Trib­ute to Bat­tle of Bri­tain fly­ers

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

The roar of clas­sic fighter planes will fill the sky above the Auck­land War Memo­rial Mu­seum on Sun­day in mem­ory of New Zealand World War Two pi­lots.

A cer­e­mony is be­ing held to com­mem­o­rate the 69th an­niver­sary of the Bat­tle of Bri­tain, fought above English skies be­tween July and Oc­to­ber 1940.

There were 127 Kiwi pi­lots in­volved, the third high­est of all coun­tries be­hind Bri­tain and Poland.

New Zealan­der Sir Keith Park was a key fig­ure in the bat­tle, tak­ing on the role of air vice-mar­shal and lead­ing the RAF num­ber 11 group in de­fence of Lon­don and south­east Eng­land.

West­mere res­i­dent Trevor Clark, who served with the air force in Fiji dur­ing the war, says it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber the bat­tle be­cause of its his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance.

“It’s the bat­tle that saved Bri­tain. If they hadn’t won it, the Ger­mans had all their barges in Calais ready to in­vade.”

Mr Clark, 84, says in­ter­est in An­zac Day is phe­nom­e­nal and he hopes a sim­i­lar cu­rios­ity will de­velop with the Bat­tle of Bri­tain memo­rial.

“You can’t get a seat in the RSA on An­zac Day.

“The younger ones es­pe­cially come up and ask ques­tions like ‘what sort of plane is that’.”

Royal New Zealand Air Force As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Peter Birch says the or­gan­i­sa­tion is hop­ing to in­crease the num­ber of peo­ple who at­tend the cer­e­mony with the 70th an­niver­sary on the hori­zon next year.

He says with very few pi­lots who fought in the Bat­tle of Bri­tain left, it’s im­por­tant to ac­knowl­edge what they went through.

“The young ones don’t know about it and we want them to.”

While many mem­bers of the as­so­ci­a­tion are for­mer air force per­son­nel, Mr Birch says oth­ers just have a keen in­ter­est in planes. The com­mem­o­ra­tion, which in­cludes a per­for­mance by the RNZAF band, starts at 11am at the ceno­taph in front of Auck­land War Memo­rial Mu­seum, with the planes fly­ing over at 11.15am.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic are in­vited back to the Pt Che­va­lier RSA af­ter the event for a drink or lunch from 1pm.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the RNZAF as­so­ci­a­tion call Mr Birch on 274-4683.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Lest we for­get: Royal New Zealand Air Force As­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers Trevor Clark, left, and Peter Birch will be part of the Bat­tle of Bri­tain com­mem­o­ra­tions at Auck­land War Memo­rial Mu­seum on Sun­day.

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