RNAS YEOVILTON’S ACT OF REMEMBRANCE AND THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF TARANTO
The annual Act of Remembrance at the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton held a special poignancy. In addition to Armistice Day, the 11th November 2015 also marks the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Taranto, the famous World War II decimation of the Italian Fleet inflicted by the Royal Navy and specifically the Fleet Air Arm’s Swordfish aircraft.
The annual Service of Remembrance was held beside theNavalCemeteryof theFleetAirArmMemorialChurchin Yeovilton village. Members of the Naval Service (that includes the Royal Marines), the Army Air Corps and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers from the Air Station along with civilians, contractors, veterans and families congregated to remember the members of our armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Children and teachers from local schools: Chilton Cantelo, Hazlegrove and Ilchester, joined the Service men and women and, following the service, representatives talked to the media about the relevance of Remembrance to them and their friends.
The service was led by RNAS Yeovilton’s Chaplain, The Reverend Andrew Hillier, and Right Reverend Peter Price, who was the Bishop of Bath and Wells until June 2013, provided a ‘Reflection on Remembrance’. Following prayers and the reading of The Roll of Honour, two minutes silence was initiated by a Royal Marine bugler sounding the Last Post standing at the top of the church tower and ended by a flypast of the Royal Navy Historic Flight’s Swordfish and two Lynx helicopters. The Swordfish scattered poppies as the bugler sounded Reveille and the Commanding Officer, Commodore Jon Pentreath, OBE, then laid a wreath on behalf of all at RNAS Yeovilton. Commodore Pentreath said,
“Having served at RNAS Yeovilton over the years, it is a special honour to lead the act of remembrance on behalf of the Air Station; particularly so because some of my friends are buried in the Naval Cemetery. At the same time as we perform our Act of Remembrance, today marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Taranto which was a beacon of light at that time in the war. The Royal Navy’s use of maritime air power was decisive and severely disrupted the Italian Fleet’s operations until the Italian Armistice in 1943. That the action was carried out by obsolete Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers was even more remarkable. The aircraft that flew today is the same as those that flew at Taranto and that is a tribute to all in the Fleet Air Arm that commemorate the past while operating in the present and preparing for the future.”
Following the Battle of Taranto, Admiral Cunningham, the Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet said, "Taranto, and the night of November 11–12, 1940, should be remembered for ever as having shown once and for all that in the Fleet Air Arm the Navy has its most devastating weapon."