The Royal Air Force has been formally granted the Freedom of the Borough of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, marking the area’s long association with the RAF.
To mark the importance of the honour, a P-8 Poseidon – the RAF’s modern submarine-hunting jet – performed a flypast over the town centre.
The aircraft, which had recently returned from monitoring Russian naval movements in the Mediterranean, flew over the war memorial at the conclusion of the formal event.
Significantly, the Poseidon that made the flypast was named the (2320)Terence Bulloch DSO* DFC*, after a Northern Ireland pilot & OC who held the record for the most U-Boat kills during the Battle of the Atlantic. Squadron Leader Terence Bulloch DSO* DFC* was based at RAF Ballykelly, near Limavady, for a period during the war.
The Mayor, Cllr Richard Holmes, had earlier presented a ceremonial certificate to the RAF’s Deputy Commander Operations, Air Marshal Sir Gerry Mayhew KCB CBE. 100 RAF personnel then paraded through the town centre accompanied by the Central Band of The Royal Air Force.
The Freedom of the Borough was granted by the Council in 2018 in recognition of: “100 years of service, and in acknowledgement of the vital air and ground defence roles which they continue to provide for the security of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.
In planning the event the Council and RAF were keen to highlight Limavady’s strong RAF heritage and an exhibition highlighting the history of The RAF around Limavady at Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre is open to the public until April 30th 2022.
RAF Limavady and nearby RAF Ballykelly were two vitally important bases during the Second World War, with both stations home to RAF squadrons conducting anti-submarine operations during the Battle of the Atlantic. The P-8 Poseidon that made the flypast performs the same role defending the North Atlantic that was performed by aircraft from the RAF’s Coastal Command in Northern Ireland from 1939 to 1945.
Cllr Richard Holmes, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, said:
“Today was a momentous occasion for both Council and The Royal Air Force as we granted our highest civic accolade in recognition of the RAF’s services in the UK and around the world.
“The Roe Valley’s central place in the history of The RAF made hosting the event in Limavady even more significant for everyone involved.
“From our formal proceedings in Drumceatt Square when the Freedom Register was signed, to the wonderful spectacle of The RAF parade around the town, the opportunity to respectfully remember at the War Memorial and the fantastic sight of the Poseidon flying overhead, it has been a day characterised by both celebration and reflection.
“Awarding the Freedom of the Borough recognises our close links and ensures they are preserved for future generations.
“I want to congratulate everyone associated with The RAF – this honour has been inspired by your service and this accolade is shared by all of you.”
Air Marshal Sir Gerry Mayhew, Deputy Commander Operations, Royal Air Force KCB CBE said:
“It was fitting that today’s event was staged at Limavady. There is a strong and enduring link between the people of the town and those who served at The Royal Air Force Coastal Command stations that once dotted the Northern Irish coastline.
“I’m delighted The RAF could mark this occasion with a flypast from one of our P-8 Poseidons, which is the latest successor to aircraft like the Liberator and Shackleton, the Poseidon continues the RAF’s proud tradition of protecting our shipping and security from potential aggressors, both in seas around the UK and in support of our NATO allies."
RAF Limavady (1940-1958) and RAF Ballykelly (1941-1971) were key Coastal Command stations during the Second World War. Both stations were used by the RAF during the Battle of the Atlantic to conduct notoriously dangerous missions against German U-Boats. Northern Ireland’s current RAF Reserve squadron, 502 (Ulster) Squadron, was based at RAF Limavady (known locally as Aghanloo airfield) between 1941 and 1942.
The MR1A (P8) Poseidon aircraft is based at RAF Lossiemouth and performs a modern reconnaissance, anti-submarine and search and rescue role. More details can be found here
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Freedom of the Borough for The Royal Air Force marks Limavady area's long association with The RAF. More...