RAF troops exercise their freedom

STIRRING military music filled the air in Buckingham on Tuesday as service men and women from a county RAF base were presented with the Freedom of Aylesbury Vale.

More than 100 personnel from RAF Halton, near Aylesbury, paraded through the town’s streets with bayonets fixed, swords drawn and colours flying to the music of the Central Band of the RAF.

The parade first marched into the Bull Ring where station commander, Group Captain Chris Elliot, was presented with the freedom scroll by the chairman of Aylesbury Vale District Council, Janet Blake.

There was also a flypast by a Merlin helicopter from RAF Benson.

After being presented with the scroll, the troops marched off down the High Street, towards SS Peter and Paul before returning along the High Street with the station’s mascot, George the goat.

Speaking to the Advertiser and Review, Mrs Blake said it was the first time the Freedom of the Vale had been presented.

She said: “The Vale of Aylesbury is around 350 square miles so there’s quite a lot of choice of place for RAF Halton to exercise their right in.

“I felt Buckingham, being on the outskirts of the Vale, would be a really nice place to start this event to make the town feel more included. Buckingham is an important part of the Vale.”

She added as Buckingham was an historic town it was an ideal place to hold this historic event.

Gp Cpt Elliot said this was her first time visiting Buckingham. She said: “It is such a great honour for RAF Halton to be given the Freedom of Aylesbury Vale. It cements the relationship which has been built for decades.

“RAF Halton has a fantastic and long history. The flying activities at RAF Halton predate the air force.”

Buckingham mayor, Mike Smith, said: “I am really delighted Buckingham was chosen as the first town to exercise their freedom.”

Freedom privileges date back to medieval times when fortress walls afforded protection to cities and towns from incursions of outlaw bands and attacks launched by feudal lords.

The citizens refused to allow the entry of bodies of armed men unless they were completely sure that those who carried arms would not use them against the townsfolk.

The granting of permission for a formed body of armed men to enter a city, a Freedom of Entry, became a mark of trust and confidence in which that armed body was held by its citizens.

RAF Halton is mainly a training establishment and includes a recruit training squadron, an airmens command squadron, catering training school and international defence training.