HRFCA were lucky enough to be invited to help mark the hundredth birthday of the RAF at a reception on Friday.
Many current and former members of the RAF, including WWII veterans and many supporters of the Association, attended the event, held by the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
Scotland and Northern Ireland Area Chairman Mr Bob Chandler welcomed guests into the late Victorian grandeur of the museum. Area President Air Vice Marshal David Niven then described the events leading up to the formation of the RAF on 1 April 1918 as an independent service in response to Zeppelin bombing raids against targets in London and the south of England, and recounted some of his own early experiences as a trainee fighter pilot based at RAF Leuchars in Fife.
The backdrop to the event included the famous ‘Glasgow Spitfire’, tail number LA198, a late model Mark F21 which served with No. 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron, a Royal Auxiliary Air Force unit, between 1947 and 1949. Number 602 Sqn had formed as a light bomber squadron in 1925 and by the time war broke out in 1939 had become a fighter unit. On 8 May that year, 602 Sqn became the first RAuxAF unit to be equipped with Spitfires, and, despite being briefly disbanded, continued to fly the type until 8 May 1951, exactly 12 years after the first aircraft arrived.
After the war LA198 was placed in storage and, following a three-year spell in the 1980s as the RAF Leuchars gate guardian, eventually passed to Kelvingrove. All in all a most appropriate presence for such an auspicious gathering, and one which will continue to represent the heroism and sacrifice of members of the RAF throughout its first 100 years.
The reception concluded with a rousing Beating Retreat performed by the RAF Central Scotland Pipes and Drums.