Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Sir Keith Park's Statue Unveiled

There has been much talk of who will be on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square. This afternoon the statue to Sir Keith Park will be unveiled in Trafalgar Square. Here’s a brief biography of the hero you may never have heard of:

First World War
Fought at Gallipoli

Park's battery took part in the Battle of the Somme

Park blown off his horse by a German shell. Wounded, he was evacuated to England and graded "unfit for active service" from the army when recovered he joined the Air Corps.

Awarded the Military Cross for shooting down one, two "out of control" and damaging a fourth enemy aircraft during one sortie. Promoted to Temporary Captain and then Major, commanding 28 Squadron November 1918. Park’s aircraft claims were five destroyed and 14 (& 1 shared) "out of control". He was also shot down twice during this period.

Second World War

Appointed Air Vice Marshal, Park given command of No. 11 Group RAF, responsible for the fighter defence of London and southeast England. Organised fighter patrols over France during the Dunkirk evacuation and in the Battle of Britain his command took the brunt of the Luftwaffe's air attacks.

Commanded air defence of Malta, and squadrons participated in the North African and Sicilian campaigns.

Appointed Allied Air Commander, South-East Asia, where he served until and after the end of the war.

I hope there will be suitable coverage of this commemoration in the media. However I suspect this will not be the case. The campaign to have an appropriate memorial has been superbly run. I was kindly invited to the unveiling today, but frustratingly a work commitment prevents me attending so this my way of marking this event. You can read more about Sir Keith Park in my earlier posts here and here.

1 comment:

  1. His is an impressive war record and we should be proud that men like him flourished during the Second World War and helped bring an Allied victory.
    We should not forget the work of his superior office Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding who ensured the RAF, and Park's 11 Group in particular, were ready and as well equipped as they could be for the Battle of Britain in 1940.
    For film buffs, the 1969 film The Battle of Britain portrayed Trevor Howard as Park and Laurence Olivier as Dowding. Well worth watching 40 years since its production.