RAF Centenary presentation
My wife, Sheila, and I visited RAF 100 Squadron in December 2018 to make a presentation in memory of my late father, Walter, who served in the RAF for over seven years, joining 100 Squadron in 1939. It was fitting that it was the year the RAF celebrated its 100th birthday, and that the following day would have been Walter's 100th birthday.
The 100 Squadron is a relatively small specialist squadron based at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire along with a number of other squadrons and units. It helps train elite pilots using Hawk jets, similar to those used by the Red Arrows, and trains them to cope with extreme combat situations.
The Chaplain arranged for us to meet the Squadron Leader and a number of staff so we could offer them a badged New Testament and share Walter's story. That included flying in old WW1 biplane single-torpedo bombers from Singapore until the Japanese over-ran and destroyed half the Squadron's fleet of aircraft. He knew God's hand on him; he escaped, only to end up in the Chindits in the Burmese jungle!
I shared how Walter's Christian faith was important to him both during the war and throughout his life. I pointed out the Helps at the front of the New Testament and read the prayer inserted in the back page, the prayer of RAF Cranwell (also known as the prayer of Ignatius of Loyola) where my father had trained, a copy of which had always hung on the wall in his home throughout his life. We were able to give a presentation Bible to the Squadron Leader as shown in the photograph. We also met a number of pilots, all of whom were delighted to receive a badged New Testament. The Chaplain planned to offer copies to all other support staff.
The Chaplain had commented that it was rather strange that a New Testament has a skull and crossbones on the front but I commented that the Bible deals a lot with death, how to face it, and remove fear of it, especially for those engaged in challenging careers such as the RAF. We pray these brave people will read God's word and be blessed through these New Testaments.
Submitted by Jonathan Longstaff, Haywards Heath Branch