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Paying tribute to great-grandfather

The Trust's Blades of Honour project is designed to allow people to pay their own special tribute to those who served in support of the Few in the Battle of Britain.

There are no restrictions on those who can be nominated, as long as it can be shown that they played an active part either during the Battle (10 July to 31 October 1940) or one month either side of it.

Here, Alex White explains why he has nominated his great grandfather...

Alex White never met his great grandfather Reg, but his respect and admiration for the Royal Artillery Lance Bombardier has grown over the years.

Now 27 and living in a relatively peaceful democracy, Alex knows how much this country owes to the sacrifices made by the generation that lived through the horrors of the Second World War.

“My overriding feeling is pride,” he said. “It was a very dark period for the world and for this country, and to know that my great grandfather played a part in the eventual victory that secured peace for the free world is a tremendous feeling.”

That pride and respect is behind Alex’s support for the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust’s Blades of Honour project to remember those who, while not flying with the Allied aircrew in the Battle, still played a part in the aerial conflict that changed history.

“I think it’s incredibly important to remember those who supported the Few, given that this was a national and international effort that involved many people playing their part in ensuring the Nazis were defeated,” Alex explained. “While the Few are rightly honoured, it is vital to remember all those who played their part.”

The Blades of Honour project will see commemorative tiles bearing the names of people like Lance Bombardier Turner laid around the white propellor blades that radiate out from the seated airman statue at the heart of the National Memorial to the Few.

They can commemorate anyone, military or civilian, who had a support role during the Battle of Britain, which took place from 10 July to 31 October 1940, or one month either side of it.

“The list includes firemen, members of the Air Transport Auxiliary or the Observer Corps, ground crew, WAAFs, those who repaired the runways or telephone lines – and many others,” explained Sam Pilcher, Alex’s mother and proud granddaughter of Lance Bombardier Turner. “There is no definitive list, but anyone who wants to remember a relative will need to provide evidence that they served in a support role during the Battle.”

As Honorary Treasurer of the Memorial Trust, Sam is one of the drivers of the project and is determined to see men like her grandfather – and the many women who also contributed to the Allies’ eventual victory in 1945 – recognised.

Reg Turner was a lorry driver and forester in Windsor Great Park before signing up for Army service in July 1939 aged just 21. He served with 367 Battery, Royal Artillery at RAF Watton in Norfolk and at Woodhall Spa during the Battle of Britain.

“My great grandfather died just before I was born, but I know he served with an anti-aircraft crew and went over to France at some point shortly after D Day in June 1944,” added Alex. “The family is still trying to piece his career together, but we know he played his part and served during the Battle of Britain and that’s why we will be remembering him with a commemorative tile at the Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne.”

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