Hundreds watch RAF parade

CROWDS gathered on Felixstowe seafront tonight to watch as the RAF exercised its right to march through the town with bayonets fixed, colours flying, drums beating and bands playing.

CROWDS gathered on Felixstowe seafront tonight to watch as the RAF exercised its right to march through the town with bayonets fixed, colours flying, drums beating and bands playing.

Mayor Mike Deacon and Wing Commander Andrew Knowles took the salute as the men of 15 Squadron, RAF Regiment from RAF Honington, accompanied by the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, paraded along the seafront.

Hundreds of people, including many war veterans, lined Undercliff Road West and stood on the terraces in South Cliff Gardens next to the Town Hall to watch the sunset ceremony.

The occasion marked the 50th anniversary of the RAF being granted the Freedom of Felixstowe - a thank you from the resort for the airmen's heroic assistance during the devastating 1953 floods.


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The honour also marked the close friendship between the force and the community, with the town's RAF station having been one of the first in the world.

Town clerk Susan Robinson read the freedom deed during the ceremony.

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She said it conferred upon the force the right to march through the streets with “bayonets fixed, colours flying, drums beating and bands playing”.

The band played a series of famous military marches, including the Dambusters, and after the ceremony marched up and down the seafront, receiving warm applause from those watching.

A 3D floral seaplane outside the leisure centre and the RAF insignia in a crest bed near the Spa Pavilion marked the two end points of the march past.

Felixstowe was commissioned as a seaplanes base in 1913 and during the first world war aircraft from the base patrolled the coast from Southwold to Clacton looking for German U-Boats and by the end of the war was the largest station in the world.

In 1924 the base - which was where the port now stands - took on a new role as the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment.

During the following years more than 250 types of seaplane and flying boat - military and civilian aircraft - and others were tested and designed at Felixstowe.

The base was responsible for inventing the technology which led to the development of Concorde and also the space shuttle.

Those who served at RAF Felixstowe included Flying Officer Frank Whittle, inventor of the jet engine, and Aircraftsman 1st Class TE Shaw, better known as Lawrence of Arabia.

The station's special high-speed flight also won the world famous Schneider Trophy for Britain three times in a row.

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