Halton ‘Brats’ Remembered
The Halton Apprentice Association have carried out an act of Remembrance culminating in a visit to a Graduation Parade at RAF Halton. After a short church service at St George’s Church they gathered at their memorial,‘The Tribute’, to lay wreathes and pay their respects.
Each year the Association remembers Halton Apprentices who have fallen in the line of duty. This occasion was graced by Air Vice-Marshal Gary Waterfall, the son of an Apprentice with connections to the original Apprentice Scheme. After the formal ceremony the congregation adjourned to Halton House for a buffet lunch prior to the Air Marshal leaving to act as reviewing officer for the Graduation Parade of No. 557 Thompson Intake.
This year they remembered several themes, the most significant being The Battle for France and particularly the role and sacrifices of 12 Squadron. Thomas Gray VC, ex- Apprentice from the 20th Entry, lost his life during the battle.
Others events remembered were:
• The passing of Churchill in 1965 and his involvement with Trenchard in setting up the Apprentice scheme. (members of No 104 Entry of Apprentices represented the RAF in the cortège in January 1965)
• VE and VJ days- particularly the latter to commemorate the many young ex-Apprentices who died in captivity at the hands of the Japanese and finally The Battle of Britain – both air and ground crew were ex- apprentices.
• Because of the significance of The Battle for France, the Officer Commanding 12 Squadron and three surviving members of the Gray family attended. Denis O’Brien, Trustee of the Apprentice Association, said: “We were fortunate to have Thomas Gray’s family present on the day. It is important to note that of the seven sons of a village policeman Ernest Arthur Gray, five joined the RAF, three of them including Tom were aircraft apprentices at RAF Halton. By 1946 Tom Bob and John had died serving their country.”