Remembering those from RAF Sutton Bridge who gave their lives

The RAF memorial at Sutton Bridge ANL-160909-130708001
The RAF memorial at Sutton Bridge ANL-160909-130708001
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Respects will be paid to the brave people who lost their lives in the Battle of Britain as services are held across the region this Sunday.

The battle, which took place in 1940, was the first major campaign to be fought entirely in the skies.

The Long Sutton and Sutton Bridge RAF Association will be holding its service at St Matthew’s Church in Sutton Bridge, starting at 10.30am.

Branch President Douglas Marsh said: “Battle of Britain Sunday is not about celebrating a victory but to remember those pilots who gave their lives during the battle to save this country from invasion.”

After the service the congregation will walk through the churchyard past the war graves of pilots who died while training at RAF Sutton Bridge during the war, to the RAF Memorial to lay wreathes. Subject to weather conditions, a spitfire of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will fly over.

Mr Marsh said: “The enemy during the spring of 1940 had occupied the whole of the western sea board of Europe and their object was to eliminate the Royal Air Force both in the air and on the ground and to obtain air superiority for an sea borne invasion.

“During June and July the Luftwaffe gathered its forces along the French and Belgium coastline and with its superiority in front line aircraft was confident of success.

“On August 10 the heavy onslaught began. Two other dates of consequence stand out – August 15 and September 15. On the former date no less than five major actions were fought with 899 sorties flown (a record for the whole period). On September 15 came the climax of the battle. On these two days alone 132 German aircraft were destroyed.”

There were five successive phases in the German attack, the first of which was to harry British convoys in the English Channel and then attack the coastal ports where the Royal Air Force would be drawn into battle and its strength worn down.

“The second phase lasted from August 8 to 18. During this period the Luftwaffe began intensive day operations with the coastal airfields as the main targets.

The fourth and decisive phase started on September 7 with a full scale attack on London which continued until the end of the month. The fifth and last phase of the battle continued throughout October. This phase saw the decline of enemy day attacks on London and a big increase in night bombing on London and the industrial centrers of the Midlands.