RAF set to mark 50 years of freedom

WITH bayonets fixed, colours flying, drums beating and bands playing, the RAF are set to march through a Suffolk seaside town.The parade will celebrate the 50th anniversary next year of the service being given the Freedom of Felixstowe to mark its close connections - which stretch back nearly a century - with the resort.

WITH bayonets fixed, colours flying, drums beating and bands playing, the RAF are set to march through a Suffolk seaside town.

The parade will celebrate the 50th anniversary next year of the service being given the Freedom of Felixstowe to mark its close connections - which stretch back nearly a century - with the resort.

Town clerk Susan Robinson said a unit from the RAF Regiment stationed at RAF Honington would be invited to exercise it right to the freedom of the town, but no dates had yet been set because this would depend upon the availability of the unit.

She said: “The first step is for us to make the invitation and see whether the RAF will accept.


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“The town has particularly strong connections with the RAF Regiment and it would be very appropriate if they were able to take part. It will be a big occasion for the town and to have a military marching band parading through the resort will be a splendid sight.”

The aim will be to have the event on a weekend so as many members of the public as possible can enjoy the parade and salute.

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There are also plans for other events as part of the celebrations, including possibly a civic reception.

The Freedom of Felixstowe was granted to the RAF in 1958 to recognise the achievements of the town's RAF station, which had been one of the first in the world, and home to the world champion high-speed flight unit.

It was also an important research base for seaplanes and flying boats, with many invented and tested at the site.

The town also wanted to show appreciation for the help the airmen gave during the 1953 floods disaster rescue operation.

The Felixstowe mayor's chain is the only one in the world to contain the badge of the RAF.

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

FASTFACTS: RAF Felixstowe

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.

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