RAF Heraldry Trust Title.



The RAF Heraldry Trust is in its 18th year of operation and although we have completed just over 600 badges, there is still a long way to go before the task we set ourselves in 1996 is completed!

The principle motive for the launch of the project was that there was no comprehensive reference work regarding the heraldry of the RAF.   The result of this was a very real danger that hundreds of badges, each with their own stories to tell, would be lost once the one and, in many cases, only copy of the original painting was no longer a reliable source of information or even lost altogether.   This reliability was usually affected by such simple factors as exposure to sunlight or tobacco smoke causing discoloration.

For reasons best known to him-self, no proper blazon (written description) was ever composed for any of the badges by the original Inspector of RAF Badges, (Sir) John Heaton-Armstrong MVO, that contained references to colours and consequently the only accurate rendition of an RAF badge that could be produced would have to be in black and white! 

The main reason for the foundation of the Trust was that after various avenues of securing possible funding for the entire project, from both government and commercial sources had been explored unsuccessfully, it was decided to appeal directly to individual sponsors.

However, by allowing each sponsor to add a dedication to their page this had the added benefit of creating a Memorial to those who might not have been remembered elsewhere. 

The total number of badges recorded in the Register of RAF Badges stands in excess of 1200, of which a percentage are what are known as Close Copies. When a unit is originally awarded its badge, it is known as a Unique Copy and it is this painting which is signed by the Monarch.   Should that unit subsequently change its name or amalgamate with another unit under a different name, the badge is altered to show that new title in the surround and that painting is then known as a Close Copy. 

When we embarked on this mammoth venture, we estimated that we could realistically finish it in approximately 10 years but the harsh reality, having passed this milestone anniversary some time ago, is that, sadly, we are not even half-way through the recorded number of badges.

Researching the primary source information is becoming more and more difficult. Many of the contacts and resources that were available in 1996 when the project began are no longer there due to various reasons and total accuracy is taking more and more time and effort to achieve. 

The stumbling block is the same as it always has been, namely, funding.

When the Trust was launched in May of 1996, it received tremendous publicity in FlyPast Magazine and the initial response was very encouraging as was the upsurge in sponsorship each time a follow-up article was published.   However, the passage of time combined with a lack of further publicity, has resulted in the Trust's profile becoming substantially diminished and sponsorship these days has been reduced accordingly.

We were extremely fortunate to secure the support of a couple of regular contributors and it is these that have kept the project ticking over for the last couple of years, but much more is needed if this project is going to continue towards a successful conclusion in a reasonable time frame.

So, what is the answer?
1 April 2011 saw the 100th Anniversary of the formation of the first official flying units when the War Office recognized the military potential of flying machines and issued a special Army order to form an Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers, made up of two Companies, one concerned with airships and the other with aircraft, at South Farnborough under the command of Major Sir Alexander Bannerman.   The Royal Navy soon followed suit and established the first Naval Flying School at Eastchurch in December 1911. 

Following these two key developments, it was recommended that a single Flying Corps should be founded and on 13 April 1912 a Royal Warrant proclaimed the formation of the Royal Flying Corps.

Following King George V's assent to the Air Force Bill on 29 November 1917, the Air Ministry was established on 2 January 1918 and on 1 April 1918 the Royal Air Force was formally constituted as Britainís third fighting Service. 

On 1 April 2011 the 100th Anniversary of the formation of the Royal Air Force was only 7 years away... Coincidentally, we had approximately 700 badges left to do before the RAFHT project is finished! That target is a little closer but we still have over 600 badges to complete in the next three years.

Hence in 2011 we launched an appeal to record 100 badges per year for the next 7 years to achieve the completion of this historical record in time for that landmark 100th Anniversary. We are still on target, however, there remains a lot of work and a great deal of sponsorship to achieve.

The current cost of sponsoring a badge currently stands at £125, and in return for this we now produce a complimentary CD-ROM for the sponsor with multiple images and full written details of the badge sponsored.

A full application form can be downloaded from the site, filled in and sent, together with your sponsorship payment to the address shown at the top of the form. 

The original paintings are deposited at the RAF College Library at Cranwell, where they will be stored in perpetuity under the appropriate conditions for such a valuable body of work.
© Royal Air Force Heraldry Trust