THE 43(F) SQUADRON ASSOCIATION RE-UNION WEEKEND 24/25TH SEPTEMBER 2022 RETURN TO LEUCHARS "What a weekend"
During the run up, and on the day of the 24th September, 2022, the following comments were often said and heard “How will it be?” “It’ll never be the same!” To keep people amused over the weekend a few activities were offered - a golf outing, a tour around Leuchars Station (including stops at Air Traffic, HAS Sites, Flying Club and of course a pause at the Tornado F3 Gate Guard) and a visit to the Montrose Aviation Heritage Centre to unveil the old Squadron Boss Boards and at every one there was anticipation and excitement about “Going Home” to Leuchars Officers’ Mess.
The 43(Fighter) Squadron Association Committee Members worked tirelessly to stage the “Return to Leuchars” reunion dinner in the Officers’ Mess at Leuchars Station. For me, as a “civvy”, both the apprehension and anticipation were quite overwhelming. On arrival at Leuchars we were met by Committee Members Sam Jones and Jim Campbell, smartly dressed in their suits and Association ties and armed with security passes and a long list of attendees.
Access through the security gate wasn’t a problem and as we drove in to the Leuchars Mess car park I felt my heart race with excitement. It was if we had never been away. Outside the Mess, Association members and their guests had gathered, enjoying meeting friends and colleagues once more. Drinks were served in the foyer, with many members choosing to step back outside into the early autumn evening to listen to the RAF Leuchars Pipe Band (without our very own Huggy playing - he was having a night off but was there too!) Now home to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, the Mess is largely unchanged, except that the paintings of aircraft have been replaced with artwork depicting tank battles and soldiers on horseback. Happily, however, many members were pleased to find one social room within the Mess which is still dedicated to Leuchars rich aviation heritage.
After being piped into the dining room, members and guests taking their seats were delighted to find a commemorative drinks coaster especially engraved with the 43(Fighter) Squadron crest with the inscriptions “24th September 2022” and “Return to Leuchars”. Following Committee Chairman Group Captain Derek Johnston’s welcome, the Airman’s Grace was given by Mr Keith Boyd. A delicious three-course dinner was then served by Mess staff, comprising Scottish Smoked Salmon Roulade to start, a main course of Fillet of Angus Beef and “Foret Noire” – a take on Black Forest Gateau to follow. Red and White Wines accompanied the meal, whilst coffee and a selection of petit fours was served after the meal. Mr Aaron Wood gave the Loyal Toast, the first time for most to “The King”, following the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Mr Sam Jones performed the Toast to 43(F) Squadron, whilst Mr Jim Campbell toasted Absent Friends.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Simon Bryant gave the President’s Address and announced that this year’s Beedle Trophy winner is Mr Sam Jones; news which was rightfully met with a standing ovation. This year’s guest speaker was Wing Commander (Ret) Will Roberts. His reminisces of 43 Squadron’s Phantom Era piqued the interest of many of those assembled. After the evening’s formalities, members retired to the bar to rekindle old friendships.
To close the formal programme of events Members were invited to attend a short memorial service at St Michaels on the outskirts of the village. The short but poignant service remembered former colleagues and friends, in particular those who served on 43(Fighter) Squadron at RAF Leuchars. The Reverend Craig Dobney, a former Fighting Cock - see the Memorial Report page for images.
All in all - and OUTSTANDING WEEKEND . . . . . Is there a Fighting Cock in the house? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . see you next year!