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Battle of Britain commemoration

Wednesday 14 September 2011

A commemorative service to mark the 71st Anniversary of the Battle of Britain will be held at the National War Memorial in Wellington on Thursday 15 September 2011, commencing at 10.00am.

In attendance will be His Excellency Lieutenant General, The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand, Government representatives, members of the NZ Defence Force and the wider Defence Community, and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

The Honourable Peter MacKay PC QC MP, Minister of National Defence Canada, who is starting an official visit to New Zealand today, will be laying a wreath on behalf of the Government and people of Canada.

Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell says “20 Kiwi airmen lost their lives fighting for our country during this battle and we commemorate them on Thursday alongside our British and Commonwealth partners who also suffered losses.  It is an important day to remember the sacrifice that they made in this crucial battle of WW2.”

The Royal Air Force recognises around 130 Fighter Command aircrew from New Zealand who served in the Battle of Britain. Notable flying aces included pilots Colin Gray, Alan Deere and Brian Carbury among others.

A spitfire aircraft privately owned by Mr Brendon Deere and flown by RNZAF Squadron Leader Sean Perrett will perform a flypast over the National War Memorial at approximately 10.05 am on the day (weather permitting).

ENDS

For further information please contact Squadron Leader Kavae Tamariki, Defence Communications Group, on 04 496 0294 or 021 420 899.

Background Notes:

The Battle of Britain:

During the summer and autumn of 1940, the German Luftwaffe embarked on a campaign to win air superiority over the Royal Air Force (RAF). The Germans saw victory over the RAF as crucial if they wanted to mount an invasion of the United Kingdom.

The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces. From July 1940 the Luftwaffe was ordered to attack coastal convoys and radar stations along England’s south coast. The attacks then shifted to RAF airfields, aircraft factories, infrastructure and, finally, civilian targets. This change in strategy meant a dilution of force and is seen as one of the principal reasons for the Luftwaffe losing the battle.

Aircraft:

The mainstays of the RAF during the Battle of Britain were their two high performance fighters, the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire.

In addition the RAF also flew the Boulton Paul Defiant and Bristol Blenheim.

The primary fighter aircraft used by the Germans were the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Bf 110. Bombers consisted of the Junkers Ju 87 ‘Stuka’, Junkers Ju 88, Heinkel He 111 and Dornier Do 17.

New Zealand’s Contribution

The RAF recognises around 130 Fighter Command aircrew from New Zealand who served in the Battle of Britain. Notable flying aces included pilots Colin Gray, Alan Deere and Brian Carbury.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) was established in 1937 and under the Empire Air Training Scheme (BCATP) contributed over 2500 fully trained pilots to serve with the RAF in Europe and the Middle East.

 

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