Battle of Britain 75th Anniversary CommemorationShare Event on Facebook Share Event on Twitter Share Event on LinkedIn
The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain saw Spitfires and Hurricanes in the skies over Great Britain as they flew from Goodwood aerodrome to the airports involved in the battle that began on 15 September 1940. Churchill’s famous speech paraphrased as “never was so much owed by so many to so few” became the slogan on posters with handsome young flyers smiling for King and country, and one that brings back reminders of those perilous times.
In Canberra the reception to commemorate the 75th anniversary was held under the G for George Avro Lancaster in the gloom of Anzac Hall at the Australian War Memorial where anyone visiting the War Memorial will be held in awe of the magnitude of the fight and magnificence of those brave young men in their flying machines. It was a fitting space for the event with senior defence personnel from Australia and Great Britain in attendance and a just in time arrival of the Assistant Minister of Defence Stuart Robert to speak with humour after a humourless few days in the house on the hill.
The Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove had a busy day with ‘swearing ins’ and protocols to be observed, the High Commissioner brought along her young son Joe to be a part of the event in the ultimate boys own playground and Brendan Nelson again excelled as the orator and director the AWM without equal. But it was Air Vice Marshal Tim Bishop to encapsulate the sacrifice and stoicism of those fly-boys of 75 years ago with a toast to them all.
The diminishing numbers of those Australian men who flew with Bomber Command is of course expected after 75 years but those who came to be honoured at the British High Commission’s reception still had a story to tell, mates to remember and a reason to have a glass or two. Many were supported by children or grandchildren and the formalities probably brought a tear to their eyes and memories flooding back. I met Molly Gordon who had worked for Bomber Command at Mildenhall who was acknowledged in the speech by High Commissioner Meena Rawlings while far away in Brisbane Jean McAlister was working for General Douglas MacArthur, “a perfect gentleman” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
As much as we commemorate the past, to fast forward to the centenary in 25 years we must ponder what kind of commemorations will be held for them and of course today’s conflicts. Those handsome you men in their flying machines would despair of our inability to resolve issues that lead to conflict.