Product Code: L4447100
This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the formation of what is now the Royal Air Force Search and Rescue Force and (SARF) to commemorate the event Pobjoy Mint is releasing a new coin on behalf of the Falkland Islands Government which has been approved by the Force.
During the early stages of the Battle of Britain 220 aircrew were killed or went missing over the English Channel and it was soon realised that the RAF could not afford to lose pilots who ditched to the sea. As a result, acting on the instructions from Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal, the Directorate of Air Sea Rescue (ASR) was formed and took up its duties in February. Prior to this rescues were ad hoc affairs involving a search by operational aircraft from the crews own unit who then attempted to divert any surface craft in the vicinity to the aircrew in distress.
Various marine craft were used to recover crews from the sea; RNLI lifeboats, Royal Navy motor launches, torpedo recovery and barrage balloon boats. The RAF Marine Craft Branch which formed in 1918 had high speed RAF Sea Place tenders which were further developed between the wars at RAF Mount Batten; involving the enigmatic Aircraftsman Shaw, better known as Colonel T E Lawrence of Arabia. The work culminated in the 100 series High Speed Launch (HSL) used extensively through the war years. The number of airmen rescued, once the directorate had formed, steadily increased and during the war years alone over 10,000 lives were saved by the crews of the ASR aircraft and HSLs who faced enemy action and all weathers to uphold their pledge that ‘The Sea Shall Not Have Them’.
The coin itself carries a stylised image of one of the rescue helicopters and includes the official RAF Search and Rescue logo. The obverse of the coin carries an effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS.
Today the RAF Search and Rescue Force is as active as ever. Currently 1564 Flight comprises two Sea King Mk 3s based at Mount Pleasant Airfield (MPA). Their primary role is to provide cover for the Eurofighters, also based at MPA. However with such an excellent safety record this takes up very little of their time and so much of their time is taken up with the traditional tasking role of supplying the more remote communications stations around the western isles. Their secondary role is similar to that in the UK, supplying search and rescue for any other military units and civilians on the islands. Their range of 250 miles from coast is limited by fuel. In the summer months there are pleasure craft and cruise liners that may need assistance. In the more severe winters, seas can become extremely hazardous with 40-50ft swells, wind speeds in excess of 60 knots and sea temperatures of perhaps 3 degrees making it one of the most hazardous areas that SAR operate in. During these months SAR assist with all manner of trauma injuries to fisherman and also compassionate evacuations from ships and the oil rig.
Flight Lieutenant Wales (perhaps better known as His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales) serves in RAF Search and Rescue and will co-pilot Sea King helicopters as part of a four-man crew based at RAF Valley in Anglesey on the north-west coast of Wales. It is very apt therefore that as well as inviting colleagues from RAF Valley to the Wedding, it was arranged for an SAR Helicopter to fly above the Prince when he and his new bride drove from Buckingham Palace to the delight of the crowds in an open top Aston Martin with the rear number plate which read JU5T WED.
|Metal||Uncirculated Cupro Nickel 1 Crown|
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