Depth Support Sqn Ex Luxembourg Wings 19
The Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) Luxembourg Branch held its annual Wings appeal over the weekend of Friday 4 to Sunday 6 October 2019. Seven RAF personnel from RAF Coningsby, Depth Support Squadron, volunteered to support this important remembrance occasion and fund-raising event.
The Wings weekend events started on Friday night with a reception hosted by Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Luxembourg, John Marshall, at his Residence in Luxembourg City. The Ambassador was joined by around 120 guests, including serving members of the Royal Air Force, including military units from across Europe, as well as members and friends of the Association from the Grand Duchy and the UK. The RAF personnel provided a guard of honour for the guests and were then able to join the them whilst enjoying some canopies and a glass of champagne.
The Ambassador welcomed his guests and thanked them for coming. He emphasised that it is vital to continue to honour the memory of those that died during the Second World War.
The event also provided an opportunity to educate the young people about the sacrifices, not only made by service personnel, but also the citizens, whether they were from Luxembourg or from the Allies.
Ambassador Marshall then emphasised the importance of the annual Wings weekend in “remembering the dead, having that sort of comradeship and raising money for those in need”. The RAFA provide welfare support for all those currently serving, as well as ex-serving personnel and their dependants. This assistance can come in a variety of forms, including sheltered housing, nursing care, rehabilitation for the severely disabled, welfare breaks and resettlement advice. These are just some of a myriad of areas of support that RAFA provides and which require much needed fund raising from events such as the Luxembourg Wings weekend.
The Ambassador Marshall added that the event allows all participants to thank Luxembourg for its role in preserving the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives during the Second World War. For his part, Air Marshal Sir Graham Stacey added “You set the benchmark for all others to follow”.
Saturday morning saw a remembrance parade held at the Lancaster Memorial in Weiswampachin in memory of 14 allied airmen, 13 of whom died on that spot and one who was taken prisoner by the Germans. The crashes happened on the nights of 12 & 13 August 1944, when their aircraft, two Avro Lancasters, were shot down in near identical locations. Speeches from Luxembourgish M.C Goerens and representatives of the Grand Ducal Fire and Rescue Corps (GDFRC) were made, as well as volunteer children from the GDFRC who laid candles during a very poignant ceremony, one for each member of crew that died in the crash. The commitment from the RAFA and their members played a massive part in the proceedings for the day. The Mayor of Weiswampach, Henri Rinnen, then along with the British and New Zealand Ambassadors were among the first to pay their respects in the wreath-laying ceremony. Air Marshal Stacy and Air Commodore Rothery also laid wreathes at the memorial. The ceremony continued with a verse of remembrance from Flying Officer Osborne,
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
We will remember them.”
The last post was played and a moment of silence for the fallen took place. Following the silence and prayer from Sqn Ldr Tucker “Help us to fulfil our several duties with honour, goodwill and integrity, and grant that we may prove to be worthy successors of those who by their valour and sacrifice did nobly save their day and generation; through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen”. Music from the Weiswampach Band, and the national anthems of both nations played to end the ceremony. The local community erected a very impressive memorial to the fallen airmen providing an everlasting location to pay respects to the fallen airman.
The British Ambassador and RAFA members and guests later returned to the Weiswampach Centre to hold a remembrance ceremony at Monument aux Morts. On this occasion, the Mayor of Weiswampach, Ambassadors Marshall and Andrews, Joseph Lorent, Sir Stacey and Mr Bunting laid wreathes in honour of the Luxembourgish soldiers and civilians who lost their lives during the war.
The ceremony was followed by speeches and lunch at the Weiswampach cultural centre, where the RAFA thanked the municipality for their hospitality and continued support with a signed black and white sketch of an RAF pilot.
On Saturday evening, the Luxembourg branch of RAFA held its traditional charity Gala Ball where the Ambassador John Marshall was the guest of honour along with 100 guests. The top table dinner was a unique opportunity for the service personnel attending the event to chat to members of RAFA and learn their own reasons for participating in this event. During the evening selected RAF personal sold raffle tickets for the charity draw. Along with the tickets sold, the charity auction raised over €2800 for the RAFA, of which was a €500 bid for a print of a Lancaster signed by the last surviving members of 617 Sqn, the Dambusters squadron. This print is a tremendous piece of history kindly donated by RAF Coningsby’s 12 Sqn SEngO. A total of 55,573 Bomber Command airmen lost their lives during the Second World War, and many thousands severely injured or imprisoned. The sacrifices made by these brave personnel will be remembered today, tomorrow and for many years to come. This enduring event is supported annually by RAF Coningsby personnel and we look forward to getting the opportunity to support once again next year.