South Holland’s Battle of Britain memorial

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It’s the Battle of Britain Memorial Day on Sunday and this area has its own moving commemoration.

It’s the superb painting on the sides of a FreshLinc trailer by Alisha Miller depicting a Lancaster and Spitfires flying over the Wash at RAF Holbeach.

Back row -  fundraisers Peter Morris and  Harold Payne,John Summerson, Ashley Holland; front -  Melissa Poulson,Tony and  Rita Blackman. Photo: SG150615-230TW

Back row - fundraisers Peter Morris and Harold Payne,John Summerson, Ashley Holland; front - Melissa Poulson,Tony and Rita Blackman. Photo: SG150615-230TW

The memorial can be seen when the vehicle is driven by the Pinchbeck company’s drivers all over the UK and across Europe.

But two local veterans enjoyed a more personal viewing when they were invited to the FreshLinc site by commercial manager Ashley Holland.

They were John Summerson and Tony Blackman, the last of the original veterans helped to re-visit Normandy over the years thanks to Harold Payne at the Anglia Motel at Fleet Hargate.

Harold arranged the visit for the men because he says: “It brings back memories to the old boys.”

Tony Blackman in front of the Battle of Britain trailer. Photo: SG150615-224TW

Tony Blackman in front of the Battle of Britain trailer. Photo: SG150615-224TW

As well as fundraising for the Normandy visits, Harold and his supporters also raise between £1,000 and £2,000 every year for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Harold says: “It’s to remember the young lads who went in Bomber Command – and the 55,573 airmen of Bomber Command who died during World War 2.

“We are going to try and raise a bit more money this year because if we don’t keep the Lancasters and Spitfires going they will be things of the past.”

Tony Blackman of Weston said he felt “proud to be British” when he saw the painting.

Veteran John Summerson. Photo: SG150615-221TW

Veteran John Summerson. Photo: SG150615-221TW

Tony, accompanied by his wife Rita, was in the Glider Pilot Regiment during the war.

He was due to have gone in to D-Day by glider but in the event had to travel by sea.

He says: “We were in a flat bottomed boat for ten hours in the Channel in very choppy seas. The sailers were sick, so were we, and I’ll be quite honest when we got there I couldn’t care less.”

They couldn’t get in to land and Tony – all five feet three inches of him – plus his heavy equipment were ditched into the six feet waves of the sea. He went under, but was dragged back up by a colleague.

Tony’s escapades didn’t end there as he was hit by enemy shrapnel and ended up with gas gangrene, which put an end to his flying career.

Tony says: “You have to make sure there is no glory in war. Nobody wins in a war. This picture promotes Britain and what they did.”

John Summerson, who spent seven years in the RAF, said the painting brought back many memories for him. Like many veterans, some memories are ones he would rather forget.

John, whose brother was shot down in 1940 and whose sister was injured in the Palace Hotel in Torquay bombing, said it was an “excellent” painting though.