The courage of RAF pilots who fought to defend Britain against Nazi invasion in 1940 was remembered by RAF personnel, veterans and Air Training Corps cadets yesterday.
RAF Boulmer held a Service of Thanksgiving to commemorate the Battle of Britain in St Michael’s Church, Alnwick on Sunday. The service was attended by the Duke & Duchess of Northumberland, the Civic Head of Northumberland County Council, civic dignitaries from throughout the county, Royal Air Force personnel, representatives from ex-Service associations, and Air Training Corps Cadets from the County.
Following the service there was a parade through Alnwick of RAF Boulmer personnel, veterans and Air Cadets, led by the band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and RAF Boulmer Station Commander, Group Captain Paul Atkinson, took the salute.
Following the parade the Civic Head of Northumberland County Council, Councillor Kath Nisbett, hosted a reception at the Bailiffgate Museum, while Parade personnel were made very welcome at the Royal Air Forces Association Alnwick Branch.
In the summer of 1940, Hitler was planning Operation Sealion, the conquest of the British Isles. The Germans required mastery of the skies over the English Channel and southern England which, in turn, meant they had to destroy the RAF. The Hurricane and Spitfire pilots of the RAF repelled raid after raid of Luftwaffe aircraft. The last large engagement of the Battle of Britain took place on September 15th, when 61 German planes and 31 British fighters were shot down. Hitler abandoned his invasion two days later, although German bombers continued to attack British cities.
Group Captain Atkinson said:
“It is important that we pay tribute to the sacrifice of the aircrew of Fighter Command who defended the skies of the UK during the Battle of Britain and to the many thousands of servicemen and women and civilians who supported them on the ground. Their courage and determination inspire us in today’s Royal Air Force as we deal with today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. Without their efforts throughout the summer of 1940, and especially on 15thSeptember, the course of British history would have been significantly changed forever”.
RAF Boulmer Battle of Britain Parade in Alnwick.
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2013