Ceremony marks Battle's end
A unique lantern created to highlight “Light in the Darkest Hour” was brought to the Memorial on Sunday afternoon, the day which also marked the official end of the Battle of Britain 81 years ago.
The lantern – given the name ‘Roger’ and created to honour the men of the Royal Air Force and the Royal Flying Corps – was brought to the site by representatives of the Shorncliffe Trust, a heritage and education charity that aims to create a new visitor centre at Shorncliffe telling the story of three centuries of military history from the time of Sir John Moore to the present day.
It had been consecrated earlier that day at the RAF Chapel, Biggin Hill and was lit with a flame brought to the site at Capel-le-Ferne from the chapel. After a short ceremony at the National Memorial to the Few it was taken to its home at Shorncliffe where it was taken around the cemetery and its light shone on members of the RAF buried there.
The Trustees from Shorncliffe also presented Andy Simpson, who met the group on behalf of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, with a special lantern that the Trust will now put on display to mark the ceremony.
Thanking the visitors, he said the lantern would add to the ways in which Remembrance is achieved at the Memorial. He added: “The coincidence of the presentation occurring on the day the Battle officially ended and after it being dedicated in St George’s Chapel of Remembrance at Biggin Hill makes it that much more significant.”
Heritage consultant Christopher Shaw, chairman of the Shorncliffe Trust, said the “Light in the Darkest Hour” initiative was an ongoing commemoration project which began with lanterns named ‘Tommy’ and ‘Maple’, created to mark the end of World War One and the Canadian connection with Shorncliffe.
“We used these specialist lanterns to carry a living flame from Mons, Belgium across the Atlantic to Edmonton, Canada as part of the repatriation of the spirit of the 50,000 Canadian soldiers who never returned,” he explained.
‘Roger’, which marks the sacrifices made by the men of the RAF, has a sister lantern, ‘Jack’, created in memory of Royal Navy personnel laid to rest at Shorncliffe.
Sunday’s event was made more special by the attendance of re-enactor Ash White, who was wearing the RAF uniform worn by Kenneth More in the Battle of Britain film and rescued by one of the props team at the end of the shoot.