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Above and below: The parade sets off from Chapel Street on its way to St Mary's Church.

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Tributes to the brave

WINGSHundreds of people paid their respects on Sunday (September 16th), as Melton Mowbray paid its annual tribute to those who fought in the skies above England during the Second World War.

This year the traditional annual Battle of Britain parade was much bigger than usual to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Air Force and former Royal Air Force servicemen and women from the area took part on the day.

This year’s parade incorporated a Royal Air Force Centenary Service and Battle of Britain Thanksgiving at St Mary’s Church, as well as wreath-laying and dedications in the Memorial Gardens on Wilton Road.

The parade formed in Chapel Street at 10am before marching through the town to the church, where Team Parish Rector, the Revd Kevin Ashby led a service at 10.30am and standards and wreaths were received.

The service, which was poignant and moving, began with the processional hymn All people that on earth do dwell when the standards and wreaths were presented before a bidding prayer and The Lord's Prayer then the first reading, an extract from The Birth of the Royal Air Force by Richard Overy, read by Deputy Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Col. Richard Hurwood.

This was followed by the hymn O Ruler of the earth and sky before the second reading from High Flight by John Gillespie, which was read by Cadet Sargeant Samuel Page from 1279 Melton Mowbray Squadron ATC.


St Mary's Church Choir proved they were in fine voice with a rendition of Malcolm Archer's They Shall Not Grow Old followed by the third reading, taken from Isiah, Chapter 40:verses 25-31, given by Mayor of Melton, Cllr Pru Chandler.

WINGSThe hymn I vow to thee, my country, was followed by the fourth reading from Matthew Chapter 5:verses 1-12, which was given by High Sheriff of Leicestershire, Diana Thompson.

The hymn God is our strength and refuge, followed the address by The Revd Ashby followed by prayers and the hymn Now thank we all our God, during which the standards and wreaths were returned, before the Act of Remembrance.

The dedication was read by Air Commodore (retired) Andrew Griffin, followed by The Last Post, The Silence then Reveille. The National Anthem followed before the recessional hymn O God our help in ages past.


After the service, at around 11.30am, the parade set off in Burton Street and marched off into the Market Place, where the salute was taken by Air Commodore Andrew Griffin (Retd). He was joined by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Col Richard Hurwood, the High Sheriff of Leicestershire, Mrs Diana Thompson, The Mayor of Melton, Councillor Pru Chandler, Senior Town Warden John Southerington, and the Melton RAFA branch president.

The parade then continued down Leicester Street into the Memorial Gardens, where wreaths were laid from all the organisations taking part. This part of the event was led by RAFAC Padre John Hewer with the Last Post and Reveille before the party was dismissed.

 *The Battle of Britain took place 78 years ago and resulted in an heroic victory against the odds for the heavily outnumbered Royal Air Force over the German Luftwaffe. It prevented an invasion of Britain by Hitler’s Nazis following the fall of France, prompting Prime Minister Winston Churchill to say famously in a speech that ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’. 

The Melton branch of the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA) organises the annual parade to mark the iconic dogfights involving Spitfires, Hurricanes and other fighters between July and October 1940.  

Pictures by Nicola Solloway and Phil Balding.


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Above and below: Pictures taken during the service in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray.

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Among those enjoying the service in St Mary's Church were ex-RAF personnel Jackie and David Wood and their eight-year-old son Ethan, who proudly wore some of his dad's medals.

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Pictured before the service are Deputy Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Col. Richard Hurwood and  High Sheriff of Leicestershire, Diana Thompson.


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Above and below: Taking the salute in Melton Market Place before the parade continued down Leicester Street into the Memorial Gardens.

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Youngsters prepare to pay their respects at the Memorial Gardens.

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Wreaths were laid at the Memorial Gardens.

 


Phil Balding, 16/09/2018

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