31 Squadron Standard Ceremony
Personnel from 31 Squadron were joined by their families, colleagues from RAF Marham and friends from Marham village at a service in Holy Trinity Church Marham to mark the laying up of the Standard of 31 Squadron.
The Standard that was laid up today was presented to the Squadron in 1986 and was replaced by the current Standard in 2014.
The history of Colours and Standards is an ancient one. In the earliest record of military forces mention is made of colours and standards being carried at the head of the regiment to show troops where to rally round their leader.
Although colours have not been carried in action since 1881, they have always been regarded as a symbol of the spirit of the fighting unit, reflecting as they do the Battle Honours and badges granted to that unit for gallant deeds.
A Squadron’s Standard represents the service and sacrifice of the personnel who have served under it and the retiring Standard has certainly seen 31 Squadron through an active period from the Gulf War in 1991 where 31 Squadron operated the Tornado GR1 out of Saudi Arabia, to 1999 and their participation in air operations over the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. Moving onto 2003 saw 31 Squadron’s continued support to Air Policing Operations from Kuwait escalating into the Iraq War of March 2003. This support continued up to 2009 when the Tornado’s came out of Iraq and went straight into Operation HERRICK supporting UK and coalition forces over Afghanistan. 31 Squadron were the last Squadron to complete a tour to Afghanistan returning home to RAF Marham at the end of 2014.
For their operational engagements during this period, 31 Squadron have been awarded Battle Honours for their work in the Gulf, Kosovo and Iraq.
Today 31 Squadron Tornado GR4’s continue with operational commitments in support of Operation SHADER in Iraq and Syria.
The 30 year old Standard has been with 31 Squadron throughout its Tornado years so it was only fitting that is was laid to rest at the local village church nearest to RAF Marham the home base of the Tornado.
The retiring Standard was handed over by Officer Commanding 31 Squadron to Reverend Tony Porter to lay up in the Holy Trinity Marham as a reminder of those who had served under this standard and also to remember those members of 31 Squadron who made the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives in the service of their country and their squadron.
Reverend Tony Porter said “Today provides an opportunity for the village and surrounding area to show our admiration and gratitude to all the personnel of Royal Air Force Marham. It is our honour and privilege to receive your valued 31 Squadron Standard”.
Officer Commanding 31 Squadron said “It was an absolute honour to hand over the retired Squadron Standard to the Marham Holy Trinity Church for safe keeping. What made it especially poignant was the fact that this was my last day in post as OC 31 Squadron. 31 Squadron has a very long and proud history and laying up the Standard today was a fantastic opportunity to come together to share and remember the ethos, people and camaraderie that truly makes this Squadron a gold star”.