On Sunday 21st September 2014, 171 (Christchurch) Squadron proudly took place in the 74th RAFA Battle of Britain Parade.
The parade to the Priory Church was led by the Boscombe Band of the Salvation Army, followed smartly by members of RAFA, RNA, Wrens, The Not Forgotten Association, Veterans, Christchurch and Highcliffe Royal British Legion plus, of course, 171 (Christchurch) Sqn.
The Reverend Canon Raymond Hubble, conducting the service, said: “We are gathered here today to remember in the presence of God the victory given to us in the Battle of Britain and to pray that we may have such devotion to duty that neither the loving kindness of God, nor the heroism of those who fought, may have been in vain.”
A RAFA dedication was read by Cpl. Bramall, 171 (Christchurch) Sqn. saying “In friendship and in service one to another, we are pledged to keep alive the memory of those of all nations who died in the Royal Air Force and in the air forces of the Commonwealth. In their name we give ourselves to this noble cause. Proudly and thankfully, we will remember them.”
Hundreds of Allied and German airmen were killed as the Battle of Britain raged in the skies over England during the summer and autumn of 1940. RAF Fighter Command successfully repelled Germany’s attempts to gain air superiority of the UK.
After the service the parade made its way back to the Mayor’s Parlour, where Christchurch Mayor Cllr. Denise Jones took the salute, along with MP Christopher Chope.
On the 12th of August, band members from the 7 Overseas (Jersey) Sqn Air Training Corps were introduced to the visiting unit 948 Haverfordwest and City of St David’s Squadron. They were privileged enough to be able to train with their Band, where they were taught several of the Band’s drum solos, stick techniques, songs and eventually how to march and play with the entire Band. After several days of training, the Band from the Air Training Corps was invited to join Haverfordwest in performing in the Battle of Flowers Moonlight Parade.
For many 7 Overseas Band members this was the first time they had performed with a band in public, at the end of the experience several band members wanted to share their opinions of the experience. Cadet Chalmers-Hunt, 7 Overseas Band member said ‘For me in particular it was my first time performing in public, let alone with a Band the size of Haverfordwest. On the night of the performance the sound created was incredible and atmosphere was ecstatic, I had a lot of fun and hope the Haverfordwest Squadron come back next year!’.
Corporal Van Neste, said ‘It was nice to meet all the cadets from Wales and to be given an opportunity to play at the Battle of flowers – something we had never done before’. As a result of taking part in this major parade, two members of the band received their Drummers badge. Cadet Ribeiro, one of the members who received their badge, said ‘Each cadet was extremely welcoming and patient when teaching us their routine, which was long and complex. I am very grateful that we had this opportunity, as without this amazing experience I would not have been able to receive my Drummers badge’.
Air Vice-Marshal Turner, Air Officer Commanding 22 (Training) Group, was a welcome visitor to the Air Cadet Display at the 2014 Bournemouth Air Festival – the biggest free air show in Britain. A large number of people took the opportunity to visit the Air Cadet recruitment and publicity display, which formed part of the RAF “village” and many expressed an interest in joining.
Photo left to right – Wing Commander Vanessa Toth, OC Dorset/Wilts Wing, Cadet Gregg Turner of 130 (Bournemouth) Squadron, Corporal Alf Whitcher of 2358 (Ferndown) Squadron, Corporal Matthew Dancer of 130 (Bournemouth) Squadron, Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Turner, Air Officer Commanding 22 (Training) Group.