Spitfire plaque to be unveiled in Harrogate to mark town's support in Battle of Britain

A long-lost plaque celebrating "the gift of Spitfire aircraft by the people of Harrogate during World War II" is to be the centre-piece of a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Monday, 17th August 2020, 11:06 am
Harrogate's Spitfire - From the archives: How the Harrogate Advertiser's sister newspaper the Harrogate Herald reported on it in August 1941.

In the early stages of the war, the people of Harrogate raised money to purchase Spitfire Aircraft and in recognition of this, the Ministry of Aircraft Production presented the town with a plaque acknowledging the fund raising effort.

That plaque was lost many years ago, but so that the efforts of the town people are not forgotten, Harrogate Civic Society, along with many individuals, have been able to fund a replica plaque.

The unveiling of this plaque at athe Crown Hotel on September 11 is being held a few days before the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and will be by The Lord Houghton of Richmond GCB CBE DL who until recently was Chief of the Defence Staff.

It is also hoped that in attendance will be four guests who served in the war and live in Harrogate - all over 96 - one of whom was a Spitfire Pilot.

Local historian Malcolm Neesam explained: “To compensate for planes lost in combat, the British Government started a campaign for communities throughout the land to raise funds to build more Spitfires.

“They needed to produce aircraft around the clock in Supermarine workshops across the country to give the RAF any hope of victory against the German air force.

“Harrogate residents heeded the call, raising a then astounding figure of £7,000.”

Harrogate Mayor Coun Stuart Martin and the Mayoress April Martin will also be at next month's event which will see Malcolm Neesan give a short talk on Harrogate during the Second World War.

To meet with social distancing restrictions, numbers at the unveiling will be limited to 30.

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