The Incorporation of Hammermen held their Annual Dinner in November in the Allan Park Hotel. Guest speakers were Bruce Blanche and David Sibbald.
Deacon Andy McEwan introduced the meeting with a run through of the successes of the year.
Hammermen funds had been used to present awards to the top Historic Scotland students at Forth Valley College. On a more social front, there was a very interesting visit to Trades Hall in Glasgow courtesy of past Deacon of the Incorporation of Masons and Stirling Hammerman member Craig Bryce. There followed the now annual Burns Supper in August followed closely by the annual whisky tasting thanks to Calum McMillan.
On a more serious note, the highlights of the year had been the Presentation of the Blue Blanket, a replica of the original made by the Embroiderers Guild and the carving of the Hammerman crest by Richard Douglas and Rowen Baird. The Blue Blanket was displayed at the Annual Walking of the Marches where numbers were again up. Finally, members attended the Remembrance Sunday service at the Holy Rude and a wreath was laid at the war memorial by Deacon Andy.
Deacon Andy, then introduced the first Speaker, Bruce Blanche who spoke about the Royal Flying Corps Stirling/Raploch Airfield built in 1916 centred around Falleninch Farm. A piece of history not widely known in Stirling. The buildings at the farm were requisitioned in 1916. No. 18 Reserve Squadron at Montrose provided a nucleus for the formation of No. 43 Squadron at Stirling, to train the pilots to a high enough standard to go to France before the end of the year. Raploch was used for training by other squadrons until the autumn of 1917, when purpose-built training aerodromes began to take over that role. It also served as an emergency landing ground for No. 77 Home Defence Squadron which was formed in Edinburgh. It was occasionally used for civil landings between the wars but was not re-occupied in the Second World War. Flying accidents and crash landings were common in the early days of aviation and Falleninch was no exception. Nothing survives of the landing ground, although the hangers can still be seen at the farm today.
43 Squadron was disbanded on 13 July 2009 as part of the Government’s force reductions, however the 43(F) Squadron Association remains an active testimony to the Squadron’s distinguished heritage exemplified by its motto Gloria Finis – Glory is the End.
The Freedom of Stirling an honour normally granted to a Royal Air Force station was presented to 43 Fighter Squadron on the evening of Friday 3rd June 2005 in the Great Hall of Stirling Castle at a dinner which also commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Squadron Association.
Following Centenary celebrations, the Squadron Standard now hangs in the Church of the Holy Rude.
As a complete contrast to Bruce, Hammerman David Sibbald gave a very entertaining and humorous talk based around his beloved Coatbridge.
The meeting was rounded off by a vote of thanks.