Afghanistan: 9 MSF staff killed, 37 people injured (19 were staff) in hospital US airstrike in Kunduz – Published 03 Oct 2015 1000z (GMT/UTC)

UPDATED 03 Oct 2015 10:55 GMT

Air strike kills MSF medical staff in Afghanistan

Nine Doctors Without Borders staff killed in bombing of hospital in Kunduz, as NATO admits it may have been involved.

Surviving MSF staff were in shock after the clinic in Kunduz sustained heavy damage in the bombardment [MSF/Al Jazeera]

Surviving MSF staff were in shock after the clinic in Kunduz sustained heavy damage in the bombardment [MSF/Al Jazeera]

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says at least nine of its staff have been killed in an overnight bombing of a hospital in the embattled Afghan city of Kunduz.

Another 37 people were wounded in the attack, including 19 MSF staff, the medical charity organisation told Al Jazeera.

NATO said on Friday that a US air strike “may have” hit the hospital, which is run by the medical charity, adding that the attack may have resulted in collateral damage.

An MSF spokesperson told Al Jazeera that the death toll is likely to rise, as the “fluid situation at the clinic hampered information gathering.

“The bombing struck the dormitories of the hospital, which explains why we – so far – have only seen deaths among our staff and not among patients,” MSF spokesperson Dalila Mahdawi said.

The MSF hospital is seen as a key medical lifeline in the region, which has been running “beyond capacity” in recent days of fighting which saw the Taliban seize control of the provincial capital for several days.

“At 2:10 am (20:40 GMT) local time … the MSF trauma centre in Kunduz was hit several times during sustained bombing and was very badly damaged,” MSF said in a statement on Friday.

At the time of the bombing, 105 patients and their caretakers and more than 80 MSF international and national staff were present in the hospital, the charity said.

NATO investigation

NATO said in a statement that US forces conducted an air strike in Kunduz at 2:15am local time “against individuals threatening the force”.

“The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility. This incident is under investigation,” the statement said.

MSF said it gave the coordinates of the hospital to Afghan and US forces several times to avoid being caught in crossfire.

“As MSF does in all conflict contexts, these precise locations were communicated to all parties on multiple occasions over the past months, including most recently on 29 September,” according to MSF Afghanistan representatives.

The bombing reportedly continued for more than 30 minutes after US and Afghan military offices in Kabul and Washington were first informed.

Residents tell of suffering as battle for Kunduz rages

“MSF urgently seeks clarity on exactly what took place and how this terrible event could have happened,” MSF said.

The MSF trauma centre in Kunduz is the only medical facility in the region that can deal with major injuries.

Following the attack, the medical charity urged all parties involved in the violence to respect the safety of health facilities, patients and staff.

Speaking to Al Jazeera after the attack, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said that no Taliban fighters were present in the hospital at the time of the air strike.

“We condemn the bombing on the hospital. It was an attack carried out on innocent people.” Zabiullah told Al Jazeera.

“Our mujahedeen (fighters) were not treated at the MSF trauma center due to prevailing military conditions. Such attacks by the US forces have taken place in Afghanistan for years now. This very attack has once again exposed the ruthless colors of the invaders to the Afghans,” he added.

MSF’s hospital is the only facility of its kind in the whole north-eastern region of Afghanistan [MSF]

However, Sediq Sediqqi, an Afghan interior ministry spokesperson, claimed the fighters were attacking security forces with gunfire and grenades from an area near the hospital.

“According to our information, the Taliban were hiding in the hospital building and the area around it while attacking the forces,” Sediqqi said.

“We are assessing and evaluating the collateral damage to the medical facility. However, in any case, the safety of the civilians comes first,” he added.

A caretaker at the hospital, who was severely injured in the air strike, told Al Jazeera that clinic’s medical staff did not favour any side the conflict.

“We are here to help and treat civilians,” Abdul Manar said.

“Several women and children are also killed in the strike. I could hear them screaming for help inside the hospital while it was set ablaze by the bombing. We are terrified and speechless.”

Battle for Kunduz

The development came a day after the Afghan government claimed it had successfully retaken parts of Kunduz from Taliban fighters who had controlled the strategic city since Monday.

The Taliban, however, claimed it remained in control of most of Kunduz, our correspondent said.

Kunduz is facing a humanitarian crisis, with thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire between government forces and Taliban fighters.

Precise losses in the fighting were not known, but health authorities said on Friday that at least 60 people have been killed and 400 wounded.

As fighting spreads in neighbouring Badakhshan, Takhar and Baghlan provinces, concerns are mounting that the seizure of Kunduz was merely the opening gambit in a new, bolder Taliban strategy to tighten the grip across northern Afghanistan.

Afghan forces, backed by NATO special forces and US air strikes, have been going from house to house in Kunduz in a bid to flush Taliban fighters out of the city.

Al Jazeera’s Qais Azimy, reporting from Puli Khumri, about 130km from Kunduz, said heavy fighting was ongoing in the centre of Kunduz.

“Sources inside the city are reporting heavy clashes between the Taliban and the Afghan army. There is no set frontline between the two sides so the fighting is from street to street at the moment.

“People inside the city are suffering. There is a shortage of food, water and electricity,” our correspondent said.

The Taliban’s offensive in Kunduz, their biggest tactical success since 2001, marks a major blow for Afghanistan’s Western-trained forces, who have largely been fighting on their own since last December.

Civilian and military casualties caused by NATO forces have been one of the most contentious issues in the 14-year campaign against the Taliban, provoking harsh public and government criticism.

US-led NATO forces ended their combat mission in Afghanistan last December, though a 13,000-strong residual force remains for training and counterterrorism operations.

But there has been an escalation in air strikes by NATO forces in recent months despite the drawdown.

Additional reporting by Shereena Qazi. Follow her on Twitter @ShereenaQazi

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies


Afghanistan: More than 320 people hospitalized in Herat city due to mysterious gas poisoning this week – Published 06 Sept 2015 0818Z (GMT/UTC)

Mysterious gas at an Afghan girls’ school sent 30 people to the hospital Saturday in the fourth such incident in the area in a week.

Four female teachers and 26 students were hospitalized because of fumes at their school in Herat city, said Mohammad Rafiq Sherzai, a spokesman for the regional hospital.

An investigation is underway, police said. They declined to release more information.

More than 320 people have been hospitalized in the city this week over mysterious gas. On Thursday, 115 girls from a local school were hospitalized after they were poisoned with an unknown gas, Sherzai said.

The victims’ ages ranged between 9 and 18, he said. The same week — Wednesday and Monday — a total of 208 girls fell ill as a result of a similar gas incident in a different school in the city.

The incidents were deliberately caused, Deputy Provincial Gov. Aseeluddin Jami said without elaborating on who was responsible. Attacks against schoolgirls in Afghanistan happen with alarming frequency, often by militants who believe girls should not go to school.

In July, assailants on a motorbike threw acid in the faces of three teen girls on their way to school in Herat province. Two of the girls were critically injured.

Saturday, 05 September, 2015 at 12:43 (12:43 PM) UTC RSOE

Kyrgyzstan: US Air Force Stratotanker refueling plane crashes, 3 crew missing. Search ongoing – 030513 1915z

The US-run Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan has confirmed that a US refueling plane crashed after taking off from the base on Friday, saying the fate of the crew remains unknown.

Friday, 03 May, 2013 at 15:58 (03:58 PM) UTC RSOE

The plane that crashed near Chaldovar village was American air fuel tanker, press service of the Ministry of Transport of Kyrgyzstan reported. According to its information, the plane departed from the Transit Center at Manas at 2.30 p.m. in Bishkek and got lost in this area.

Search for the plane is underway.

