Crown Jeweller inspects naval aviation’s crown jewel

Crown Jeweller inspects naval aviation’s crown jewel

During a visit to Navy Wings at RNAS Yeovilton hosted by the Chief Executive – Liveryman Jock Alexander, the Crown Jeweller, Corporate Freeman Mark Appleby was able to inspect one of the last remaining Fairey Swordfish which was certainly a jewel in the crown of the Fleet Air Arm in WWII. Michael Infante, who is due to be admitted to the Livery on 27 April, also enjoyed the tour.

L – R: Michael Infante, Jock Alexander, Mark Appleby

The Swordfish was nicknamed the “Stringbag” because, like the shopping bags of the day, it could accommodate practically anything. It could carry a 1610lb torpedo or a variety of depth charges, bombs, mines, rockets or flares. It played an important part in many aspects of WWII ranging from protection of the Atlantic and Arctic convoys flying from aircraft carriers, through the attack on Taranto in 1940 where 21 of them effectively stopped the Italian battlefleet taking any aggressive part in WWII – to one of them putting a torpedo through the steering gear of the Bismark, thereby enabling the home fleet to sink her with gunfire.

As the aim of Navy Wings is to inspire future generations by flying its historic aircraft at shows around the country, Liverymen are encouraged to keep a weather eye open for this iconic Stringbag as the 2022 season is about to commence.

David Raines
Past Master

Distillers Visit to RAF Lossiemouth

In support of our affiliation with 603 Squadron and the role Reservists play in the military, Liveryman Matt Gammell and Hon Assistant Michael Urquhart were invited to RAF Lossiemouth along with Scottish employers to hear first-hand how Reservists play an important part in the RAF today. It is very much a two-way flow between the RAF and the Reservists where skills, such as leadership and teamwork, learned in a military setting can be taken into a civilian setting and the employer can benefit from this.

L – R: Matt Gammell, Sqn Ldr Derek Read, Michael Urquhart

RAF Lossiemouth is a busy base, home to one of two RAF Quick Reaction Alert stations that protects UK airspace with aircraft on constant readiness that can be airborne in a matter of minutes. In addition, there are four squadrons of Typhoons and one squadron of Poseidon P8, a multi role maritime patrol aircraft, and two RAF Regiment Squadrons (one Reservists). A combination of regular and reservist personnel ensure the base can operate to its full capacity either protecting the UK airspace or on support operations worldwide. 603 Squadron supports the work of RAF Lossiemouth.

In the next year or so they will be joined by three E-7 Wedgetail (based on a Boeing 737 plane like the Poseidon) early warning radar aircraft so RAF Lossiemouth will continue to be a hive of activity.

RAF Reserve Stakeholders visit RAF Lossiemouth | MOD Crown Copyright
RAF Reserve Stakeholders visit RAF Lossiemouth | MOD Crown Copyright

Worshipful Company of Distillers Trophy – Awarded to 603 Squadron

I am delighted to confirm that on a very cold January evening on the 22nd I attended a training day for 603 Squadron at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh and was finally able to present the belated 2019 Masters Cask bottle to Corporal (now Acting Sergeant) Daniel Blake.

Acting Sergeant Daniel Blake receives his bottle of Master’s Cask

The Worshipful Company of Distillers Trophy is awarded annually to the member of 603 Squadron deemed to have made the most positive contribution to the unit through their dedication and positive attitude over the past year.

The Winner for 2021:
Lance Corporal Phil Heaps

His citation follows.

LCpl Heaps has continued his commitment to the Sqn and the wider Defence, both at home abroad during 2021.

Coming off the back of Op RESCRIPT in 2020, LCpl Heaps volunteered to mobilise and eventually deployed for 5 months on Op BILOXI in Romania back in April.

Whilst in Romania, he was part of the detachment responsible for providing essential FP to the RAF Typhoons conducting the Air Policing mission for NATO’s eastern flank. Although having to return home for a family emergency, he showed his personal strength and returned to Romania a few days later to complete his deployment – a great example selfless service person.

Although just returning from Romania in September, LCpl Heaps answered the call and mobilised yet again in November 2021 and joined Op RESCRIPT for the second time. This time, he helped to support the Scottish Ambulance Service mobile testing in Central Scotland. This was Heaps’ 5th mobilisation in as many years and proves the commitment and loyalty he brings to the Sqn.

Lance Corporal Phil Heaps received the 2021 WCD Trophy and a bottle of the Master’s Cask

Matthew Gammell

Jamie Barklem Receives Chief of The General Staff Commendation In 2022 New Year Honours

Liveryman Jamie Barklem has received a Chief of the General Staff Commendation (CGS) in the 2022 New Year Honours List

The commendation, awarded by the Chief of the General Staff, is announced as part of the New Year Honours and Awards, and whilst the citations are not made public, the commendation was given in recognition of Jamie’s services to defence, most notably during his tenure as Officer Commanding A (London Scottish) Company, the London Regiment.

