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The Few and the RAF of today are saluted in Dereham Battle of Britain Parade

13:18 16 September 2012

The Dereham Battle of Britain Parade heads into Market Place. Picture by Alan Cooper.

The Dereham Battle of Britain Parade heads into Market Place. Picture by Alan Cooper.

Archant

The present-day dangers being faced by the RAF in Afghanistan were uppermost in the thoughts of past and present Servicemen and women, as well as spectators, as Dereham today saluted the doughty courage of The Few way back in the second world war.

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Town centre shoppers, young people and pensioners paused to watch as the annual Battle of Britain Parade took place.

The march was organised by Dereham and Swaffham branch of the Royal Air Forces Association.

And the parade made an impressive sight as immaculately-turned-out past and present RAF personnel, standard-bearers representing RAFA and the Royal British Legion and other organisations, and dozens of air cadets from the district stepped briskly through Market Place and down to St Nicholas’s Church, to the stirring music of Dereham Band.

The salute was taken at the town war memorial by Wing Cmdr Jon Osborne, from RAF Marham, accompanied by Dereham mayor Linda Monument and RAFA branch president George Lockett.

Apart from commemorating the 1940 Battle of Britain, the parade marked the end of Wings Week, the major fundraising campaign held each year to boost RAFA’s support and welfare work with ex-Service people and their families.

RAF personnel could be seen collecting locally during the week, and Stef Poole, RAFA branch secretary and a chief technician stationed at RAF Marham, said people had been giving generously.

He did his stint at Morrisons supermarket in Dereham and said shoppers were dropping £20 notes into the tin.

“When we’ve been collecting, we’ve certainly been getting the attention,” he added. “People notice the uniform. We’ve done pretty well. I think people appreciate what we’re doing.”

One old soldier proud to be mingling among the ranks of airmen and young cadets at the parade was William Taylor, 92, of Dereham, who was there with his ex-RAF son Keith.

William fought with the 59th Anti-Tank Regiment RA in the second world war, including in Normandy, and was twice wounded in battle. “I was glad to be alive after it,” he said. “I’ve come here today as a gesture of support.”

After a service at the parish church, those involved in the parade adjourned to Dereham Meeting Point for a reception.

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