Chaldovar N 43 3.618, E 74 28.147

Updated: Friday, 03 May, 2013 at 16:01 UTC RSOE

Other Reports

U.S. Military Aircraft Crashes in Kyrgyzstan

(Video credit:YouHotNews) Published on 3 May 2013

(NBC) A U.S. Air Force refueling plane crashed Friday in Central Asia, the military said. There was no immediate word on casualties.

The plane, a KC-135, crashed in northern Kyrgyzstan and was based at the U.S. military installation at Manas, near the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek. Its mission is to refuel combat planes on patrols over Afghanistan.

The KC-135 usually has a crew of three.

Military officials were investigating eyewitness reports that the plane was on fire before it crashed. They were also looking into the possibility that the plane blew an engine or struck a bird.

“I was working with my father in the field, and I heard an explosion. When I looked up at the sky I saw the fire. When it was falling, the plane split into three pieces,” Sherikbek Turusbekov, who lives nearby, told The Associated Press.

On Monday, seven people were killed when an American civilian cargo plane, a Boeing 747, crashed shortly after taking off from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. It belonged to National Air Cargo, an upstate New York military contractor.

Six of those killed were from Michigan and the seventh from Kentucky, the company said. The Taliban claimed responsibility, but NATO quickly said that the claim was false and that there was no sign of insurgent activity at the time of the crash.

The United States leases the Kyrgyz installation for about $60 million a year. The contract is up in July 2014.

Other Reports

“BISHKEK, May 3 (RIA Novosti) A US military Boeing KC-135 refueling aircraft crashed in a mountainous area in Kyrgyzstan for unspecified reasons on Friday, the United States Air Force said.

“A US Air Force KC-135 tanker aircraft crashed today in northern Kyrgyzstan,” the US Air Force’s 376th Air Expeditionary Wing based in the country said.

The Boeing KC-135, also known as the Stratotanker, crashed into a mountain gorge about 60 kilometers (36 miles) west of the capital Bishkek, a Kyrgyzstan Interior Ministry spokesman told RIA Novosti.

Kyrgyz news website showed photographs of fragments of the aircraft displaying its tail number, AMC 38877.

The fate of the crew remained immediately unclear. “Emergency response crews are on scene. The status of the crew is unknown,” the US Air Force said.

The head of the local emergencies ministry, Kubatbek Boronov, said there were three crew on board the plane, who have not been found.

Local law enforcement officials told they had likely been killed in the crash. Locals reported seeing no parachutes in the vicinity of the incident. The Stratotanker usually has a crew of three, pilot, co-pilot and boom operator.

Local residents cited by Kyrgyz and Russian media gave conflicting versions of the incident, with some saying the aircraft fell apart in the air and others claiming it blew up on impact.

The cause of the crash was also unclear, though the burning debris covered a wide area, with the main part of the fuselage falling far from the tail, a correspondent at the scene reported. He said the aircraft’s nose section, which houses two of the crew, had not yet been reached as it is some distance away in the mountains.

“The ground around the aircraft fragments is totally burned and there is a strong smell of fuel in the air,” he said.

An employee at Manas airport told RIA Novosti that the crew of the aircraft had reported bad weather and thunder in the area at the time and had asked for permission to fly around towering cumulus clouds en route.

The Stratotanker was attached to the US Air Force base in Manas, Bishkeks international airport. The base provided transit for American forces in Afghanistan since 2001, but is due to be shut down in 2014 because the Kyrgyz government refused to extend the lease.

One of the oldest designs flying in the USAF, the KC-135, derived from the Boeing 707 civil airliner, first entered srervice in 1957. It is due to be replaced by Boeing’s KC-46.

According to the online airrefuelingarchive, and a historical study of KC-135 accidents by Chris Hoctor, a retired USAF Master Sergeant, the last crash of a KC-135 was in 1999.

(Updated at 6.42 p.m. with weather conditions reported and Kyrgyz emergencies ministry saying three on board. Also corrects KC-135’s usual number of crew from five to three).” –

Afghanistan: Moderate earthquake kills at least 18, injures 141, 676 homes damaged or destroyed – 250413 2025z

A moderate earthquake that struck eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday resulted in the deaths of at least 18 people, the presidential palace said on Thursday, adding that 130 others were injured and that hundreds of homes in the area were damaged.

The 5.6-magnitude earthquake at 1:55 p.m. local time (0925 GMT) on Wednesday was centered about 11 kilometers (6 miles) south of Mehtar Lam, a town in Laghman province. It struck about 62.1 kilometers (38.6 miles) deep, making it a relatively shallow earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

More from

Afghanistan: HAP FLASH Situation Report, 25 April 2013


Earthquake 2013-04-24 13:55:30 UTC, Magnitude = 5.7 has shocked eastern region of the country 24- Apr-13 which caused damage to houses, deaths, injuries, total 676 houses damaged, 18 died, 141 injuries and as well as unknown number of livestock killed due to the incident.

Nangarhar: Reports from different organization indicates 300 houses damaged, 16 deaths, 126 injured and 26 livestock killed.


• Total affected families in Khas Kunar = 200 families, 2 individuals died, 11 injured.

• Total affected families in Nurgal = 110 families, 4 individuals injured.

• Total affected families in Chawki = 40 families.

• Total affected families in Sarkano district = 16 families

• Total affected families in Wata Por district = 10 families

Download PDF (147.55 KB)

Earthquake in Afghanistan

(Video credit: 10TVNewsChannel)

Not in english

Indonesia: Deadly delays after boat carrying 72 sinks in Sunda Strait, at least 5 dead (likely to increase), only 14 rescued – 120413 1300z

“A GROUP of 14 asylum seekers has been rescued by fishermen in Indonesia after their boat sank in the Sunda Strait on its way to Australia, but at least five others are believed to have drowned.

File:Sunda strait map v3.png

Sunda Strait
(Click image for source)

There are also fresh details about the unfolding tragedy with one of the survivors revealing that boat actually sank on Wednesday, and not on Friday morning as initially reported by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

Habibullah Hashimi, one of 14 men plucked from the water by fishermen off the coast of Sukabumi in West Java, said he was in the water for about 24 hours before help finally came.

The 29-year-old said there were 72 people aboard the vessel. All were ethnic Hazara from Afghanistan.

At least five asylum seekers had perished, Mr Hashimi said.

The death toll could rise further.

”The ship just broke,” he told AAP.

”We saw about five people dead. They were in the water.”

Mr Hashimi’s group had linked arms as they struggled to survive.

”The sea kept moving us around,” he said.

Mr Hashimi, who was on Friday afternoon recuperating in Bogor, also confirmed that the boat sank at about 8am on Wednesday.

The development came after a spokeswoman from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) initially reported that a boat may have sunk in the Sunda Strait at about midnight (3am AEST) on Friday.

”A people-smuggling vessel may have sunk in or near the Sunda Strait around 3am AEST today. Some passengers may have been rescued by a fishing vessel,” the spokeswoman said earlier on Friday.

The information was in turn passed on to the Indonesian national search and rescue agency BASARNAS.

But BASARNAS was unable to locate the area where the incident was believed to have occurred, prompting a scramble for information.

Provincial search and rescue offices in Jakarta and Lampung on the island of Sumatra also had little idea of what had happened, or where to look for survivors.

”We don’t have the coordinates for the area where we could search. Do you have that information? Please share it with us,” an officer with the Jakarta search and rescue office said when contacted by AAP.

”We only received information from BASARNAS that it’s in south of Sunda Strait and they’ve been rescued by local fishermen. But where is it? We’re now contacting local ports and others if they have such information.”

And Indonesia still hasn’t launched a rescue mission because the location of the sunken vessel hasn’t been found.

