RAF Freedom of District motion to be put to Council

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On the 100th anniversary of the formation of the RAF in April 1918, a motion to confer the Freedom of Epping Forest District on 56 Squadron is to be put to a special meeting of Epping Forest District Council at 7pm on Tuesday 24 April.

56 Squadron Standard at North Weald Gate Guardian

56 Squadron

56 Squadron operated from North Weald Airfield between 1927 and the Battle of Britain in 1941. They are the longest of any squadron to be based at the airfield which is now owned by Epping Forest District Council (EFDC). The motion to confer the Freedom of the whole district is a reflection of the wider local role played by the RAF.

This includes other airfields and facilities at

  • Ongar
  • Willingale
  • Stapleford Abbots
  • Chigwell
  • Nazeing

Representatives from the RAF will attend the meeting where a council majority of at least two thirds will be required to confer the honour.

100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force

National celebrations are being held during 2018 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force. North Weald Airfield opened 2 years before the founding of the Royal Air Force. The first operational flight of the Royal Flying Corps at North Weald took place in June 1916.

56 Squadron is one of the most distinguished units of the RAF. By the outbreak of war in 1939, it was equipped with the new Hawker Hurricane fighters with which North Weald was to become most closely associated. The Hurricanes of 56 Squadron covered the retreat from Dunkirk and were among the first committed to what became known as the Battle of Britain. When 56 Squadron finally transferred to RAF Duxford via Martlesham Heath in June 1941 it had been based in North Weald for 14 years.

Parade and community music event

Should the motion to grant the Freedom of the District to 56 Squadron be passed by Full Council, a local commemorative celebration at North Weald is being planned for Sunday 10 June. A parade and community music event are being organised with 56 Squadron and local organisations.

The special meeting on 24 April, starts at 7pm and is open to the public. You can watch the webcast live here.

More information about this event will be available nearer the time.

EFDC Coat of Arms and RAF Squadron 56 logo EFDC Coat of Arms and RAF Squadron 56 logo