‘Selfless’ Battle of Britain heroes and NHS staff hailed at anniversary service

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among the guests at the service marking the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

‘Selfless’ Battle of Britain heroes and NHS staff hailed at anniversary service

Parallels were drawn between the heroism of The Few and modern-day NHS staff and key workers who face a “fight against an invisible army” at a small and intimate service at Westminster Abbey marking the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

The annual Sunday service usually attracts around 2,200 people to the London landmark as the UK commemorates the first battle in history fought entirely in the air during the Second World War.

This year’s service, which is the venue’s first since lockdown, saw attendance significantly reduced and social distancing measures in place for 79 invited guests.

Chairs for the guests, who were all wearing a face covering, were placed at the transepts of the church close to the altar.

Battle of Britain 80th anniversary
A flypast to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain (Aaron Chown/PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among the guests at the service, as well Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Stirrup, representing the Prince of Wales.

He drew comparisons between the Battle of Britain and the coronavirus pandemic, stating: “Once again there have been sacrifices made, often quiet, often humble, unnoticed by many.

Battle of Britain anniversary service
A service to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain at Westminster Abbey (Aaron Chown/PA)

“We have seen the selfless giving to a greater cause.”

Led by Dr David Hoyle, the Dean of Westminster Abbey, the service included an act of remembrance, during which the Battle of Britain Roll of Honour bearing the names of 1,497 pilots and aircrew killed or mortally wounded in the battle was borne through the church.

This was followed by a procession of flags, readings, prayers and music by the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment and singing by the church choir.

Boris Johnson during a service to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain
Boris Johnson during a service to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain at Westminster Abbey (Aaron Chown/PA)

The Battle of Britain was a major air campaign fought in the skies over the UK in 1940, and although the battle took place between July and October, September 15 saw the British Royal Air Force (RAF) gain a decisive victory over the Luftwaffe in what was Nazi Germany’s largest daylight attack.

Some 1,120 Luftwaffe aircraft were sent to attack London, but were repelled by just 630 RAF fighters – and two days later Hitler postponed his plans to invade Britain.

Westminster Abbey has held a service of thanksgiving and rededication on Battle of Britain Sunday every year since 1944.

Sunday’s event was the first major service to take place at Westminster Abbey since the Commonwealth Day service held earlier this year on March 9, two weeks before the UK went into lockdown in response to the pandemic.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More From The Guernsey Press

UK & International News