II (AC) Squadron Update

As I write this in the searing heat of Afghanistan, I am conscious that some of you in the UK are yet to have an Indian summer before the autumn leaves begin to fall.

For many on the Squadron, this will be the third summer without rain and more significantly the third away from families and loved ones. You will not be surprised to hear however their spirits are not dampened and that their professionalism remains as positive now as ever.

The picture accompanying this article is particularly poignant in this our hundredth year. It depicts the Kandahar II (AC)
Squadron memorial and myself with the Padre after our Squadron and Expeditionary Wing service on 5th September 2012. We planned the time of day to match that of the unveiling of the Memorial at the National Arboretum. An unplanned impromptu fly past from numerous aircraft marked the minute’s silence with almost perfect timing. Although the latter was not planned it was a fitting moment to reflect on the past, the present and the future. The event was planned to coincide and mirror the ceremony in the UK which you can read about on the next page.

I would also like to update you with another recent event which means a lot to the squadron. The Engineers have set up a charity challenge to honour the distance travelled back in 1913 when II (AC) Squadron deployed their aircraft from Farnborough to Montrose. The instigator, Cpl Zenko, has calculated a ‘round robin’ distance of 1,074km and has thrown the gauntlet down to complete 107,400km by any self propulsion means in the Gymnasium. This requires at least 100 individuals within the Squadron to complete 1,074km each and already there are a number who have amazingly surpassed the total with many more close to doing so. As everything within II(AC) Squadron, the spirit to support ‘Scotty’s Little Soldiers’ a worthwhile charity within the local area around RAF Marham, is second to none. Progress with the fundraiser is going very well and we look forward to keeping you updated.

II (AC) Squadron held their own dedication ceremony in Kandahar at the same time the memorial in the National Memorial Arboretum was unveiled. Here are some exerts from their Service.

“Today 5th September 2012, at this exact time, 1400 BST serving and ex-serving personnel from Number II (Army Cooperation) Squadron have gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire. As they have gathered there, so we in have gathered here. II (AC) Squadron are at the National Arboretum in this, the centenary year of the world’s oldest fixed wing Squadron, to dedicate a memorial to all who have served on Shiny Two and, in particular, to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice whilst serving on operational duty with the Squadron.”

“The first Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps, the fore-runner of the RAF, to deploy to France at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Shiny Two suffered its first loss within weeks when Lieutenant Empson was killed in action in June 1914. But this did not deter the Squadron’s personnel, quite the opposite. On 27 April 1915, 2nd Lieutenant Rhodes-Moorehouse conducted a daring raid well beyond enemy lines in a flimsy BE2 Biplane to destroy German reinforcements at Merville after the Germans had broken through British Lines. Although raked by withering machine gun fire and mortally wounded, Rhodes-Moorhouse successfully engaged the enemy reinforcements and denied the enemy’s ability to press home their attack. As a direct consequence of Rhodes-Moorhouse’s actions, the British were able to counterattack. Notwithstanding his injuries, Rhodes-Moorhouse coaxed his BE2 back to base some 35 miles away, landed safely and filed his mission report before he died of his numerous wounds. For his exceptional bravery and determination, 2nd Lieutenant Rhodes-Moorhouse was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross; the first airman ever to be awarded the VC.”

“As every stitch is intertwined in our Squadron Standard, in our Services’ Ensign and in our Union Flag, so the achievements and memories of those who have gone before us are intertwined with our lives and our Service today. So this is not merely a time to remember the past, the bravery of Rhodes-Moorhouse or, as we approach the 15th of September, the heroism of the few in the Battle of Britain. This is a time to reflect on today, to operations here in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world. And this is a time to reaffirm our unwavering determination to honour the standards and reputation set by those who have gone before us, and never to settle for second best.”

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