The search and rescue authorities were criticised last August when more than 100 asylum seekers drowned when their boat foundered in the Sunda Strait.

An aerial search was not launched until more than six hours after a distress call was received by the AMSA.

It was almost 24 hours before the first survivors were pulled from the water.

Hundreds of asylum seekers have perished in recent years while making the perilous crossing from Indonesia to Christmas Island.” –

“JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said on Friday it was investigating a report from Australian authorities that an asylum seeker boat carrying scores of people may have sunk.

“We received information there were 72 people on board, and that 14 have been rescued by fishermen” after the vessel sank in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra islands early Friday, said agency official Tatang Zaenudin.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said in a statement it had passed information to the Indonesian authorities that a boat may have gone down in the strait, but it had not been requested to provide assistance.

A seven-strong team was heading by road to the Sukabumi area, in West Java, where those rescued were believed to have been taken, Indonesian officials said.” –


“Sebuah GROUP dari 14 pencari suaka telah diselamatkan oleh nelayan di Indonesia setelah kapal mereka tenggelam di Selat Sunda dalam perjalanan ke Australia, tapi setidaknya lima orang lainnya diyakini telah tenggelam.

File: Selat Sunda peta v3.png
Selat Sunda
(Klik gambar untuk sumber)

Ada juga rincian baru tentang tragedi berlangsung dengan salah satu korban mengungkapkan kapal yang benar-benar tenggelam pada Rabu, dan bukan pada Jumat pagi sebagai awalnya dilaporkan oleh Otoritas Keselamatan Maritim Australia (AMSA).

Habibullah Hashimi, salah satu dari 14 pria dipetik dari air oleh nelayan di lepas pantai Sukabumi di Jawa Barat, mengatakan ia berada di air selama sekitar 24 jam sebelum bantuan akhirnya datang.

The 29-tahun itu mengatakan ada 72 orang di kapal. Semua adalah etnis Hazara dari Afghanistan.

Setidaknya lima pencari suaka telah tewas, Mr Hashimi kata.

Jumlah korban tewas bisa meningkat lebih lanjut.

” Kapal hanya patah,” katanya kepada AAP.

” Kami melihat sekitar lima orang tewas. Mereka berada di air.”

Kelompok Mr Hashimi telah dihubungkan lengan saat mereka berjuang untuk bertahan hidup.

” Laut terus bergerak kami berkeliling,” katanya.

Mr Hashimi, yang berada di memulihkan diri hari Jumat sore di Bogor, juga menegaskan bahwa perahu tenggelam di sekitar 8 pagi pada hari Rabu.

Perkembangan datang setelah seorang juru bicara dari Otoritas Keselamatan Maritim Australia (AMSA) awalnya melaporkan bahwa perahu mungkin telah tenggelam di Selat Sunda di sekitar tengah malam (3 am AEST) pada hari Jumat.

” Sebuah penyelundupan manusia kapal mungkin telah tenggelam di atau dekat Selat Sunda sekitar 3 am AEST hari. Beberapa penumpang mungkin telah diselamatkan oleh sebuah kapal penangkap ikan,” kata juru bicara sebelumnya pada hari Jumat.

Informasi itu pada gilirannya diteruskan ke pencarian nasional Indonesia dan BASARNAS penyelamatan lembaga.

Tapi BASARNAS tidak dapat menemukan daerah di mana insiden itu diyakini telah terjadi, memicu perebutan informasi.

Pencarian provinsi dan kantor penyelamatan di Jakarta dan Lampung di pulau Sumatera juga memiliki sedikit gagasan tentang apa yang telah terjadi, atau di mana untuk mencari korban yang selamat.

” Kami tidak memiliki koordinat untuk daerah di mana kita bisa mencari. Apakah Anda memiliki informasi itu? Silakan berbagi dengan kami,” kata seorang perwira dengan pencarian Jakarta dan kantor penyelamatan saat dihubungi oleh AAP.

” Kami hanya menerima informasi dari BASARNAS bahwa itu di selatan Selat Sunda dan mereka telah diselamatkan oleh nelayan setempat. Tapi di mana itu? Kami sekarang menghubungi pelabuhan lokal dan lain-lain jika mereka memiliki informasi tersebut.”

Dan Indonesia masih belum meluncurkan misi penyelamatan karena lokasi kapal tenggelam belum ditemukan.

Pihak berwenang pencarian dan penyelamatan dikritik Agustus lalu ketika lebih dari 100 pencari suaka tenggelam ketika perahu mereka kandas di Selat Sunda.

Sebuah pencarian udara belum diluncurkan sampai lebih dari enam jam setelah panggilan darurat diterima oleh AMSA tersebut.

Itu hampir 24 jam sebelum korban pertama ditarik dari air.

Ratusan pencari suaka telah tewas dalam beberapa tahun terakhir sementara membuat persimpangan berbahaya dari Indonesia ke Pulau Christmas “-

“JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia pencarian dan penyelamatan lembaga Jumat mengatakan pihaknya sedang menyelidiki laporan dari pemerintah Australia bahwa pencari suaka kapal yang membawa puluhan orang mungkin telah tenggelam.

“Kami menerima informasi ada 72 orang di kapal, dan 14 telah diselamatkan oleh nelayan” setelah kapal tenggelam di Selat Sunda antara pulau Jawa dan Sumatera Jumat pagi, kata lembaga resmi Tatang Zaenudin.

The Maritime Safety Authority Australia (AMSA) mengatakan dalam sebuah pernyataan bahwa pihaknya telah menyampaikan informasi kepada pihak berwenang Indonesia bahwa perahu mungkin sudah turun di selat tersebut, tapi belum diminta untuk memberikan bantuan.

Sebuah tim tujuh yang kuat sedang menuju melalui jalan darat ke daerah Sukabumi, Jawa Barat, di mana mereka diselamatkan diyakini telah diambil, para pejabat Indonesia mengatakan “-.

Pakistan: Chaos as widespread rain, snowfall and floods leave 34 dead, 57 injured, more rain expected – 060213 1400z

Widespread rain and snowfall have claimed 28 lives across the country, wreaking havoc in hilly areas where people have been forced to take refuge in mosques.

Heavy downpour has been lashing every part of the country since the last two days, and there are reports that at least 28 people have died.

As many as seven people are reported to have been killed in Jaswant Singh after the roofs of several homes caved in due to heavy rain.

In Haripur, six members of a family were swept away by the floodwater of a seasonal nullah.

The body of a minor was recovered, while one male member of the family was rescued.

A search operation was launched for the remaining people.

One person was killed and three sustained fatal injuries after the roof of a hotel collapsed in Pindi Bhattian.

Meanwhile, two brothers died and more than eight people were grievously injured after the roof of a home came down in Swabi.

Three passersby were buried alive when an avalanche hit Malik Nil Amtoli near Shangla.

Heavy snowfall has led to closure of all link roads in Ghizar, Galliat, Murree and upper parts of Kashmir adding to the miseries of the commuters.

The residents of these areas have been confined indoors due to inclement weather.

As per the Met Office, 15millimeter rain was recorded in Dipalpur during the last 12 hours, 47mm in Islamabad, 43mm in Kakul, 40mm in Garhi Dupatta and 35mm in Para Chinar and Balakot.

The low-lying areas of Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan were submerged in the rainwater.

Cherat crossed the highest ever record of 148mm rain. Saidu Sharif received 138millimeter rain, Risalpur 136mm, Lower Dir 107mm, Rawalkot 95mm, Islamabad 69mm and Mianwali 5mm.

On the other hand, there has been heavy snowfall in hilly areas. Malam Jabba received 3.5feet snow, Kalam 3 feet and Murree 8 inches.

Snowfall continued on the second consecutive day in Skardu.

