We enjoy both historic and contemporary associations with the communities of Salisbury Plain and North Hampshire and are proud to call Salisbury Cathedral our spiritual home.
In 2017, the year the Corps celebrated its 60th Anniversary; in recognition of the Army Air Corps’ role on the modern battlefield, Her Majesty the Queen was graciously pleased to authorise a new Guidon for the AAC with the Corps’ more recent Honours emblazoned upon it.
The AAC was invited by the Dean of Salisbury Cathedral, The Very Reverend June Osborne, on behalf of the Diocese of Salisbury, to conduct the solemn service of consecrating and presenting the new Guidon and the ‘laying up’ of the old Guidon in Salisbury Cathedral.
120 AAC personnel formed up on parade in Cathedral Close, 6th July 2017 in the presence of Colonel-in-Chief Army Air Corps, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales KG KT GCB OM AK QSO PC ADC.
Bathed in glorious sunshine, the event was attended by 1,200 serving personnel, their family, veterans and schoolchildren from Salisbury’s Cathedral School and The Wallop Primary School, Hampshire.
The ceremony began with a marching parade and was followed by a traditional military Drumhead Service which was held outside the west door of the city’s famous cathedral and conducted by the Army’s Chaplain General, The Reverend Doctor David George Coulter QHC CB.
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales said:
‘It is the greatest pleasure for me to join you here at Salisbury Cathedral to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the formation of the Army Air Corps and to present the Corps with its new Guidon on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.
‘Army aviation has evolved continuously and has played a vital role in many of the key operations worldwide. The campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated the decisive contribution that soldiers in the air can make to the outcome of the land air battle.’
The Prince of Wales took on the position of Colonel-in-Chief of the AAC in 1992. He referred in his speech to 2014 when HRH Prince Harry completed an attachment with the Corps as a helicopter pilot.
The Prince along with guests including the Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Mrs Sarah Rose Troughton and Colonel Commandant Army Air Corps, General Sir Adrian Bradshaw KCB OBE, then moved inside the cathedral - the Corps’ regimental church - to witness the laying to rest of the old Guidon and take part in a service of Thanksgiving led by The Very Reverend June Osborne DL.
Music was provided by The Band & Bugles of the Rifles and there was a special fly past by aircraft of the Historic Army Aircraft Flight and the current fleet, representing the past and present of the Corps.
During its service in the Second World War, the Glider Pilot Regiment (GPR), forbears of the modern AAC, was awarded nine Theatre and Battle Honours and earned a reputation as brave, skilled and tenacious - qualities which embody the GPR ethos of ‘Soldiers First’ and its Regimental motto, ‘Nothing is Impossible’.
At the end of WWII, the surviving Glider Pilots subscribed to the creation of a stained glass window in Salisbury Cathedral as a memorial to those they had lost and to the Regiment itself. The following lines appear in that window:
‘See that ye hold fast the heritage we leave you, yea and teach your children that never in the coming centuries may their hearts fail or their hands grow weak.’
In 2007, the year of the Army Air Corps’ 50th Anniversary, the Army Air Corps window was installed next to the Glider Pilot Regiment window.