THE sight of marching airmen and women brought Wendover to a standstill this weekend as the village paid tribute to personnel from RAF Halton at a special parade to mark the Freedom of the Vale of Aylesbury.
Two flights of personnel marched through the village with ‘drums beating, bayonets fixed and Queen’s Colourflying’. The fly past was a Puma helicopter from 230 Tiger Squadron based at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire.
Station Warrant Officer, Ian Giles, said: “It is a great honour to be able to march through Wendover on this auspicious occasion to celebrate the Freedom of the Vale.”
The Parade consisted of Parade Commander, Wing Commander Niki Stacey, and two Flights of 24, led by Flight Commanders, Flt Lt Stu Clarke and Flt Lt Chester Myers. The Queen’s Colour was paraded by the Colour
Bearer, Flt Lt Ripley-Jones with three escorts, Flying Officer Emma Tulip was the Parade Adjutant and Parade Warrant Officer, Ian Giles. Parade support was provided by Cpl Gary Wigglesworth.
The musical accompaniment was from the Band Of The RAF Regiment who played a mixture of formal and new music.
Station Commander, Group Captain James Brayshaw, took the salute along with The Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire. Group Captain Brayshaw addressed the crowd, saying: “It is a huge privilege and genuinely humbling to stand before you as the Station Commander of Royal Air Force Halton and to recognise the unique and very special relationship between RAF Halton, Aylesbury Vale and of course Wendover.
“Mr Chairman, I am extremely grateful to you for allowing us to exercise the Freedom of Aylesbury Vale today. Permitting us to march through the streets of Wendover, and to parade Her Majesty the Queen’s Colour, all with bayonets fixed and band playing, is the highest tribute that you can bestow on us.
“Royal Air Force Halton, nestling in the glorious Buckinghamshire countryside, is steeped in a rich heritage and an industrious history. Throughout our long past, we have been at the heart of the Royal Air Force, training thousands of personnel and developing the leadership skills of today’s Air Force. Today, as well as being the Gateway to the Royal Air Force for our new recruits, we also train personnel from all three Services for specific Defence roles. Whether it is in the United Kingdom or deployed on operations across the world we continue to prepare our people to promote and defend the Nation’s interests. It was just over 70 years ago that Lord Trenchard, the founder of the Royal Air Force, observed that “Halton and the Halton spirit has been a pillar of strength all over the world.”
“As we commemorate Royal Air Force Halton’s remarkable achievements it feels so right that we can parade through Wendover. Our success would not be possible without the remarkable support that my personnel and their families receive from this community. Simply put, we could not do what we do without you. On this special occasion, thank you for all that you have done and all that you do, to make Royal Air Force Halton the special place it is, for making us such an integral part of the community and for always welcoming us as your Royal Air Force Station. Thank you.”
The day concluded with a reception at the Wendover Royal British Legion Club.
Freedom of the City is an ancient honor granted to martial organisations, allowing them the privilege tomarch into the city with ‘drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed’. This honor dates back to ancient Rome which regarded the 'Pomerium', the boundary of the city, as sacred.