3 August marked the 100th anniversary of the deployment of No. 2 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps from Montrose Airfield to Dover in preparation for what would become World War One. It was a case of every man for himself in the quest to get to the coast in time to meet the rest of the British Expeditionary Force, who were assembling in preparation to cross the English Channel.
It took at least two days for the first airmen to reach Dover from Montrose. Captain Dawes travelled from Montrose to Dover via St. Andrews, York, Newark, and likely South Farnborough. With airstrips virtually non-existent, the pilots landed in farmers' fields. This was always risky; Captain Dawes, for example, damaged the undercarriage of his aircraft upon landing in Newark.
Lt Harvey-Kelly of No. 2 Squadron, who departed Montrose on 3 August, was the first man to arrive in France on 13 August, closely followed by the rest of his Squadron. He would subsequently become the first RFC pilot to shoot down one of the enemy.
The centenary of the departure from Montrose en route to France was marked by a ceremony organised by the Montrose Airfield Heritage Committee in conjunction with the Western Front Association and was attended by Air Officer Scotland, Air Commodore Gerry Mayhew and Officer Commanding No II(AC) Squadron, Wing Commander Jez Holmes.
RAF Leuchars supported the event, providing personnel including the RAF Leuchars Pipes and Drums and Padre Craig Lancaster, who dedicated a wreath. The wreath will follow the path of the WWI airmen, flying in a WWI SE5 from Montrose to RAF Leuchars, then flying south to join with some 80 others wreathes being collected at Dover before travelling onwards to France on 13 August.