II (AC) Squadron Memorial
It was a warm day in September that members of II (AC) Sqn gathered with members of the Squadron Association to unveil a Memorial to the Squadron at the National Memorial Arboretum.
Serving members from the rear party of No.II (Army Cooperation) Squadron or ‘Shiney Two’ as it is affectionally known, which is currently deployed on Operations in Afghanistan, gathered on a warm and sunny September day at the National Memorial Arboretum, to witness the unveiling of a Memorial dedicated to those who have served and fallen while serving with the Sqn since its formation on the 13th May 1912.
As the oldest of the RAF’s flying Squadrons, this year has been particularly significant, with a number of events taking place to commemorate the centenary, these culminating in the placing of the Memorial in the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire.
The service of Dedication was conducted by AVM, The Venerable Ray Pentland, the RAF Chaplain in Chief, with the unveiling of the Memorial being done by ACM The Lord Stirrup, who commanded the Squadron, while it was based in Germany in the 1980s. A reading was given by ACM Sir Sandy Wilson, also an ex Sqn Boss from the days when it was equipped with the Jaguar.
ACM Phil Sturley, another of the ex Sqn Bosses was in attendance, together with a large number from the Sqn Association, who had been instrumental in designing the Memorial and raising the necessary funds, which came from a mixture of small personal donations and larger amounts donated by some of the Sqn’s industrial partners.
Indeed with the Sqn busy on Ops, much of the effort involved in both getting the memorial erected and in organising the Service of Dedication went to ex Sqn but now Sqn Association members, Maj Gary Walker and Sqn Ldr Dave Smith, who were only too willing to give up their time in support of their old Sqn.
The service started with a flypast of a Spitfire PRXIX, from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a photo reconnaissance variant of the iconic aircraft, which actually flew with the Sqn shortly after the end of WWII, while it was based at Wunsdorf in Germany at the start of what we now refer to as the ‘Cold War’. The service was very fittingly concluded with a flypast of the II (AC) Squadron Tornado in the Centenary paint design.
Major Gary Walker, who until recently served with the Squadron as its Ground Liaison Officer and who had been working on the project for sometime, said that “the day was a fantastic success and after three years of design, planning and fund raising it was an honour to be able to witness the unveiling of such a significant Memorial to the longest serving of the RAF’s front line Squadrons.”
He added, “the unveiling was made all the more poignant in the knowledge, that ‘Shiney Two’, which was currently serving on operations in Afghanistan, was also conducting a service of Thanksgiving at the same time, albeit in far more austere circumstances than those that we were able to enjoy, in the magnificent setting of the National Memorial Arboretum.”
Details of the National Memorial Arboretum, which is well worth a visit, can be found at: www.thenma.org.uk