Wing Commander Paul Farnes DFM took centre stage as the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust commemorated the bravery of ‘the Few’ at this year’s Memorial Day.
Fine weather and good crowds ensured the day at the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne was another successful tribute to the men who took to the air to save this country from invasion in 1940.
While there were a number of top dignitaries at the event, including the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, and the President of the Trust, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, it was Wing Commander Farnes who stole the show.
As the only member of the Few able to be at this year’s event, the nearly 99 year-old took part in the service of commemoration and delivered the exhortation: “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.”
The service began with a flypast by a Spitfire and a Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, with the aircraft later returning for a superb display over the Memorial in weather reminiscent of the long, hot summer of 1940.
After a fine performance by musicians of the Kent Wing Air Training Corps band, the Kent Wing Drill Display Team went through their paces, impressing the audience with their newly learned skills.
They were followed by the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment, which returned at the end of the day to lead the now-traditional Sunset Ceremony, performed against the backdrop of the dramatic Wing building.
Adding as always to the colour and pageantry of the event was the fine sight of Standard bearers representing ex-service veterans’ organisations from all over the country. Staff and volunteers also played their part by shaking collection tins and working hard to keep up with demand in the café and shop.
With another successful event now completed, the Trust will be looking ahead to next year’s Memorial Day, which takes place on 1 July 2018 and will mark 25 years since the National Memorial to the Few was unveiled.