In 2017 No. 101 Squadron marked its Centenary, on 12 July. This was a remarkable achievement when one pauses to reflect on the number of RAF squadrons that have been retired since a zenith at the end of World War 2.
While 101 Squadron has spent a significant amount of its time on the active list, there have been periods when its future was less certain. As a former Commanding Officer, I know how important it is to represent your squadron’s interests, and I am pleased to say that in my later career I was able to convince the Air Force Board that 101 Squadron should remain active, and so it has been, equipped with the Voyager aircraft.
Our Association has also navigated interesting and challenging times. Formed by Denis and Joan Goodliffe, they fund-raised for a memorial following the Squadron’s 60th Anniversary and this was unveiled in Ludford Magna, our spiritual home, in July 1978. A reunion followed in 1979 and the rest, as they say, is history. The demand for such an Association as ours was compelling, bringing together those who had served during the War, and a large number of Cold War aircrew and maintainers. That connection was consolidated through the close proximity of our spiritual home and the Squadron’s Cold War home at Waddington; Lincoln became an obvious location for reunions.
With a move to Brize Norton in the mid-80s came a different dynamic – not just a different geographic location, but a different generation, and different operational challenges. While the Squadron remained comparatively large, a different approach to crewing and way of working lead to a different culture. Now, with barely 100 squadron personnel, we have moved a long way from that culture of constituted crews and integrated maintainers faced with a clear and tangible threat to national survival. So then, it is time to consider how we as an Association remain relevant.
As we approach the end of 2017, we will see the loss of two people who have been critical to the running of our Association over very many years: Gary and Sue Weightman. Gary has been at the heart of what we do since he was appointed as the Liaison Officer, and both he and Sue have stepped into the breach once again recently to take on responsibility for both Newsletter and Membership. However, they will both rightly retire from these roles at the end of 2017, having delivered selflessly.
At the 22 April Committee Meeting, proposals for continuing a viable 101 Squadron Association post-2017 were presented by Paul Thompson. We are pleased to report that these proposals were accepted in principle by the Committee.
While there is a lot to consider, the good news is that there are some encouraging ideas and some committed people who wish to see a long-term future. I actively support them in that vision and ask you to also offer us your ideas about the Association you would wish to see in 2018. Better still, we look forward to hearing from anybody who is keen to support us in this work, and to join the committee.
On 23 September the 2017 AGM was held at the National Memorial Arboretum, and Peter Taylor, Paul Thompson and Graham Finch were formally elected to the committee, respectively as Membership Secretary, Communications Secretary and Newsletter Editor. Graham’s first newsletter will be published in 2018, with Gray Weightman’s “swansong” being the Winter 2017 edition.
Gary Wright will now combine the roles of Secretary and Welfare Secretary, and Paul Taylor will continue as Treasurer.
The only vacant role is that of Chairman, as I have now completed my “mission” to guide the Association towards and into this centenary year. So, if there is any willing ex-101 Squadron personnel who would like to be considered for this position, please contact the Committee via the Contacts page of this website.
Chairman of the 101 Squadron Association (retired)