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2018 marks the centenary anniversary of the world’s first independent air force – the RAF.  And, M&S and the RAF are joining forces to celebrate the occasion with a new charity partnership which will see M&S pledge to raise £500,000 for the RAF100 Appeal. The money raised will fund scholarships, bursaries and university degrees in STEM for air cadets and underprivileged school children.

100 years is a milestone achievement and we wanted to pay tribute to the brave men and women - including 320 of our own M&S colleagues - who defended our freedom from the skies during WWII. That’s why we we’ve gone a step further that pledging to raise funds for the RAF100 Appeal, we have reinvented the classic flying jacket for 2018 in a limited-edition design to commemorate the RAF’s centenary year.

But, there’s more history behind this jacket than just its iconic bomber pilot design. The jacket is named ‘The Marksman’ in a nod to the M&S colleagues who raised £5,000 in 1941 to fund a new spitfire for the RAF war effort which they named ‘The Marksman’. The spitfire, pictured above, became best known for Sergeant ‘Tommy’ Rigler’s successful Dunkirk mission on 22 June 1941 which saw him shoot down 3 enemy fighters at 20,000 feet above the beaches. The heroic actions of Rigler and The Marksman earned him the Distinguished Flying Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The surprising and little known shared history between M&S and the RAF goes even further. Simon Marks, M&S Chairman and son of the founder, helped form the RAF Cadets in 1938 – the pipeline of future RAF talent. Marks became the Honorary Treasurer of the cadets before later being appointed to its Board, shaping the development of the RAF Cadets for the remainder of his life. This history will go on display at a new special exhibit at the M&S Company Archive in Leeds to celebrate the anniversary.

The Marksman leather flying jacket will go on sale online and in selected M&S stores from 26 June, with all profits going to the RAF100 Appeal.

MS Collection RAF Flight Jacket T16 2236M Dark Brown copy.jpg