Airmen’s Chapel, with stained-glass tributes to the men who flew and died with Bomber Command. Its castle manages a similar leap in time, visibly Norman in shape, but mighty enough still for its Observatory Tower to be used as a lookout point in the Forties.

 The Guy Gibson Lancaster bomber
The Guy Gibson Lancaster bomber CREDIT: GETTY
From the tower, I can see the latest addition to the view. International Bomber Command Centre opened on the outskirts of the city in April, arranged around a spire of weathering steel which, at 102ft, replicates the wingspan of a Lancaster. The curves of the same metal that radiate out around this elongated epicentre are inscribed with the identities of those who lost their lives in the war fighting for UK-based bomber squadrons.

“That’s 57,861 people,” says the centre’s director Nicky Barr, “pretty much the capacity of Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.” She pauses, then adds: “There are no honours or ranks on these walls. We decided that, at the exact time of sacrifice, everyone was equal.”

 Petwood Hotel
"Petwood remains a treasure trove of memories, the Squadron Bar preserved as a salute" CREDIT: GETTY
There is also equality within the centre, which balances honouring wartime heroism and acknowledging the damage. A video introduction to the main exhibition reminds the viewer that “almost a million people across Europe died as a result of bombing”. Screens show interviews with veterans – re-created by actors – which include the testimonies of Luftwaffe pilots who had to face the Lancasters. Items such as an Italian board game teaching children air-raid precautions underscore the terror on the ground.

But then you emerge to images of British airmen, in their 90s, and you are reminded that this era is slipping beyond living memory – George “Johnny” Johnson, the final surviving Dambuster, is now 96 – and of the human beings behind these legends.


Where to stay

Double rooms at Petwood Hotel (01526 352411; cost from £99, including breakfast.

More information;;;;;


Iconic Vulcan bomber WILL have new home after hangar plans given thumbs up

The new Vulcan Heritage Hangar and Visitor Centre is set to open in Spring 2019

The iconic Vulcan bomber will get her much-anticipated new home after plans for a heritage hangar and visitor centre were given the thumbs up by planners.

The Vulcan to the Sky Trust revealed planning permission for their new project has been approved after a decision taken just before Christmas.

This means the Vulcan's adoring fans will be able to see her at a dedicated base at Doncaster Sheffield Airport at Finningley once it is built.

Speaking on behalf of the Trust, Robert Pleming said: “This is a fundamental milestone passed, with vital element of full funding for the build now to achieve.

"We are talking with a number of interested potential individual investors with regard to raising the total of £3million needed to complete the project, with the hope of concluding negotiations by the spring.

"Our business model is well-tested and will deliver an educational and inspirational experience for over six million people within a one-hour driving distance.

"It is believed that the detailed internal design and construction can be completed within 12 months, enabling a spring 2019 opening date.

"The full approval comes with a few standard conditions for further surveys and environmental reports that do not present any concerns to our appointed agents.”

The new Vulcan Heritage Hangar and Visitor Centre will house Avro Vulcan XH558, the last aircraft of Britain’s mighty V-Force that ceased flying in 2015.

The vulcan, which was once based at RAF Waddington, was subject to a restoration project supported mainly by public donations that gave a further eight seasons of display flying beyond that achieved while she was operated by the Royal Air Force.

The aircraft gained millions of followers and generated what became known as ‘The Vulcan Effect’ at airshows across the country and Europe.

It is estimated over 25 million people saw the aircraft around the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, many of whom would not have been born when the aircraft type was fully operational in its original role.

The base project is spearheaded by the RG Group’s Doncaster office, under the supervision of director Dave Dixon. The trust says he has been driving forward with the support of local and national construction companies and suppliers, many of whom are offering materials and expertise at cost or below usual commercial rates to help the charity secure its new home.

Speaking on behalf of Doncaster Sheffield Airport where the hangar is planned to be built on land on the northern perimeter with access to the runway, chief executive, Steve Gill, added: "This new development to house the Vulcan can provide a truly outstanding visitor attraction that along with other developments we are aiming to realise for the airport site, will bring significant educational and tourism benefits to the immediate area.

