Guernsey Press

Change of command for ‘Guernsey’s Own’

GUERNSEY’S Own 201 Squadron has a new wing commander.

Wing Commander Adam Smolak, left, and Wing Commander Rob McCartney at the changeover ceremony of 201 Squadron RAF. (32958301)

The Bailiwick’s Lt-Governor, Lt General Richard Cripwell, travelled to Scotland to oversee the ceremony, which took place yesterday.

The Change of Command Ceremony marked the change from the current RAF officer commanding 201 Squadron, Wing Commander Adam Smolak, who has led the squadron since its reformation in 2021, to Wing Commander Rob McCartney.

Wing Commander Smolak said commanding 201 ‘Guernsey’s Own’ Squadron had been the pinnacle of his career.

He has visited the island before, including in 2021 to reclaim the squadron’s standard.

‘It has been a singular honour, and a major highlight of the tour has been to reignite the special relationship between the squadron and the Bailiwick,’ he said.

‘I will be very sad to leave, but I’m heartened to know that I am leaving the squadron in the very capable hands of Wing Commander McCartney.’

Wing Commander McCartney was previously a member of the squadron as a junior navigator in 2007, where he was deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Herrick.

He has now returned to RAF Lossiemouth for his final flying tour, leading 201 Squadron.

‘Being selected to lead Guernsey’s Own is the ultimate privilege for a Royal Air Force maritime aviator,’ he said.

‘With war in Europe again, and global security continuing to deteriorate, I know 201 "Guernsey’s Own" Squadron greatly values the support and advocacy extended to us by Guernsey islanders.

'I look forward to building on the good work of my predecessors, continuing to grow and thicken our unique affiliation.’

There has been a special link between the island and the squadron since 1918, and members wear a Guernsey flag on their uniforms.

Lt General Cripwell was delighted to represent the island at the ceremony, which showed the strong link between the Bailiwick and the squadron.

‘It is an enduring affiliation, which outlasted five years of enemy occupation along with the squadron’s disbandment between 2011 and 2021, when its standard was laid up at Government House,’ he said.

‘I am pleased to convey islanders’ gratitude to Wing Commander Smolak for rebuilding their squadron, to take its place once more in the Order of Battle.

'We look forward to welcoming the unit during its visits to the island later in the year.’

201 Squadron is a maritime reconnaissance squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth, in north-east Scotland, which operates the P-8A Poseidon.

The squadron plans to visit Guernsey several times this year, including for Liberation Day and the Guernsey Air Display in June.