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Wrexham Council to mark RAF centenary with civic honour

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018.

This year sees the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force and Wrexham Council have agreed to mark it with a civic honour for RAF Wales from the county borough.

The plans were given the green light by a majority of councillors this evening and as a result there will likely be a celebration event later this summer. Details of the event have not yet been firmed up, however will likely include a march in town and ‘assembly’ on Llwyn Isaf.

Wrexham Council explained: “We’re doing this because we want to recognise the many men and women from the county borough who have served in the RAF since its creation and because of the historical links to the area.”

In the report before Councillors a brief overview of Wrexham’s history with the RAF was detailed: RAF Wrexham was an RAF station at Borras. During the period 1917-20, the fields at Borras Lodge were used by Numbers 4 and 51 Training Squadrons/Schools of the Royal Flying Corps and after 1918 by RAF training squadrons based at RAF Shotwick (later Sealand).

“At the outbreak of the Second World War, RAF Wrexham had 3 grass runways, each some 600 yards long and was used as a relief landing strip, with visits from several training squadrons such as Spitfires from nearby RAF Ternhill.

“This was followed by a period of significant upgrading of RAF Wrexham in the period December 1940 to June 1941, which saw the construction of hardened concrete runways and appropriate lighting.

“The airfield was primarily built to house a night fighter squadron for the air defence of Liverpool and Manchester and, in 1941, Number 96 Squadron, a night fighter squadron arrived at Wrexham, operating Hawker Hurricane and Boulton Paul Defiant aircraft, staying until 1942.

“RAF Wrexham was also home to Number 285 Squadron between 1941-44, which provided target tug aircraft for training exercises, starting with Bristol Blenheims, Lockheed Hudsons and Westland Lysanders, later replaced by Boulton Paul Defiants and Miles Martinets.

“During the later years of the war, RAF Wrexham was home to the RAF’s 21 Group Advanced Flying Unit and was also used by the US Army, landing Piper Cub aircraft in support of US Army units which were located nearby.

“After the war, the airfield was placed on care and maintenance by the RAF. Between 1962-92, there was a hardened nuclear bunker built on site for Number 17 Group Royal Observer Corps North Wales, which provided a field force in support of the UK’s Warning and Monitoring Organisation, responsible for providing a 4 minute warning alarm to the local population during the Cold War.

“The nuclear bunker still exists on the site but is now used as a recording studio.”

It also added celebrated Airmen Air Chief Marshall Sir Frederick Rosier, GCB, CBE, DSO, David Lord VC, DFC and Raymond Collishaw, CB, DSO & Bar, OBE, DSC DFC, have strong links to the County Borough.

The Royal Air Force is also one of the signatories of the Wrexham Armed Forces Community Covenant and have been represented and involved in events publicising and supporting this initiative.

Funding of up to £1,000 has been identified for the event from the Civic budget and the Armed Forces Covenant Fund.

The recommendations for Wrexham Council to invite RAF Wales to accept the Honorary Freedom of the
County Borough, and to hold further discussions with RAF Wales with a view to the Council arranging a formal ‘Freedom Ceremony’, was passed by a majority of councillors.

There was a surprisingly fierce debate over a proposed amendment to the recommendations, which you can read here.

Below is a video of the RAF’s Red Arrows taking off from Harwarden airport up the road…

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