"The excellent motorway transport links including the soon-to-be finished final section of the Great Yorkshire Way right to the main terminal building, will allow people from all over the country to easily visit the site.

"We look forward to working with the Vulcan team on making their vision a reality."

Mr Pleming added: "This is the first stage of an exciting plan the Trust is developing for 2018 and over the next 10 years.

"We will use the undoubted attraction of Vulcan XH558 for the benefit of all, and importantly future generations, both in what we can deliver now in terms of inspirational experiences, and on what we can promise through demonstrating, preserving and utilising examples of Britain’s valuable aeronautical and engineering achievements.”

The Trust plans that XH558 will be joined by working exhibits and activities that will inspire youngsters of all ages to become involved with aviation, engineering and technology, through showcasing British design and innovation from its world-leading aeronautical industry.

If you would like to help, email Michael Trotter on


RAF Northolt: Boris Johnson secures government pledge to put cap on the number of commercial flights at RAF Northolt

The Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP worked with cabinet colleagues to limit flights to 12,000

West London MP and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has negotiated with cabinet colleagues to cap the number of civilian flights at RAF Northolt.

The Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP waded into the debate over the future of RAF Northolt by demanding a limit to the number of non-army flights to 12,000.

RAF Northolt lies within Boris Johnson's constituency and has been allowing thousands of private planes to land and take off from the aerodrome every year.

Some residents are concerned that the airfield, which will close in spring 2018 for a £45 million renovation including runway improvements, is a ploy to increase the number of civilian flights at the RAF site.

The increase in the number of non-military flights at RAF Northolt over the last decade has occurred without any local public consultations.

Commercial airline Flybe has made many public calls to RAF to allow commercial flights to use the spare capacity at RAF Northolt, which generates income for the MoD.

Mr Johnson met with newly appointed Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood to warned against commercialisation at the airbase.

Writing to campaign group Stop Northolt, he said: "I am delighted to have secured a firm commitment from the Government that the strict limits on the type and number of commercial flights - 12,000 annual movements of civil registered aircraft - will stay in place and that flights by scheduled airlines will remain prohibited."

The development came at the same time as Sadiq Khan hinted at regulating growth of Northolt as a non-military airfield, in his draft London Plan, which states:

"Any significant shift in the mix of operations using an airport – for example introduction of scheduled flights at airports not generally offering such flights – should normally be refused."

The Ministry of Defence has repeatedly maintained that the renovation is part of regular maintenance works and that there are no plans to commercialise RAF Northolt, and that it remains a key RAF site.


Veterans To Be 'Formally Recognised With Official ID Cards'

The White Helmets: Going Out On A High After 90 Years

Fans of the Royal Signals Motorcycle Display team have until the autumn to watch them before they disappear for good.

'The White Helmets' have opened their season with a performance for family and friends at Blandford Camp in Dorset.

However, time is running out for fans - the axe has fallen on the White Helmets – meaning this is their final season.

Some have considered that the show isn't a reflection of the modern work of the Royal Signals.

The unit was formed from dispatch riders, who ferried vital messages around on battlefields - first on horseback, and then on two wheels.

Their stunts have become legendary: a popular recruiting tool for the British Army, and a chance for signallers to do something very different for a couple of years.

This season will be the last for the Royal Signals riders as they focus on core skills with particular emphasis on digital and cyber operations.

The three-year posting involved performing at shows every weekend from May to October.


Second World War veteran to be presented with new medals at RAF Northolt following theft

A World War II Spitfire engineer will be proudly re-presented with his medals today thanks to the work of an RAF Association befriender.

RAF Northolt will be the venue for a special ceremony for Ted Rexter-Baker.

The 94 year-old, who kept the Spitfires of 72 Squadron flying during the war, had been awarded the Africa Star, the Africa Clasp, the Defence Medal and the 1935-1945 Star, but they were all stolen.

Since November 2016, Ted has been visited by Air Vice-Marshal Gary Waterfall as part of the RAF Association’s nationwide befriending scheme.

The scheme pairs RAF veterans with volunteers from their community. Befrienders visit regularly to chat, keep an eye out for the veteran’s welfare, talk about life in the RAF and to make sure their contribution is not forgotten.

