The Royal Air Force will broadcast its first virtual remembrance service, in partnership with BFBS, the forces charity and media organisation, on Sunday 17 May at 17:30 BST.
The Runnymede Memorial service would normally be attended by the Chief of the Air Staff with representatives from families of the lost, Commonwealth countries, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Royal Air Force Associations, veterans and members of the public, along with RAF station representatives, to pay their respects and remember the fallen.
The Royal Air Force has worked closely with BFBS, providing an opportunity for personnel from across our Commonwealth’s Air Forces to join together, virtually to commemorate and remember those airmen and women with no known grave, inscribed on the memorial walls.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston said, “Each year representatives of Commonwealth air forces come to Runnymede to remember. This year, we will conduct a virtual memorial service to commemorate those who gave their tomorrow for our today. In this, the 75th year of Victory in Europe and Victory over Japan, and the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, we have adapted to ensure we deliver this important service of remembrance. We will not forget their sacrifice.”
BFBS are providing the technical broadcast and online capabilities to ensure the service is available to the widest possible audience. The team will reflect the importance of the service while also maintaining social distancing. This meant the crew of four had to film each element separately while staying apart from one another and from those involved in the recordings. Everything was recorded four times to ensure all the shots were captured.
From the outset, the RAF and BFBS were keen to involve representatives of the Commonwealth and those from RAF bases, stations and detachments. “We put the call out for people to make their own short video tributes. The response was magnificent,” said Jon Knighton, producer for BFBS.
He added; “The footage from the service was combined with messages from around the world which have been sent to BFBS. We received more than 60 clips from the RAF including 17 from foreign embassies, defence attachés and high commissioners who wished to pay their respects in this virtual service.”
Mr. Simon Bucks, Chief Executive, BFBS said; “We are delighted to have partnered with the RAF to create this virtual Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial Service, commemorating all those brave air crews from across the world who served during World War II.
“BFBS prides itself on its innovative, creative and collaborative skills and they have come into their own on this project.
“With so much of life on hold, BFBS is more committed than ever to entertaining, informing, connecting and championing the armed forces family, and we are thrilled to have been able to support the RAF in this important and valuable initiative and to be able to bring it to audiences across multiple platforms.”
How to watch the Service
Watch on TV Forces News Weekend at 17.30 (UK time) on BFBS Extra overseas or on Forces TV in the UK on Sky 181, Virgin 274, Freesat 165, Freeview 96 and YouView 96.
Details on how to watch online at 11.00 (UK time) are at forces.net/runnymede where you can also read about the event.
Listen on BFBS Radio worldwide at 14.30 (UK time) at radio.bfbs.com/stations/bfbs-uk
- a podcast will also be available afterwards at radio.bfbs.com/podcasts/