A thrilling flypast by the last remaining Spitfire to have flown in the Battle of Britain provided a fitting tribute to ‘the Few’ at this year’s annual Memorial Day commemorations at the clifftop home of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust.
Spitfire P7350, the oldest airworthy Spitfire in the world, saw all eyes turn skywards as the commemoration service to mark the start of the battle 82 years ago, on 10 July 1940, began.
The event provided an opportunity for relatives of the Few to pay their own respects to lost loved ones and marked a shift from the larger-scale events of recent years that were attended by members of the Few. Group Captain John Hemingway DFC AE is thought to be the only surviving veteran from the 1940 conflict and now lives in a care home in Dublin, aged 102.
Guest of honour at the event was the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston KCB CBE ADC, while music was provided by the Kent Wing band and the Ensemble of the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment. The Sovereign’s Colour was escorted by members of No 600 Squadron.
President of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton GCB, welcomed guests to the commemorative event that was conducted by the Hon Chaplain, Air Vice-Marshal The Venerable Ray Pentland CB. It was attended by the Lord-Lieutenant of Kent, The Lady Colgrain.
The short service of commemoration, including a two-minute silence, was followed by wreaths being laid at the National Memorial to the Few. Guests were then able to lay their own personal floral tributes at the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall before enjoying afternoon tea.