A Sheffield woman who served in the RAF in 1940 laid a wreath at Sheffield’s war memorial as the city paid tribute to the Battle of Britain.
Hundreds of veterans and former air force personnel paraded through the streets yesterday supported by Sheffield families who came out to pay their respects to those who served and the many who died in the conflict 74 years ago.
Wreaths were laid and the Last Post and Reveille were sounded, before a parade by RAFA members and Royal Air Force Cadets from Barker’s Pool through the city centre to the Cathedral, led by Oughtibridge Brass Band.
A service attended by the Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire David Moody and Lord Mayor of Sheffield Peter Rippon was held at the Cathedral, followed by a parade and march past the Cutler’s Hall.
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the air campaign waged by the German Luftwaffe on Britain during the Second World War, which resulted in victory in the skies for allied forces despite being outnumbered.
The event also marked the Battle of Arnhem, a famous World War Two battle in which the Germans defeated an allied attack around the Dutch towns of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Wolfheze, Driel from September 17 to 26, 1944.
Mary Marsden, aged 92, from Jordanthorpe, Sheffield, was in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, part of the RAF, for both conflicts as a cook.
She is the oldest member of the RAF Association Sheffield branch and was chosen to lay the wreath at the cenotaph in Barker’s Pool.
Mary said: “We were young, we didn’t think about it. We had a lot to do and we just did it. We did what we could to help, we fed them up and sent them out. Of course, only half of them came back.
“I was on duty on the morning of the battle, and I could hear this buzzing. Within two hours they were shot out of the sky.” Those at the parade stressed the importance of the event, especially for younger people.
Eric Fowler, 86, of Handsworth, who joined the RAF in 1950, said: “It’s very important. The RAF did a damn good job. There should be a lot more respect.”
William Carline, a 93-year-old RAF veteran from Frecheville, stressed Sheffield’s role in the conflict. He said: “All the heavy armaments came from here. Sheffield supplied half the war with guns and armaments because of the steelworks.”
Nick Longden, warrant officer for Royal Air Force Air Cadets 362 Elm Tree Squadron in Manor Top, said: “It has been a really good turnout.
“I think this year it has been seen by people who wouldn’t normally see it because of the event in Barker’s Pool. So people are coming and seeing it who might not have done so otherwise.
“That will change their perception and perhaps they will come to see things we do in the future.
“It’s not just us, there are people from all over Sheffield and beyond coming together today.
“I think it’s really important, especially with the fact there are less and less veterans now, to the people like us to honour them. It’s good that we do this for them.”