The Company has a Charitable Trust that is managed by the Trustees. Their remit is to manage the benevolent fund and to consider written requests for charitable donations to specific causes as stated in the Charity’s Deed of Trust. They also oversee the special events account under which the Company’s annual Magical Taxi Tour operates.
We raise monies by voluntary donations and sponsorship.
The main charitable event is The Children’s Magical Taxi Tour which thanks to the untiring efforts of the Disney Committee remains the highlight of the charity.
We also have an Educational Affiliation , which is with The Royal Docks Academy in Newham. This remarkable school is part of the Burnt Mills Academy Trust (BMAT) and plays host to some extraoridnarily diverse talent and prides itself on the additional lengths it goes to to affording its students early insights into various professions and career options, and The Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers is actively involved in helping the school and its students develop and improve.
Past Master of The Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers, Andrew Overton resides on the Royal Docks Academy Board of Governors and has helped drive the careers and professional advice that the school receives. A number of visits have been arranged with other City Livery Companies and the professions and trades they represent. To date this has included the Musician’s Company, the Barber Surgeons and the Baker’s Company. The WCHCD is also a part of the ‘Livery Link’ initiative which seeks to strengthen the many City Livery/Education affiliations and improve the opportunities for sharing experience and resources.
To find out more about the Royal Docks Academy please visit their website: www.royaldocks.newham.sch.uk
The Squadron was originally formed in Woolwich on 7th April 1885 as 20 Company of the Commissariat and Transport Corps. The Company, then part of the Army Service Corps, first saw action in South Africa in 1899-1902, and then again in Somaliland in 1909, where it was the first Company ever to use mechanical transport on active service. The Company was mobilised in 1914 and detailed for duty with the Expeditionary Force in France, where it was to support many major actions throughout The Great War. The Company was disbanded 1919 but reformed in London again in 1922. During the Second World War the Company was to grow inordinately to 490 RASC and 150 ATS personnel. The unit provided the transport for the Prime Minister, the whole of the War Cabinet as well as the normal War Office details. Transport was also supplied by the Company for the Yalta Conference and the Paris Conference. The unit was bombed out of its location at Eaton Square in 1941 and moved several times to different sites around London until finally settling in Regents Park Barracks in 1946. The Company changed its title to 20 Squadron RCT in 1965 and subsequently to 20 Transport Squadron RLC in 1993. The Squadron continues to provide transport support to the Ministry of Defence and London District as whole.
The Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operations (RNSFDO), based at HMS SEAHAWK in Cornwall, plays a vital role in aviation at sea – training the men and women to operate on the front line with Royal Navy warships and Royal Fleet Auxiliary support vessels. The RNSFDO has a rich history in Cornwall, charting back to 1959 when the school was moved from Gosport, near Portsmouth, to its home at Culdrose near Helston. The training that the Royal Navy personnel and Civilian staff deliver is more relevant now than ever, as the Royal Navy prepares to operate the next generation of F35 fighters from the new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. Over 2000 Service personnel receive training at the RNSFDO every year. This training includes a multitude of driving courses, to qualify personnel on the range of vehicles used ashore and afloat. Courses to train personnel to manage aircraft on a flight deck at sea but also the highly dangerous yet essential skills to safely and effectively respond to emergency Crash Fire Rescue situations if things don’t go as planned. This ability to respond to life threatening situations – placing themselves in harms way to rescue others – is summed up nicely in the Aircraft Handler’s moto ‘NOSTRIS IN MANIBUS TUTI’ which translates as ‘SAFE IN OUR HANDS’.
Formation and early years
No. 504 squadron was formed on 26 March 1928 at RAF Hucknall, Nottinghamshire as a Special Reserve Squadron in the day bomber role. As such it flew first with Hawker Horsleys, later with Westland Wallaces and Hawker Hinds. In the meantime, on 18 May 1936, the squadron had gone over to the Auxiliary Air Force and the next change for the squadron came on 31 October 1938, when it was transferred from RAF Bomber Command to RAF Fighter Command. After a short spell with Gloster Gauntlet biplane fighters the squadron received its first really modern aircraft as their next aircraft were to be Hawker Hurricane fighters.
In World War II
On 26 August 1939 the squadron was mobilised for active service as part of RAF Fighter Command and the Squadron was transferred to RAF Digby. In 1940 Squadron Leader “Johnnie” Hill took command whilst the squadron was at Lille, France. When the airfield was overrun Hill had taken 12 Hurricanes into the air. Hill was shot down and shot at first by French peasants, and later by a British Army major who believed him to be a fifth columnist. On recovering from his injuries Hill was given command of 222 Squadron.
