The last of the original Trustees of the Battle of Britain Memorial and a great supporter of the Trust has died at the age of 94.
Vi, Lady Aitken, was the widow of Sir ‘Max’ Aitken, 2nd Baronet, DSO, DFC who commanded No 601 Squadron during the opening stage of the Battle of Britain. A founder Trustee, she and her family were, and remain, passionate supporters of the Trust. Lady Aitken’s grandson Rory is a current Trustee.
Lady Aitken died at her home in Lambourn, West Berkshire, on Thursday evening (18 Feb) with her daughter Laura by her side. Sir Max died in 1985.
Trust chairman Richard Hunting CBE said the Trust would feel her loss deeply. “She was a wonderful mother and grandmother, a passionate trustee of the Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne and a remarkable woman, as anyone who met her would attest,” he said. “Those of us who knew her will never forget her charm, her grace and her common sense.”
Lady Aitken was the mother of the present Air Vice-Marshal Lord (Maxwell) Beaverbrook, who was Commandant of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force until 2019.
The Beaverbrook family inspired and paid for the Beaverbrook Wall, which greets visitors as they drive into the site and is inscribed with Sir Winston Churchill’s famous words: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
Violet de Trafford, daughter of Sir Humphrey de Trafford Bt, was born on 17 June, 1926 and married Sir ‘Max’ Aitken, the son of the first Lord Beaverbrook, in 1951. He commanded the famous No 601 “Millionaires” Squadron in the Battle of France and the early part of the Battle of Britain and went on to command No 68 Squadron, becoming an Ace.
Lady Aitken, whose husband organised the first Cowes to Torquay race in 1961 partnered her daughter Laura in what was to become a significant offshore powerboat racing team, competing in an array of powerful boats over three decades until the end of the eighties.