• Jontai Plummer

In keeping with next month marking the 100th anniversary of our very own British RAF we want to take

About the RAF:

The RAF acts as the UK’s aerial warfare force providing protection against threats from above. Formed towards the end of World War 1 on April 1st, 1918(whereby its efforts contributed to saving our country) the RAF is also the oldest independent air force in the world. The Royal Air Force has played a significant role in the history of the British military and in particular in the second world war where it fought its most famous campaign to date, the Battle of Britain. The RAF functions to support the objectives of the British Ministry of Defence; which include ensuring the security and defence of the United Kingdom & overseas territories against threats such as terrorism and to support government’s foreign policy objectives particularly in promoting international peace. The RAF’s strategy is guided by its mission statement which is to provide The RAF continues to operate a functional fleet of various types of aircraft, largely consisting of fixed-wing aircraft which include the likes of fighter jets, strike aircraft, aerial refuelling aircraft, strategic and tactical aircraft just to name a few.

The History of the RAF

Formed by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval air service the RAF became the largest air force of its time, and still holds that title till this day. The decision to merge the two services & create one independent air force was a response to the events of world war 1, the first war in which having air power man a noticeable impact. The highlight the merge of both military and naval aviation in this new service many of the titles assigned to officers were chosen to be of a naval persona and is where we get job roles such as Flight lieutenant, wing commander and air commander from. With over 20,000 aircraft & over 300,000 personnel, the RAF was by far the most powerful air force in the world.

However, it wasn’t all plane sailing for the RAF, aside from the different challenges involved in various missions and operations the air force came up against the opposition in a different form and in the interwar years it had to fight for its survival – many questioned the need for a separate air force. To prevent itself from being dissolved and its duties being returned to the Army, the RAF made considerable efforts to keep itself in the public eye by engaging in things such as producing documentary films, supporting a team in the Schneider trophy air racing competition and in involving itself in other projects and activities that would gain the public vote.

The RAF underwent rapid expansion following the outbreak of war against Germany in 1939. Such efforts led to the RAF being able to implement the strategic bombing plan against Germany, which meant that up 1000 aircraft were able to carry out night raids hampering the plans of the oppositions.

With technological advances in air warfare throughout the 1900s, the RAF was further re-organised and saw the introduction of aircraft such as Jet fighters and bombers. Which meant that the RAF was able to fight in many battles throughout the cold war period and supported multiple countries such as Korea & Germany.

Due to the distance between the battlefield and friendly airfields, the RAF wasn’t able to play a pivotal role in the Falklands war, however, RAF aircraft were deployed in the mid-Atlantic to assist in flying ground attack missions against Argentine forces. After the war, the RAF remained in the South Atlantic to provide air defence to the Falkland Islands.

When thinking about the more recent efforts of the RAF we can see its continued involvement in the war on terror. As part of the British contribution in the war in Afghanistan, the RAF provided support to the United States by operating air-to-air refuelling tankers as well as providing use of its bases. The RAF carried out similar efforts in separate missions such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq and in a more recent news story, the RAF conducted operation Turus in response to the Chibok schoolgirl kidnappings by Boko Haram Nigeria.

What the RAF has done to celebrate & remeber former members:

As an air force that has served for many years and on various missions and operations the RAF have a lot to be proud of and as such celebrate also. Due to many missions involving long spells away from home, the members of the RAF see the force as their family, therefore on special days of remembrance such as D-Day the RAF often take the time to remember and appreciate veterans that formerly worked on missions that helped save both lives and often whole countries. One example of a beautiful act of compassion and kindness can be seen in Sergeant Lee Wrake’s story – a former RAF pilot who due to age (94) and injury incurred from previous missions suffers from poor mobility making day-to-day activities a real task. However, thanks to the RAF benevolent fund, the force was able to install a wet-room and rinser recliner chair to make home life a little easier for this D-Day veteran.

Furthermore, remembering the siege of Malta 75 years on saw Prince Charles’ grandfather King George VI awarded the people of Malta the Gallantry medal, for enduring years of the bombing that left many on the brink of starvation. The evening saw Prince Charles join Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat, Second world war veterans, civilians and their families for a special ceremony.

Celebrating 100 years

100 years of service an incredible achievement, right? We think so too and as such the RAF are doing many incredible things to mark this special occasion for, the force itself, former & current members and Great Britain as a whole! This can be seen to help the RAF are offering to multiple members who are have been faced with unfortunate events whether that be health related issues or death in the family. One example of this can be identified in Mark Yardley’s story - a flight sergeant, whose son Sam was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after he was born. As a condition that can eliminate also all mobility, a lot of equipment is required for day-to-day life and as such Yardley’s home soon became too small for the equipment needed to support Sam. However, after making contact with the RAF, mark was able to gain the funding for hoists, level access entry and through-floor lift for his son. And now thanks to the RAF Benevolent Fund Yardley’s family home is suitable for the whole family.

Celebrating the RAF

Alongside all the great acts of kindness, the RAF is also hosting various events all over the country to celebrate this special occasion. Some of which include baton relays which will be completed by RAF members (both former & present) throughout the months of April – July. Such sporting events are accompanied by aircraft tours in cities such as London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester running from the months of July – September. Not to mention the visually stunning series of air shows that will be held all over the country throughout the rest of the summer – these are just some of the many great events and activities our air force is engaging in to celebrate their 100 years of great service to the country.

Thanks for listening...well reading - JP

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