Through Adversity to the Stars
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established…For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”
Romans 13:1, 4 (NIVUK)
The above title is the motto of the RAF which this year celebrates its centenary. It was founded on 1 April 1918, towards the end of the WW1 by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. The female branch of the service (WRAF) was also formed at the same time. The centrepiece of the celebrations was a spectacular display where almost 100 aircraft, representing the RAF’s history, flew over Buckingham Palace witnessed by the Queen and members of the Royal Family.
In brief, the RAF’s mission is to ensure the security and defence of the UK and overseas territories; perhaps a much lesser known objective is to support the Government’s foreign policy objectives, particularly in promoting peace and security.
The importance of the RAF to national security was perhaps highlighted in the Battle of Britain in 1940 during WW2 when the RAF flying the iconic Spitfire and Hurricane fighter aircraft fought for supremacy of the skies over the UK. Their success in this pivotal battle significantly contributed to the postponement of Hitler’s planned invasion of the UK. During the battle, the Prime Minister Winston Churchill paid tribute to the ongoing efforts of the RAF crews when he said, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
RAF bomber command also played a major role in the war. Probably the most well-known precision bombing operation was the “Dambusters” raid by 617 Squadron which breeched dams in the Ruhr valley. However, the increasingly devastating area bombing campaigns proved controversial particularly the fire-bombing of Dresden.
What is not controversial is that through adversity RAF personnel have shown bravery, and sacrifice. For example during the Battle of Britain, the average life expectancy of a Spitfire pilot was 4 weeks and throughout the war bomber crews suffered an extremely high casualty rate (over 44 percent death rate).
During the cold war the main role of the RAF was the defence of the continent of Europe and they had the sole responsibility for carrying the UK’s nuclear deterrent until the development of Polaris submarines. Post-cold war it continues to carry out missions deemed in the nation’s interests.
Whilst recognising the responsibility of governments to keep its citizens safe, to do good, and oppose evil, Christians look forward to a time when Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, will return and bring everlasting peace to the earth.
Father, we pray for the governments of this world that you will give them wisdom to be a force for good and bring relief to those suffering. Most of all we pray for the return of Jesus and the eternal peace that comes with him.
Study by Eddie Marsh
Grace Communion, Sheffield
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