Moving memorial day at museum

Barbara Weatherall (Auxiliary Territorial Service veteran) lays a wreath during the Women's Services Memorial Day.
Barbara Weatherall (Auxiliary Territorial Service veteran) lays a wreath during the Women's Services Memorial Day.

A relatively small, but nonetheless poignant and significant ceremony took place at the Yorkshire Air Museum and Allied Air Forces Memorial on Sunday to mark the service of women in all branches of our armed forces and other services.

Now an annual ceremony, this year’s ceremony focused on the Centenary of the Women’s Royal Air Force, formed on 1 April 1918, alongside the Royal Air Force, and also the Royal Air Force Temporary Nursing Service, formed on 1 June 1918.

This service evolved under Royal Patronage to become the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service.

The event featured a spectacular flypast by the magnificent Douglas C-47 Dakota from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at 13:30pm, after which the Parade, led by a contingent from the Yorkshire Military Marching Band, formed to march through the centre of the museum to gather around the unique Women’s Memorial Garden, opened in 2002.

Standards Paraded were the WRAF Association, RAF (W) Association, Royal British Legion North Yorkshire County Standard, York RAF Association and York Branch Royal British Legion.

Sadly, many branches of the former Royal British Legion Women’s Section have folded following the decision to amalgamate them into the body of the Legion without a distinct identity, so there are fewer Standards available to Parade at ceremonies.

Indeed, six of these are now Laid Up in the Museum’s Station Chapel and were brought forward to provide the backdrop for the service.

Ian Reed, Museum Director, said: “During a splendid day, we were honoured by the presence of Mrs. Barbara Weatherall, a lively 97 year old veteran of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, who was, amongst other things, an ‘Ack Ack girl’ air defence gunner during WWII, who proudly took the Salute from the Parade following the wreath laying ceremony. It was very encouraging to see such a strong contingent from the Royal Air Force Women’s Associations joining us for the occasion.”