AN RAF squadron will be given the freedom of a city ahead of the 100th anniversary of the air force.

The No. 607 (County of Durham) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force, which was reformed in 2015 – 60 years after being disbanded – has been given honorary freedom of entry to the City of Durham.

The Charter Trust for the City of Durham granted the right ahead of centenary celebrations for the Royal Air Force, which are due to take place next year.

The trustees have previously granted honorary freedom of the city to the Rifles in 2007 and to HMS Bulwark in 2010.

Tim Willbond, Group Captain RAF, had written to the trustees to ask them to consider granting the honour.

He said: “The story of the county’s squadron is a remarkable one with many local young men giving their lives for the country whilst others who survived returning to continue the traditions of the squadron after the war.

“It is particularly moving that the County of Durham squadron was able to defend its own county during the major air assault of August 1940.

“The squadron was involved in some of the most intense air fighting and throughout the war it carried with pride the name of County of Durham squadron.”

The squadron was originally formed in 1930 and served until 1957, with its standard laid up in Durham Cathedral in 1960.

It initially started life as a light bomber squadron, but in September 1937 was redesignated as a fighter squadron.

In 1940 it was equipped with Hurricanes and saw fierce and continuous action leading up to Dunkirk and provided cover during the evacuation. During its time in France, the squadron destroyed more than 70 German aircraft.

In August that year, it had to defend Durham against a major assault by the Luftwaffe, causing them to abandon the attack.

The squadron was successful in shooting down two aircraft and damaging several others during the attack.

The citation granted by the trustees says: “In recognition of the close association with County Durham and as a mark of respect and gratitude for the vital service to our beloved Sovereign and County, this City does confer upon no.607 (County of Durham) squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force the honorary Freedom of Entry to the City of Durham and thereby the right privilege and honour of marching through the streets of the City on ceremonial occasions.”

The squadron was reformed in January 2015 as part of of a new reserve forces initiative.

The last individual to receive honorary Freedom of the City was William Jeffrey Holmes Lodge, who was granted it in 2010 for service to Durham and the Royal British Legion.