Poignant scene as only six can attend Battle of Britain service

80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain at Norwich City Hall. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain at Norwich City Hall. Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

It was perhaps not the way many people would have expected to mark the 80th anniversary of a pivotal moment of the Second World War.

80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain at Norwich City Hall. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain at Norwich City Hall. Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

However, while the Covid-19 pandemic may have limited the scale of how the Battle of Britain was remembered, for the station commander at RAF Marham it added poignancy to the occasion.

On Monday morning, September 14, a very small scale memorial service was held outside Norwich’s war memorial opposite City Hall - so small in fact that just six people participated in the ceremonies.

However, James Beck, who is also group captain at Marham, said that in a way this added to the significance of the occasion.

He said: “I think the way we had to do the service was quite symbolic. When you analyse the austere conditions of the times in a very small way there are similarities to how things were when the war was being fought.

Lord mayor of Norwich Vaughan Thomas gives an address at the Battle of Britain memorial ceremony Pic

Lord mayor of Norwich Vaughan Thomas gives an address at the Battle of Britain memorial ceremony Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant


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“These are times of tremendous uncertainty, anxiety and sacrifice and certainly 80 years ago it was like that too, but on a far greater scale.

“In an ideal world it would have been great to have had more people here, but everything ran incredibly smoothly, it was a glorious day, and it meant an incredible amount to still be able to pay tribute to those who gave so much.”

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The service saw wreaths laid by Captain Beck, Stuart Colbourne, president of the Norwich Royal Air Forces Association, deputy lieutenant Marion Prinsely and Lord Mayor Vaughan Thomas. The Rev Edward Carter, from St Peter Mancroft church, led the proceedings, while a standard bearer from the RAF branch in Norwich completed the six-strong service.

The memorial was cordoned out with velvet rope to allow those who participated to do so in a socially-distanced manner, while a sanitising table was also in place.

James Beck, station commander, RAF Marham. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

James Beck, station commander, RAF Marham. Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

Mr Thomas, who without coronavirus would have completed his term as Lord Mayor in May, said: “It obviously would have been nice to be able to have a few more airman here to attend, but we had to put health and safety first. For me, it was a great honour to be involved.”

Deputy Lieutenant, Dr Marian Prinsley DL. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Deputy Lieutenant, Dr Marian Prinsley DL. Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

Squadron Leader RAF Retired Stuart Colbourne. President Norwich Branch of the Royal Air Force Associ

Squadron Leader RAF Retired Stuart Colbourne. President Norwich Branch of the Royal Air Force Association. Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

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