Service remembers brave airmen

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Servicemen and dignitaries came together to remember young airmen who died during World War Two.

The Royal Air Force Association (RAFA) Harrogate and District Branch held its 65th annual parade and service recently to keep alive the memory of the sacrifice of crews and the impact of the Battle of Britain.

A large number of airmen died in Harrogate General Hospital during World War Two and the majority were based at airfields within Yorkshire.

“Of the 1,017 graves, 666 are Canadians, 224 are UK with the remainder being Australians, New Zealanders, Russian and Germans,” explained Phil Crebbin, RAFA Harrogate Club Chairman.

“The service is the responsibility of RAFA Harrogate Branch to organise and once again saw participation from personnel from RAF Linton on Ouse and Air Cadets from across the region.

“The event was also very well attended by various local dignitaries including the Mayor of Harrogate, Coun Nick Brown and the MP for Harrogate, the Rt Hon Andrew Jones MP as well as RAF and United States Air Force representatives from Menwith Hill, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Jewish Association and the North Yorkshire Police.”

Last Saturday a large contingent of RAFA volunteers and Air Cadets undertook Wings street collections across the region which, when combined with the Starbeck Gala and supermarket collections by RAFA over the summer holidays, raised £2,992 for the appeal which supports airmen.

As a conclusion to this year’s Battle of Britain commemorations, the RAFA Harrogate Branch also arranged a service at St Peter’s Church, Harrogate.

This was followed by wreat laying at the Stonefall Cemetery.

“This was another successful event, very well supported by local dignitaries, military representatives and Air Cadets,” added Phil.

The Battle of Britain was the first decisive battle in history that was fought entirely in the air.

From May to September 1940 Luftwaffe attacks moved away from the coast and shipping targets to RAF airfields but a strategic response and bravery and skill from RAF pilots meant that Germany was unable to achieve its objective.