National monument to aces of Battle of Britain

Douglas Bader
Douglas Bader
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SOUTH Yorkshire is to be at the centre of a £600,000 national monument plan to remember the war heroes of the Battle of Britain.

One of five memorials to the fighter pilots who fought the Germans in the skies over Britain in 1940 will be based in Doncaster, it has been announced by the Battle of Britain Historical Society.

The monument will be built at the Aeroventure museum at Doncaster Lakeside.

It will be five metres high with a bronze statue at the centre, depicting an aircraft involved in a dogfight. It will incorporate busts of wartime commanders, stained glass windows and picture panels depicting Battle of Britain scenes. It will also have an outdoor widescreen display upon which footage from the Battle will be shown and the names of all 2,950 Allied aircrew who flew will be inscribed on large granite slabs.

There is already a memorial in London. The new ones will be built in the Scottish borders, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as Doncaster.

The South Yorkshire structure will be the first to be erected, with construction expected to start next January. Building work is expected to last for eight months. A campaign to raise the money to build the memorial is already under way.

Originator of the project, Bill Bond MBE, said: “The Battle of Britain changed the course of world history, and should be remembered throughout the land.”

Several of the aces who fought were born or brought up in South Yorkshire.

The most famous was Douglas Bader, who flew despite having both legs amputated as a result of a flying accident before the war. Bader was the stepson of the rector of Sprotbrough and, before he joined the RAF in the 1930s, spent some of his boyhood living in the rectory – where evidence of his presence can still be found in the windows damaged by potshots from his air rifle.

George ‘Grumpy’ Unwin, son of a miner from Bolton-upon-Dearne, was also one of the RAF’s top aces and eventually rose to the rank of Wing Commander.