Our Military Affiliations
The Company is active in its support for the Forces of the Crown and the Cadet movement. It has formal affiliations with four elements of the Services with frequent visits and communications.
HMS Defender a type 45 Destroyer
HMS Defender replaced our old friend HMS York and in the photograph we see her providing area air defence for the US Nimitz class super carrier George H W Bush in the Mediterranean sea.
Early in June the Master took a very interesting trip to meet some of the crew of HMS Defender and to make our annual Leadership Award to Leading Engineering Technician (Marine Engineering) Mleczek. To fit in with the hectic schedule that Defender is currently undertaking, the Master’s visit to HMS Defender necessitated a flight to meet the ship part way back from an active deployment. The citation on the Navy award read as follows:-
‘Working within the ship’s Services Group, Mleczek and his technicians have been routinely tasked to operate in some of the most unpleasant working environments on board in order to reinstate capability. Always one to lead from the front, he can be relied upon to inspire those around him to achieve the task”. In addition, he was head of the Junior Rates Mess, thereby holding responsibility for 162 personnel. Outside of command, this is deemed to be the biggest leadership challenge on board. “His impressive and rare ability to subtly influence and guide all those around him – subordinates, peers and seniors alike – sets him apart as a leader’.
Defender was returning from her deployment to the Mediterranean, the Gulf and the Indian ocean.
Her main task on deployment was to support and protect two key aircraft carriers, the French carrier Charles de Gaulle, and the US carrier Truman, especially at the time of their campaigns against Dae’sh in Iraq and Syria. On occasions Defender was the eyes and ears for both ships at the same time.
In spite of earlier press reports in this country about the Type 45s, the new gas turbine propulsion worked well for Defender. There was immense pride that they had not missed a single day of operations due to mechanical failure. They had tested a type 45 Destroyer over a very long period, and the information gained will be invaluable to future commanders.
W Sqn The Royal Yeomanry (the Westminster Dragoons) -
Master in 2016, Thomas Wheatley-Hubbard was pleased to be entertained at the Annual Dinner of the Westminster Dragoons' Regimental Association in early October. The company present was wide ranging, from the latest recruits through to two D-Day veterans. The Worshipful Company of Farmers' award was presented to Staff Sergeant Robin Rowe.
The Immediate Past Master, Thomas Wheatley-Hubbard, represented the Livery at a service at Westminster Abbey on Saturday Nov 12th, when the old guidons (regimental colours) of the Westminster Dragoons were laid up in the Abbey.
Middlesex Wing Air Training Corps
On Sunday 11th September our Company was represented at RAF Northolt to participate in our Cadet Affiliation with the Middlesex Wing of the Air Training Corps at their Annual Wing Field Day.
What is Wing Field Day? It is the culmination of the cadet year, showcasing the high levels of training in the Squadrons activities. It encourages a spirit of competition at Wing level and the Squadron winners go onto to represent their Wing at Regional level.
The Company was represented by the then Master, Thomas Wheatley-Hubbard and his wife Patsi, Past Master Jeremy Courtney and his wife, Liveryman Anne Courtney - who is our prime contact with the Cadets. Anne reports that it was a glorious, sunny day and the WCF party were greeted by Squadron Leader Seeley, who was our escort for the day. We were also introduced to Cadet Warrant Officer, Stewart Davies who was the recipient of an Overseas Award to travel to Australia this summer. Just 4 Cadets from all over the country were selected visit Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra and to integrate with the Australian Air Cadets, an operation just one sixth of the size of the Corps in Great Britain and have only 4 Wings in the whole of the country.
Stewart enthused about his trip and was extremely grateful to Liveryman Stephen Watkins who gave a donation towards this Award. It has, he told us, given him the opportunity to travel, which he would never dreamed of being able to do if he hadn't joined the Cadets.
We were fortunate to have lunch in the Officers Mess in the company of Group Captain David Manning ADC MA CMgr FCMI, RAF Station Commander of RAF Northolt, and afterwards we all had a tour of of the Corps activities. These included first aid, drill, band, photographic and aero modelling competitions, together with a challenge to a Land Rover Defender ‘pull’ (its all in the technique) and a fascinating Team Ingenuity Test. Group Captain David Manning was presented with a framed ensign to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the Air Cadets and 5 years of the Middlesex Wing at RAF Northolt.
Our party were extremely impressed with the enthusiasm of the the Cadets, their achievements, many of whom are going on to university to study, with the ambition of joining the RAF afterwards. These Cadets come from the middle of London, and explained that the opportunities the Cadet Force has given them had been phenomenal. They were truly inspirational and it was clear from their behaviour and performance on the day that they were already becoming extremely well equipped to go out into the world, and contribute very positively to society.
The culmination of the day was the parade on the parade ground, with 26 Squadrons, over 400 Cadets from the Wing, taking part, together with their Officers (all volunteer staff) and accompanied by their marching band.
The Master presented the Livery Salver to 2473 Highlands and Southgate Squadron for the outstanding community involvement in the activities of their Cadets. The Salute was taken by Group Captain David Manning who also presented the remaining awards and gave a brief speech.
Our latest affiliation is with RAF Waddington. The station is home to six squadrons and the new Station Commander is Group Captain Richard Barrow OBE.
The 2016 visit to Waddington, still by the way, when we visited in August, awaiting completion of its main runway, was attended by a small party from the Company who were very enthusiastically and considerately entertained by the team at the base.
The visit afforded us an opportunity to try out the flight simulator, I am sorry to say not one of us actually managed to get the plane down safely on the runway; an introduction to the dog section and some disturbingly aggressive and powerful guard dogs that only their handlers could safely interact with and an introduction to the survival equipment specialists who are tasked with supplying the aircrew with everything from communications headsets to life rafts and from survival rations to water purification devices
In between all these activities we were served an excellent lunch in the Sergents' Mess and the opportunity to chat to aircrew and ground personnel about life in the military and at Waddington in particular. The key moment in the day the presentation by the Master of our Leadership award to Fl Lt Ingle in the Officers mess.
The citation captured Fl Lt Ingle’s contribution in this way:-
‘Sharon Ingle works as the 8 Squadron Intelligence Officer (IntO) where she is responsible for the flow of intelligence information from external agencies, into the Squadron, and then onwards up the intelligence chain to senior commanders Number 8 Squadron flies the E-3D Sentry, which is a large Command and Control platform that is employed across a range of combat operations; the role of IntO is thus critical to operational ouptut.
Within weeks of arriving on the Sqn, she launched an in-depth evaluation of extant Squadron processes and went on to revolutionise activity to focus it directly on the needs of higher commanders, ultimately directly affecting current and future operations. When the Squadron redeployed in March 2016, Sharon travelled out in advance of the main party to ensure that the correct facilities were in place to enable immediate operational success on arrival in theatre.
Without Sharon’s commitment and hard work, the relevance of the Squadron’s combat role would be much reduced. While Sentry’s performance is a team effort, this is a clear demonstration of an individual making a disproportionately positive impact on the team’s results.