Felixstowe set for RAF celebration

DETAILS were announced today of a major event in Felixstowe this autumn to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the RAF being granted the freedom of the town.

Richard Cornwell

DETAILS were announced today of a major event in Felixstowe this autumn to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the RAF being granted the freedom of the town.

The freedom will be exercised by 15 Squadron RAF Regiment, RAF Honington - exercising its right to march through the resort with bayonets fixed, colours flying, drums beating and bands playing - accompanied by the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.

The Freedom Parade between the Spa Pavilion and the leisure centre and a Sunset Ceremony next to the Town Hall gardens will be the highlights of the special day on September 26.

A flypast by an RAF aircraft is planned to take place at 6pm.

Everyone is invited to watch the ceremony and the march past between 5.30pm and 6.30pm from Undercliff Road West or the promenade or Wolsey Gardens.

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Town clerk Susan Robinson said: “Felixstowe has a long and proud connection with the RAF.

“The RAF Station, which was situated in the vicinity of the current Port of Felixstowe, was one of the very first in Great Britain.

“Some of the original buildings are still used as part of the port and there are a number of areas of housing in Felixstowe which formerly belonged to the RAF.

“The Freedom of the town was granted to the RAF in 1958 following their heroic assistance during the devastating 1953 floods.”

The RAF Station closed in the 1960s, but many former RAF personnel still live in the town.

Mayor Mike Deacon's chain of office features the RAF jewel presented to the town by the RAF, and is thought to be the only chain in the world that includes the RAF insignia.

To celebrate the 50 years a 3D floral seaplane has been constructed outside the leisure centre and the RAF insignia is included in a crest bed near the Spa Pavilion - the displays mark the two end points of the march past.

- Do you have memories of being involved with RAF Felixstowe? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk


- Felixstowe was commissioned as a seaplanes base in 1913 and during the first world war aircraft from the base patrolled the coast from Southwold to Clacton looking for German U-Boats and by the end of the war was the largest station in the world.

- In 1924 the base - which was where the port now stands - took on a new role as the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment.

- During the following years more than 250 types of seaplane and flying boat - military and civilian aircraft - and others were tested and designed at Felixstowe.

- The base was responsible for inventing the technology which led to the development of Concorde and also the space shuttle.

- Those who served at RAF Felixstowe included Flying Officer Frank Whittle, inventor of the jet engine, and Aircraftsman 1st Class TE Shaw, better known as Lawrence of Arabia.

- The station's special high-speed flight also won the world famous Schneider Trophy for Britain three times in a row.