Westminster Abbey marks Battle of Britain anniversary

A Service of Thanksgiving and Rededication to mark Battle of Britain Sunday was held at Westminster Abbey on Sunday 18th September 2016.

HRH The Prince of Wales was represented by Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Johns GCB KCVO CBE. The National Anthem was sung.

In his Bidding, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said: ‘Once again we come together on Battle of Britain Sunday in this House of Kings and House of Prayer to give thanks for the dedication and heroism of members of the Royal Air Force and the allied air forces in that remarkable struggle for air supremacy over Britain in October 1940. Their courage marked a turning point in the war, for without their bravery it is hard to see how the Second World War could have been won.

‘As we reflect today on their gallantry and fortitude, we remember all who have served and still serve in the Royal Air Force. We honour all who fight in the service of freedom; we express penitence for the suffering and destruction caused by armed conflicts; and we renew our commitment to work for justice, freedom, and decency.’

Warrant Officer Karen Pinnion RAF read Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier KCB CBE DFC ADC RAF, Chief of the Air Staff, read St Luke 9: 51-62.

The Address was given by the Venerable (Air Vice-Marshal) Jonathan Chaffey QHC RAF, Chaplain-in-Chief of the Royal Air Force.

The Prayers were led by the Reverend Paul Arbuthnot, Minor Canon and Sacrist of Westminster, and said by Cadet Warrant Officer Isha Hussain, 31 (Tower Hamlets) Squadron; Sergeant Mike Allison RAF; the Reverend (Wing Commander) Ruth Hake RAF, Staff Chaplain to the Chaplain-in-Chief of the Royal Air Force; Cadet Warrant Officer Callum Redpath, 101 (Kenton and Kingsbury) Squadron; and the Reverend Professor Vernon White, Canon in Residence.

The service included an Act of Remembrance during which the Battle of Britain Roll of Honour was borne from the Grave of the Unknown Warrior to the Sacrarium by Battle of Britain veterans, sons of the veterans, and serving Royal Air Force pilots and aircrew. At the start of the service the Standard of Number 17 Squadron was borne through the Abbey church and laid by the Dean upon the High Altar.

Before he pronounced the Blessing, the Dean led an Act of Rededication ‘to building a world where there is justice and peace for all, and where women, men and children live a life of full human dignity.’

The service was sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey conducted by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers. The organ was played by Daniel Cook, Sub Organist. The Central Band of the RAF, conducted by Wing Commander Duncan Stubbs RAF, also played at the service.

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