Planning is well underway for this July’s annual Memorial Day parade and service, the highlight of every year for the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust.
While the increasing frailty of the remaining veterans – the men Churchill immortalised as “the Few” – increasingly limits the number who are able to attend, they remain the focal point of the ceremony, which will this year take place on Sunday 9 July at the National Memorial to the Few, Capel-le-Ferne.
A flypast and display by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which this year celebrates its 60th anniversary, is always a highlight, but it is the remaining veterans who take centre stage.
With this year marking the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the remaining members of the Few are well into their nineties, but those who are fit enough to attend do so with pride and dignity as they remember former colleagues.
Members of the public are warmly invited to attend the parade and service, which also features music from the RAF Central Band and the Kent Wing of the Air Training Corps. A parade by standard bearers from a wide range of service organisations adds colour and poignancy to what has become a very special annual event.
As always, members of Friends of the Few will be entitled to reduced entry to the guest enclosure, while a big screen and catering facilities will add to the enjoyment of all those who attend.
Gates open at 10am, with music and other displays during the morning, the General Salute at 1.30pm and a display by a Spitfire and Hurricane from the BBMF at 3pm (subject to weather conditions and serviceability). The now traditional Sunset Ceremony will end the day at 4pm.
Visitors will be able to visit The Wing and The Scramble Experience before and after the parade and service.
“Memorial Day is the most important date in our calendar and we hope we will be joined by the many members of the public who appreciate the bravery and sacrifice of the Few,” said Trust chairman Richard Hunting CBE.
The event is free to attend but is expected to be busy, and so spectators are advised to arrive early and follow signs to the overflow parking area.