Young and old, they came to remember the men Churchill dubbed The Few – the Hurricane and Spitfire pilots who robbed Hitler of the air superiority he needed to invade in 1940.
Bury St Edmunds’ annual Battle of Britain Sunday parade, organised by the Royal Air Force Association, was not only attended by RAF members past and present, but youth organisations and representatives of the USAF.
As well as Scouting groups, both 863 Thurston and 301 Bury St Edmunds Air Training Corps squadrons took part, having supported RAFA Wings Appeal collections during the week.
RAFA Bury appeals organiser Ernie Broom said: “301 squadron had all their members out all over the town collecting for us.
“It makes you realise all the good things youngsters do today.”
The RAF Regiment at Honington had a large presence, marching with bayonets fixed as their Freedom of the Borough allows, and led by the base’s Voluntary Band.
The USAF contingent from RAF Mildenhall and Lakenheath included the latter’s Honor Guard. About 10 Americans fought with RAF fighter squadrons in the battle though it may have been more because some said they were Canadians to get round the USA’s neutrality.
After a wreath laying at the war memorial on Angel Hill, the parade moved off for a service at St Mary’s Church.
Battle of Britain Sunday is held on the nearest Sunday to Battle of Britain Day, September 15, which was the day in 1940 when the Luftwaffe launched its heaviest attack, thinking the RAF’s fighter squadrons were beaten.
The day saw an estimated 1,500 aircraft locked in air battles and at their height, when prime minister Winston Churchill asked Fighter Command officers what reserves they had, he was told ‘None, sir’.
The next day, Hitler cancelled the invasion plans.
On August 20, 1940, Churchill told the Commons: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
+For more pictures, see this Friday’s Bury Free Press.