Throughout the Second World War, 504 Sqn operated from over some thirty airfields in both the UK and abroad. Roles were as diverse as Heavy Bomber escort; interdiction raids across occupied France; escort duties over Arnhem during Operation Market Garden and major involvement in the Battle of Britain.
It is from the Second World War that we get the story of one of the Squadron’s most notable members. Flying from Hendon on the 15th of September 1940 (the 15th is the ‘official’ Battle of Britain day), Sergeant Ray Holmes intercepted a Dornier Do17 bomber. During his attack, his guns either jammed or ran out of ammunition. Either way, believing the bomber was targeting Buckingham Palace, he chose to ram the Dornier rather than abort the attack. The crews of both aircraft bailed out. The Dornier crashed in the vicinity of Victoria train station. Holmes’ Hurricane fell to earth at the junction of Buckingham Palace Road and Pimlico Road. Holmes landed on the roof of a nearby house. He slid down the roof until his ‘chute snagged and he was left hanging a couple of feet off the ground. He released himself and made his way to the Orange Brewery 100 yards away on Pimlico Road. After a couple of stiff brandies, he was taken to Chelsea Barracks where he was checked out by a Medical Officer. After a couple more brandies he was transported back to Hendon where he resumed flying duties the next day. His aircraft crash site was excavated in 2004 as part of a Discovery Channel documentary. He was presented with the remarkably intact ‘joy-stick’ that was recovered from the wreckage. Sadly, Ray passed away in 2005 aged 91.
Moving into the “Jet Age”, in March 1945 the Squadron was re-equipped with Gloster Meteor jets, but the armistice was declared before they saw any action. After standing down from active duty on 10 August 1945, the Squadron was reformed at RAF Syerston as a light bomber squadron. It was initially equipped with Mosquito T.3 training aircraft but in April 1947 it was re-designated a night fighter unit, receiving Mosquito NF.30s. Its role was changed once more again in May 1948, now to that of a day fighter unit. For this it received Spitfire F.22s, flying these until October 1949, when Meteor F.4s began to arrive to replace them. These were in their turn replaced by Meteor F.8s in March 1952. The squadron standard was presented on 3 March 1957 by Air Chief Marshal Sir Francis Fogarty, GBE, KCB, DFC, AFC and then laid up in St Mary’s Church, Wymeswold, RAF Wymeswold having been the Squadron’s last operational base. Seven days later the squadron, along with all other 19 flying units of the since 1947 Royal Auxiliary Air Force, disbanded.
On 1 January 1998, the Offensive Support Role Support Squadron (OSRSS) was formed at RAF Cottesmore. This was then renamed 504 Squadron on 1 October 1999. On 1 October 2000 the reformation was celebrated with a march past in Nottingham. Although 504 Squadron no longer had a flying role, it remained an important part of the RAF. As an Operational Support Squadron (OSS), the primary role of the Squadron was Force Protection (FP). To this end, approximately 60% of the personnel were RAF Regiment gunners providing ground defence for all assets on deployed operations. The remaining personnel were responsible for the many other duties including: Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) warning and reporting, airbase shelter marshalling and general sentry duties. Elements of the squadron deployed operationally to Afghanistan in these roles. Over 100 individual mobilisations were completed by the Squadron’s Regiment gunners on Ops TELIC (Iraq) and HERRICK (Afghanistan) over the period 2003 – 2014. On the 1st of April 2014, the squadron re-roled from FP to Logistics. Now part of the RAF’s No. 85 Expeditionary Logistics Wing (85 ELW) the Squadron is based at RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire. The Squadron’s mission is ‘to provide a cadre of RAuxAF Logistics personnel trained, equipped and prepared for mobilisation to support the Royal Air Force on enduring operations, both at home and abroad’.
Notable squadron members
Flight Lieutenant W.B. Royce of 504 Squadron became the first AAF pilot to be awarded the DFC.
Sergeant Ray Holmes of 504 Squadron was forced to ram a Dornier bomber intent on attacking Buckingham Palace when his guns jammed during the attack. This event was immortalised in the film Battle of Britain.
Famous rugby player and Russian Prince Alexander Obolensky flew with 504 Squadron, dying in accident on 29 March 1940.
It had many international pilots too, including Emile Jayawardena from Sri Lanka.
Sergeant Pilot, later Squadron Leader, C. ‘Wag’ Haw, flew with 504 during the Battle of Britain before moving to 81 Sqn for deployment to Russia in August 1941 where he was awarded the Order of Lenin.