The Laying up of the Royal Observer Corps Banner.
St. Clement Danes Church
Friday October 23rd 2015
From all five Areas we travelled, seventeen Standards and hundreds of R.O.C.A folk, all gathering at the R.A.F. Church of St. Clement Danes in London. The occasion? Another very special and important day in the history of the R.O.C and R.O.C.A. The special event was the laying up of the Royal Observer Corps Sovereign’s Banner. Presented to the Corps by Her Majesty in 1991 it has been held at R.A.F. Cranwell since the stand down of the Corps in 1995. It had been agreed that this was the right time to transfer the Banner to its final resting place in St Clement Danes where it joins the first Royal banner which was laid up in 1991. In its new home it will now be available to all who wish to view and by laying it up 20 years after stand down, and 90 years after the Corps foundation, many of those who can still appreciate that meritorious history could attend and boy did they so do. I think it’s worth noting, with pride and gratitude, the whole occasion reinforced the still close relationship which exists between our former administrators, the R.A.F. and today’s R.O.C.A. Evidence of that relationship is the plethora of Air Marshall’s who attended (which included the most senior serving R.A.F. Officer, the Chief of the Air Staff, who read the first lesson, and our own President, Air Vice Marshall Cliff Spink (Rtd). who read the second lesson) Also involved were the band of the R.A.F. regiment, R.A.F. servicemen (acting as guides and ushers) and the Chief Chaplain of the R.A.F. who delivered an accurate and eloquent address about the R.O.C. during the service.Also present were many eminent guests who had gladly accepted invitations to attend the very special event. Appreciated though their attendance was, the most important people attending were the HUNDREDS of ex R.O.C. current R.O.C.A and their friends and relatives. It was all of them, who brought memories, emotion and pride, to the day. It was they who gave an exceptional service its resonance and depth and ensured the Banner was laid up with the respect and honour it deserved. Whilst the Church service had emotion, dignity and due ceremony the rest of the day had camaraderie along with emotion and delight to the ton (or should that be tonne now). Many happy memories were shared and recalled, old friendships revisited and new ones established, and the glorious spirit of the R.O.C. (and now R.O.C.A.) was evident. The hundreds at the Church transferred to a sit down reception, enjoyed a hot lunch and made full use of the opportunity to roll back the years. Laughter filled the air as, too quickly, the time to say farewell arrived. I think it only right to say a heartfelt thank you to all those involved in organising the special day. Their hard work ensured it went well. Thanks also to Dane Murdoch of 24Grp who kindly stepped in and carried our Group Standard on the day. There have been many special days in our history, all memorable for different reasons. This day will, rightly, take its place amongst them. It was an honour to be there as one of 22 Group’s representatives.