Lord Selkirk pays tribute to ‘the few’

Lord James Selkirk  presents the silver Spitfire to Squadron Leader Jerry Riley

Lord James Selkirk presents the silver Spitfire to Squadron Leader Jerry Riley

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It may be 71 years since they last flew the iconic aircraft, but Edinburgh’s own 603 Squadron has just taken delivery of a brand new silver Spitfire.

The stunning replica was presented to the Squadron by Lord Selkirk of Douglas as a tribute to its fighter pilots and in appreciation of his years representing the squadron as its Honorary Air Commodore (HAC).

Lord Selkirk stepped down as HAC in 2015 having originally been appointed as HAC to No 2 Maritime Headquarters Unit in 1995.

When this unit was disbanded, 603 Squadron was resurrected in 1999 and the Queen resumed her earlier role as its Royal Honorary Air Commodore.

In recognition of his contribution, Lord Selkirk was asked to carry out those same duties on behalf of Her Majesty. Lord Selkirk’s appointment built upon a notable family connection to 603 Squadron that started with his uncle, Group Captain Lord George Douglas-Hamilton, who commanded the Squadron from 1934-1938.

“Lord Selkirk has provided us with a sense of focus, tradition and history coupled with pragmatic forward-thinking that has helped direct the squadron and make it fit for the demands made on air power in the modern world,” said 603 squadron commander Squadron Leader Jerry Riley.

Lord Selkirk said: “I was pleased to present a token of gratitude to the squadron and I wished to pay a particular tribute to the fighter pilots of whom the wartime station commander of RAF Hornchurch, Group Captain ‘Boy’ Bouchier once described as ‘the greatest squadron of them all’ thanks to their exemplary service at the height of the Battle of Britain. Throughout the squadron’s history its members have been in awe and admiration of the achievements of those who went before.

“From the Battle of Britain to Afghanistan they have not hesitated to serve. They are well deserving of their place in history.”

And indeed, the squadron has enjoyed prestigious and distinguished service second to none throughout its 91 years. Since 2003, a high percentage of 603 Squadron’s Reservists have served with distinction in the Falkland Islands, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.

The silver-plated Spitfire was created by Hamilton and Inches of George Street, Edinburgh who are Royal Warrant Holders as Silversmiths.

Stephen Paterson, chief executive said “On behalf of Hamilton & Inches, I am delighted to welcome Lord Selkirk to our iconic showroom to present the beautiful silver Spitfire replica to 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron to commemorate the hugely significant role the Squadron played in securing freedom for subsequent generations.