Beckett Intake and B Squadron make history

Jane Reilly  |  Published: Oct 5th 2018

Yesterday marked a very special occasion within our Centenary year – the final event of our celebrations.

Officers and Airmen marched the length of the parade ground in front of the monumental back drop of College Hall at RAF College Cranwell. This was the first graduation of its kind with 106 Officer Cadets, including 10 from the Commissioned Warrant Officers’ Course, and 91 Recruits including two graduating into the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

For our Beckett Intake Recruits the journey began over the weekend where they were transported from their home of 10 weeks up to Lincolnshire. For many of them this was the first time they had seen the RAF College Cranwell and most certainly the first time they had walked inside the spectacular building which had its foundation stone laid in 1929.

Recruits were given a tour of the College and began their journey to graduation alongside Officer Cadets. Rehearsals had started at Halton and our men and women were now going to put into practice what they had learned. It wasn’t all rehearsals, the Intake had the opportunity to visit the International Bomber Command Centre where they laid wreaths to honour those who lost their lives in WWII.

From one Station steeped in history to another, it has been an exciting time for the recruits. In week two of training they were told they would have the momentous opportunity to graduate in what was now the end of the RAF100 campaign.

The morning of the Graduation, AC Sam Cook said: ‘ I’m excited, I just want to get out there.’ For Sam the occasion was extra special as it was his son’s second birthday and he alongside his wife and parents would be watching the moment Sam marched onto the parade and also when he received his prize from the Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Stephen Hillier, Reviewing Officer.  He continued: ‘I joined the RAF to give my son opportunities that I didn’t have and I’m really proud to be here, especially with the Officers who are graduating too.’

The Parade began with the College Band marching on, which for many is quite a vision. Once in place The College Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer Betts, took position to march on the graduating Officer Cadets and Recruits. The band begins, five beats pass and on marched the four flights from the East and the West wings. Excited families search the ranks to find their loved ones and the parade is halted.

The parade was handed over to parade Commander, Group Captain McClurg, who graduated 23 years ago to the day, who marches on the Queen’s Colours for the Royal Air Force College and Royal Air Force Halton and all awaited the arrival of the Reviewing Officer, the Chief of the Air Staff. As the VIPs step onto the Dais, central to the parade, a rumble begins as a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, RAF Conningsby, passes over the east wing of the building and straight over the parade.

WO Betts greeted the Chief of the Air Staff, the Air Member for Personnel, Air Marshal Wigston and Air Officer Commanding 22 Group, Air-Vice Marshal James, and they began their review of the ranks, stopping to talk to graduating personnel along their way. Once the review was completed Group Captain McClurg took position once more and a slow march commenced. All four flights marched around the parade ground before breaking into quick march for one more circuit.

Once the marching was complete, prizes were awarded, three to Recruit Training Squadron and three to Initial Officer Training. The prizes for Recruit Training Squadron were as follows:

 

The Station Commander’s Cup (awarded on Parade) – Awarded for displaying the greatest effort and determination on Beckett Intake, awarded to AC M Keeling.

The Mayor of Aylesbury Trophy (awarded on Parade) – Awarded for the best overall performance in all aspects of training on No 3 Flight, awarded to AC D Hosier.

The Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire’s Trophy (awarded on Parade) – Awarded for the best overall performance in all aspects of training on No 4 Flight Awarded to AC S Cook.

The Halton Apprentice Shield – Awarded to the Recruit who displayed the highest effort and determination in physical education, awarded to AC N O’Gorman.

The Rothschild Trophy – Awarded to the recruit who achieves the highest overall standard in Initial Force Protection Training, awarded to AC S Cook.

The Halton Aircraft Apprentice Trophy – Awarded to the recruit who achieves the highest overall standard in drill and deportment, awarded to AC D Hosier.

The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund Trophy – Awarded for displaying the greatest effort and determination on Number 3 Flight, awarded to AC A Fairweather.

The Dusty Millar Trophy – Awarded for displaying the greatest effort and determination on Number 4 Flight, awarded to AC G Beavitt-Pike.

 

As the parade drew to a close, the Queen’s Colours were marched back into College Hall, and the parade was handed back to the College Warrant Officer.

For all those graduating the sound of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ will forever mark the special moment they slow marched back into the college, heads held high as the newest members of the Royal Air Force Family. To mark the extra special occasion, 2 F-35 Lightning’s roared over the slow marching personnel, solidifying the future of the first independent air force in the world.

Per Ardua Ad Astra.

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