Sunday, 4 October 2009

We Shall Remember Them

I recently revisited the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel le Ferne just outside Folkestone. It is on the B2011, the old Dover - Folkestone Road.

It is more than just one memorial. The South Kent College wall is shown in the top picture (click on each picture to enlarge). There is a memorial wall naming everybody who flew in the Battle of Britain (second pic).

A statue of a sitting airman contemplatively looking out to sea has been placed in the centre of the site. It is raised on a small dais so that wreaths can be left.

What makes this an outstanding piece of design is the way it is set within the three massive blades of a propeller representing the Hurricanes and Spitfires. I have tried to capture this in the third picture. Even standing on the bunds shaping the memorial area I could not catch all of it, but I have just caught the White Cliffs of Dover in the background. Rabbits have burrowed into these bunds, leaving extensive warrens.

This expanse makes a place for a short stroll, to walk a dog or take a picnic. The whole site is worth a visit or even just a short stop if you have time when passing.

There are 2 replica planes a Hawker Hurricane Mk 1 US-X and a Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1. There is a visitors centre and many signs giving historical information.

My forbears have been fortunate. My father was too young to the serve in the Second World War and his elder brothers were in reserved occupations. My grandfather was too young for the First World War and then his age and work in the coal industry exempted him from the services in the Second World War.

My father's best friend was also his cousin. His two older brothers volunteered for the RAF.

Both of them flew out to Germany in bombers and never came back.

I therefore have always felt a particular obligation to those who served in the skies.

I am pleased to update that the campaign for a memorial to Sir Keith Park has been successful and a monument will be unveiled next month in London.

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