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Marking RAF100: M&S and the Royal Air Force in WWI

Marking RAF100: M&S and the Royal Air Force in WWI
Dates and times

2 Jul 2018 - 31 Aug 2018

M&S Company Archive

Calrendon Road, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9LZ

2018 marks 100 years since the formation of the Royal Air Force.  To commemorate the centenary year, a special exhibition has been curated by the M&S Company Archive in Leeds to showcase the historic ties between M&S and the RAF.

 Marking RAF100: M&S and the Royal Air Force in WWII was officially opened on 26th June by M&S CEO Steve Rowe and RAF Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal Mike Wigston CBE. Running until the end of August 2018, the free public exhibition within the Archive is inspired by the shared histories between M&S and the RAF and features some special, never before seen items relating to the war from the M&S archive collection.  

 In 1938 Simon Marks, M&S Chairman and son of the founder, helped form the RAF Cadets – the pipeline of future RAF talent.  He went on to play a pivotal role in its development including donating personal funds and joining its Board of Finance and Welfare Council in 1941. In 1944 Air Commodore Chamier wrote: ‘Dear Mr Marks, you were the man who made the Air Cadets possible!’

By the end of WWII, almost 100,000 cadets had joined the RAF, a pipeline of talent made possible by Simon Marks’ collaboration with the RAF. 320 M&S employees served in the RAF during the war, 18 of which received medals and awards for their service. 

Items on display include:

  • An album of Christmas cards sent to M&S servicemen who were stationed around the world during the war
  • Issues of the Forces Bulletin – a publication produced by M&S and distributed to employees serving in the armed forces at home and overseas to keep them up to date with what was going on within M&S, and share news of fellow employees
  • An M&S fire bell and a melted coin float which were both recovered from the rubble of the Plymouth store after it was destroyed in an air raid in 1941
  • An example of the armband worn by Air Raid Precautions personnel from M&S
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M&S Company Archive
  • Family friendly
  • Exhibitions
  • Heritage
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