History of The Royal Air Forces Association and our Branch
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THE ROYAL AIR FORCES ASSOCIATION INTRODUCTION At the end of the First World War (1914 - 18) a number of Squadron and Unit Associations were formed to allow those who had served together to maintain contact. It was not, however, until 1930 that an organisation known as the Comrades of the Royal Air Force was formed with membership open, irrespective of rank, to those serving, or who had served, in the Royal Air Force, Royal Flying Corps, Royal Naval Air Service and Dominion Air Forces. The Father of the Royal Air Force, Marshall of the Royal Air Force Lord Trenchard, was the first President.
The women who had served with the R.A.F. in the First World War had, in 1919, formed an Old Comrades Association to which members of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force were admitted. Both organisations had worked in close co-operation and after the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 agreed to amalgamate.
In 1943, the name of the organisation was changed to The Royal Air Forces Association with membership open to all who were serving or had served in the Royal Air Force of the crown.
No. 623 LETCHWORTH, HITCHIN and DISTRICT BRANCH In the early 1930’s a Henlow and Hitchin Branch of the Comrades of the R.A.F. was formed with R.A.F. Henlow providing the inspiration. This Branch carried the work of the Association locally throughout World War ll. Two new local Branches emerged in 1946 - Letchworth and Baldock. The immediate post war enthusiasm waned however. Baldock disbanded and, sadly, so did the Henlow and Hitchin Branch. In 1962 Letchworth was re-designated Letchworth, Hitchin and District Branch and since then it has become the best known branch in North Hertfordshire. Happily, despite all the changes, the strong bonds with R.A.F. Henlow continue.
OBJECTIVES We exist to help those less fortunate than ourselves, Extracts from our Royal Charter describe our objectives thus:- ·To promote the welfare, by charitable means, of those who are serving or have served in our Air Forces, their wives and dependants and the widows and dependants pf those who died whilst serving or thereafter.
·To preserve the memory and honour the example set by comrades or members of the Association who have died in our service.
·To advise members of the Association, persons eligible for membership and their wives, widows and dependants regarding Service and other pensions, disability awards and civilian employment and to assist by charitable means such members and persons when sick or in need of assistance.
ORGANISATION The Association is governed by its Annual Conference where principles and policies are formulated. The business of the Association is carried out by the Central Council and discharged through the network of nine areas in the U.K. which are further divided into Regions, Letchworth, Hitchin and District Branch is in the Hertfordshire Region which is part of the South Eastern Area. The Area H.Q. is in Leicester.
The Branch Committee is elected each year at the Annual General Meeting. The Committee meets monthly to spearhead the work of the Branch and to ensure that there is a social programme within which our objectives can meet in a happy manner.
We have adopted two local A.T.C. Squadrons, No. 248 (Letchworth) and No. 1066 (Hitchin) who work closely with us in our fund raising activities.
R.A.F.A. NEWS The Association sends a first class quarterly journalAir Mailto each full and life member, and the Associate member who request it, to keep us in touch with major events affecting our work. It also tells us about R.A.F. matters and reminds us of service life in the past. Our Branch produces a regular newsletter, RAFAGENwhich is sent to all members informing them of our programme of events, with news and stories of our members.
BRANCH MEETINGS Our Branch meets on the second Thursday of each month at the Letchworth Conservative Club, Birds Hill, Letchworth Garden City where the Club’s facilities are available to us. At these meetings we often have a speaker, but always the Conservative Club put on an excellent buffet for us. We are grateful to the management of the Letchworth Conservative Club for their generosity and co-operation in helping us to achieve our objectives.