“It was clear to me from the start of my relationship with Ted, that the loss of his medals had taken a part of him with them,” Gary said.

“It was the least I could do to help him try to get them replaced.

“This ceremony to re-present them to him will be very special – a proud moment for him and for his friends and relations who will be there too.

“It is very fitting to hold it at RAF Northolt too, given its historical association with Spitfires. I’m looking forward to chatting about the medals with Ted when I next visit him at home. ”

During his regular befriending visits, Gary discovered much of Ted’s service history.

Ted had joined the RAF in September 1938 as a boy apprentice at RAF Halton.

After graduation he was posted to RAF Sealand before moving on to become a Spitfire engineer with 84 Squadron – being posted as far as Tunisia.

He served for more than 10 years and left from RAF Hornchurch, having become a Senior Technician. He now lives in north London.

With more than half of the UK Armed Forces veteran population aged 75 or over, relationship/isolation issues affect approximately 170,000 RAF veterans, with 85,000 of them specifically experiencing loneliness.

Rory O’Connor, Director of Welfare and Policy at the Royal Air Forces Association, said:

“Loneliness is a critical issue to the Royal Air Forces Association, and this service will ensure that more is done across the board to support our service men and women.

“The befriending service is an important initiative which provides invaluable welfare support for the 1.5 million strong RAF family.

“If you or someone you may know could benefit from befriending, we’d encourage you to get in touch with us as no veteran should ever feel lonely or isolated.

“A veteran’s service should be shared, celebrated, and never forgotten.”

Those who could benefit from this scheme can call 0800 0182 361 or


It is more than 50 years since there was an RAF station at Jurby, but its legacy has made the parish what it is today.

Walter Fayle (Sandra Kerrison's (nee Quaye)  uncle) of the RAF Police on the right of the picture, pictured in front of the Guard Room, RAF Jurby early 1940s.

Without the RAF, Jurby would have a tiny population, certainly not large enough to support a school, shop, parish hall, industrial estate, motor museum, motor sports and medical centre, as it does today.

The Friends of Jurby Church are planning an exhibition about RAF Jurby, to be shown in the church from August 17 - October 15, and they are asking people to share their memories.

Secretary, Sandra Kerrison said: ’Although the war years and the buildings are quite well documented, we are especially looking for personal photos and stories relating to RAF Jurby during the lifetime of the station from 1939 to 1963. Anything relating to RAF Jurby is of interest. Many of the people who lived in Jurby will have stories to tell as the RAF station was such a big part of life in the parish’.

In the 1930s, Jurby was a dying parish. The depression in agriculture resulted in its population falling to fewer than 400 as people left to find work.

With war looming, the Air Ministry considered the flat low-lying farmlands to be ideal for building an aerodrome and a bombing training station. RAF Jurby opened in 1939, just after the outbreak of war as No. 5 Air Observer School. Two months later it was renamed No. 5 Bombing and Gunnery School. In the later war years it became No. 5 Air Navigation and Bombing School.

By the end of the war some 10,000 people had been trained at RAF Jurby and RAF Andreas. Hundreds more were employed in the building of the aerodrome and in staffing what was, in effect, a self-contained village with its own cinema, church, shop and messes. There was employment not just for the people of Jurby and the north but from across the island. By 1951 the population had increased to over 900.

The RAF station elevated Jurby to a new status, with visits by Air Commodores, members of the royal family and the Lieutenant Governor. Farmers became prosperous as they cultivated more land to meet the increased demand. Station bands attended Tynwald Day and other civic events as well as playing at local dances. Many local women married men from the station.

At the end of the war, RAF Jurby was an Air Navigation School and from 1946-47 an Air Gunnery School. From 1947-1949 it was under ’Care and Maintenance’ and was re-opened in 1950 as an Initial Training School to provide basic ground training to aircrew recruits.

From 1953 until the station closed in 1963 it was an Officer Cadet Training Unit when children from the station attended local schools. This is the period that many people today will remember.

