HONOURING THE MANY
our Blade of Honour project
While the Trust’s focus is on the bravery and sacrifice of the Few, the airmen who flew against the Luftwaffe in 1940 to prevent an invasion of this country, it recognises that they did not achieve that success on their own.
Many thousands of people worked behind the scenes to keep the Few in the air, repair the runways, keep communications flowing, look out for incoming enemy aircraft and fill many other support roles.
That’s why the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust has launched an ambitious project to commemorate ‘the Many’, those who supported the men of the Royal Air Force and allied countries as they defeated the Luftwaffe in the summer and early autumn of 1940.
We are inviting members of the public to fund commemorative tiles that will be inscribed with the names of those who served in a variety of roles and will be laid at the Memorial to mark their contribution towards the success of ‘the Few’ and the eventual defeat of the Nazis.
Those who are nominated need to have played an active support role in the Battle of Britain, which ran from 10 July to 31 October, or one month either side of it. They may have served as Air Raid Wardens, ground crew, coastguards or firemen, for instance, or with the National Pigeon Service, the Observer Corps (later the Royal Observer Corps) or the GPO.
“From those who served as ground crew to those whose contributions were less obvious but equally valuable, such as in runway maintenance or repairing telephone lines, we are looking to mark the commitment of the thousands of people who contributed to the success of ‘the Few’ in 1940,” said Trust Chairman Richard Hunting CBE. “We don’t have a set list of organisations or professions that we feel qualify but are inviting people to nominate the person they think should be commemorated – probably, but not necessarily, a relative - and produce evidence that they played a part in this historic victory. They can be military or civilian, as long as they contributed.”
The tiles will be laid along the edge of one of the existing white propeller blades that surround the National Memorial to the Few here at Capel-le-Ferne and will cost £495 each. The grey, non-slip, granite tiles are 150mm x 350mm and will have space for up to 60 inscribed letters, with additional letters available at an extra cost.
Critically, any surplus funds from the project will be used to support the charity, which receives no public funding and relies on supporters to continue its work.
The Trust is keen to maintain the pristine appearance of this much-loved Memorial, and so work will only begin when enough nominations – 270 - have been made to allow tiles to be laid alongside one complete ‘blade’.
“At this stage we are asking people to submit an expression of interest,” said Richard. “We won’t start the project until we can finish a complete blade, but given the many thousands of people who contributed to victory in 1940 and the esteem in which they are held, we are confident that we will soon reach our first target.
“If you have always wanted to remember the sacrifice or bravery of a grandparent or great-grandparent who did not qualify for the Battle of Britain Clasp but played a part in supporting those who did, please follow the link to our expression of interest form.”
There is a £5 charge for registering an expression of interest which will be refundable if the nomination is ineligible or the project does not go ahead.
We appreciate that the total cost of nominating a recipient may stretch some people's budgets; talk to us about our staged payment plan if that would help.
Historian and author Geoff Simpson FRHistS has written a fascinating blog outlining the kinds of people who could qualify. You can read it here
Click here to link to the expression of interest form
Why are are you charging £495 for these memorial tiles?
The charge includes the cost of laying the foundations for the tiles, the supplying and engraving of the tiles, the laying and grouting of the tiles plus future maintenance including cleaning and grouting repairs. The remainder is to raise funds for the general upkeep of the Memorial itself. We can arrange for staged payments to be made on request.
The site has three blades so at 270 tiles each, that’s a maximum of 810 tiles. Given that this is for 'The Many' what will the Trust do if this is not enough?
The Trust has a number of additional locations on the Memorial site that will be considered if the demand is sufficient to warrant this.
Does the person I want to nominate have to be a relative?
No, but as part of the application process you will be asked your reason for nominating the person if they were not a relative.
Why do I need to provide proof that a nominee served during the Battle of Britain? Other memorial organisations do not require this.
To preserve the special nature of the Memorial as a place those come to remember The Few and their associated Many, rather than as a less focused memorial site.
Why is there only one size of stone? Could I pay for a bigger stone?
At the moment the size of the stone is limited due to space available on the blades and the intention to maintain the special look and feel of the Memorial. Should there be enough interest in larger stones we will consider siting them in a different part of the Memorial.
Can I nominate a group, organisation or company?
The Trust will consider nominations for groups, organisations or companies on a merit basis.
Can I nominate someone if they have already been nominated by someone else?
Yes, however the Trust will endeavour to consolidate nominations for the same person or entity where possible, subject to the agreement of all parties involved. If no agreement can be reached, or more than one tile is required, then you may of course purchase a separate tile for your nominee.
Do I have to pay to maintain the tile in the future?
No, the charge includes maintenance e.g. cleaning and repointing going forward.
What will happen if the tile is damaged in some way?
If the tile is damaged the Trust will repair it at their cost.
Will there be a ceremony when the tiles are laid/revealed?
Once the entire blade is filled there will be a ceremony to which you will be invited. There will be a charge for this.
What happens if I change my mind and no longer want to buy a tile?
If you decide you no longer wish to buy the tile your £5 reservation fee will be refunded. No monies will be refunded once you have paid the balance for the tile (£490).
What happens if I notice a mistake on the wording of my tile after I have approved it?
If, after you have agreed the proof, you find you have made a mistake on the tile, you will have the opportunity to have the engraving redone on the other side of the tile for £300.
How do I get in touch if I have a query?
Please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org - please do not call the site as they will not be able to assist you. We aim to respond to all emails within five working days.
When do you envisage laying the tiles?
We intend to lay one blade at a time - 270 tiles. This will preserve the special feel and look of the blades and the Memorial site. If after 6 months we have not sold enough tiles we will be in touch with information about laying the tiles in one of our alternative on site locations.
Can I see an example?
We will have a physical example of a tile at Capel-le-Ferne and images will also be posted online.
Can I have two names on one tile?
Applications for more than one name on a tile will be considered on a merit basis and subject to the 60 character inscription restriction.
Can I pay in more than one instalment?
Yes, we can arrange staged payments if that would be helpful. Just get in touch!