On the 30th June, the Central Band of the Royal Air Force travelled to Ramsgate, Kent, to lead the parade for Armed Forces Day. Over 500 people lined the streets to watch the proud servicemen and women, veterans and cadets march from the Sailors’ Church, along the seafront at the Royal Harbour.
The parade formed up outside The Royal Victoria Pavilion, where a Drum Head ceremony took place, followed by Hymns and Prayers lead by Reverend Gordon Warren. A salute was then taken outside Custom house before the parade was dismissed.
Following the parade, and a quick change into civilian attire, the Band was warmly welcomed into the Royal British Legion for refreshments. They were thanked by the parade organisers for their high-level performance and support to the marching troops.
The following morning, the musicians travelled to the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the unveiling of the memorial, 100 years since the formation of the RAF, and is also the 78th anniversary of the Battle itself.
Guests of honour included His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, and Wing Commander (retired) Paul Farnes, one of ‘the few’ to whom this country owes so much.
Speaking before the event, Wing Commander Farnes, one of the ‘Aces’ of the Battle of Britain having shot down over 5 enemy aircraft, reflected on the Battle which changed the course of the Second World War. He felt it was important to mark the anniversaries:
"For us it was just another job. Many despised the Battle of Britain but it served its purpose. We wouldn't be free today without it.”
The Central Band lead the Kent Wing Air Training Corps, over 60 Standards carried by ex-Service Associations of the South East, and Polish Air Force replica Standard into the parade area before a Royal Salute was given by HRH Prince Michael of Kent. He then inspected the troops and Standards, accompanied by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, before a speech was given by the Chief of Air Staff welcoming all to the ceremony.
Wreaths were laid at the Memorial by the Guests of Honour, local dignitaries, representatives of various RAF Associations, the Polish Airmen’s Memorial Association, and Defence Attaché’s representing Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, New Zealand and Poland.
HRH Prince Michael of Kent then took the march-past Salute as the Central Band lead the Standards and troops out of the parade.
Relatives of ‘The Few’ were then invited to the Christopher-Noxley Memorial Wall where Thomas Walker read his grandfather’s poem ‘Our Wall’. They, along with well-wishers in attendance, then had their opportunity to lay their red, white, and blue floral tributes at the Memorial Wall before the Parade returned to perform a Sunset Ceremony to remember the fallen.