The key highways leading to Muzaffarabad, Rawalkot and Punjab were closed due to land sliding.

Met Office said that Islamabad, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Peshawar, Kohat and Malakand are likely to receive rainfall in the next 12 hours while the hilly areas may see more snowfall. online

Wednesday, 06 February, 2013 at 04:00 (04:00 AM) UTC RSOE

News reports

“ISLAMABAD, Feb 6, 2013 (AFP) – Days of torrential rain have killed 34 people in Pakistan, mostly on the northwestern border with Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday.

The worst-hit region was Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the northwest where 25 people were killed and 57 injured as a result of heavy rain from Sunday to Tuesday, the provincial disaster management authority said.

Three soldiers were also reported missing after they were hit by a snow avalanche in the northwestern district of Lower Dir.

Eight people were killed in the central province of Punjab, said Shahzad Abbasi, spokesman for the Punjab disaster management authority.

One person died and another was injured when they were hit by lightning in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, said state official Shahid Hasan Malik.

Pakistan has suffered devastating monsoon floods for the last three years, including the worst in its history in 2010 when catastrophic inundations killed almost 1,800 people and affected 21 million.
AFP: 02/06/2013 08:21 GMT” –

Wales Air Forum

Behind-the-scenes pictures of the Duke of Cambridge working as a helicopter search and rescue pilot have been released for the first time today.

The pictures show a typical “day in the life” for William in his work flying RAF Sea King helicopters from their base at RAF Valley on Anglesey.

From planning and preparing for any emergency callout to resting with his colleagues during “downtime”, the exclusive pictures give an insight into the life of Flight Lieutenant Wales in his day job as a search and rescue (SAR) pilot.

Prince William at work at RAF Valley

William may be a royal, but he works the same 24-hour shifts as the rest of his four-man crew.

Each morning starts with a briefing from the off-going duty crew, including an engineering brief, an update on specific air and ground activities in the area, and local and national weather forecasts.

From the moment the crew start their shift, they are…

View original post 495 more words

Remembrance Day – Remembering those fallen in war – 11th November 2012

UK’s wartime fallen remembered

“A two-minute silence has been held to remember members of the British and Commonwealth’s armed forces who have died during conflicts.

The Queen was joined by Prince Phillip and the Duchess of Cambridge at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday.

The country observed a two-minute silence as Big Ben struck the eleventh hour.

British forces across the world, including 9,500 soldiers in Afghanistan, also paused to remember.

The Queen laid a wreath, followed by the Countess of Wessex and the Princess Royal.

The former chief of the defence staff, Lord Guthrie, laid a wreath on behalf of the Prince of Wales, who is in Auckland, New Zealand.

This year Remembrance Sunday falls on 11 November itself, the date of the armistice which brought World War I to an end.” – BBC News

Full story here

Remembrance Day on the front line

Caroline WyattBy Caroline Wyatt Defence correspondent, BBC News

Corporal Kirk Buck “Corporal Kirk Buck plans to have a vigil for three men from his regiment who died

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Under the hot Afghan winter sun, a bugler sounded the Last Post, ahead of a profound two-minute silence at the British headquarters in Lashkar Gah.

The servicemen and women here stood lost in thought, before the bugler sounded the reveille.

For those working and fighting here, this Remembrance Day is a very personal act of remembering the sacrifices made in war.

Though many of those gathered here are only in their twenties, many have already lost friends and comrades in Afghanistan, and before that in Iraq, giving the silence here a deeper resonance.

British servicemen and women on operations in Helmand work a seven-day week, and Sunday is no different. But most will be able to attend a service at even the remotest patrol bases or checkpoints across the province at different times of day, or if on guard, stand in silence as they watch over their colleagues.

So far this year, 43 British troops have died in Afghanistan – five of them from the current brigade.” – BBC News

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day in Canada. The memorial at the McCrae House (detail view); two Canadian-style poppy pins can be seen resting on the sculpture.
Official name Remembrance Day
Also called Poppy Day, Armistice Day
Observed by Commonwealth of Nations (except Mozambique)
Type International
Significance Commemorates Commonwealth war dead
Date 11 November
Observances Parades, silences
Related to Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Anzac Day

Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. This day, or alternative dates, are also recognized as special days for war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth countries. Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918. Hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month,” in accordance with the Armistice, signed by representatives of Germany and the Entente between 5:12 and 5:20 that morning. (“At the 11th hour” refers to the passing of the 11th hour, or 11:00 a.m.) World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. [1]

The day was specifically dedicated by King George V on 7 November 1919 as a day of remembrance for members of the armed forces who were killed during World War I. This was possibly done upon the suggestion of Edward George Honey to Wellesley Tudor Pole, who established two ceremonial periods of remembrance based on events in 1917.[2]

The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem “In Flanders Fields“. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red colour an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in the war.

Observance in the Commonwealth

Remembrance Day, London, 2006.

The common British, Canadian, South African, and ANZAC tradition includes either one or two minutes of silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (11:00 a.m., 11 November), as that marks the time (in the United Kingdom) when the armistice became effective.

The Service of Remembrance in many Commonwealth countries generally includes the sounding of the “Last Post“, followed by the period of silence, followed by the sounding of “The Rouse” (often mistakenly referred to as “Reveille“), and finished by a recitation of the “Ode of Remembrance“. The “Flowers of the Forest“, “O Valiant Hearts“, “I Vow to Thee, My Country” and “Jerusalem” are often played during the service. Services also include wreaths laid to honour the fallen, a blessing, and national anthems.[3]

The central ritual at cenotaphs throughout the Commonwealth is a stylized night vigil. The Last Post was the common bugle call at the close of the military day, and the Rouse was the first call of the morning. For military purposes, the traditional night vigil over the slain was not just to ensure they were indeed dead and not unconscious or in a coma, but also to guard them from being mutilated or despoiled by the enemy, or dragged off by scavengers. This makes the ritual more than just an act of remembrance but also a pledge to guard the honour of war dead. The act is enhanced by the use of dedicated cenotaphs (literally Greek for “empty tomb”) and the laying of wreaths—the traditional means of signalling high honours in ancient Greece and Rome.


The Governor of Western Australia laying a wreath at the Eternal flame, Kings Park, Western Australia, 11 November 2011

In Australia, Remembrance Day is always observed on 11 November, regardless of the day of the week, and is not a public holiday; it is a time when people can pay their respects to the substantial number of soldiers who died in battle. Some institutions observe two minute’s silence at 11 a.m. Through a programme named Read 2 Remember,[4] children read the Pledge of Remembrance by Rupert McCall and teachers deliver specially developed resources to help children understand the significance of the day and the resilience of those who have fought for their country and call on children to also be resilient when facing difficult times. Services are held at 11 a.m. at war memorials and schools in suburbs and cities across the country, at which the “Last Post” is sounded by a bugler and a one-minute silence is observed. In recent decades, Remembrance Day has been largely eclipsed as the national day of war commemoration by ANZAC Day (25 April), which is a public holiday in all states.


In Barbados, Remembrance Day is not a public holiday. It is recognized as November 11, but the parade and ceremonial events are carried out on Remembrance Sunday.[5] The day is celebrated to recognize the Barbadian soldiers who died fighting in the First and Second World Wars. The parade is held at National Heroes’ Square, where an interdenominational service is held.[6] The Governor-General and Barbadian Prime Minister are among those who attend, along with other government dignitaries and the heads of the police and military forces. During the main ceremony a gun salute, wreaths, and prayers are also performed at the war memorial Cenotaph at the heart of Heroes’ Square in Bridgetown.


