Sir Keith Park and the Battle of Britain

This afternoon I joined Boris and a number of my colleagues at the unveiling of the permanent home for the statue of Sir Keith Park. In November last year I attended the unveiling of the temporary statue on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square but the statue is now in Waterloo Place, ironically the site of the first bomb to hit London during the blitz.

The event was planned to coincide with Battle of Britain day and attracted quite a line-up. In addition to the Mayor the Chief of the Air Staff was there as was Dr Liam Fox MP, the Defence Secretary, and the New Zealand Minister of Defence Wayne Mapp. There were Air Marshals, Generals and senior officers from the UK and overseas in seriously large numbers.

One of the highlights of the event was a spitfire flying low over the ceremony and doing a wing waggle, it really is a beautiful aircraft. That said I’ve always had a soft spot for the less glamorous Hawker Hurricane, the real workhorse of the Battle of Britain and often overlooked.

One fact that I particularly like is that Sir Keith was a Gunner officer in the pre-WW1 version of the New Zealand Territorial Army. I’m pleased that this great military leader, who did so much to change the course of the war, has now been properly recognised after being overlooked by history for so long.

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