Scans of photos can be emailed to For those in the Isle of Man photos etc can be collected for scanning and returned. For all enquiries contact Sandra Kerrison on 898003 or email


Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, will attend a Service of Dedication on Horse Guards Parade before formally unveiling the new Iraq Afghanistan Memorial on Victoria Embankment Gardens, London, on Thursday, 9th March.

The Iraq Afghanistan Memorial Memorial honours all UK Service personnel and civilians who took part in conflicts in the Gulf region, Iraq and Afghanistan between 1990 and 2015.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, The Duke of York, The Earl and Countess of Wessex, The Princess Royal and Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, The Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra will also attend the Service of Dedication, together with 2,500 invited guests.

Guests at the Service of Dedication will include current Service personnel, veterans, representatives of departments and bodies including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the National Health Service, and representatives of various charities and aid organisations.

Following the Service of Dedication, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will travel to Victoria Embankment Gardens, where Her Majesty will unveil the Iraq Afghanistan Memorial in the presence of the Memorial Trustees, together with individuals who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families.

Members of the Royal Family, led by The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, will then attend a reception on Horse Guards Parade for those who attended the Service of Dedication.

Further information about the Iraq Afghanistan Memorial and the Service of Dedication can be found at


Rare 1967 BSA RAF Police motorbike goes under the hammer

A very rare 1967 BSA motorcycle, thought to be just one of three left in the world, is going under the hammer.

The motorbike, which was used by the RAF Police, is estimated to be worth £5,000 - 6,000, and is marked with air force emblems.

The bike will be sold at the Charterhouse auction of classic motorcycles on Sunday February 5.

“This ex-RAF Police motorcycle is believed to be just one of three known survivors as the vast majority of these bikes have been civilianised or scrapped over the past 50 years,” said valuer Matthew Whitney.

“It certainly makes a different alternative to the civilian Police force Velocette LE which were affectionately known as Noddy bikes.”

Made by British manufacturer Birmingham Small Arms Company, the 1967 BSA B40 is fitted with a 350cc engineand has been lovingly restored.

1967 BSA

At its peak, BSA, who also owned Triumph, was the largest motorcycle producer in the world.

It was bought as a retirement project by the owner and features its correct and rare original fairing, blue light, higher handle bars and RAF blue saddlebags, but sadly little is known its history in the RAF.

During its current ownership, it was sympathetically restored and has been much admired at classic motorcycle shows.

However, the owner prefers to ride his modern Kawasaki with its electric start and has decided to sell the bike.

Charterhouse is now accepting further entries for this specialist auction of classic and vintage motorcycles on Sunday February 5 which is held in conjunction with the hugely popular Bristol Classic Motorcycle Show at The Royal Bath & West Showground, Shepton Mallet.

Charterhouse is also accepting entries of classic and vintage cars for the following week also at The Royal Bath & West Showground.


RAF Waddington's runway ready for take-off after £35m re-build
WAD-OFF-20161114-0735-0006 - Runway

Ready for take off Comments (0)RAF Waddington's runway is now fully open after a £35 million re-build.
It will extend its operational life by at least another 25 years.
Work began in July 2014 and the original target date was November 2015 but the work meant the 2015 Waddington International Air Show, which would have attracted 140,000 people, was cancelled and subsequently axed for good, over security fears.
However, the discovery of more than 1,000 historic underground cables and pipes at the base and waterlogged earth is why the project was a year behind schedule.

Surveys had found most of the ground under the airfield was made up of limestone, but large areas of clay were found when the runway surface was removed.
This meant the new runway needed to be redesigned otherwise it would have sunk when built.
And Second World War practice bombs were discovered and removed during the project.
Waddington, home to Reaper drone operators and the E-3D Sentry, Sentinel R1 and Boeing RC-135V/W Rivet Joint intelligence and surveillance aircraft, will play an increasing role in the war against the self-styled Islamic State terrorists.

Planes have been flying from other bases during the work but now they have all come home to roost.
Throughout the refurbishment, the operational tempo and demand for RAF Waddington's intelligence gathering capabilities has remained extremely high with flying squadrons almost constantly deployed.
This will remain the case as RAF Waddington continues to play a critical role in the coalition air campaign to defeat the so-called Islamic State and elsewhere around the world.