Remembrance Day Parade, Hamilton, Bermuda, 1991

In Bermuda, which sent the first colonial volunteer unit to the Western Front in 1915, and which had more people per capita in uniform during the Second World War than any other part of the Empire, Remembrance Day is still an important holiday. The parade in Hamilton had historically been a large and colourful one, as contingents from the Royal Navy, British Regular Army, the local Territorial units, the Canadian Forces, the US Army, Air Force, and Navy, and various cadet corps and other services all at one time or another marched with the veterans. Since the closing of British, Canadian, and American bases in 1995, the parade has barely grown smaller. In addition to the ceremony held in the City of Hamilton on Remembrance Day itself, marching to the Cenotaph (a smaller replica of the one in London), where wreaths are laid and orations made, a smaller military parade is also held in St. George’s on the nearest Sunday to Remembrance Day.[7]


In Canada, Remembrance Day is a public holiday and federal statutory holiday, as well as a statutory holiday in all three territories and in six of the ten provinces (Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec being the exceptions).[8][9][10][11] From 1921 to 1930, the Armistice Day Act provided that Thanksgiving would be observed on Armistice Day, which was fixed by statute on the Monday of the week in which November 11 fell. In 1931, the federal parliament adopted an act to amend the Armistice Day Act, providing that the day should be observed on November 11 and that the day should be known as “Remembrance Day”.[12]

The federal department of Veterans Affairs Canada states that the date is of “remembrance for the men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace”; specifically, the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and all conflicts since then in which members of the Canadian Forces have participated.[13] The department runs a program called Canada Remembers with the mission of helping young and new Canadians, most of whom have never known war, “come to understand and appreciate what those who have served Canada in times of war, armed conflict and peace stand for and what they have sacrificed for their country.”[14]

Poppies are laid on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Remembrance Day in Ottawa

The official national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, presided over by the Governor General of Canada, any members of the Royal Family (such as Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, in 2009),[15] the Prime Minister, and other dignitaries, observed by the public. Typically, these events begin with the tolling of the Carillon in the Peace Tower, during which current members of the Canadian Forces (CF) arrive at Confederation Square, followed by the Ottawa diplomatic corps, ministers of the Crown, special guests, the Royal Canadian Legion (RCL), the royal party (if present), and the viceregal party. Before the start of the ceremony, four armed sentries and three sentinels (two flag sentinels and one nursing sister) are posted at the foot of the cenotaph.

The Guard of Honour (a member from the Royal Canadian Navy at left and from the Royal Canadian Air Force at right) at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Remembrance Day, 2010

The arrival of the governor general is announced by a trumpeter sounding the “Alert”, whereupon the viceroy is met by the Dominion President of the RCL and escorted to a dais to receive the Viceregal Salute, after which the national anthem, “O Canada“, is played. The moment of remembrance begins with the bugling of “Last Post” immediately before 11:00 a.m., at which time the gun salute fires and the bells of the Peace Tower toll the hour. Another gun salute signals the end of the two minutes of silence, and cues the playing of a lament, the bugling of “The Rouse,” and the reading of the Act of Remembrance. A flypast of Royal Canadian Air Force craft then occurs at the start of a 21-gun salute, upon the completion of which a choir sings “In Flanders Fields”. The various parties then lay their wreaths at the base of the memorial; one wreath is set by the Silver Cross Mother, a recent recipient of the Memorial Cross, on behalf of all mothers whose children died in conflicts in which Canada participated. The viceregal and/or royal group return to the dais to receive the playing of the Royal Anthem of Canada, “God Save the Queen“, prior to the assembled Armed Forces personnel and veterans performing a march past in front of the viceroy, bringing about the end of the official ceremonies.[16] A tradition of paying more personal tribute has emerged since erection of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the War Memorial in 2000: after the official ceremony the general public place their poppies atop the tomb.

Similar ceremonies take place in provincial capitals across the country, officiated by the relevant lieutenant governor, as well as in other cities, towns, and even hotels or corporate headquarters. Schools will usually hold special assemblies for the first half of the day, or on the school day prior, with various presentations concerning the remembrance of the war dead. The largest indoor ceremony in Canada is usually held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with over 9,000 gathering in Credit Union Centre in 2010;[17] the ceremony participants include old guard (veterans), new guard (current members of the CF), and sea, army, and air cadet units.


In India, the day is usually marked by tributes and ceremonies in army cantonments. There are memorial services in some churches such as St Mark’s Cathedral in Bangalore. At Kohima and Imphal in the remote hillsides of North East India, Services of Remembrance supported by the Indian Army are observed at Kohima and Imphal War Cemeteries (maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission). In other places in India this event is not observed.[citation needed]


In Kenya, the Kenya Armed Forces Old Comrades Association (KAFOCA) was established in Kenya immediately in 1945 to cater for the welfare of the Ex-servicemen of the First and the Second World Wars. The KAFOCA and Kenyan government recognize Remembrance Day.


A number of Mauritians who participated in World War I as combattants, lost their lives. Among them were many students from the Royal College of Mauritius, who participated in the War on the French front and never got to return to their motherland. Thus, to mark the gratitude of the Mauritian people to those honourable martyrs, in 1916, even before the Remembrance Day was recognized, Governor Hesketh Bell announced that he had met in London with an eminent artist, J.A. Stevenson, who had agreed to design a bronze monument similar to that of Bernard Partidge, representing two allied soldiers: the Frenchman Poilu and the Englishman Tommy. The inauguration of this commemorative monument took place before the Royal College of Curepipe on Saturday 15 April 1922, which was decreed a public holiday. Since then, on each 11 November or as the case may be, it is at the foot of the War Memorial that Mauritians continue to celebrate Remembrance Day with all solemnity and respect due to the event.

New Zealand

New Zealand‘s national day of remembrance is Anzac Day, 25 April.[18] “Poppy Day” usually occurs on the Friday before Anzac Day.[19] The reason for the oddity of New Zealand having their remembrance on Anzac Day happened in 1921. The paper Poppies for Armistice that year arrived by ship too late for 11 November 1921, so an RSA branch distributed them at the next commemoration date (25 April 1922, which happened to be Anzac Day) and that date stuck as the new Poppy Day in New Zealand.

Armistice Day was observed in New Zealand between the World Wars, although it was always secondary to Anzac Day. As in other countries, New Zealand’s Armistice Day was converted to Remembrance Day after World War II, but this was not a success. By the mid-1950s the day was virtually ignored, even by churches and veterans’ organizations.[20]

Since the Unknown Warrior being returned to New Zealand for Armistice Day 2004, more ceremonies are now being held in New Zealand on Armistice Day and more churches are now observing Remembrance Sunday.

South Africa

In South Africa, Poppy Day is not a public holiday. It takes place on the Saturday nearest to Remembrance Day, though in Cape Town a Remembrance Service is still held on 11 November each year.[21] Commemoration ceremonies are usually held on the following Sunday, at which the “Last Post” is played by a bugler followed by the observation of a two-minute silence. The two largest commemoration ceremonies to mark the event in South Africa are held in Pretoria, at the Voortrekker Monument at the Cenotaph (where it has been held for 84 consecutive years), and at the War Memorial at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Many high schools hold Remembrance Day services to honour the past pupils who died in the two World Wars and the Border war. In addition, the South African Legion holds a street collection to gather funds to assist in welfare work among military veterans.[21]

United Kingdom

Memorials in the Field of Remembrance outside London’s Westminster Abbey for Remembrance Day, 2002.

