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Intimate ceremony marks 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain

Commemorative wreath-laying ceremony for the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, held at the Royal Canadian Air Force Memorial in City Park, Kingston, on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. Photo by Lieutenant Stéphanie Bédard, 1 Wing Public Affairs

Members and veterans of the Royal Canadian Air Force marked the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain on Sunday, September 20, 2020, in Kingston’s City Park.

“Today, we honour the sacrifices of those brave Canadians and allies who risked their lives 80 years ago,” Chief Warrant Officer Andy Sargent, 1 Wing Headquarters Chief Warrant Officer said at the ceremony. “The successes of today are built on a foundation of past achievements. Let us never forget the road that brought us to where we stand now. We remember with awe and pride the Canadians who contributed to that impossible victory.”

What would normally be well-attended ceremony, was instead a small-yet-meaningful event honouring Canadians who fought with members of the British and allied air forces at a critical moment in world history. According to a release dated Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, this year’s contingent was significantly scaled down in order to adhere to COVID-19 mitigation measures and gathering restrictions.

Quick Facts about the Battle of Britain

  • The Battle of Britain represents the first commitment of the Royal Canadian Air Force to combat in the Second World War, and was the first battle to be fought solely in the air.
  • Waged from July to October 1940, The Battle of Britain pitted a small group of Allied fighter pilots against a far larger German air force – the Luftwaffe. The Allied victory gave hope to the people of freedom-loving nations, like Canada and Great Britain.
  • Described as the turning point in the Second World War, more than 100 Canadians flew alongside nearly 3,000 Allied aircrew in the battle for domination of the skies. In this historic first battle waged and won exclusively in the air, 23 Canadians lost their lives in the fight against the Luftwaffe.
  • Every year in September, around the world, air forces which participated in the Battle of Britain hold ceremonies to mark the losses and remember the victory of a small group of valiant airmen, supported by ground personnel, who, against all odds, turned back the Luftwaffe and thwarted the invasion plans.

“The heroes of the Battle of Britain represent the very best of what it means to be Canadian,” stated Lieutenant-Colonel Chung Wong, 1 Wing Headquarters Commanding Officer. “The Royal Canadian Air Force of today has been built by those who have served before us. It is our history that defines us and the future we prepare for. That legacy continues in our airmen and airwomen who put their lives on the line every day to defend Canadians at home and abroad.”

Colonel Chris McKenna, Commander 1 Wing expanded on Lieutenant-Colonel Wong’s statement: “It remains as important as ever this year to take a moment to remember the remarkable achievements of the more than 100 Canadians who flew alongside nearly 3,000 Allied aircrew in the fight against the Luftwaffe, of which 23 Canadians made the ultimate sacrifice. We remember the heroic actions of those brave Canadians and allies who built a storied legacy and a solid foundation of which the Royal Canadian Air Force of today can be proud.”

For more information about the Battle of Britain and the 80th commemorative ceremonies held across the country, please visit: https://rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/en/battle-britain/index.page

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