A weekend of commemoration

Trustees and relatives of the Few spent a busy weekend paying their respects to the heroes of 1940 as the nation came together to celebrate Battle of Britain Day on 15 September.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust holds a service on the 15th every year – regardless of the day on which it falls – but with this year’s commemoration falling on a Sunday, it made the weekend particularly busy.

On Saturday Mrs Linda Martin laid a wreath on behalf of her father, Wing Commander Paul Farnes DFM, who was unable to attend, at the Battle of Britain Fighter Association’s annual Act of Remembrance at the Battle of Britain Monument in London, accompanied by AVM The Venerable Ray Pentland CB and ogther relatives of the Few.

The following day a number of Trustees, including Hon Secretary Group Captain Patrick Tootal OBE, attended the annual Service of Commemoration and Rededication at Westminster Abbey.

Sunday’s service was made particularly poignant by the fact that it was the first Westminster Abbey service at which no member of the Few was able to attend and accompany the Roll of Honour as it was escorted through the Abbey. Wing Cdr Farnes celebrated his 101st birthday this summer.

The service was attended by Tessa Chambers, the daughter of Wing Commander Tim Elkington who died last year. Wing Cdr Elkington served in No 1 Squadron during the Battle of Britain, and by chance it was the No 1 Squadron standard that was paraded at the Abbey this year.

Tessa, who is pictured below with the standard bearer, said after the service: “The sight of the standard didn’t help my efforts not to weep.”

Before the service, the families of the veterans attended a private service to honour Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding that was  led by The Dean of Westminster, Dr John Hall. It was followed by a presentation to mark his last Battle of Britain Day service by Gp Captain Tootal, who gave Dr Hall one of the small replicas of the airman at the centre of the National Memorial to the Few at Capel-le-Ferne. The service in the Abbey was followed by a Flypast by a Spitfire and Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

At Capel-le-Ferne a good turnout of local people enjoyed fine weather as they joined a short service of commemoration aound the Memorial followed by a wreath laying. The service was attended by nine Standard Bearers, who added colour and solemnity to the annual event.

Trustee Robin Green, meanwhile, flew the flag for the Trust in Jersey, where he watched the annual International Battle of Britain Air Display at St Helier before attending the Battle of Britain Sunday Service at the Parish Church of St Luke with St James, to which he had been invited by the Jersey Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association.

After the service he joined Bailiff of Jersey Sir William Bailhache and members of the Jersey RAFA Branch, together with a large contingent of CCF(RAF) and ATC Cadets to lay a wreath during a short Act of Remembrance at the memorial in the War Cemetery.

Robin, who has family on the island, was also invited by Trust Presidents Sir Stephen Dalton to attend a receptoin held in Government House for the aircrew and the organisers of the air display.

Memorial banner

Sunday’s event at the National Memorial to the Few

Robin Green

Trustee Robin Green lays a wreath in Jersey on Battle of Britan Day

Tessa Chambers

Tessa Chambers with the No 1 Squadron Standard Bearer

Linda wreath

Linda Martin lays a wreath on behalf of her father, Wing Commander Paul Farnes DFM, at the Battle of Britain Monument in London

Patrick presentatoin

Gp Cpn Tootal presents a gift to Dr John Hall at Westminster Abbey

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