Guernsey’s Own re-form ‘a reason to celebrate’

PEOPLE with close ties to the RAF's 201 Squadron are excited about its re-formation and for a Guernsey-named plane to take to the skies once again after 75 years.

201 ‘Guernsey’s Own’ Squadron was disbanded in 2011. Now it is set to return and fly a new Boeing submarine-hunting and maritime patrol Poseidon aircraft, one of nine bought at a £3bn cost by the UK government.

President of the 201 ‘Guernsey’s Own’ Squadron Association Sir Geoffrey Rowland said this was reason to celebrate.

‘Now we have learned that when Poseidon number six rolls off the production line, it will bear the name “Guernsey’s Reply”, and we look forward to the first time that we will see Guernsey’s Reply in our skies,’ he said, pleased that the aircraft’s name will always be associated with the island – it was the name of the late Guernsey-born fighter pilot Herbie Machon’s wartime Spitfire.

Battle of Britain pilot, and former Guernsey Press editor, Herbie Machon had the name Guernsey's Reply on his Spitfire. (Picture supplied by Nick Machon)

Chairman of the association, Wing Commander Andrew Steward (retired), said the formal affiliation between Guernsey and 201 Squadron was a unique piece of Royal Air Force history.

‘The choice of “Guernsey’s Reply” as the name of the sixth Poseidon aircraft is, I believe, a huge honour for Guernsey.

‘An aircraft named “Guernsey’s Reply” has not flown in the skies above the UK for more than 75 years and it will be great to see it flying operationally when it arrives this September.

'Not only will it mark the close link to Guernsey and the affiliation, but it will notably honour the memory of a steely, determined youngster who left Guernsey in 1940 to do his bit.’

The new squadron commander, Wing Commander Adam Smolak, is currently in the USA learning to fly the new aircraft.

It is believed that when he returns to the UK in the summer, the squadron will establish itself quite quickly with a new cadre of experienced operators and Guernsey’s Own will be back in the skies.

President of the Royal Air Forces Association (Guernsey), Alan Brunger, described Mr Machon as the ‘epitome of a Royal Air Force officer and gentleman’.

‘Members of RAFA will recall Herbie’s 17 years as our president, when he displayed his leadership qualities with a lovely blend of humility, wisdom and wit, always with an engaging smile and twinkle in his eye,' he said.

'Allied to that was his determined focus to achieve the targets he set himself.

'He was a wonderful Guernseyman of great character.’

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