On Saturday 29th June 2019, In the spectacular and historic surroundings supplied by the world famous Plymouth Hoe and Plymouth Sound, veterans and standard bearers of the ex service associations, stood shoulder to shoulder with top military officers, Members of Parliament and Diplomats during the 30th anniversary service of commemoration at the Allied Air Monument, the opening event of Plymouth's 2017 'Armed Forces Day'.
This year we were honoured and delighted to host as the senior serving RAF officer present, Air Vice Marshall Gary Tunicliffe. CVO. RAF, Deputy Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies, and a keen supporter of the monument committee.
We were also joined by high level diplomatic and military representatives from, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, India, New Zealand, Poland, and the United States of America, together with members of both national and local government, representatives of the various veterans associations and senior members of the emergency services, and it is this high power representation of the Allied forces and the Diplomatic Corps which indicates the importance of this international monument.
Also attending for the first time, and with their wives seated in the audience, members of the 49th (St. Athan) entry RAF Boy Entrants, who had joined the Royal Air Force together in May 1963 at the age of 16, and who were holding their 7th annual reunion in the city, joined the veterans on parade, the first time since their their graduation from training in December 1964, that they had been on parade together.
Having been unveiled on 3rd September 1989, fifty years to the day following the commencement of WW2 in 1939, this years service reflected the fact that ithis year celebrated 30 years since the monument was unveiled , and, as is always the case, commemorated those who had came from many different lands and many different backgrounds and who represented different traditions, different faiths and different cultures, but for who there was one important bond which united them all. That bond was freedom, and their unshakeable, shared commitment, that the light of freedom should not be extinguished.
In recent years however, the focus of the monument has shifted to remember allied airmen lost, not only during the period 1939-45, but also those from the allied air forces of more recent conflicts, and this fact is reflected by the welcome attendance at the service of a representative of Germany, now a highly respected member of the international community, and an ally in recent and present day conflicts
In welcoming the official guests, and members of the public watching the event, the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Councillor Richard Ball said it was befitting that the 30th anniversary of the monument, which was rightly now enjoying international recognition, coincided with the 75th anniversay of the D-Day landings which had recently been commemorated.
He went onto say that the Service is a fitting reminder of our wider horizons as we come together to honour the Royal Air Force, Commonwealth and Allied Air Forces.
He also said that Plymouth was proud to host this hugely important event that marks the start of the city’s Armed Forces Day celebrations on the historic Plymouth Hoe., and it was fitting that we remember Air Vice-Marshal Don Bennett and Warrant Officer Jim Davis who conceived this wonderful monument, both of whose ashes are buried beneath it.
Special mention should also be made regarding the work done by the cadets and adult staff of Plymouth & Cornwall wing, Air Training Corps during these services. Without their dedication and enthusiasm, it would be difficult to make the annual services as successful as they have become over the years.
Following the service of commemoration, wreaths were laid at the foot of the monument by the dignitaries attending, followed by those members of the public watching the event, especially the children, who were as usual, given the opportunity to lay their own personal floral tributes.
A SELECTION OF IMAGES FROM THE 2019 ANNUAL SERVICE OF COMMEMORATION
To copy any image, right click on mouse and select "Save Image as"
For a DVD (£5) containing all photographs taken (total 259), please click here
Images courtesy of Paul Stannard
Rockpool Photography/Vivid Colours Plymouth