End Of An Era For Battle Of Britain Airfield And RAF Fire Training
Today saw the last RAF fire fighters graduate from Manston which has ceased operating as the Defence Fire Training and Development Centre.
The movement of fire training to a new £5m Fire Service College in the Cotswolds after 30 years at Manston ends the RAF’s 104 years association with the base, most famously associated with the Second World War and the Battle of Britain.
Describing the unit’s history, Wing Commander Andy Callander, Commandant of the Defence Fire Training and Development Centre, said:
“Most people think of Manston as one of the centrepieces of the Battle of Britain. The station was almost uniquely destroyed in 1940 [due to] the number of attacks that took place on it.”
“Throughout the rest of the war, many famous feats of aviation took place from here, not least the Channel Dash, when some six Swordfish bombers attacked the German fleet in the Channel and were all shot down and the Commander was awarded a Victoria Cross,”
Today marks the end of a 14-week course for the 16 Recruit Firefighters, graduating as the final course at Manston in front of their friends and family. The Reviewing Officer, The Lord Lieutenant of Kent, The Lady Colgrain was accompanied by Air Commodore Moir, Air Officer Space and Battlespace Management Force and Chief Fire Officer Gray, HQ DFR.
After the formalities of the Graduation, the closing ceremony took place, with The Band of 3 Princess of Wales Royal Regiment Beating the Retreat before a Sunset Ceremony and Chinook flypast concluded the parade.
Although the RAF’s departure marks an end of an era, the site won’t be closing completely as Reservists from 3rd Battalion the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment and an Air Cadet Squadron will remain at the unit.