Hucknall salutes first RAF parade

ON THE MARCH -- the parade gets under way in Hucknall town centre
ON THE MARCH -- the parade gets under way in Hucknall town centre
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CROWDS lined Hucknall High Street as hundreds of spectators saluted the town’s first-ever RAF parade.

Hucknall Parish Church hosted a service on Saturday September 24 when the 504 (County of Nottingham) Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxF) was given the ‘Freedom Of Ashfield’.

TOP BRASS -- an RAF commander (centre) with dignitaries from Ashfield District Council, including (second from right) Coun John Wilmott (Lab), of Hucknall

TOP BRASS -- an RAF commander (centre) with dignitaries from Ashfield District Council, including (second from right) Coun John Wilmott (Lab), of Hucknall

The historic squadron was formed in 1928 at Hucknall Airfield and flew fighter jets in the Battle Of Britain.

After the service, a march, led by the RAF Waddington Voluntary Band Of Pipes and Drums, made its way through the town centre and down to Hucknall Leisure Centre.

RAuxF personnel marched with swords drawn, bayonets fixed and colours flying.

As part of the parade, the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Nottingham and Coun May Barsby (Lab), chairman of Ashfield Council, took a salute from a raised platform on High Street.

The church service was conducted by the rector of Hucknall, the Rev Kathryn Herrod.

She said: “The church was packed and everything went well. It was a privilege to be part of the event. The honour bestowed on the squadron is great.”

Coun John Wilmott (Lab), a Hucknall member of Ashfield Council and its deputy leader, was one of the dignitaries who took part in the parade.

“It brought a real lump to your throat,” he said. “The squadron has a rich history and it was a fitting way to celebrate that.

“The honour bestowed on the squadron is not one that is given out lightly.”

During a civic reception at the leisure centre on Linby Road, there were historical displays, including photographs from the squadron archive.

Entertainment included a performance by 1940s singer Marina Mae, re-enactors dressed in uniforms dating from 1928 and a special celebration cake.

The squadron is now based at RAF Cottesmore in Rutland, from where personnel still see active duty in warzones around the world.

Since the end of the Second World War, two members have been killed — senior aircraftsmen Gary Thompson (in Afghanistan) and Chris Dunsmore (in Iraq). Both were remembered during last weekend’s event.