The Wilkinson Sword of Peace award was first instituted in 1966. It was awarded to each year to the unit of the UK's armed services judged to have made the most valuable contribution towards establishing good and friendly relations with any community, at home or overseas. Over the years ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary have received these awards (individually and shared with other units).
The First award to an RFA vessel was in 1970, when RFA Ennerdale was nominated for her part in the search and rescue operation for two missing meteorologists on Gough Island. Once the SA ship Van Der Stel had reached Gough Island, RFA Ennerdale proceed to Tristan De cunha to pick up volunteers to assist in the search. Although the SA Navy had had many men ashore before the tristans arrived, on setting foot on the island the tristans moved off in a different direction from the original search area and returned with the bodies of the unfortunate meteorologists to the command centre by noon.
In 1995 RFA Sir Galahad shared the award for her UN sponsored work in Angola following many years of internal strife.
1998 saw RFA Black Rover and RFA Sir Tristram share in the award, for their work in bringing aid to Nicaragua and Honduras following Hurricane Mitch.
RFA Fort George along with 820 NAS was another recipient following the floods in Mozambique for delivering humanitarian aid.
RFA Sir Galahad again received the award in 2004 for her delivery of humanitarian aid into Um Qasr following the Iraq war in 2003.
The Firmin Sword of Peace Award replaced the Wilkinson Sword of Peace award after Wilkinson closed its doors in 2005. Firmin and Son have supplied the Armed Forces with swords for over a century and every year the award goes to the unit in each service that made the best contribution towards good community relations at home or abroad.
Thank you to Big Phil and Terry Griffin for the extra information about RFA Ennerdale.