UKPM unveils Spitfire in Whitehall marking Battle of Britain Week

The Prime Min­is­ter and Sec­re­tary of State for Defence have paid their respects to the vet­er­ans of the Bat­tle of Britain by wel­com­ing a full-size repli­ca of a Spit­fire to cen­tral Lon­don.

The repli­ca Spit­fire was unveiled out­side the Min­istry of Defence in White­hall yes­ter­day, Mon­day 13 Sep­tem­ber, by David Cameron and Dr Liam Fox, kick­ing off a week of events up and down the coun­try to com­mem­o­rate and cel­e­brate the brav­ery and sac­ri­fice shown dur­ing the Bat­tle of Britain.

The repli­ca Spit­fire will be posi­tioned on White­hall, out­side MOD Main Build­ing, oppo­site Down­ing Street, from 13 to 17 Sep­tem­ber, to com­mem­o­rate the 70th anniver­sary of the Bat­tle of Britain.

The air­craft is a repli­ca 41 (Fight­er) Squadron Super­ma­rine Spit­fire Mk1, cir­ca 1940. She was orig­i­nal­ly a repli­ca of a Mark IV Super­ma­rine Spit­fire, owned by the Impe­r­i­al War Muse­um, which has since been con­vert­ed into a Mark 1 air­craft.

To mark the event Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron met with four Bat­tle of Britain vet­er­ans: Geof­frey Wellum, Bob Fos­ter, Owen Burns and William Walk­er.

Defence Sec­re­tary Dr Liam Fox, Min­is­ter for Defence Per­son­nel, Wel­fare and Vet­er­ans, Andrew Robathan, and Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Mar­shal Sir Stephen Dal­ton, were also present at the event.

Flight Lieu­tenant William Walk­er, now aged 97, said ‘it was a very proud day’.

Flight Lieu­tenant Walk­er flew Spit­fires as a pilot offi­cer in the RAF from May until August 1940, when he was shot down by a Luft­waffe Messer­schmitt 109 and had to bail out over the Eng­lish Chan­nel, from where he was res­cued by a fish­ing boat:

“Peo­ple must always remem­ber what hap­pened. You and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for those men,” he said.

“It is nice that peo­ple remem­ber us. It’s very sat­is­fy­ing.”

Also among those at the unveil­ing was Geof­frey Wellum, whose best­selling book ‘First Light’, which chron­i­cles his expe­ri­ences as the youngest Bat­tle of Britain pilot, has been made into a docu­d­ra­ma to be shown on BBC2 tonight.

Air Chief Mar­shal Sir Stephen Dal­ton added:

“For their brav­ery and sac­ri­fice in defence of our free­dom we will nev­er for­get all those Roy­al Air Force men and women who worked tire­less­ly togeth­er to deny Hitler the con­trol of the air that was essen­tial before the Nazis could mount an inva­sion of Britain.”

On Bat­tle of Britain Day on Wednes­day (tomor­row), a memo­r­i­al will be unveiled in Lon­don to Air Chief Mar­shal Sir Kei­th Park who com­mand­ed Num­ber 11 Group of Fight­er Com­mand which was respon­si­ble for the pro­tec­tion of the cap­i­tal and the South East and con­tained the squadrons which bore the brunt of the action.

On Sun­day, a nation­al 70th anniver­sary com­mem­o­ra­tive ser­vice will be held in West­min­ster Abbey.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

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