RAF Marham squadron celebrates 100th anniversary

Personnel from IX(B) Squadron have visited the french airfield where it was formed in December 1914.

Personnel from IX(B) Squadron have visited the french airfield where it was formed in December 1914. - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk-based RAF squadron has celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Personnel and dignitaries took part in a wreath laying.

Personnel and dignitaries took part in a wreath laying. - Credit: Archant

Marham's IX(B) Squadron was formed at St Omer in France on December 8, 1914.

Personnel travelled for a day of celebration at the Ssquadron's birthplace, a small airfield 30 miles south of Calais

The day started with presentations by serving airmen from the Squadron about its formation and development 100 years ago.

A formal ceremony followed and this was attended by a number of high ranking RAF officers, including Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Marshal Greg Bagwell, the RAF's senior combat pilot, Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye, Air Commodore David Waddington, the current Tornado Force Commander and Air Commodore Spike Milligan, the Chairman of the IX Squadron Association. All of these air officers had previously served on the squadron.

Squadron members at a military cemetery during their visit.

Squadron members at a military cemetery during their visit. - Credit: Archant


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An RAF Tornado performed a flypast over the crowd that had gathered by the memorial. Following this, the St Omer Flying Club hosted the guests in its light aircraft hangar for lunch.

The RAF contingent then travelled to Mendinghem Military Cemetery, Poperinge, which is the final resting place of twenty two IX(B) Squadron Royal Flying Corps Pilots and observers who were killed in the First World War. A small cross was placed on the graves of each of the IX(B) personnel and a short piece was read out about each of them by a current member of the Squadron that had researched each individual.

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Wing Commander Chris Snaith, IX(B) Sqn's current commanding officer, said: 'To stand on the very spot where this fantastic Squadron was formed exactly 100 years ago and to remember those brave souls that have served on IX(B) Sqn and given their lives for our country was very emotional.'

As evening fell, guests travelled to Ypres in Belgium and attended the Menin Gate Parade at 8 pm. Due to the special date in it's history, the Squadron took centre stage at the Parade and wreaths were laid by Air Commodore Dave Waddington, Air Commodore Spike Milligan and Wing Commander Chris Snaith.

Warrant Officer Dean Woods from IX(B) Squadron said: 'It has taken a lot of planning and hard work to bring the Squadron here today but to see the guys looking so proud and smart taking pride of place at the Menin Gate ceremony has made it all worth while.

'All of the Squadron personnel who attended today have taken a personnel interest in researching those that have previously served on the Squadron and the one thing that has stood out from all the research is the sense of pride and camaraderie that came with serving on this historic Squadron and this is exactly the same 100 years on.'

The Centenary event was organised by Group Capt Alan Ferguson, a former commanding officer and Vice President of the Association in tandem with Sqn Ldr Derrick Chatten, on behalf of the current squadron.

Are you preparing to celebrate a special annniversary? E-mail chris.bishop@archant.co.uk.

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