In the United Kingdom, although two minutes of silence are observed on 11 November itself, the main observance is on the second Sunday of November, Remembrance Sunday. Ceremonies are held at local war memorials, usually organized by local branches of the Royal British Legion, an association for ex-servicemen. Typically, poppy wreaths are laid by representatives of the Crown, the armed forces, and local civic leaders, as well as by local organizations including ex-servicemen organizations, cadet forces, the Scouts, Guides, Boys’ Brigade, St John Ambulance and the Salvation Army. The start and end of the silence is often also marked by the firing of a cannon. A minute’s or two minutes’ silence is also frequently incorporated into church services. Further wreath-laying ceremonies are observed at most war memorials across the UK at 11 a.m. on the 11th of November, led by the Royal British Legion.[22] The beginning and end of the two minutes’ silence is often marked in large towns and cities by the firing of ceremonial cannon[23] and many employers and businesses invite their staff and customers to observe the two minutes’ silence at 11:00 a.m.[24]

The First Two Minute Silence in London (11 November 1919) was reported in the Manchester Guardian on 12 November 1919:

The first stroke of eleven produced a magical effect. The tram cars glided into stillness, motors ceased to cough and fume, and stopped dead, and the mighty-limbed dray horses hunched back upon their loads and stopped also, seeming to do it of their own volition. Someone took off his hat, and with a nervous hesitancy the rest of the men bowed their heads also. Here and there an old soldier could be detected slipping unconsciously into the posture of ‘attention’. An elderly woman, not far away, wiped her eyes, and the man beside her looked white and stern. Everyone stood very still … The hush deepened. It had spread over the whole city and become so pronounced as to impress one with a sense of audibility. It was a silence which was almost pain … And the spirit of memory brooded over it all.[25]

The Cenotaph at Whitehall, London on Remembrance Day 2004

The main national commemoration is held at Whitehall, in Central London, for dignitaries, the public, and ceremonial detachments from the armed forces and civilian uniformed services such as the Merchant Navy and Her Majesty’s Coastguard. Members of the British Royal Family walk through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office towards the Cenotaph, assembling to the right of the monument to wait for Big Ben to strike 11:00 a.m., and for the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery at Horse Guards Parade, to fire the cannon marking the commencement of the two minutes of silence. Following this, “Last Post” is sounded by the buglers of the Royal Marines. “The Rouse” is then sounded by the trumpeters of the Royal Air Force, after which wreaths are laid by the Queen and senior members of the Royal Family attending in military uniform and then, to “Beethoven’s Funeral March” (composed by Johann Heinrich Walch), by attendees in the following order: the Prime Minister; the leaders of the major political parties from all parts of the United Kingdom; Commonwealth High Commissioners to London, on behalf of their respective nations; the Foreign Secretary, on behalf of the British Dependencies; the First Sea Lord; the Chief of the General Staff; the Chief of the Air Staff; representatives of the merchant navy and Fishing Fleets and the merchant air service. Other members of the Royal Family usually watch the service from the balcony of the Foreign Office. The service is generally conducted by the Bishop of London, with a choir from the Chapels Royal, in the presence of representatives of all major faiths in the United Kingdom. Before the marching commences, the members of the Royal Family and public sing the national anthem before the Royal Delegation lead out after the main service.

Members of the Reserve Forces and cadet organizations join in with the marching, alongside volunteers from St John Ambulance, paramedics from the London Ambulance Service, and conflict veterans from World War II, Korea, the Falklands, the Persian Gulf, Kosovo, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Iraq, other past conflicts and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. The last three British-resident veterans of World War I, Bill Stone, Henry Allingham and Harry Patch, attended the 2008 ceremony but all died in 2009. After the service, there is a parade of veterans, who also lay wreaths at the foot of the Cenotaph as they pass, and a salute is taken by a member of the Royal Family at Horse Guards Parade.

In the United Kingdom, Armed Forces’ Day (formerly Veterans’ Day) is a separate commemoration, celebrated for the first time on 27 June 2009.

Northern Ireland

Remembrance Day is officially observed in Northern Ireland in the same way as in Great Britain. However, it has tended to be associated with the unionist community. Most Irish nationalists and republicans do not take part in the public commemoration of British soldiers. This is mainly due to the actions of the British Army during The Troubles. However, some moderate nationalists began to attend Remembrance Day events as a way to connect with the unionist community. In 1987 a bomb was detonated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) just before a Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Enniskillen, killing eleven people. The IRA said it had made a mistake and had been targeting soldiers parading to the war memorial. The bombing was widely condemned and attendance at Remembrance events, by both nationalists and unionists, rose in the following years.[26] The Republic of Ireland has a National Day of Commemoration in July for all Irish people who have died in war.

Similar observances outside the Commonwealth

France and Belgium

Bleuet de France, circa 1950

Remembrance Day (11 November) is a national holiday in France and Belgium. It commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at 11:00 a.m. in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” Armistice Day is one the most important military celebrations in France, since it was a major French victory and the French paid a heavy price in blood to achieve it. The First World War was considered in France as the “Great Patriotic War”.[27] Almost all French villages feature memorials dedicated to those fallen during the conflict.[28] In France the blue cornflower (Bleuet de France)[29] is used symbolically rather than the poppy.


The German national day of mourning is the secular public holiday of Volkstrauertag,[30] which since 1952 has been observed two Sundays before the first Sunday of Advent;[31] in practice this is the Sunday closest to 16 November. The anniversary of the Armistice itself is not observed in Germany.[32]

Each of the major German churches has its own festivals for commemorating the dead, observed in November: All Souls Day in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, Ewigkeitssonntag or “Eternity Sunday” in the case of the Lutheran church.

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Police Band at the memorial service by the Cenotaph in Central, Hong Kong

Though not a public holiday since July 1997, Remembrance Sunday is observed in Hong Kong, and is marked by a multi-faith memorial service at the Cenotaph in Central, Hong Kong. The service is organized by the Hong Kong ex-servicemen Association, and is attended by various Government officials and the representatives of various religious traditions such as the Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Buddhist community, the Taoist community, the Muslim community and the Sikh community.

Although Hong Kong ceased to be part of the Commonwealth of Nations in 1997, the memorial service still resembles those in many other Commonwealth countries. The service includes the sounding of “Last Post“, two minutes of silence, the sounding of “Reveille“, the laying of wreaths, and prayers, and ends with a recitation of the “Ode of Remembrance“. The Hong Kong Police Band continues to perform their ceremonial duty at the service. Members of the Hong Kong Air Cadet Corps (including the Ceremonial Squadron), Hong Kong Adventure Corps, Hong Kong Sea Cadet Corps and scouting organisations are also in attendance.


In the Republic of Ireland, Armistice or Remembrance Day is not a public holiday. In July there is a National Day of Commemoration for Irish men and women who have died in war. Nevertheless, Remembrance Sunday is marked by a ceremony in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, which the President of Ireland attends.[33][34][35] During World War I, many Irishmen served in the British Army, but official commemoration of them (and other British soldiers) has been controversial. The British Army was used to suppress the Easter Rising (1916) and fought the forces of the Irish Republic during the Irish War of Independence (1919–22). A very small number of people living in the Republic still enlist in the British Army,[36][37][38] although the British Army is banned from recruiting there under the Defence Act 1954.[39][40] The Irish National War Memorial Gardens in Dublin is dedicated to the memory of the 49,400 Irish soldiers who were killed in action in World War I.[41]


In Israel there are two ceremonies, the first being in Jerusalem, at Mount Scopus Commonwealth Cemetery on the Saturday before Remembrance Sunday, organized by the British Consul in Jerusalem. The second ceremony is in Ramleh on the Sunday itself, organized by the British embassy in Tel Aviv. The Ramleh ceremony is the larger, and is also attended by veterans of the Second World War.


