Monday, July 12, 2010

Veterans gather on clifftop to celebrate 70th anniversary of Battle of Britain

Veterans who took part in the Battle of Britain gathered on a clifftop in blazing sunshine today at an event to mark 70 years since the start of the historic conflict. Around 5,000 people attended the open air service at the Battle of Britain memorial at Capel-le-Ferne near Dover, Kent. As well as the ceremony, which included the Act of Remembrance and wreath-laying, there were flypasts by a Spitfire and Lancaster bomber and a parade involving veterans and current air cadets.

A Hurricane was unable to fly due to technical problems. The event was attended by Prince Michael of Kent, who took the salute, along with the RAF's most senior figure, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton. 'There's been a complete mixture of people here, young and old, lots of families, aircraft enthusiasts,' spokesman Malcolm Triggs said of the annual event was the biggest memorial day yet.

'It's particularly important for youngsters to understand the history and to see the veterans here and be able to get an idea of the bravery they showed. 'This anniversary is a very significant event,' he added. He said 19 veterans were in attendance, with some of them taking part in the parade. During the summer of 1940, nearly 3,000 British and Allied airmen took on the Luftwaffe and ended up preventing a German invasion of England.
Then prime minister Winston Churchill famously said of their actions: 'Never was so much owed by so many to so few.' Officially the conflict took part between July 10, 1940 and 31 October that year, when the Luftwaffe called off bombing raids due to mounting losses and bad weather. A total of 544 British and Allied airmen lost their lives during the period. It is thought that only about 100 of the veterans who took part in the battle survive. "LEST WE NEVER FORGET"

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