To mark the Bailiwick of Guernsey’s 76th ‘Liberation Day’, the Royal Air Force is honoured to announce that the UK’s sixth Poseidon MRA Mk1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, ZP 806, will be known as ‘Guernsey’s Reply’ to honour the close bond between 201 Squadron, the island of Guernsey and Flight Lieutenant Herbert Machon OBE. ‘Herbie’ Machon left his home in Guernsey shortly before the German occupation during WWII and joined the British Military. He was destined to fly Spitfires in the RAF and, in honour and memory of his countrymen living under occupation, he named his Mk XVI Spitfire “Guernsey’s Reply”. Herbie sadly passed away in 2004 and 201 Squadron personnel had the privilege of acting as pall bearers at his funeral.
When 201 Squadron was disbanded in 2011, it was the last maritime squadron to retain a local affiliation and carried the moniker ‘Guernsey’s Own’ commemorating a link forged in the challenging days just before the Second World War. It was an affiliation under the Municipal Liaison Scheme, announced on 5th May 1939 by the Air Minister Sir Kingsley Wood in Guernsey when he opened Guernsey Airport. The received wisdom is that it is the last surviving affiliation under that scheme. It is also considered to be the only RAF Squadron with such an historic link. Guernsey and 201 Squadron are proud of the fact that the link has survived and will continue to flourish.
This link between Squadron and Island remained strong and in 1994, as part of its 80th anniversary celebrations, the Squadron was granted ‘The Privilege of Guernsey’. It was the first award in Guernsey’s history of this ancient military honour, which gives the right to march with colours flying, drums beating, and bayonets fixed. After a 10-year hiatus, 201 Squadron will return at RAF Lossiemouth later in the year and will be the second squadron operating the state-of-the-art Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft alongside 120 Squadron. Due to be delivered to the RAF in September 2021, ‘Guernsey’s Reply’ is undergoing its final checks at the Boeing factory in Seattle before joining the growing fleet.
The first five Poseidon aircraft have been named Pride of Moray, City of Elgin, Terence Bulloch DSO DFC, Spirit of Reykjavik and Fulmar. The RAF Poseidon fleet, which will total nine aircraft, is already providing cutting-edge maritime patrol capabilities working side-by-side with the Royal Navy to secure the seas around the UK and abroad. Boeing’s Poseidon MRA1 (P-8A) is a multi-role maritime patrol aircraft, equipped with sensors and weapons systems for anti-submarine warfare, as well as surveillance and search and rescue missions. The Poseidon’s comprehensive mission system features an APY-10 radar with modes for high-resolution mapping, an acoustic sensor system, including passive and multi-static sonobuoys, electro-optical/IR turret and electronic support measures (ESM).