Hundreds turn out to celebrate 70 years of the RAF in Suffolk

RAF personnel and civic dignitaries gathered to mark 70 years of a presence in Suffolk.

The rich history of RAF Regiment, which has its headquarters at RAF Honington, was commemorated at a special service at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds on Saturday.

About 600 service personnel filled the cathedral - almost all of whom are based at RAF Honington - and dignitaries including the High Sheriff of Suffolk and Mayor of St Edmundsbury turned out for the occasion.

Afterwards, there was a flypast with a DC3 Dakota aircraft.

The Reverend Canon Matthew Vernon said: 'On behalf of the cathedral community I am delighted to welcome you.

'We are proud of our friendship with RAF Regiment and we are honoured to host this service today.

'We appreciate very deeply what you do for our Queen and country.

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'In your service you live the values this building stands for: courage, forbearance, self-discipline, service and sacrifice, so it's nice to celebrate the Regiment's 70th anniversary in this place.'

The Regiment has its roots in the RAF Armoured Car Companies that protected the RAF in its air control role of preserving the peace of the Middle East after the Great War.

Air Commodore Nicholas Bray, Commandant General of RAF Regiment, said 90 years after the RAF Armoured Car Companies were originally formed 'we are still fighting on the ground for the control of the air'.

'And it's reputed the RAF Regiment is the only organisation outside the UK special forces that's remained on operations since its formation 70 years ago,' he said.

He said 10 members had been killed in action or have died of their wounds since 2007.

'We should spare a thought for the members of our corps who are out on operations today in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world,' he said.

Speaking after the service, Squadron Leader Jim Rowe, of 1 Squadron RAF Regiment, said today's personnel were the latest generation in the Regiment's rich history to carry the story on.

RAF Regiment Squadrons 1, 15, 26 and 27 from Honington were at the service.

Group Captain Andy Hall, RAF Honington Station Commander, said: 'Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk and East Anglia show a wonderful sense of support to our men that means so much.'

Mayor of St Edmundsbury, Christopher Spicer, said the Regiment and RAF Honington were 'very much' part of the community.

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