Press & Communications

06 Sep 2010

The 70th anniversary service of the Battle of Britain

Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall and His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales will attend the annual Battle of Britain service of thanksgiving and rededication to be held in Westminster Abbey at 11 am on Sunday 19 September  2010.

This year’s service, which marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, will be broadcast on the same day on BBC1 between 12 noon and 1.40pm

This annual service commemorates the remarkable victory, and loss of life, by Royal Air Force pilots and aircrew during the Battle of Britain in 1940 and is an occasion to mark the nation's gratitude for the service and sacrifice of those who took part in this critical phase of World War Two.

The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign to be fought entirely in the skies. When the battle was over 544 RAF pilots and aircrew were dead. The conflict brought together a truly multinational force comprising 574 British, 139 Poles, 98 New Zealanders, 86 Canadians, 84 Czechoslovakians, 29 Belgians, 21 Australians, 20 South Africans, 13 French, 10 Irish plus others from the USA, Jamaica, Palestine and Southern Rhodesia.

It was Churchill who said on 20 August 1940: "The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

The pilots and aircrew are commemorated in the RAF Chapel at the east end of the Abbey's Henry VII Chapel where a magnificent stained glass memorial window designed by Hugh Easton was unveiled by King George VI on 10 July 1947.

This year's service will end with a RAF flypast.

Admission to the service is by ticket only. All tickets have now been allocated.