Spitfire soars above as Salopians mark Battle of Britain

Soaring through the skies as it did in the Second World War, Salopians watched in awe as a Spitfire fighter plane whizzed above a commemorative service marking the 80th anniversary of The Battle of Britain.

Battle of Britain ceremony at the Quarry war memorial, Shrewsbury. A spitfire flies over the ceremony
Battle of Britain ceremony at the Quarry war memorial, Shrewsbury. A spitfire flies over the ceremony

A poignant ceremony to mark the occasion was held at the Quarry in Shrewsbury, scaled down due to coronavirus restrictions, but fitting nonetheless.

The annual commemorative service marks the defence of the United Kingdom by Royal Air Force pilots and aircrew, and the loss of more than 500 lives, during the Battle of Britain in 1940, which has been recognised as the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces.

Dignitaries prepare for laying the wreaths

A socially distanced parade from RAF Shawbury formed up next to the war memorial at the top of the park at 10.30am, watched by a decent-sized crowd, who kept their distance while observing proceedings.

Reverend Mother Yejide Peters from St Chad's Church in Shrewsbury delivered a speech. She said: "We are here in the presence of god to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain."

She said that everybody was there to honour the war heroes' courage and devotion to duty, and all they accomplished for the freedom of the world.

RAF Shawbury personnel at the commemoration

"We remember especially the RAF in the Battle of Britain and how they won the battle in the air. May us and those who follow be worthy of their sacrifice," she said.

She then recited a psalm followed by a reading from the Gospel of Matthew.

Shortly afterwards a moment of silence was observed, before The Last Post was played. As the music was being played, the Spitfire flew above.

A spitfire flies above the Quarry in Shrewsbury

Visitors were treated to a spectacular show as the plane circled back multiple times above the Quarry.

Shrewsbury mayor Phil Gillam, High Sheriff of Shropshire Dean Harris and RAF Shawbury Station Commander Chris Mullen laid wreaths.

Councillor Gillam said: "It was beautiful. We were lucky with the weather and it was nice to see so many people turn out."

Reverend Mother Yejide Peters speaks at the Battle of Britain ceremony

Shrewsbury Town Council clerk Helen Ball added: "We usually would have had a larger service but we had to curtail it. It is really important to mark these kind of occasions."

The Battle of Britain is widely regarded as a major turning point in the war.

Brave air force personnel successfully defended Great Britain against unremitting and destructive air raids conducted by the Luftwaffe from July through to September 1940, after the fall of France.

Shrewsbury mayor Phil Gillam gets ready to lay a wreath

Victory for the Luftwaffe in the air battle would have exposed Great Britain to invasion by the German army, which was then in control of the ports of France only a few miles away across the English Channel.

The battle was won by the Royal Air Force Fighter Command, whose victory not only blocked the possibility of invasion but also created the conditions for Great Britain’s survival, for the extension of the war, and for the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany.

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