On Sunday 29 September 1991, the penultimate day of the Corps' service, 320 Officers and Observers representing every Area and Group of the Corps gathered at St Clement Danes, Central Church of the Royal Air Force, The Strand, London, for a proud, moving and emotive service to witness the laying-up of the Sovereign's Banner for the Royal Observer Corps, which was presented in 1966.
The resident Chaplain, Padre Tom Goode, officiated during the laying-up ceremony which formed the central part of a Sunday Choral Eucharist service for St Michael and All Angels. In his sermon Padre Goode gave thanks for the dedication and watchfulness of all serving observers and those who had gone before them throughout the sixty-six years of the Corps' history.
The Banner is handed over.
The photograph shows, from left
Present in the Church was ex-Observer Commander Derrick Ballington who, as a young Observer Officer, was the Bearer when the Banner was first presented to the Corps by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 24 June 1966. The Banner Bearer during the laying-up service was Observer Lieutenant Terry Giles of No I Group (Maidstone) who received the new Banner from Her Majesty at the Royal Review in July of this year. The escort party consisted of Chief Observer K Budd, No 2 Group (Horsham), Chief Observer C J M Hayward, No I Group and Leading Observer J K Keeping, No 16 Group (Shrewsbury). Chief Observer Hayward was a surprise last-minute stand-in for Leading Observer Hind of No 13 Group (South Wales) who was sadly indisposed on the morning of the service.
The Banner's entrance into church was heralded by the pealing of the famous bells of St Clement's and the route was lined by 20 observers from No 2 Group (Horsham). The Corps' links with its sister organisation in Denmark, the Danish Ground Observer Corps (Luftmeldekorpset or LMK) and St Clement's links with Denmark were marked by the presence at the service of Major Thirkeldsen.
After a ceremonial fanfare by a party of trumpeters from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force the Banner was marched in slow time through the congregation to the altar steps. The last officer to salute the passing of the Banner was Observer Lieutenant Commander G I Hartley. In handing over the Sovereign's Banner the Commandant ROC, Air Commodore G M Boddy OBE RAF, said "Reverend Sir, I ask you to receive this Banner of the Royal Observer Corps for safe keeping in the House of God.“ Once prepared for hanging (in January 1992) our Banner will be displayed in perpetuity at St Clement Danes, along with many other Banners, Colours, Standards and Ensigns of the Royal Air Force. There it will be seen by the many welcome visitors to the Church, which is open daily throughout the year.
The Banner is marched into church through a route lined by observers from No 2 Group, Horsham.
156 September/October 1991
Provided by Marion Keeping 16Group