More than 30 RAF veterans, their families, friends and support organisations, were treated to a tea party and reminiscence session on Thursday 5 April at Crawley Library.
The special event marked the centenary of the RAF which was formed largely from the Royal Flying Corps on 1 April 1918. At the time it was the world’s largest, with nearly 23,000 aircraft, and the first air-force to be independent of army and navy forces.
Veterans, including regulars and National Servicemen, from the Second World War through to the 1960s, plus cadets from more recent times, took part. Memories of tough training regimes, excitement and boredom, sad and funny times, all were explored during an entertaining afternoon.
What all agreed on was the RAF had given them a sense of purpose, self-discipline, comradeship, organisation and resilience. Most said that military service had changed their lives for the better.
Participants described the event as: “A really fascinating afternoon, thank you so much for arranging it.” And as: “A wonderful afternoon! It was great to see some old friends I had not seen for so long.”
Debbie Kennard, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities said: “This was an incredibly special event. I so enjoyed meeting veterans along with their friends and family.
“We owe a huge debt to the men and women who have served in the RAF over the past 100 years and I was honoured to have this chance to remember and pay tribute to them.”
The Royal British Legion and SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen & Families’ Association) representatives were present to offer help and support, as was the Brighton-based Carers Centre which supports carers of veterans across Sussex.