This year on the 13th of September, Ripon cathedral is holding a service to commemorate the fact that the “Battle of Britain” happened 75 years ago.

During the summer and autumn of 1940, the skies of Britain hummed to the sound of aircraft, vapour trails criss-crossed the skies in lines and Donald Mackay was 8 years old.  Donald, who now lives in Ripon, lived in Tonbridge in Kent, within the sight of RAF Biggin Hill.  Being 8 years old, the battle in the sky, to Donald and his friends seemed like a bit of  game, he and his friends listen to the “scores” every day on the radio, they knew which plane was which by the silhouettes high up in the sky and spent many hours collecting spent shell cases which proved as valuable souvenirs.

For Donald, one of the most vivid memories he has is of a German Heinkel being shot down very close to where he lived. As the Heinkel was plummeting toward the ground, the pilot managed to pull the plane up thus avoiding a row of houses and crash landing in a water meadow.  Donald says, “it was an act of Gallantry of a kind that we didn’t know about too often in those days”.

Congregation member, Vicki Crossfield.  Remembers being told by her Late husband Geoff that during the “battle of Britain”, he along with his regiment of the Grenadier guards were stationed at Windsor Castle.  The Castle was where the Royal Family had taken up residence for the duration and the Grenadier Guards were there to look after them.  Vicki says, “Guard Duty included marching beneath the private quarters of the Royal Family ALL NIGHT.  To avoid causing too much disturbance, the men, were instructed NOT to bash their heavy boots on the gravel!”  This was very tricky, but the soldiers did it to the best of their ability not wishing to be put on a charge for disturbing the Royal Family.

Many of “the few” lost their lives in the Air Battle and on Sunday Ripon Cathedral will remember those who paid the ultimate price.

Prior to the Service, RAF Leeming will be exercising their newly granted freedom of the city and will parade to the Market Place where a fly past will happen at around 10:30 am. After this, the service personnel and civic dignitaries will go to the cathedral where the service will begin at 11:15 am.

Dean John says, “We at Ripon Cathedral value our links with the military communities across the region, remembering that they continue to provide such a vital service for the well-being of this country and further afield. We celebrate the fact that RAF Leeming is receiving the freedom of the City of Ripon, and I look forward to being in the Cathedral with them, civic authorities and many others on Sunday to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain; remembering the historic contribution of the ‘few’ and giving thanks for those who have been prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of justice and peace”.

All are welcome to attend the service.

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