Jamie was OC A Company for three years and during that term faced many challenges but by the end of his tenure, A Company was a fully manned rifle company, delivering operational output during the COVID pandemic and supporting their Regular counterparts on exercise and operations.

HMS Montrose Honours the Duke of Edinburgh

When we are next able to raise a glass and toast the Royal Family at one of our dinners it will be a very different and poignant moment as we remember The Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The Royal Navy and our affiliate HMS Montrose paid their respects yesterday, Saturday April 10th at noon, with the thunder of cannon which could be heard from Devonport to Duqm with a 41-Gun salute.

The Sailors don their antiflash gear and join the tribute.

The sailors on HMS Montrose did so from Oman as Commander Irving, Commanding Officer remarked, “It was a great privilege for my Ship’s Company to honour His Royal Highness The Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh by carrying out a 41-Gun Salute today.”

First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin made a fitting tribute on behalf of the Royal Navy, which can be read below.

Sincere Condolences to Her Majesty The Queen

New Commanding Officer for Military Affiliate 825 NAS

Our military affiliate 825 Naval Air Squadron has a new Commanding Officer and it is with great enthusiasm and that we welcome Commander Scott Simpson to his new post, taking over from Cdr Duncan Thomas.

Past Master David Raines, and wife Jenny, very kindly hosted us as we endeavoured to plan some events which will continue to drive forward the affiliation, notwithstanding Covid 19 restrictions. 

Pictured, Ewan Lacey, Liaison Liveryman and Cdr Scott Simpson, both sporting ‘lockdown’ haircuts.

Follow us on Twitter via our our Squadron account: @825NAS 

603 Squadron Update

The past six months for 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron have been dominated to a great extent by the shared experience of dealing with Covid-19. Indeed, the Squadron’s new Officer Commanding (OC) Squadron Leader Derek Read joined from RAF Force Protection HQ on 20th March, just days before the Prime Minister announced the rigorous restrictions that came to be understood across the country as “lockdown.”

The arrival of the virus changed the Squadron’s work schedules with most of its planned activity falling away and the Edinburgh Headquarters placed on a reduced manning level. During the initial weeks of the lockdown the Squadron was asked to mobilise personnel to support Government efforts to combat the virus and this rapidly became its core activity, with protection of the Squadron’s own personnel also a priority.

The Squadron was asked to mobilise as many personnel as possible and through late March and into April, around 25% of its reserve manpower was organised and committed to fill various roles providing Force Protection at RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Brize Norton while a number of others were on UK backfill duties or overseas operations.

Things quietened down a little in May and June and while the fight against Covid-19 and support for the Squadron’s deployed personnel both continued, some normality returned with planning for a scheduled Annual Continuous Training Camp at Barry Budden in Angus.

The lockdown brought challenges to the Squadron’s recruitment plans but while the face to face element of the process was not possible, enquiries continued to come in and helpful contacts were made in a virtual sense.

Meanwhile, with full safety measures in place, the training of Squadron personnel for mobilisation continued with four RAF Police and eight RAF Regiment Phase Two personnel completing their professional training, becoming fully ready and prepared to support the needs of the Service.

In July, the Squadron’s mobilised personnel who had been sent to Lossiemouth were diverted to help create Covid-19 mobile testing units in the North East of England. At the end of July, this role passed to civilian operators and the 603 personnel either returned to Lossiemouth or were returned to civilian life.

Despite all the other calls on time and resources, 603 Squadron was able to see through its plans for the Barry Budden training camp and this went ahead from 5th September with colleagues from 2622 (Highland) and 2503 (County of Lincolnshire) Squadrons of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

The purpose of the two-week camp was to consolidate the year’s training in larger, combined exercises. RAF Regiment personnel stayed on after the first week while their RAF Police colleagues dispersed to RAF main operating bases to take part in on the job training.

Despite their various duties supporting the service through the lockdown and beyond, 603 Squadron personnel managed to stage a fund raising event for the Squadron’s nominated charity, The Yard, which supports disabled children and their families.  Recalling the Squadron’s vital role in the defence of the island of Malta in World War Two, Squadron personnel took on the challenge of running the exact distance – 1,616 miles – between Malta and RAF Turnhouse in Edinburgh where the Squadron was first formed.

This raised £1,040 to help the wonderful work undertaken on behalf of families by the team at The Yard –

Finally, as Autumn arrived, 603 Squadron has been asked to mobilise more personnel for UK backfills to RAF Brize Norton and RAF Scampton.

The experience of 603 Squadron this year has reflected the difficulty and dislocation created by Covid-19 across the country and beyond. The year that was planned has largely been abandoned but the Squadron and its personnel have been extremely busy supporting the service and the wider country, and as the year moves into its final quarter with a second phase of the virus a distinct threat, 603 Squadron will remain ready, prepared and committed to delivering assistance to wherever it is needed.