UK — Battle of Britain remembered at St Paul’s Cathedral

The brav­ery and for­ti­tude of those who endured the Blitz and fought against the air pow­er of Nazi Ger­many to win the Bat­tle of Britain were remem­bered at St Paul’s Cathe­dral yes­ter­day, Tues­day 7 Sep­tem­ber 2010.

A replica Spitfire MkII beneath the Great West Door of St Paul's Cathedral
A repli­ca Spit­fire MkII beneath the Great West Door of St Paul’s Cathe­dral
Source: Sgt Andy Malt­house ABIPP, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

In addi­tion to the RAF per­son­nel that defeat­ed the ene­my in the skies, the City of Lon­don salute also com­mem­o­rat­ed the efforts of those who pro­tect­ed the city dur­ing the battle. 

Pilots and oth­er mil­i­tary per­son­nel were joined at the ser­vice by fire­fight­ers, nurs­es and ambu­lance work­ers from the era. 

The Lord May­or of the City of Lon­don, Nick Anstee, said: 

“It is my great plea­sure to be able to say thank you on behalf of the City of Lon­don Cor­po­ra­tion to all those who took part in the Bat­tle of Britain, the RAF Sec­ond World War vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies, and to hold this remem­brance ser­vice and recep­tion in their honour.” 

More than 2,500 peo­ple packed into St Paul’s Cathe­dral for the event, includ­ing His Roy­al High­ness The Duke of Kent and Air Vice-Mar­shal Ray Pent­land, the RAF padre who gave yesterday’s sermon: 

“With­out the Bat­tle of Britain there would have been no D‑Day, no vic­to­ry in Europe,” he said. 

“We remem­ber and cel­e­brate those who won for us free­dom through their brav­ery and sac­ri­fice. Their deeds shall nev­er be forgotten.” 

The Blitz start­ed to take its ter­ri­ble toll on Britain on 7 Sep­tem­ber 1940 when Hitler ordered the Luft­waffe to lay waste to British towns and cities. 

For 57 nights in a row there were heavy raids, tar­get­ing Lon­don, Liv­er­pool, Bris­tol, Birm­ing­ham, Sheffield, Portsmouth, Cardiff, Southamp­ton and Man­ches­ter, as well as Belfast and Scot­tish towns Greenock and Clydebank. 

The lega­cy of the attacks remains to this day. By coin­ci­dence, a sad reminder of that time was uncov­ered yes­ter­day when the Roy­al Navy’s South­ern Div­ing Unit One from HM Naval Base Devon­port locat­ed and det­o­nat­ed a WWII-era air-dropped mine off the coast of Ply­mouth — one of approx­i­mate­ly 1,320 high explo­sive bombs, 38,000 incen­di­ary devices and 38 land mines dropped onto Ply­mouth dur­ing this period. 

In total 18,000 tons of high explo­sives were dropped dur­ing the eight months of the Blitz, killing 20,083 civil­ians in Lon­don and 23,602 in the rest of the country. 

The memo­r­i­al ser­vice for those who fought and died was fol­lowed by a parade and a fly­past by the RAF’s Bat­tle of Britain Memo­r­i­al Flight — a Spit­fire, a Lan­cast­er bomber and a Dakota. 

A repli­ca Spit­fire was also on show at the bot­tom of the main steps at St Paul’s Cathe­dral which stood rel­a­tive­ly untouched dur­ing the destruc­tion of 1940 and became a bea­con of hope for Londoners. 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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