Freedom of the City honour for Air Force

The Redlands will celebrate its proud military past and build stronger links with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) by granting Freedom of Entry to the City to an RAAF unit.

The major community event was approved by Council at its general meeting yesterday (6 November) and will see approximately 100 personnel from RAAF Base Amberley, supported by local Defence Force cadets march into the City on Saturday April 12, 2014.

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said the celebration would take on greater significance in the lead-up to Anzac Day and next year’s centenary of the start of World War I.

“This will be a wonderful way for Redlanders to show their high regard for the role of the Australian Defence Force in defending our way of life and promoting peace and stability around the world,’’ Cr Williams said.

“We want to make the parade and ceremony a big community event open to all Redlanders and I encourage residents to put April 12 in their diaries so they can show their support and cheer on the contingent along the route.

“While granting Freedom of the City bestows no legal right or privilege these days, it has deep historical significance and is accepted as the most honourable distinction a City can bestow on a contingent of the Australian Defence Forces.’’

During the ceremony, the 395 Expeditionary Combat Support Wing will march in Cleveland where they will be challenged by the police officer in charge.

Cr Williams thanked Cr Julie Talty who she said had championed the cause to bring the honour of this event to Redland City.

Cr Talty said Freedom of Entry to the City would be a great event that would strengthen our relationship with the RAAF.

“This event will be a great asset for our city and being planned for April next year it will make for an especially significant Anzac commemoration,’’ Cr Talty said.

“A greater partnership also develops between the units granted Freedom of Entry and the city’s cadets, so I am confident that Redland cadets will benefit.

“Granting Freedom of Entry to the City recognises the Redlands’ proud connection with the Defence Forces, particularly with the RAAF during World War II.

“The RAAF’s No 40 Squadron operated Sunderland flying boats from Redland Bay and the local hotel was commandeered as officers’ quarters.

“The US Army Signal Corps also had radio transmitter sites at Redland Bay and Capalaba, with Australian and US Army radar units based at the aptly named Point Lookout.

“Meanwhile the Australian Women’s Land Army established camps at Redland Bay, Birkdale and Victoria Point.

“Coochiemudlo Island also played a role as a training base for two divisions of Royal Australian Engineers bound for New Guinea.’’

One of the great travesties of World War II occurred off North Stradbroke Island in 1943, when 268 lives were lost after the Australian hospital ship Centaur was torpedoed. It rests today 30 nautical miles off the southern tip of Moreton Island.

Group Captain Peter Davis Officer Commanding 395 Expeditionary Combat Support Wing attended yesterday’s Council meeting, describing Council’s announcement as an honour.

“We feel privileged to be welcomed by the people of Redland City,” he said.

“Over our 93 years of Air Force history, a number of Air Force members have come from the Redland community and we are very much looking forward to being part of such an important civil-military ceremony that reinforces the pride the local community have in their airmen and airwomen”.

Freedom of entry to the city background

The granting of the “Freedom of Entry to a city” has very old origins. The early history of Europe shows that walled cities and trained soldiers protected citizens. The right of entry by outside soldiers was rarely granted. When such grants were made, the privilege was accompanied by much ceremony, demonstrating the trust bestowed by citizens. Cities are no longer walled; however, there is long association between the Royal Australian Air Force and Redland City for which strong links have been forged.  This significant military-civilian tradition will include military members parading in ceremonial attire displaying operational medals, carrying ceremonial swords and rifles, military colours and battle honours being flown and a band supporting.