A POIGNANT day in the history of RAF Cottesmore was marked today (Saturday) as the flag bearing the RAF colours which has flown over the airbase for 74 years was lowered for the last time.
The RAF Ensign was taken down for the final time at 6pm and presented to Wing Commander John Turner in a short ceremony watched by more than 70 people, including dignitaries.
Wing Commander Turner said: “It is a sad occasion in some ways but the fact is the base will be keeping open, under MoD control. There will be a military unit in and it will be a vibrant base.
“Tonight we are all here to witness the last time the RAF Ensign is lowered before the base it handed over to the Ministry of Defence and ultimately to Army control as of Monday.
“From 1938 until today there has been one thread which has been maintained throughout those years, and that is that at eight in the morning the RAF Ensign is raised and, at winter at 4pm and in summer 6pm the ensign is lowered.”
Lord Lieutentent of Rutland Dr Laurence Howard said: “Although it is a sad occasion for the RAF moving on from Cottesmore it is a new era with the Army arriving which will bring changes but ones which we shall welcome with open arms.”
The first Army personnel will move into the base tomorrow (Sunday).
Army troops from the 2nd Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment will move into the base over the summer when they return from performing security duties in Cyprus, arriving in June and July with their families
In 2014 RAF Cottesmore will become one of the five regional headquarters for British troops returning from Germany in with the 7 Regiment Royal Logistics Company moving in from Bielefeld.
The RAF will remain at Wittering and Army troops are likely to share the base from 2015.
St George’s Barracks in North Luffenham will also take extra Army troops in 2015.