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The RAF Innsworth ensign comes down
Salute to the end of an RAF era
Share your memories as RAF Innsworth marks the end of nearly 70 years as part of Gloucestershire life.
After 68 years' proud history RAF Innsworth closes on March 31 2008. The station has had a special place in many Gloucestershire lives and hearts, so the end of an era has been an emotional time for many.
Margaret and Tony Rogan in 1960
On Thursday March 6 a poignant sunset ceremony marked the official end of the RAF's involvement at Innsworth. Four Hawk jets flew over at the moment the Royal Air Force ensign was lowered for the last time, before being presented to the last station commander, Wing Commander Carol Hobkirk.
And there was another duty that the most senior officer present to conduct.† Air Officer Commanding, Sue Armitage Maddox, unveiled a commemorative plaque. It stands on a plinth beside the 'gate guardian',† a Meteor jet that the new occupants of the base - NATO's Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARCC) - have agreed can stay as a reminder of the Royal Air Force's time at Innsworth.†
It was particularly appropriate that the two top officers on such an historic day were women, bearing in mind Innsworth's long association with the women's branch of the Air Force.†
RAF Innsworth's commemorative plaque
BBC Radio Gloucestershire marked the week of the ceremony with a series of interviews with people who have had connections with Innsworth.
RAF Innsworth was under the command of Air Vice Marshal Tony Mason in the 1980s. Now retired, but still a defence expert and adviser to House of Commons Defence Committee, his verdict on the strategic importance of Innsworth is clear.
He said: "There was no other unit like Innsworth in the Royal Air Force. It was responsible for every aspect of manning, of career management and of manpower effectiveness. Without Innsworth the RAF simply could not function."
Alan Brant, from Bishop's Cleeve, was 18 when he was stationed at Innsworth in the bitter cold winter of 1946. He remembers Irish colleagues ripping the wooden door of the WAAFs' bathroom block to burn in the stove of the freezing wooden hut they were billeted in.
He says: "I liked it at Innsworth - mainly because of the people I was there with. When I was demobbed I cried my eyes out."
RAF Innsworth has an extra special place in the hearts of Tony and Margaret Rogan, from Up Hatherley, as it's where they first met back in 1959.
He was a young airman just back from an overseas tour in Cyprus and she was an 18-year-old on her first Women's Royal Air Force posting.
Margaret said: "It was a a very special time in my life. I'll always have very happy memories of Innsworth."
Tony said: "I don't think ours was the only romance. We were only separated by a short stretch of grass from the WRAF billet so there was a lot of social interplay.†
"I was like a kid in a sweetshop because where we'd been in Cyprus there was no female company. Innsworth was quite a revelation. We all made up for lost time!"
RAF memories from WW2 to 21st century
Other memories of Innsworth are many and varied, as a pictorial history put together from archives, photos and press cuttings clearly shows.
It was put together by staff at the base to pay tribute to - and make a lasting record of - the role of both military and civilian staff since Innsworth opened in 1940.
The labour of love has dug up data and photographs from archived material held in station headquarters, the station commanders’ photo albums, local newspapers and the RAF News along with personal recollections from people who served on the station during the early years.
The 100-page book has been put together by Wing Commander Martin Young and Heather Goddard from the RAF’s media department.
Wing Commander Young said: "Although RAF Innsworth could not compare with the main operating bases such as Marham, Bruggen, Kinloss and Lyneham in terms of 'punchiness' it has played a huge part in the lives of everyone who has served in the RAF - even if they've never been stationed here or even if they've never realised it.
Peter Lockyer in the MoD Medals Office
'Long and impressive life'
"We have attempted to provide a flavour of events throughout the decades looking back on the life of a happy and successful RAF station."
Wing Commander Carol Hobkirk, the final station commander, says: "RAF Innsworth has had a long and impressive life and so it is with both great sadness and tremendous pride that I mark its closure.
"For those of us who have either served here or have a connection with Innsworth, our memories will live on."
The book charts the rapid development of Innsworth during the war years, the formation of the RAF Record and Pay Office, RAF Barnwood, the RAF Personnel Management Centre and the computer era, the formation of Headquarters Personnel & Training Command and the partial modernisation of the station in 1993-94.
Innsworth's historic casework team
After that came the formation of the Personnel Management Agency and the Armed Forces Pay & Administration Agency.
In addition to the work of RAF Innsworth, the book touches on the sporting and social life of the station and includes pictures of some well known characters, past and present.
RAF Innsworth staff who put it together hope the book will be of interest to anyone who has served on the station - service or civilian - or has been associated in some other way with this busy unit.
The History of Royal Air Force Innsworth is on sale for £5 (plus £2 postage and packing) with all proceeds going to the RAF Benevolent Fund.
Copies can be ordered from Chris Sparks, RAF Benevolent Fund on 01993 845752 with your debit/credit card details ready or send a cheque for the required amount with your details to RAFBF, Flat 18, Ely Close, Carterton, Oxon. OX18 3UJ. For further information email email@example.com
last updated: 11/04/2008 at 10:19
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Alan. W. Penn.
David S A Bawden
Beverley Hiller - Newbury
Trevor C Hicks
Gavin ("Angus") Riley
Laurence Baker. 2476380
G. Ashby, Brockworth
Cpl Paul Bennett
Sgnt Guy Williams