In Italy, soldiers who died for the nation are remembered on 4 November, when the ceasefire that followed the Armistice of Villa Giusti in 1918 began. The Day is known as the Day of National Unity Day of the Armed Forces, Giorno dell’UnitĂ  Nazionale Giornata delle Forze Armate in Italian.[42] Since 1977, this day has not been a public holiday; now, many services are held on the first Sunday in November.[43]


In the Netherlands, Remembrance Day is commemorated annually on 4 May. It is not a public holiday. Throughout the country, military personnel and civilians fallen in various conflicts since World War II are remembered. The main ceremonies are at the Waalsdorpervlakte near The Hague, the Grebbeberg near Wageningen and Dam Square in Amsterdam. Two minutes of silence are observed at 8:00 p.m. Remembrance Day is followed by Liberation Day on 5 May.


11 November is a public holiday in Poland called Independence Day, as the ending of First World War allowed Polish people to regain the freedom and unity of their country after over a hundred years of partitions. Major events include laying flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by members of the government and highest authorities, other public ceremonies and church services and school celebrations.

United States

Veterans Day is observed in the United States on 11 November, and is both a federal holiday and a state holiday in all states. However, the function of the observance elsewhere is more closely matched by Memorial Day in May. In the United States, and some other allied nations, 11 November was formerly known as Armistice Day; in the United States it was given its new name in 1954 at the end of the Korean War to honor all veterans. Veterans Day is observed with memorial ceremonies, salutes at military cemeteries, and parades.


Main article: Remembrance poppy

See also

(Goaty: This is my humble tribute to those fallen, those injured and those who grieve as a result of war)

Never Forget in memory tributes and donations

Battle of Britain Day – Tribute to the #RAF (the few) – Updated 20 Sept 2012


The Battle of Britain and the RAF today

The Battle of Britain and the RAF today

The Battle of Britain acts as a touchstone for today’s RAF. The courage and self-sacrifice of our forebears serves as a continuing inspiration to our people, and also acts as a constant reminder that the RAF’s foremost duty remains the control of the air. The threat to the UK may have changed in character, and the ongoing control of the air mission in Afghanistan takes a very different form from the air battles over Kent and Sussex 70 years ago, but the objective remains the same: to secure the free use of the air for ourselves and our allies and to deny it to our adversaries.

Eurofighter Typhoon provides the cornerstone of the RAF’s ability to guarantee control of the air, as did the Spitfire and Hurricane in 1940 The Legacy of 1940

Today’s Royal Air Force (RAF) is very different to the force that won the Battle of Britain, but its spirit, dedication and ethos remain much the same; moreover, its central purpose has not altered over the intervening 70 years. The aerial threat to the United Kingdom in 2010 may be less tangible than the menace of Hitler’s Luftwaffe, but – as the events of 9/11 proved – it is still very real, and the consequences of a successful terrorist attack would be severe. This is why – just as in the ‘Spitfire Summer’ of 1940 – the RAF’s first duty is to control the air, not only at home, to safeguard the skies above the UK, but also on expeditionary operations abroad, to guarantee the freedom of action of friendly air, land and naval forces.

This fundamental requirement was the reason why the RAF was originally created in 1918, after an independent commission into German Zeppelin and bomber raids found that the inadequacy of British defences was the result of air capabilities being provided through separate (and ancillary) elements of the Army and the Navy. Instead, the Smuts’ Report recommended that a single, dedicated entity was necessary to focus on the delivery of air power as its sole duty.

The logic remains the same today; control of the air is just too important to be left to other organisations as a secondary task. The far-sighted decision to form an independent air force meant that the necessary expertise and capability was available to achieve victory in the Battle of Britain twenty years later, ensuring the immediate survival of the nation and demonstrably altering the course of history, and was also the first step in establishing the RAF’s proud heritage as the world’s longest established air force, resulting in an unparalleled record of experience and success in every sort of military operation across the globe, right through to the key role currently being played in support of the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

The Battle of Britain was a contest for control of the air, and this remains a fundamental prerequisite for any putative military endeavour in the twenty-first century: quite simply, it enables all other activities. For example, it would be impossible to even deploy a fighting force – in its vulnerable transport ships, aircraft and land vehicles – to a crisis zone without control of the air, let alone move it freely around a theatre of operations after arrival. However, the importance of control of the air is equally clear to the enemies of the West, and they will contest it with every means at their disposal: this may result in air battles between fighter aircraft (such as in the early stages of the Gulf War in 1991), engagements between aircraft and surface-based missiles and anti-aircraft guns, or insurgent attacks on air bases and essential ground infrastructure.

Because of its investment in first-class training and capable equipment, the RAF has been successful in ensuring that British forces have not suffered any casualties from enemy air attack since the Falklands War in 1982, where the images of Royal Fleet Auxiliary Sir Galahad burning at Bluff Cove remain as the starkest possible illustration of what happens when control of the air is lost. However, the RAF has had to fight hard for control of the air in all of its campaigns since the Falklands: in the Gulf War in 1991, against Iraqi fighter aircraft and a dense network of missile and gun defences; against the highly effective Serbian air defence system during the Kosovo War in 1999, when more than 2,000 missiles were fired at NATO aircraft; and again, against the Iraqi air defence system as recently as 2003, when the Baghdad missile engagement zone remained an active threat until the final fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

These examples demonstrate that control of the air can never be assumed or taken for granted, and without it, the success of any military operation will be compromised. This is why combat aircraft such as the Typhoon are necessary to provide a competitive, multi-role capability, not least in deterring potential adversaries in a global environment where state-of-the-art Russian and Chinese fighter aircraft and surface-to-air missiles are freely available and widely exported, often to unstable or problematic states.

The RAF Regiment makes a major contribution to control of the air on current operations in Afghanistan

Even when our adversaries lack a conventional air force, they will still contest our ability to control the air: an RAF Hercules transport aircraft was downed by ground-fire in Iraq in 2005, and helicopters in Afghanistan are often engaged by insurgents with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Additionally, aircraft have been attacked on the ground by rockets and mortar fire, which is why the specialist force protection provided by the RAF Regiment, familiar with air operations and flight profiles, is necessary to secure operating bases and landing areas.

In this way, today’s RAF Regiment gunners play as significant a part in the current battle for control of the air as the RAF’s Spitfire and Hurricane pilots did in 1940.

The wide availability of man-portable anti-aircraft missiles increases the threat and requires continuing investment in suitable defensive aids and counter-measures, particularly for slower transport aircraft and helicopters. The acquisition by the Taliban of Stinger missiles during the Soviet incursion into Afghanistan in the eighties largely negated the power of the Soviet Air Force and was a major factor in the Kremlin’s decision to abandon the campaign, illustrating both the need to invest in control of the air capabilities and the consequences of failing to do so.

At present, the most significant air threat to the United Kingdom itself is a terrorist attack, with a hijacked airliner being used as a suicide bomb. Consequently, a force of Tornado and Typhoon fighters is held at Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) all year round, day and night, with a remit to ‘scramble’ within a few minutes to intercept any aircraft entering or flying around NATO-monitored airspace around the UK without proper authorisation. The public might be surprised to know that in 2009, this happened more than once a month, on some occasions to check out airliners that were not complying with proper procedures or were failing to communicate, but also to intercept Russian patrol aircraft.

Safeguarding the UK’s skies requires dedication, professionalism and teamwork 24/7, 365 days a year

Meeting the QRA requirement is a demanding and largely unsung task, but as the attack on the World Trade Centre demonstrated, there is absolutely no margin for error. It involves the highest levels of professionalism and close teamwork, because radar stations, air traffic agencies, tanker aircraft and engineering support are all required to put the fighters in the air at the right time and in the right place.

