Today, Sunday 23rd October 2016, 296 (Stoke Newington) Squadron received the honour of having their Squadron banner blessed during a service held at the RAF Church, St Clement Danes in a ceremony attended by around 100 guests who witnessed the event.
Flt Lt Ian Perring was joined by Officer Commanding London Wing, Wg Cdr Colin Gale, and other VIP guests including London Wing Chaplain Father Martin Howse SSC, Councillor Rosemary Sales of Hackney, Councillor Susan Fajana-Thomas of Stoke Newington, Deputy Lieutenant for the London Borough of Hackney Lieutenant Colonel Roderick Morriss, and Hackney Safer Neighbourhoods and Partnership Chief Inspector Ben Clarke.
The Church fell victim to the German raids on London during World War II and having survived since being built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1672 it was razed to the ground on 10 May 1941. In 1958 it was restored by the Royal Air Force, and you’ll notice if you look under the restored Royal Coat Of Arms, an explanation of this in Latin:-
AEDIFICAVIT CHR WREN
DIRUERUNT AERII BELLI
FULMINA AD MCMXLI
RESTITUIT REGINAE CLASSIS
AERONAUTICA AD MCMLVIII
Consecrated following it’s restoration on 19th October 1958, it became the Central Church of the Royal Air Force. The floor of the Church is inscribed with the badges of over 800 RAF commands, groups, stations, squadrons and other formations. The RAF presence within the Church is certainly noticeable, and even outside stands Hugh Dowding and Arthur “Bomber” Harris on their plinths.
The service for the blessing of the banner of 296 (Stoke Newington) Squadron RAF Air Cadets is certainly a privilege and an honour for the Squadron and indeed for the Wing. Cadet Warrant Officer Webb, the banner bearer, said of the event, “It was brilliant. today was important because it’s a reflection of the 75 years of the Air Cadets, an acknowledgement of promotion, and reflects on our Commanding Officer’s service as he approaches retirement from the Squadron and the Corps.”
During the service the banner was acknowledged and it’s purpose explained to a receptive audience comprising cadets, VIP’s and local parishioners. SGT (ATC) Crawford co-ordinated the banner party to precision and the RAF Air Cadets were represented in blue to a very high standard in the Central Church of the Royal Air Force, St Clement Danes, much to the pride of not only Wing Commander Gale, Officer Commanding London Wing, but all present.