A MORAY BASED RAF Regiment squadron has been marking their 75th Anniversary this week with a formal parade.
Originally assembled at Bentley Priory in 1940, 51 Squadron were tasked with light anti-aircraft defence duties at HQ Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain.
It was not until a year later, however, that the Squadron became one of the first to form the RAF’s new ground defence units. In its 75 years the squadron has fulfilled many roles, moving from its original duties to light armour equipped with tracked vehicles and, in more recent times, as a field squadron equipped and trained for dismounted and mobile operations.
51 Squadron members served in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany during the second world war. Since then it has seen service in Zambia, Aden and Northern Ireland and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Currently the squadron remains on high readiness to deploy anywhere in the world and regularly provide detachments on discrete operation throughout the broader Middle East.
The anniversary parade was reviewed by AVM Gavin Parker, who is Air Officer Commanding No.2 Group and as such controls the RAF’s combat support assets.
Air Commodore Andrew Hall, the FP Force Commander and Commandant General RAF Regiment, was also invited to the Station for the Squadron’s celebratory events.
Squadron Leader John Kirkman is the current Officer Commanding of 51 Squadron RAF Regiment and was the parade commander.
He was exceptionally proud of his personnel’s turnout for the parade, saying: “The men of 51 Squadron RAF Regiment made me very proud, as they do every day.
“It is an honour to command a squadron of ‘Gunners’ who are so dedicated and professional in providing force protection to Royal Air Force assets wherever they may be in the world. Their shared history in direct support of air operations is rightly something they are proud of but their other work, like the recent training provided to the Nigerian Air Force, shows their flexibility and broader utility to the RAF.
“I am sure Air Vice-Marshal Parker and Air Commodore Hall were suitably impressed by the turnout of the men, and it was great to have our families, former colleagues and friends with us to celebrate the distinguished history of 51 Squadron RAF Regiment.”