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The East Boldre Village Hall Committee presented a personalised edition of 'From Forest Field to Western Front' and an engraved port decanter to 84 Squadron and Lord Montagu presented them with a painting of an aerial view of Beaulieu. Squadron Leader Richard Simpson returned the honour by presenting framed photographs of 84's latest helicopter, signed by the squadron members, to both Lord Montagu and to East Boldre Village Hall.
The Beaulieu Squadron flies home to celebrate its 100th birthday
No. 84 Squadron, RAF was formed at East Boldre Airfield, known as RFC Beaulieu, on 7 January 1917. During its 100-year history, it has been based at 62 different locations throughout Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, and its role has varied between a fighter squadron, a bomber squadron and a heavy transport squadron. Today, 84 Squadron is a helicopter search and rescue squadron based in Akrotiri in Cyprus.
The Squadron’s Badge, approved by George VI in December 1936, is the scorpion, and its motto is Scorpiones Pungunt, Latin for ‘Scorpions sting’. As a result, a single pet scorpion named Frank, is kept as a mascot at RAF Akrotiri.
This 84 Squadron badge is displayed above the stage of East Boldre Village Hall and has been Dedicated into the Trust of East Boldre Village Hall.
84 Squadron is one of the oldest squadrons and it is the only serving RAF squadron never to have been based in the United Kingdom. For that reason, it regards Beaulieu as its 'spiritual home' in the UK and two of its three Squadron Standards have been laid up in Beaulieu Abbey Church. In May 2015, the 84 Squadron Crest was Dedicated into the Trust of East Boldre Village Hall and is displayed above the hall's stage.
A century ago, members of the newly formed squadron spent eleven weeks at East Boldre where they underwent basic training and learned to fly biplane fighters. On 23 March 1917, the squadron relocated to Lilbourne, near Rugby in Northamptonshire, where training continued and in September 1917, they moved to France. During its 15 months of active service on the Western Front, it became one of the most effective fighter squadrons in the RFC/RAF, destroying 129 enemy aircraft and 50 enemy observation balloons. It is also credited with forcing down another 132 enemy aircraft out of control and it produced no less than 25 flying aces.
On 7 January 2017, fourteen members of 84 Squadron, along with members of the RAF Association, the Royal British Legion, local Air Training Corps cadets and a number of local dignitaries, celebrated 84's centenary at East Boldre and Beaulieu. The event, which was organised by Flight Lieutenant Peter Towill of 84 Squadron in collaboration with the East Boldre Village Hall Management team, started with a service at St. Paul's Church, conducted by the Reverend Canon Ray Hubble (Group Captain RAF Retired) and the Reverend John White. After the service, the congregation assembled in the churchyard where a red, white and blue wreath bearing 84 Squadron's badge, was laid at the war memorial by Squadron Leader Richard Simpson, after which a bugler from the Hythe Air Cadets played the Last Post.
Above: Standards are lowered after the blessing.
Below: Rev. Canon Ray Hubble and Sqd. Ldr. Simpson lay a wreath at the war memorial.
The Squadron, with the air cadets, then marched with their Squadron Standard under armed escort, the short distance to a private reception and light lunch at the village hall, which was originally the Officers' Mess for the WW1 flying school.
Village Hall Chairman, Michael Husband, gave a short speech to welcome the guests, including Lord and Lady Montagu, and the Rt. Hon. Dr Julian Lewis MP.
The guests then had the opportunity to view the exhibition of photographs of the WW1 airfield. Lord and Lady Montagu seem to be particularly interested here.
After the reception, the guests moved on to Beaulieu Abbey Church to view the 84 Squadron Standards, followed by a reception with cocktails before enjoying a formal military dinner in the Domus Restaurant, hosted by Lord Montagu.
The exhibition of photographs of the WW1 airfield was open to the public on Sunday 8 January, where the authors of the new book, 'From Forest Field to Western Front', which features many of the exhibition photographs were present to sell signed copies of the book or to sign copies purchased at the village shop.