The Republic of Ireland Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) was founded in 1948 and currently has approximately 250 members. However Irish links to the Royal Air Force go back to its foundation in 1918. This photo shows RAF personnel in front of an Avro aircraft at Tallaght Aerodrome in South Co. Dublin in 1918 (photo credit: South Dublin Libraries, Tallaght)
In 1929, three members of the Sergeants’ Mess at RAF Andover, Vernon Goodhand, Joe Pearce and Warrant Officer Bartlett met to discuss the formation of a single organisation dedicated to the welfare of serving and ex-serving RAF personnel. By 1930 a provisional committee had been formed called Comrades of the Royal Air Forces Association. In 1936, King George VI gave his patronage – and the Association has been honoured with Royal patronage ever since.
Following the outbreak of war in 1939, the Women’s Royal Air Force Old Comrades Association (created in 1919) opened its membership to all ranks of the new female air service. In 1941, the two Old Comrades organisations for airmen and airwomen merged, resulting in a combined membership of nearly 20,000. By 1943, with more than a million serving in the RAF, the organisation’s name was changed to the Royal Air Forces Association.
Today, the wider Royal Air Forces Association has 422 Branches worldwide with a total membership of over 63,500.