Meet the RAF

The RAF Museum sees its main purpose as delivering the fascinating story of the Royal Air Force in all its beauty and complexity. To do this we will be using the amazing artefacts and people stories from our collections to narrate the RAF story in full through both official and personal channels.

London’s new exhibition the ‘First 100 Years of the RAF’ is built to act as an extensive introduction to the Royal Air Force and to provide an exciting and outstanding experience for all our visitors whether they are a young novice explorer to a more seasoned student of RAF history.

'The First 100 Years of the RAF' exhibition opening this summer in RAF Museum London

We have named the first section of our ‘First 100 Years of the RAF exhibition ‘Meet the RAF’. This section will act as an introduction to the Royal Air Force and will have a plenty of unique and fascinating artefacts on display, that will shed light on different aspects of RAF life throughout its 100 years history.

For example, one of the artefacts on display will be the Minor Offences Book of No 4 Squadron dated from 20 May 1918 to 2 September 1918. The Minor Offence Book contained the records of any RAF personnel who had broken rules and it was kept up to date by the officer of No 4 Squadron. Our book was kept by Prince Albert who later became His Majesty the King George VI. It’s amazing to see the handwriting of a former monarch and the offences that he had to record. For example in the image below we can see Prince Albert recording how several personnel did not turn up for an afternoon parade on 19 June 1918 and how one officer entered the station’s mess via its windows, contrary to orders.

Another artefact exhibited with in Meet the RAFsection of the exhibition is the Badge of No 1 Squadron, the oldest flying unit in the world. As the RAF’s oldest unit, No 1 Squadron has been involved in almost every major British military operation from First World War to the present time. Its motto written on the badge reads ‘In omnibus princeps’ (‘In all things first’) which reflects its valorous history.

The Minor Offences Book from Meet the RAF exhibition opening this summer in RAF Museum London

The RAF Museum has a huge and amazing collection, but no matter how precious and unique the objects are, the Royal Air Force is above all about its people, the extraordinary individuals who make all the RAF’s amazing achievements possible.

That is why the visitors to ‘Meet the RAF’ section will be greeted by the number of ‘silhouettes’ of these wonderful characters telling their stories. One of them is Group Captain
Donald Osborn Finlay, who was a successful Olympian of 1930s and won bronze and silver medals in the Olympic Games in 1932 and 1936 respectively. Donald joined RAF in
1935, he flew Spitfires during the Battle of Britain and had several confirmed air-to-air victories. He continued his service in the Middle and Far East until 1959, when he retired.

Group Captain Donald Osborn Finlay (Left) and the Reverend Eleanor Rance (right)

Another person whose silhouette will greet you is Reverend Eleanor Rance, who became the RAF’s first female Anglican chaplain in 1999 and spent the next 11 years supporting Service Personnel and their families in the UK and in Iraq. This dauntless woman witnessed the moments of great joy and horrific tragedy, but she still guided people to ‘the divine and eternal, healing
love’. Her motto is the same as the motto of the RAF Chaplain’s Branch: ‘To serve, not to be served’.

The First 100 Years of the RAF exhibition opening this summer in RAF Museum London

The ‘Meet the RAF’ section of our ‘First 100 Years of the RAF‘ exhibition is opening this summer together with all our new exhibitions. We will look forward to greeting you, at the RAF
Museum London, and enabling you to discover outstanding RAF characters and the unique and precious objects in our collections that tell the glorious story of the RAF.

About the Author

Tatiana Timoshina: Communications Executive

I am responsible for all of the Museum's Social Media and Digital communications. As a recent joiner to the Museum I look forward to discovering amazing stories and sharing them with you.