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Lt-Governor of the Bailiwick of Guernsey visits 'Guernsey's Own' RAF Squadron in Scotland

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Friday 09 February 2024

The Lieutenant-Governor of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, Lieutenant General Richard Cripwell, visited 'Guernsey's Own' 201 Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth today for their Change of Command ceremony.

The Lieutenant-Governor of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, Lieutenant General Richard Cripwell, visited 'Guernsey's Own' 201 Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth today for their Change of Command ceremony.

Special prominence is given to the link between 201 Squadron and Guernsey, a link forged in the dark days shortly before the Second World War and the German Occupation. In 1994, as part of their 80th anniversary celebrations, the Squadron were granted The Privilege of Guernsey. It was the first award in Guernsey's history of this ancient military honour.

The Change of Command Ceremony marked the change of command from the current RAF Officer Commanding 201 Squadron, Wing Commander Adam Smolak who has led the Squadron since the reformation of the squadron in 2021, to Wing Commander Rob McCartney.

Wing Commander Adam Smolak became the Officer Commanding 201 after an illustrious career principally within the ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) field. As a Flight Commander he was deployed to Afghanistan on 6 separate occasions and was involved in numerous Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) operations in protection of UK sovereign waters; the final ASW sortie he conducted as Captain earned him and his crew the award of the Plessey trophy in 2009. In 2013, he was awarded a Joint commander's commendation for his contribution to Operation Herrick, the codename under which all British operations in the War in Afghanistan were conducted from 2002 to 2014. As part of SDSR15 (Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015) Adam Smolak was also actively involved in the procurement of the P-8 Poseidon aircraft, which 201 Squadron currently operates. He leaves Lossiemouth to return to Headquarters Air Command on promotion to Group Captain.

Wing Commander Adam Smolak said:

"Commanding 201 'Guernsey's Own' Sqn has been the pinnacle of my career to date, it has been a singular honour, and a major highlight of the tour has been to reignite the special relationship between the Squadron and the Bailiwick. I will be very sad to leave but I'm heartened to know that I am leaving the Squadron in the very capable hands of Wg Cdr McCartney."

Wing Commander Rob McCartney is no stranger to 'Guernsey's Own', having joined the squadron earlier in his career as a Junior Navigator in 2007, where he was deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Herrick. Following tours on Sentinel R1, the Royal Navy, and Permanent Joint Headquarters, he returned to the Poseidon Force at RAF Lossiemouth before being selected for promotion to Wing Commander in 2021. Following completion of Staff College, he led the Poseidon weapons programme in Headquarters Air Command before returning to Lossiemouth in 2024 for his final flying tour, leading 201 'Guernsey's Own' Squadron.

Wing Commander Rob McCartney said:

"Being selected to lead Guernsey's Own is the ultimate privilege for a Royal Air Force maritime aviator. With war in Europe again, and global security continuing to deteriorate, I know 201 'Guernsey's Own' Squadron greatly value the support and advocacy extended to us by the Guernsey Islanders. I look forward to building on the good work of my predecessors, continuing to grow and thicken our unique affiliation."

Lieutenant General Richard Cripwell, Lieutenant-Governor of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, said:

"I am delighted to represent Guernsey at the Change of Command ceremony, reflecting the strong link between the Island and 201 Squadron. It is an enduring affiliation, which outlasted five years of enemy occupation along with the Squadron's disbandment between 2011 and 2021, when its Standard was laid up at Government House.

I am pleased to convey Islanders' gratitude to Wing Commander Smolak for rebuilding their Squadron, to take its place once more in the Order of Battle. We look forward to welcoming the unit during its visits to the island later in the year."

201 Squadron is a maritime reconnaissance Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth, having originally formed as a Royal Naval Air Service fighter squadron. The Squadron currently operate the P-8A Poseidon, and previous aircraft include the Supermarine Southampton, Shorts Sunderland, Avro Shackleton, and Nimrod MR1 and MR2. The 201 Squadron's standard displays eight battle honours and is the only standard permitted to display the Croix de Guerre, awarded in 1917 in recognition of the Squadron's heroic efforts in the third battle of Ypres.

The 201 Squadron plans to visit Guernsey several times this year, including for Liberation Day on the 9th May, the Guernsey Air Display on the 13th June, and to exercise the Privilege of Guernsey on 15th September.

Watch the new Wing Commander of 201 Squadron and the Lieutenant-Governor talk about the importance of the relationship with Guernsey:

 

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