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New Zealanders with the Royal Air Force (Vol. I)

Per ardua ad astra

page iii

Per ardua ad astra

—Motto of the Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force, created during war in 1918 by the fusion of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service, took the motto under which the RFC had trained and fought. The words were first suggested by Lieutenant-Colonel J. S. Yule, OBE, then a young officer in the Royal Engineers, to a brother officer who had joined the RFC. It was one evening in May 1912, when ideas for a motto for the new air arm were being sought, that the two men were walking down from the Royal Engineers’ Mess on Laffan’s Plain to the shed where Colonel Cody kept his ‘strange machine’. After various ideas had been discarded, Yule suddenly hit upon the now famous phrase. His suggestion was forwarded to Whitehall where, after some doubts and discussion of the Latin, it was finally accepted. The motto may be rendered as ‘Through the steeps to the stars’ or ‘Through difficulties to glory’, but the Latin words, now pregnant with meaning to so many, are such an apt and true expression of all RAF effort and endeavour that they hardly need to be translated.