On the 5th of February 2020, Royal Air Force College Cranwell began celebrating its centenary. 100 years ago, the first 52 Flight Cadets began their training at the college. The celebrations began with an Ensign Raising Ceremony in front of the majestic College Hall Offices’ Mess and church service to commemorate the centenary of Founders Day.
Air Commodore Suraya Marshall, Commandant of the RAF College Cranwell oversaw the proceedings. She said;
From its inception in 1920, the College has sought to deliver training that meets the needs of a rapidly evolving Air Force underpinned by the core principles of respect, integrity, service and ethos. Royal Air Force College Cranwell is the spiritual home of the Royal Air Force and while we are looking forward to our next century, we are immensely proud to celebrate the tremendous achievements of the past 100 years.
The parade element included a guard of honour from the current officer cadets with musical accompaniment by the Band of the RAF College. This was followed by a church service for personnel from RAF College Cranwell, officer cadets and invited guests.
Flying Officer Andrew Stevenson was commissioned to compose a piece of music especially for the occasion. He commented;
After a discussion with the College Librarian about the subject matter of the piece it was suggested to compose a piece in 5 movements, each representing a different famous personality who were somehow linked to the College. Ultimately, I decided to write a continuous piece which portrays the personalities of the various figures in 5 short sections, culminating in a finale of Auld Lang Syne, a piece synonymous with the College, as it is the piece that accompanies the graduating Officer Cadet’s first march into College Hall Officers’ Mess on graduation day. Throughout the composition there are further references to marches regularly played on Graduation parades; a fugue based on the College March and a motif taken from the Regiment March Holyrood.
The composition, titled Alitum Altrix, features the personalities of Lieutenant Colonel Sir Sefton Branker, Lord Hugh Trenchard, Sir Winston Churchill, Field Marshall Jan Christian Smuts and Air Vice Marshall Charles Longcroft. The title Alitum Altrix, Latin for Nurture the Winged, is the motto of RAF College Cranwell and appears above the main doors of the academy’s Officers’ Mess. A performance of the premiere can be seen on the RAF Music FaceBook page.
Flying Officer Stevenson is a former musician of the Band of the RAF College. He began composing at the age of 16 and has written numerous works for a variety of musical ensembles. His last commissioned piece, entitled To The Last, was written to mark the retirement of the Tornado GR4 after four decades of service. An excellent trumpeter, he regularly featured as a soloist with the Band of the RAF College. Flying Officer Stevenson left RAF Music Services to pursue a career as an RAF Pilot and is currently undertaking Elementary Flying Training on 16 Sqn, flying the Grob Tutor.
The Band of the RAF College is also celebrating its centenary this year. On Saturday 11 July all former serving members are invited to join with the Band to celebrate its 100-year anniversary. If you have served with the Band of the RAF College and would like to attend or you would like further information about the event please email email@example.com
Later in the year, as part of the celebrations for RAF College Cranwell’s centenary, the Band will be performing a concert in support of the RAF Benevolent Fund in the stunning surroundings of Lincoln Cathedral. This will take place on Thursday 29th October 2020.
Article by Corporal Jason Rose, Corporal Philippa Hartley and Senior Aircraftman Jo Kemp.
Photos by CRN Official photographic section
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