RAF Waddington Station Commander, Group Captain Al Marshall said: "This has been a major and very challenging project, which has placed significant pressure on personnel and their families.
"Despite the challenges, we have managed to sustain operational output throughout the resurfacing period owing to the outstanding dedication and professionalism of RAF Waddington personnel and those who support us.
"It will give me great pleasure to see many personnel return home and to have our aircraft regularly flying in and out of RAF Waddington once again."

Conducted in several phases the old runway has been dug up, levelled and resurfaced.
The upgrade which significantly changed the profile of the existing runway includes the provision of a new section of airside perimeter road, new visual airfield approach aids, aeronautical lighting and signs, all of which improves the overall safety of the airfield and operations.


MPs back new ‘Walter Mitty’ medals law to criminalise ‘military imposters’

Medals worn by Simon Buckden, a genuine former soldier who was jailed for for defrauding people out of thousands of pounds by pretending to be a decorated war veteran with cancer

A new “Walter Mitty” law should be introduced to make it a crime, punishable by up to six months in jail, for anyone to pose as a military veteran by wearing medals they have not earned themselves, MPs say.
The Commons Defence Committee warned that the lack of any legal deterrent to imposters wearing medals awarded for service and bravery is not only an “insult” to genuine recipients but could threaten public trust in the military honours system itself.
Although there are no official figures to show the extent of the practice, because it is not currently a crime, one survey found that almost two thirds of members of the forces community had personally come across people wearing medals or insignia awarded to someone else.
Anthony Church, a former town crier who resigned abruptly after admitting his claims of military heroics were untrue
The committee gave its backing to a private member’s bill tabled by the Conservative MP Gareth Johnson, creating a new criminal offence similar to bans in place in other countries, carrying a maximum penalty of six months or a fine of £5,000.
The proposal is due to be debated by the Commons on Friday.
A Defence Committee report into the proposal details how it used to be a crime to dress up as a member of the Armed Forces or wear medals fraudulently, under Victorian legislation updated by Winston Churchill as Secretary of War in 1919.
But the ban, similar to that preventing people impersonating police officers, was discontinued in 2009 as part of a wider legislative tidying-up exercise relating to the Armed Forces.
Roger Day, who posed as a retired member of the SAS wearing 17 medals at a Remembrance parade in Warwickshire in 2009. Charges of military deception against him were dropped as the law changed a fortnight before the march.
Ministry of Defence officials told the committee that the reasoning had been that it is potentially possible to prosecute military imposters for other offences, such as fraud.
They added that the law as it previously stood did not include any exceptions for fancy dress or theatrical productions.
In its report, entitled "Exposing Walter Mitty" - after the character in the James Thurber short story who lives in a fantasy world - the committee insists that despite a lack of figures, anecdotal evidence suggests such deception is a “continuing” problem.
Last year Anthony Church who served as town crier in Oxford and a string of other towns nearby resigned abruptly after admitting his claims to be a former regimental Sergeant Major in the Coldstream Guards who had been awarded the British Empire Medal, Imperial Service Medal and an MBE were all fictitious.
One internet vigilante group, known as the “Walter Mitty Hunters Club”, claims to have exposed more than 200 imposters. On its Facebook group it also exposes people it says have been collecting money for bogus military charities.

Crucially, Mr Johnson’s bill would allow close family members of servicemen or women who have died or been injured to wear their decorations at special commemorations, effectively on their behalf, but within strict limits.
“Both the sponsor of the Bill and the other witnesses took the view that the unauthorised and deceitful use of military decorations and medals is a harm that is worthy of specific criminal prohibition,” the report concludes.
“We support their arguments that such behaviour is not only insulting to the rightful recipients of these awards, but also damages the integrity of the military honours system and the bond of trust and respect between the public and the Armed Forces.
“The enactment of criminal prohibitions should always merit the most serious consideration.
“We conclude that there is a tangible and identifiable harm created by military imposters against members of society who should rightly be held in its highest esteem.
“Therefore, we believe that specific prohibitions to mitigate this harm are justified.”