This year, 2020, marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and the Trust is marking this unique year with a series of great events. The Memorial and The Scramble Experience are great to visit at any time, but on special event days there is even more to enjoy. Don’t forget the cafe and shop are always open, too. Check our our Day-by-Day Events Listing to see what’s coming up next.
We will continue to add to this year’s list of events, but here’s what’s already in the pipeline:
Sunday afternoon talks – PLEASE NOTE ALL TALKS HAVE BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL THE AUTUMN DUE TO THE CORONOVIRUS OUTBREAK
We have a regular Sunday afternoon programme of talks on Battle of Britain-linked themes, along with the occasional free family film day. The talks are all held in the comfortable surroundings of The Geoffrey Page Centre in the stunning Wing building. Refreshments are available from the Cockpit Cafe.
All talks start at 2.30pm. Tickets can be booked by ringing 01303 249292 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep an eye on this page for new talks as they are arranged. Here’s what we already have planned:
March 8: Sunday afternoon talk – Stephen Howarth: The Shetland Bus
“The Shetland Bus” was the nickname of a clandestine special operations group that repeatedly crossed from mainland Shetland in Scotland to German-occupied Norway between 1941 and the surrender of Nazi Germany on 8 May 1945.
The ‘bus’ was used to take supplies and saboteurs into the fjords and return with refugees, with skilful Norwegian seamen risking their lives sailing thousands of miles in hurricanes, fog and darkness to make the crossings in small fishing boats.
The missions, which took advantage of the cover provided by Norway’s dark winters, were organised by British Army officer Major Leslie Mitchell and his assistant, Lieutenant David Howarth RNVR.
David’s son Stephen Howarth is a professional author of history and will be delivering the talk personally in The Wing on Sunday 8 March at 2.30pm
Stephen has published 15 major books of history and nearly 30 minor ones, as well as writing articles, reviews and obituaries and contributing to the New Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
March 22: Sunday afternoon talk – Richard Kornicki: For Your Freedom and Ours – The Polish Air Force in the West
POSTPONED UNTIL 11 OCTOBER
Richard Kornicki is Chairman of the Polish War Memorial Committee. His illustrated talk will focus on the incredible contribtion made by Polish airmen and the Polish Air Force to the success of the RAF in WW2.
After an early career working with antiquarian books, Richard joined the Home Office, where he was responsible at different times for civil emergencies, police reform, counter-terrorism and setting up the Serious Organised Crime Agency. He also served on secondment in the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health. His final post in the Home Office was as Director of Serious Crime.
Living in West London, he is Chairman of the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee, Secretary to the Friends of No. 11 Group Operations Rooms (the Battle of Britain Bunker), Trustee of the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby, Chairman of the Thomas More Legal Centre and Hon. President of No 342 (Ealing and Brentford) Squadron ATC.
He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000, and in 2011 he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Polish Republic. In 2014 he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London and is currently reviewing the operation of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in Greater London.
As always, Friends of the Few are entitled to free or discounted tickets for our talks. Hurricane members pay nothing while Spitfire members pay £5. General admission is £10, but seats are limited so please book early.
Tickets can be booked by ringing 01303 249292 or emailing email@example.com
April 5: Sunday afternoon talk – Anthony Inglis Howard-Williams: My RAF Family
POSTPONED UNTIL 18 OCTOBER IN THE LIGHT OF CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS
No fewer than seven of the Inglis Howard-Williams family have served or are serving in the Royal Air Force, including one who flew in the Battle of Britain. Anthony will talk about his distinguished relatives and their contributions to the RAF over the years.
April 26: Sunday afternoon talk – Andy Saunders: Some Battle of Britain Oddities
The founder of the Tangmere Battle of Britain Museum, Andy Saunders is an author and researcher from East Sussex who specialises in military aviation history, particularly the Battle of Britain and the air war over north-west Europe between 1939 and 1945. He is a former Editor of Britain at War magazine.
May 3: Sunday afternoon talk – Melody Foreman: The Wreck Hunter
POSTPONED UNTIL 4 OCTOBER IN THE LIGHT OF CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS
Melody will tell the story of Terry Parsons’ six-decade long career as a pioneer in the field of aviation archaeology. Now in his eighties, Terry has dug 900 RAF and Luftwaffe aircraft throughout Kent and Sussex. Melody will also talk about the air crews connected to the artefacts, including those members of ‘the Few’ who, in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, accompanied Terry on digs for Spitfires, Hurricanes, Me109s and Heinkels.
