Honour of freedom of Angus for No. II (Army Cooperation) Squadron
Number II (Army Cooperation) Squadron received the honour of the Freedom of Angus (Friday 26th July 2019). The ceremonial parade in Montrose Town Centre and flypast by two II (AC) Squadron Typhoons marked 106 years since the Squadron was first stationed at Montrose Air Station, under the Royal Flying Corps.
The parade began in the town centre near Old and St Andrews Church, where around 60 personnel from II (AC) Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, received the Freedom of Angus from the Angus Provost, Mr Ronnie Procter.
The parade was led by Officer Commanding II (AC) Squadron, Wing Commander Jim ‘Rosie’ Lee. It was a particularly poignant moment for him, as it marked the end of his tenure as the Officer Commanding of II (AC) Squadron.
Officer Commanding II (AC) Squadron, Wing Commander Jim ‘Rosie’ Lee said:
“I am immensely proud of the men and women I have had under my command on II (AC) Squadron. In a demanding year of operations, holding Quick Reaction Alert in both the United Kingdom and the Falkland Islands, and conducting counter-Daesh operations in the Middle East, their positivity and professionalism has allowed us to consistently deliver air power where it is needed.
“Today for me is bittersweet. I am honoured that II (AC) Squadron has been awarded with the Freedom of Angus, recognising the strong connections between the town of Montrose and the Squadron. But as my last day in command, part of me is sad to leave the talented men and women who make up Number II (AC) Squadron. Fortunately, I know that under their successor they will move from strength to strength, and I wish all of ‘Shiny Two’ the best.”
Enjoying the warm Scottish summers day, many of the citizens of Angus lined the streets to watch the parade and flypast. The Lord Lieutenant of Angus, Mrs Georgiana Osborne, and the Station Commander of RAF Lossiemouth, Group Captain Jim Walls, took the salute (below).
Station Commander RAF Lossiemouth, Group Captain Jim Walls said:
“It is a great honour to be on parade today, and a particular honour for one of RAF Lossiemouth’s Squadrons to receive a Freedom. I am immensely proud of the contribution that II (AC) Squadron makes in delivering air power, both at home and on operations.
To the citizens of Angus: I would like to publicly express my extreme gratitude for your continued support to the Royal Air Force, and in particular to II (AC) Squadron.
We have heard about the past, but today has very much been about the future. With the granting of the Freedom of Angus today, our future relationship with Montrose is assured.”
With over 106 years of service under the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force, Montrose Air Station was II (AC) Squadron’s first home as an operational military airfield in 1913. Flying the BE2, a twin-seat propeller biplane, many of the early aviation records were set. This included the longest non-stop flight of 7 hours and 20 minutes, and the national height record of 16,000ft.
Today the Squadron are regularly on operations in the UK and overseas, only recently returning from RAF Akrotiri where they were leading the air campaign against Daesh. After some well-earned leave, the Squadron departs for Malaysia on Exercise BERSAMA LIMA later this year.
Despite not being based in Montrose for many years, both II (AC) Squadron and RAF Lossiemouth have kept close links to the town, particularly through the Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre. The museum holds a collection of photographs, artefacts, and memorabilia of the former Station, and features some of the original architecture. Volunteers from the museum have also built a replica BE2a, based on the aircraft flown by Lieutenant Harvey-Kelly of 2 Squadron RFC who was the first to land in France at the start of WWI.
For the history of why the parade took place, The Royal Flying Corps was directed to and established 12 air stations in the UK in the Autumn of 1912. The first was established by 2 Sqn RFC (No. II(AC) Sqn RAF) at Montrose in Feb 1913. Following ground-breaking deployments to Ireland and England and the setting of several distance and altitude records, the Sqn left Montrose for France and World War 1 in Aug 1914 never to return. In recognition of its contribution to the development of Airpower whilst stationed at Montrose and to the security and Defence of the UK since its formation in 1912, Angus Council has conferred the Freedom of Angus on II (AC) Sqn.
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