As well as routine air defence cover, high profile events require particular attention, and the RAF’s Tornado and Typhoon fighter force, air defence ground environment (search radars and networked communications) and specialist Sentry airborne warning radar aircraft are all necessary elements of the comprehensive air defence system necessary to achieve this. A QRA commitment is also retained in the Falklands, where a small force of Typhoon fighters acts as a continuing and cost-effective deterrent to any potential incursions against the sovereignty of the Islands.

And the echoes of 1940 still resonate strongly. The highly capable air defence system that protects the UK today is clearly recognisable as a lineal descendent of the brilliantly effective ‘Dowding System’ of sector control, and some of the key battle locations even remain within the defence estate. These include RAF Northolt, the home of the RAF’s Free Polish squadrons during the battle, and a reminder of the multi-national nature of Fighter Command in 1940, a harbinger of the coalition approach to air power that is such a feature of operations today.

Photography: RAF/MOD/Crown Copyright. Text: © Crown Copyright/MOD 2012

RAF parade through Lincoln today (16 Sept 2012)(Link)

More than 70 personnel from RAF Waddington parade through Lincoln today to honour “the British and Allied forces that fought and died during the Battle of Britain”.

“It also recognises the men and women who continue to serve in the armed forces today.”

Battle of Britain – In Praise Of The RAF

Spitfire Mk IIa P7350 of the BBMF is the only existing airworthy Spitfire that fought in the Battle of Britain.
(Click photo for more on Spitfires)

“The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

Winston Churchill addressing England’s House of Commons, August 20, 1940

Close to 3,000 RAF fliers took to the skies in the Battle of Britain. More than 500 were killed; around 80 percent of those lost were Britons. The chance of any of The Few ever being forgotten by the nation they helped save, meanwhile, is absolutely zero. –  Time Life (More here)

Battle of Britain Day

15 September 1940

The most decisive confrontation of the Battle of Britain took place in the skies above London on 15 September.

(Photo: BBC)
The average age of an RAF pilot in 1940 was 20. The strain they were under is clearly written on the face of Squadron Leader B J E ‘Sandy’ Lane (centre), pictured here aged 23. He was killed in combat 2 years later. (IWM CH1366)
(Click photo for more from BBC)

Explore the key events of the Battle of Britain with clips from over 50 years of BBC television and radio programmes

The Battle of Britain was the German air force’s attempt to gain air superiority over the RAF from July to September 1940. Their ultimate failure was one of the turning points of World War Two and prevented Germany from invading Britain.

Extensive Battle of Britain material from the BBC here (Link)

Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum DFC and Group Captain Patrick Tootal OBE DL RAF (Ret’d) give their views on Battle of Britain Sunday at The Royal Air Force Club and the memorial service at Westminster Abbey and St. Clement Danes. Highlights from the day include footage of a Spitfire flypast and young Royal Air Force members admiring The Bomber Command Memorial in Piccadilly. (Posted on Youtube by The Royal Air Force Club)

Elsewhere on the web

Afghanistan: Pakistani doctor among 11 suspects in school poisoning case which involved 170+ girls and staff – Published 11 June 2012

A Pakistani woman doctor is under investigation for her alleged involvement in poisoning school students in the Takhar province of Afghanistan.

Takhar Province
(Click image for source)

Officials said they have arrested 11 suspects, including the Pakistani lady doctor, identified as Gulnaz, on charges of involvement in poisoning the students.

Gulnaz is said to belong to Punjab province. According to reports Gulnaz was working at a health clinic in Rustaq district, but did not have the required medical certificates.

She also did not have the documents required for a foreign doctor to work in Afghanistan.

In the meantime a provincial media representative speaking on the condition of anonymity said some suspects had been arrested in connection with the case.

He said the detained suspects also included a Pakistani woman doctor identified as Gulnaz and belonging to Punjab province.

�Yes, the authorities concerned are grilling Gulnaz but there is no proof of her involvement in the matter thus far,� he said adding that Gulnaz was working at a health clinic in Rustaq district in Takhar province.

She did not have the required medical certificates. He said Gulnaz also didn�t have the documents required for a foreign doctor to work in Afghanistan.

Sunday, 10 June, 2012 at 16:30 UTC RSOE


171 schoolgirls poisoned, some critically ill after school water dosed by Taliban� Updated 18th April 2012�1240GMT/UTC

27 killed, 45 homes destroyed, 150 damaged, in Flash Flood in Afghanistan – Governor appeals for aid

A flash flood swept through villages in a mountainous area of northern Afghanistan on Friday, killing at least 27 people, authorities said.

It was the second major flood reported this week in the north.

Abdul Jabar Taqwa, the governor of Takhar province, said flood waters broke through a dam early Friday, washed down a valley and damaged several villages in Ishkamish district.

“It was a very powerful flood. It hit around midnight,” Taqwa said.

“Dozens of villages have been hit. I’m worried that the death toll will go up.

“Rescuers have been trying to reach the site, but vehicles can only be driven to within a six-hour walk of the area, he said.”It is a disaster,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have enough aid. The only way to access the area is by helicopter.”

On May 6, another flash flood swept through Dhy Marda village in Sari Pul province, killing 21 people, many of them members of a wedding party.

Sayed Jahangir Kramat, the deputy police chief for the province, said about 45 homes were destroyed and another 150 were damaged in that flood as heavy rains caused floodwaters to rush down the mountains.

Other minor flooding earlier this week in two other districts of Sari Pul province killed three people.

Friday, 11 May, 2012 at 07:50 (07:50 AM) UTC RSOE

At least sixteen killed, 4 missing & 800 homes destroyed in flash floods – Afghanistan

At least sixteen people were killed on Sunday as a result of severe flash floods in northern and eastern Afghanistan, local authorities said on Monday. As many as 800 houses are believed to have been destroyed. The flash floods occurred on Sunday and mostly affected the districts of Kushandi and Shulgara, located in the northern province of Balkh, where eleven and four people were killed respectively. Deputy Provincial Council chief Ghulam Abbas Ikhalaqi confirmed the number of deaths, according to the Pajhwok Afghan News agency. The provincial official said an estimated 700 houses were destroyed in Kushandi and Shulgara districts while another 80 were washed away in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which serves as the capital of Balkh province. Several other structures and a large number of acre (hectares) of farmland were also damaged. At least 60 shops were destroyed in the district town of Shulgara. Also on Sunday, flash floods killed at least one person and washed away more than 300 houses in several villages in the Gilan district of Ghazni Province, which is located in eastern Afghanistan. Four others are believed to be missing in the village of Zabit, where flash floods damaged dozens of houses. Regional chief Rahmatullah of the Afghanistan Natural Disasters Management Authority (ANDMA) said the agency has already deployed a team to the areas involved to review the damages.

Tuesday, 24 April, 2012 at 13:38 (01:38 PM) UTC RSOE

171 schoolgirls poisoned, some critically ill after school water dosed by Taliban – Updated 18th April 2012 1240GMT/UTC

“Conservative Afghan radicals opposed to education for women poisoned 150 schoolgirls by dosing jugs of water at their high school, authorities said.

Some of the girls were in critical condition after the poisoning, while others were treated and released at a hospital in the province of Takhar.

The poison left the girls with headaches and nausea. We are 100% sure that the water they drunk inside their classes was poisoned, said Jan Mohammad Nabizada, an education department spokesman. This is either the work of those who are against girls education or irresponsible armed individuals. But officials, fearful of retribution, stopped short of naming any group as responsible for the attack.

Authorities determined the jugs of water were poisoned because the schools main water tank was clean. Women only starting returned to schools in Afghan after the Taliban was toppled in 2001. The Taliban, five years earlier, had outlawed education for women as against Islamic law.”

Tuesday, 17 April, 2012 at 17:49 (05:49 PM) UTC RSOE

18/04/2012 1340BST Update: CNN: 170 women and girls were hospitalized with suspected poisoning. See