Banbury residents turned out in force on Sunday to honour the country’s Battle of Britain heroes. A military and civic parade marched from Broad Street, along High Street, round The Cross into Horsefair and then to St Mary’s Church for a memorial service. After the service the parade marched back down High Street for the salute opposite the bandstand.
Hundreds of people lined the route to watch the processions. The battle was fought in the skies above southern England in the summer and autumn of 1940 and the RAF’s defeat of the Luftwaffe was a major factor in preventing Hitler from invading England. Banbury is one of the few towns to organise an annual tribute to ‘the few’ and the event is run by the town council.
Leader of the council Kieron Mallon said: “We must never forget the airmen of the Royal Air Force who fought the Battle of Britain. “Winston Churchill said at the time – ‘never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’ – and in Banbury we will continue to honour their memory.”
Banbury played a crucial role in the battle. The town’s former aluminium factory, known as ‘the ally,’ was the only place in England that produced metal for the manufacture of aircraft for the RAF, including Spitfires and Lancaster bombers. To protect the plant from air raids, the real factory was camouflaged to look like open fields and a fake factory was built three miles north of Banbury to mislead German bombers. The fake factory was known as the ‘dummy ally.’
Banbury Civic Society’s Rob Kinchin-Smith, who researched the plant’s history, said: “It’s fair to say that if the Banbury factory hadn’t existed or if it had been seriously bombed, the outcome of the Battle of Britain would have been very different.”