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The site that was chosen at Capel-le-Ferne for a national memorial had played its part in both world wars.

Airships were moored there during the 1914-18 conflict, and in 1941 the construction of a gun battery began. Much of the accommodation was underground, including a “hospital” or large sick quarters.

By the end of 1942, naval pattern 8-inch guns had been installed in sites 40 feet deep, protected by concrete walls that were six to eight feet thick. Legend has it that the first ranging shot from Capel-le-Ferne struck Dungeness. The Army left In around 1952.

The original plan for the memorial was on a bigger scale than the visitor will see today. Many would argue that the final design, by Harry Gray of the Carving Workshop, Cambridge, is moving through its simplicity.

At the time Harry Gray was approached, he had, by a remarkable coincidence, been thinking of carving a pilot but could not get the design right. One day Harry and his trainee took a rest and the pose adopted by his colleague provided Harry with inspiration.

The seated airman looking out to sea was born, surrounded by the badges of the Allied squadrons and other units that took part in the Battle.


Folkestone resident Colin Baggott has invited the trust to link to a short film he has made of the memorial site.

He explained: “I find the memorial site a place for refection on the events of 1940. I was born in 1945 and therefore never experienced the horrors of WWII, but I felt the need to produce this short film after hearing and seeing many stories about the Battle of Britain.”

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