Wet weather failed to dampen the spirits at Sunday’s Memorial Day, held to honour the men who took part in the Battle of Britain in 1940.
Relatives of ‘the Few’ were among the guests at the annual event, which also marked the 30th anniversary of the unveiling of the National Memorial to the Few by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 1993.
The event also saw the launch of a £1m appeal by the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, which is hoping to extend the facilities at the Memorial to allow it to bring the Battle to life for young people by installing a pair of flight simulators. The appeal – The Next Sortie – will also allow the Trust to display more of the artefacts it has been given over the years.
Guest of honour at the annual event was the new Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Knighton KCB, ADC, attending one of his first events since taking on the role. He was accompanied by the Warrant Officer of the Royal Air Force, WO Murugesvaran Subramaniam.
Wet weather saw the guests move inside a marquee originally designed just to host afternoon tea, but the ceremony, though necessarily restricted, was well received and allowed those present to pay their respects to the aircrew who saved the country from invasion 83 years ago.
Earlier the band of the Kent Wing Air Training Corps had braved the rain to put on a display that highlighted the skills of the young musicians.
The service of commemoration began with a flypast by a Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight which braved the worst of the downpour, although most of the visitors were by now safely inside the marquee.
President of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton GCB, welcomed guests to the event and remarked on the similarity of the day’s weather to the day it was unveiled in 1993 and to the occasion on which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened The Wing in 2015 on another wet and windy day.
Central to the service was the unfurling of the Sovereign’s Colour, escorted by 600 (City of London) Squadron. Also present was The King’s Colour Squadron and the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, which later took advantage of a break in the weather to conduct the Sunset Ceremony that brought the event to a close. Ex-Service Standards added to the colour and pageantry of the day.
After official wreaths were laid at the National Memorial to the Few, guests moved to The Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall to lay their own personal tributes.