The Temora Aviation Museum, which operates the only two flying Spitfires in Australia, has funded twelve business class airfares enabling veterans representing Australian World War II Squadrons to attend a commemorative service being held in the Royal Air Force’s Church – St Clement Danes in London.
President of the Spitfire Association, Lysle Roberts, who enlisted with RAAF 457 Squadron as an 18 year old in 1943 said, “After 64 years to be able to say a last farewell to our lost friends and comrades is an occasion we never dreamed could eventuate. Through the overwhelming generosity of the Temora Aviation Museum this can now be achieved.”
The first church on the site was built by a Danish community in the 9th century. The church was first rebuilt by William the Conqueror, and then again in the Middle Ages. It was in such a bad state by the end of the 17th century that it was demolished and again rebuilt this time by Christopher Wren. The church was almost destroyed by German bombs during the London Blitz of May 10, 1941. The outer walls, the tower and the steeple, survived the bombing, but the interior was gutted by fire. Following an appeal for funds by the Royal Air Force, the church was completely restored and was re-consecrated on 1958 to become the Central Church of the Royal Air Force.
The Welsh slate floor of the church is inscribed with the badges of over 800 Royal Air Force commands, groups, stations, squadrons and other formations. Near the entrance door is a ring of the badges of Commonwealth air forces, surrounding the badge of the RAF. The ceremony which will take place on March 26th is to acknowledge the addition of eleven badges representing five Royal Australia Air Force (RAAF) fighter squadrons and six RAAF bomber squadrons who played a great role in the defence of England during World War II.
Museum Chief Executive Kenny Love spoke with 91 year old Spitfire Pilot Ted Sly just before he boarded the plane to England today. Ted said, “My job is to represent the boys who aren’t here and the tremendous contribution that they made for freedom. Many of the finest pilots paid the supreme sacrifice – the price of freedom isn’t cheap.”
A television news story can be seen tonight on ABC News at 7.00 pm. The story is definite for NSW viewers and it is hoped it will be broadcast nationwide.