RAF Honington given Freedom of Thetford
PUBLISHED: 17:04 09 June 2019 | UPDATED: 18:33 09 June 2019
Crowds lined the streets as RAF Honington received the Freedom of Thetford.
The RAF base was founded in 1937 and played a large role in the Second World War being the home of the United States 8th Army Air Force before becoming and air depot and home to the RAF Regiment in 1994.
Now home to more than 1,500 service personnel the mayor of Thetford, Brenda Canham, presented the honour to station commander Group Captain Matt Radnall.
Group Cp Matt Radnall said: "I am delighted and immensely grateful that Thetford has seen fit to honour RAF Honington with the freedom of the town. Whilst many station personnel have participated in some form of freedom parade at some stage in their service careers, it is very rare to exercise such a privilege for the very first time.
"Historically, the freedom of a town is a symbol of the trust invested in the military by the civil community. Though we are from separate communities in the local area, we are from the same society, nationally and locally. Those on parade today are drawn from all walks of life, from all corners of the nation. We therefore represent and reflect that society."
The freedom of the town is an ancient sign of trust given by the town to nearby military organisations allowing them to march through with drums beating, flags flying and bayonets fixed.
As a privilege granted within the freedom, a parade of 120 service personnel from RAF Honington marched with drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed after the deed was handed over.
The clouds parted and the sun shone for the gathered audience, who were treated to a display of drill with music provided by the Band of the RAF Regiment.
The Parade marched from Thetford Grammar School along King Street to deliver a salute to both the mayor and the station commander in the Market Place.
The Queens Colour for the RAF Regiment, alongside the Standards of Nos 1, 15 and 27 Squadrons RAF Regiment, and 2623 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadron paraded.
Air cadets from 301 (Bury St. Edmunds) Squadron and 1109 (Thetford) Squadron lined the streets to support the parade and help marshal the many spectators.