Hastings commemorates Battle of Britain anniversary

Air Cadets on the steps of the church for the Battle of Britain service. Photo by Frank Copper
Air Cadets on the steps of the church for the Battle of Britain service. Photo by Frank Copper

The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain was commemorated by representatives of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and veterans Christ Church, Blacklands in Hastings on Sunday (September 13).

The Hastings and St Leonards branch of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) and the Hastings and St Leonards Veterans Association (HSVA) jointly sponsored the event.

Battle of Britain service at Christ Church, Blacklands. Photo by Frank Copper. SUS-150914-070449001

Battle of Britain service at Christ Church, Blacklands. Photo by Frank Copper. SUS-150914-070449001

The evening began with a parade of Air Cadets from 304 Squadron (Hastings) and standards representing the Veterans of Her Majesty’s Armed Services.

The RAFA Standard followed the Queen’s Colour into the church for the service of thanksgiving for victory, led by Rev Charlie Hill.

Members of the congregation joined civic guests, mayor Bruce Dowling, deputy mayor Judy Rogers, former mayors Alan Roberts and President of HSVA Pam Brown OBE.

As well as many other veterans who were welcomed by senior officer (air) Grp Cpt Peter Holland MBE and deputy officer (air) Tony Selmes.

Mayor Bruce Dowling and deputy mayor Judy Rogers arriving for the service. Photo by Frank Copper

Mayor Bruce Dowling and deputy mayor Judy Rogers arriving for the service. Photo by Frank Copper

Mr Holland introduced the Battle of Britain and explained how the dog fights in the skies were critical to winning the Second World War.

He said: “75 years ago, on Sunday 13th September, the battle reached its height with every aircraft airborne and no reserves.

“On that day the tide was turned.

“Today, we especially honour the ‘few’, those young men of RAF Fighter Command, but we should also remember the many thousands who, in the five long years that followed, gave their lives in Bomber Command, Coastal Command and in tactical Air Forces in every theatre of operations. Per Ardua Ad Astra!”

There followed an act of remembrance with the RAFA Hymn and an address and blessing from Mr Hill.

It is said that during WWII, the airmen and airwomen stationed at RAF Fairlight ‘adopted’ Christchurch, Blacklands, as ‘their’ church.

RAF Fairlight, only two miles east of the Old Town, was a ‘hush-hush’ radar station in the Battle of Britain detecting in-coming Luftwaffe raids before they could be seen.

For a live feed of the Battle of Britain commemorations at Goodwood visit: www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/live/event?1491185

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