This year saw the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, where the very future of our Island nation hung in the balance as pilots of the RAF struggled in the skies above their Countrymen to withstand the German Luftwaffe’s onslaught. As part of the nationwide commemorations on Sunday 19th September, Nottingham City Centre saw cadets and staff from the South and East Midlands Wing at their finest as they proudly paraded through crowded city streets with heads held high and both Wing & Squadron standards held aloft.
Nine of the Nottingham area based squadrons, paraded cadets and unit standards in the historic St Mary’s Church in the Nottingham Lace Market. They were joined by the various service organisations and for the first time, representatives from 504 (County of Nottingham) Squadron, Royal Auxillary Air Force, which is based at RAF Cottesmore, attended the parade. Led by the Squadron Warrant Officer from 504, WO Paddy Caffrey, six members of the squadron attended the service and escorted the service standards during the parade to the Market Square. After developing an excellent working relationship with the auxiliary squadron over the past year, it is hoped that 504 will continue to support the Wing, and be a presence at the Nottingham parade in future years.
120 cadets and over 30 uniformed staff formed into four flights and carried out the 15 minute march through the streets. Accompanying the proud contingent of ATC cadets was the Nottinghamshire Army Cadet Force band, which along with ‘gentle’ encouragement from the Parade Warrant Officer, WO Phillips, ensured that the step was constant and perfect!
Police Mounted Section leading the Parade
Also marking a first for the Nottingham parade, three horses from the Nottinghamshire Police Mounted Section provided a mounted escort that led the parade to the inspection area. Each horse was attired in ceremonial police dress, complete with baton, while each rider was wearing full Victorian era ceremonial uniform, lending the occasion even more of a special air that brought many an admiring comment from the public.
S&E Midlands Wing March Past
The parade formed up in front of the Nottingham Council House and was readied for an inspection, which was carried out by the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, Colonel Tim Richmond MBE TD DL, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Councillor Penny Griggs, and Councillor Brian Grocock, Lord Mayor of Nottingham.
Behind the parade area itself, the South and East Midlands Wing Marquee was in place to offer the public information about the ATC, but also to sell Help for Heroes merchandise. Under the guidance of Sergeant Mark Bushell, members of the public made donations to the Hero’s cause and a total of one hundred and fifty five pounds was raised in only a short time.
A flypast by the C 47 Dakota of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight had previously been arranged to coincide with the arrival of the march past in the Market Square at 12 noon. However, due to unforeseen problems this had to be rearranged for later on in the day after the dispersal of the parade.
The day was however, one of reflection, pride and honouring the sacrifice of a previous generation, many of which were the same age as our older cadets, who stood tall in the face of great danger and adversity. It can certainly be said that the ‘few’ of the South and East Midlands Wing stood tall in honouring the ‘few’ of 1940, in a parade that was one of the city’s finest by the Cadet Force’s.
By WO R.C. Phillips
1936 Squadron MCO & WWO