May 31: Sunday afternoon talk – Christopher Joll: The Spoils of War
POSTPONED UNTIL 1 NOVEMBER IN THE LIGHT OF CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS
Christopher Joll’s book Spoils of War, which is being published in early 2020, tells the story of some of the lesser known or forgotten ‘spoils’ acquired by Britain’s armed forces over the past 400 years. This specially prepared, light-hearted illustrated talk for the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, Christopher will talk about items including Eva Braun’s silk knickers and tell the extraordinary story of how captured Luftwaffe aircraft were formed into a special RAF Flight known as the RAFwaffe.
September 20: Sunday afternoon talk – Nick Oram: Spitfire Elizabeth and the Roaring Boys
Nick Oram will tell the incredible story of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 411 Squadron, as featured in his book Spitfire Elizabeth and the Roaring Boys. The squadron flew from several airfields in the south east, including RAF Staplehurst and Biggin Hill. Today, Spitfire Elizabeth is operated by Aero Legends from Headcorn and regularly flies over the Battle of Britain Memorial site at Capel-le-Ferne.
SPECIAL EVENT – POSTPONED UNTIL 27 September
NOW September 27: Launch event and talks to mark the publication of Dilip Sarkar’s new book, Battle of Britain 1940: The Finest Hour’s Human Cost
Renowned aviation author Dilip Sarkar will be delivering two unique, illustrated presentations, including previously unpublished material, to mark the publication of his new work Battle of Britain 1940 – The Finest Hour’s Human Cost.
11am: DILIP SARKAR MBE FRHistS BA(Hons)
BATTLE OF BRITAIN 1940 – The Finest Hour’s Human Cost
Dilip will be talking about some of the stories of the Few who lost their lives during the ‘finest hour’, examining their all too short lives and sharing their tragic stories.
This talk will expand on the accounts contained in Dilip’s new book, which is being launched at the Memorial over the weekend. The book, which has been researched and produced with the full co-operation of the families concerned, will be a significant contribution to Battle of Britain knowledge. Signed copies of the book, and some of the author’s other works, will be available.
2pm: DILIP SARKAR MBE FRHistS BA(Hons)
I knew The Few
Dilip Sarkar has been fascinated by the Second World War for a lifetime, his prolific work focused on the ‘human’ element of war. He is deeply moved by the stories of casualties – especially the ‘missing’ – and how these losses continue to affect families today.
For many years, Dilip enjoyed a uniquely close and privileged relationship with innumerable Battle of Britain pilots and the relatives of casualties, enabling him to write prolifically, publishing original research and collating an enormous archive of photographs. He has now written nearly 40 books, including the authorised biographies of Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader and Air Vice-Marshal Johnnie Johnson, the official RAF top-scoring fighter pilot of the war, and is an internationally recognised expert.
Dilip’s boundless passion is sharing these stories with the wider world, to which end he organised numerous high-profile book launches and symposiums throughout the 1990s, attended by a host of the Few and wartime personalities and giving the man in the street the unprecedented opportunity to meet names from the pages of history. This unprecedented approach was recognised in 2003, when Dilip was made an MBE for ‘services to aviation history’. Elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society in 2006, Dilip has First Class Honours in Modern History from the University of Worcester and is a retired police officer whose work is renowned for being evidence-based – often challenging long-accepted myths.
This talk will reflect Dilip’s uniquely close relationship with the Few over many years and feature inspirational tales about the men who fought the Battle of Britain and illustrated by photographs from their personal albums.
Ticket prices: Per talk – Hurricane members of Friends of the Few £5; Spitfire members £10; all others £15. Both talks – Hurricane members £9; Spitfire members £18; all others £27. All proceeds are being donated to the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and bookings are limited to a maximum of 50 per talk. Book on 01303 249292 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
See also http://www.ourfinesthour.net/
Spitfires over Capel-le-Ferne
Our friends from Aero Legends offer unique flights alongside – or even inside – vintage aircraft, including the iconic Spitfire and Hurricane. The good news for us is that most of their flights take in the Memorial, giving those of us watching from the ground almost as much of a thrill as those who are experiencing the trip of a lifetime.
So come down to the site on any spring or summer day and you stand a great chance of seeing a Spitfire, Hurricane – or perhaps even both – in the sky over the Memorial. Even the accompanying aircraft – a De Havilland Devon – is a classic machine that’s worth seeing in its own right. We’ll add the scheduled dates below as soon as we know what they are.
Memorial Day 2020
We enjoyed a very special Memorial Day in 2019 and we are already planning for this year’s event, which will commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Memorial Day is a chance to pay your respects to the men who fought so valiantly to protect this country in the summer and early autumn of 1940. This year’s commemoration is on Sunday 12 July. Gates open at 10am.
Classic car show
Sunday 6 September (details to be confirmed).
Battle of Britain Day
Join us on Sunday 15 September when we mark Battle of Britain Day with our usual 11am commemoration service.
On Monday 11 November the Trust will mark Remembrance Day with a Service of Commemoration at 11 am.