New Standard for 33 Squadron (Heritage)
RAF Benson’s Honorary Air Marshal, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, was the Reviewing Officer at the Consecration of the new 33 Sqn Standard during a full formal parade by Squadron personnel.
The Consecration of the replacement Standard took place at a special ceremony outside 33 Sqn at RAF Benson and involved the formal parade of over 85 personnel. The event was also attended by several VIPs and families including past COs of the Sqn, Air Mshl North, Air Cdre Lyall and Gp Capt Chris Luck.
Two flights of personnel from the Sqn plus two standard parties, including aircrew, engineers and support staff, formed the parade, which is one of the largest the Station has seen for some years. The ceremony was opened with a flypast by a Puma Mk2 helicopter, which is due to enter service with 33 Sqn at RAF Benson later this year. Following the parade inspection by the Reviewing Officer, the retiring standard was marched off the parade square. The new standard was then uncased before being lifted by Standard Bearer Flt Lt Jamie Anderson, a 33 Sqn pilot.
The consecration Service, conducted by The Venerable (AVM) Ray Pentland, the Chaplain in Chief of the RAF, formally consecrated the new Standard. The ceremonial parade that accompanied the Standard Presentation was led by the OC 33 Sqn, Wg Cdr Shane Anderson DFC. He explained the importance of the ceremony to the Squadron: “33 Sqn has a long and proud history which we should be rightly proud of. Our battle honours have been hard won and many members have laid down their lives so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have today. The Sqn has existed in times of turmoil and will continue to do so. Our Standard displays our history and reminds us of these acts. As we look back at our history one factor has remained constant – that of change. We continue to adapt to change and as we look to our future we are about to introduce a magnificent new aircraft, the Puma 2. Our history will continue to guide us, but not bind us. We are bound by our people, because their actions, both on the ground and in the air are the history of 33 Sqn. As such it is fitting that our motto is ‘Loyalty.’”
The event closed with a spectacular display by the Hurricane aircraft of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Following the formal parade, HRH addressed the gathered Squadron personnel and families during a formal lunch in the hangar: “It gives me great pleasure to be here today at the Consecration Ceremony for the 33 Squadron Standard. As the Honorary Air Marshal of the Station, I have witnessed this Squadron deploy on operations and exercises across the world, and I have watched as you have continually risen to the challenge of the ever increasing demands placed upon you.
“The Squadron Standard is a key emblem that embodies the history, traditions and ideals of the Armed Forces. Today, this new Standard becomes a consecrated symbol of both temporal and spiritual loyalty, perfectly aligned to the motto of the Squadron. ‘Loyalty.’ All who serve with 33 Squadron should look upon it as your Standard of honour and uphold it by your continued loyal and unstinting service.
“I am honoured to share this fine occasion with you. It is a time of great change for the Squadron and you its personnel, you will have a very impressive new aircraft and I believe that this new Standard is highly fitting. I look forward to seeing 33 Squadron rise to every challenge you may face as did your forbearers.”
The Squadron Standard
The Standard consists of a rectangular silk flag in Royal Air Force light blue, measuring 2ft 8in on the staff and 4ft in length. It has a border of roses, thistles, shamrocks and leeks, and in the centre is the officially approved squadron badge, with white scrolls on each side as required, inscribed with the battle honours of the squadron. The Standard is fringed and tasselled in gold and blue. The staff is 8ft 1in in length, surmounted by an eagle in gold with wings elevated.
The Consecration Ceremony
As an embodiment of the history, traditions and ideals of the people, the symbols of the Armed Forces have always been regarded with respect and veneration, and even in pre-Christian days they were usually set on one side and consecrated in the name of a god. Consequently, when Colours or Standards are presented to units or squadrons the ceremony of consecration is one of the most important elements of the presentation procedure.
33 Sqn was formed at Filton in 1916 as part of the Home Defence. Equipped with the Bristol F2b aircraft, 33 Sqn became the world’s first dedicated Night Fighter Force. Disbanded after World War I,
33 Sqn was reformed as a Day Bomber Unit and was soon equipped with the legendary Hawker Hart aircraft, which inspired their Sqn badge. After numerous operational and humanitarian deployments, the Sqn moved to RAF Benson in 1997, where they continued to support Land Forces with the Puma helicopter.