Number. 51 Sqn Receives Honorary Freedom of the Town of Snaith
On Sunday 22 Apr 2012 Number 51 Squadron was granted the Freedom of Snaith to commemorate the service and sacrifice of members of Number 51 Squadron whilst serving at RAF Snaith from October 1942- April 1945. This grants the squadron freedom to enter the town and allows them the right, title and privilege of marching the streets of Snaith on ceremonial occasions.
RAF Snaith, located near the village of Pollington was named after the town of Snaith, to avoid confusion with nearby RAF Pocklington. It received its first aircraft, Wellingtons of Number 150 Squadron in July 1941, who were then replaced by the Halifaxes of Number 51 Squadron in October 1942. Number 51 Squadron continued to operate from Snaith playing a major part in the strategic bombing campaign until the cessation of hostilities in May 1945. During this time, the squadron quickly became an important and integral part of the local community. Many faces came and went throughout these harsh, desperate years, but countless friendships formed, and many still remain to this day. Sadly 687 members of Number 51 Squadron and 205 members of Number 150 Squadron made the ultimate sacrifice whilst stationed at RAF Snaith, a tragedy shared by all.
Today the local community still plays an active and important part in maintaining our special bond. The Pollington Airfield Memorial Garden, located on the site of the former station headquarters is a living memorial to all those who served at RAF Snaith, be it Number 150 or Number 51 Squadron. Number 51 Squadron has very strong ties with the local area, with squadron members regularly attending squadron association and Memorial Garden dedications and commemorations at the former airfield. As a result of these close bonds the town of Snaith granted the Freedom of Snaith to 51 Squadron.
At 1030 on a rainy Sunday morning the day started with a parade, comprised of Number 51 Squadron personnel and members of Goole Air Cadets. The local Brass Band provided musical accompaniment. The Freedom Ceremony involved Officer Commanding Number 51 Squadron, Wing Commander Garry Crosby, being presented with a Scroll by the Mayor of Snaith, Councillor Steve Jones. In return the Squadron presented the town of Snaith with a commemorative painting to mark the occasion. A church service followed the parade and was led by Cannon Cyril Roberts. Cannon Roberts provided a spiritual dimension to the commemorative activities. After the service a buffet lunch was held at the Brewers Arms pub which served a special commemorative Red Goose beer; it had been specially brewed in honour of the Squadron by the Old Mill Brewery in Snaith. During lunch a local artist, Patrick McEvoy, donated an oil painting of a Number 51 Squadron Halifax flying over RAF Snaith to Officer Commanding Number 51 Squadron; the painting now holds pride of place on a wall in the Squadron Head Quarters. Once lunch was complete, a wreath laying ceremony was held at the Memorial Garden and included a chance to appreciate the efforts of Mike and Isobel Hesp, who lovingly tend the garden. Special thanks go to Mrs Renee Ounsley, Secretary of the Number 51 Squadron Association, for her selfless dedication and efforts to remembering the sacrifice made by the brave young men of the Royal Air Force who are commemorated in the garden.
The Squadron continues its commitment and support to The Pollington Airfield Memorial Garden, recently joining the squadron association in a wreath laying and plaque dedication ceremony on Sunday 20th May 12. The squadron looks forward to exercising its right to the Freedom of the town of Snaith by marching through the town every three years.
We are grateful for the care and support the local community offers to past and present members of the squadron, and to the Royal Air Force community as a whole. We always look forward to visiting our good friends in Snaith.
Flight Sergeant Kerry Fagg and Sergeant Cameron Fyfe