The sixth submarine hunter aircraft due to arrive at RAF Lossiemouth has been christened Guernsey’s Reply to honour a Second World War pilot.
The P-8 Poseidon plane is currently undergoing final checks in the US and is due to arrive in the north-east in September to join the five already in operation.
The aircraft will be the first to join the reformed 201 Squadron, which was disbanded 10 years ago and has a historic link with the Channel island, alongside 120 Squadron, which already operates Poseidons on the Moray coast.
Close connection between new RAF Lossiemouth squadron and Guernsey
During the Second World War, pilot Herbie Machon first saw action in Orkney by flying high above Scapa Flow to spot enemy aircraft trying to photograph the home fleet.
When Germany attacked England with flying bombs and rockets he headed south and led a flight of four Spitfires in dive-bombing attacks in the Netherlands, christening his plane Guernsey’s Reply.
The link between 201 Squadron and the island has continued ever since with personnel acting as pall bearers at his funeral in 2004.
Wing Commander Adam Smolak, officer commanding 201 Squadron, said: “It is befitting of this long and proud association that one of the UK’s new Poseidon aircraft bears the name Guernsey’s Reply.
“201 Squadron will stand up this summer and I am looking forward to retrieving the standard from Guernsey where it was held for safe keeping in the hope that the Squadron would return, and the affiliation could continue.
“It is an honour to bring the squadron back to maritime operations.
“The coming years will be challenging and exciting in equal measure and it is vital that as we move forward, we retain this historic link.”
Despite his extensive war service, the only injury Herbie ever received was cracked ribs, which were suffered on a training flight over the North Sea when his Spitfire was struck by an inexperienced pilot.
Guernsey’s Reply will join Pride of Moray, City of Elgin, Terence Bulloch, who was another Second World War pilot, Spirit of Reykjavik and Fulmar at RAF Lossiemouth.