Thornaby Town Council held their first post-Covid Battle Of Britain Memorial Service at the Airmans Statue on Thornaby Road on Sunday, 12 September.
The service was led by Padre Robert Desics from St Marks the Evangelist and St Peter ad Vincula Churches and was attended by both the Town Mayor Councillor Steve Walmsley and his wife Councillor Sylvia Walmsley , Leader of the Thornaby Independents Association. Master Aircrewman Ian McCabe from RAF Leeming and himself a former Stockton air cadet represented the Stockton & Thornaby Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association and the Standards were carried by Roy Smith and Ian Hindmarsh.
Following the service the congregation moved to Thornaby Cemetery were local schoolchildren placed Remembrance Crosses on the graves of the fallen within the War Graves Plot.
Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson.
Pre-war 608 (North Riding) Squadron of the Auxiliary Air Force flew Hawker Demon aircraft as part of 12 Group Fighter Command in the period leading up to and including the ‘Phoney War’ .
The celebration of The Few can take place anywhere and does not need to be done on the site of a former Fighter Command airfield as both the Royal Air Forces Association and Royal British Legion did the following weekend when they came together again and laid commemorative wreaths at the Stockton Cenotaph .
Sadly The Few are now all gone but their memory lives on and as Winston Churchill’s famous speech to Parliament on the 20 August 1940 recalls ; “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” .
Good to see Battle of Britain day being commemorated, and to see the involvement of local school children.
However, despite what Wikipedia says, as far as I am aware Thornaby Aerodrome was not used as a Fighter Command base, although a few detachments of fighters operated from the base after 1942, and never took part in the Battle of Britain, so I hope that the young are not being misled.
RAF Thornaby was first commissioned as an airfield in the mid 1920s and came under the control of the RAF Coastal Command in 1939. The airfield was expanded in 1942 in order to facilitate heavy bombers, but never actually operated such aircraft.
The facility was used as a Operational Training Unit and and as a Coastal Command base, engaged in air-sea rescue work from 1943 using Vickers Warwick aircraft with Nos. 279, 280 and 281 Squadrons. My father was a member of 279 Squadron.