Biggin Hill is possibly the most famous of Battle of Britain airfields so was ideally suited to host an event to commemorate the battles that took place in the skies above the south east of England in 1940. Organised by Synergy Events Ltd and the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar and making use of the latter’s aircraft, the event was to be a blend of air displays, live music, big-screen visuals and narration. The detailed choreographing was a feat in itself, but the weather forecast would clearly add an unknown quantity into the equation. As it transpired the event was hit by strong winds and rain, but both the organisers and crews and also the viewing public held out stoically to the end – very fitting given the events being remembered.
Backed by music provided by the Central Band of the Royal Air Force and narration by actor Martin Shaw, the programme included a number of singing and dance entertainment acts. The images here cover the event as it approached its crescendo via the height of the Battle. As Martin Shaw described actual events from 1940 in detail and film footage of the era was displayed on the big screen a Hurricane and two Spitfires ‘scrambled’ to intercept the raiding Luftwaffe (with the Nord version of the Bf108 playing three-dimensional support to the swarms of Heinkel 111s and other machinery depicted on the screen). The weather was very close to limits for the display which may not have gone ahead had not the pilots been so familiar with their ‘home’ airport.
As dusk fell and the weather worsened, the band continued to play in the ‘proms’ style to the waving flags of the public.
Towards its finale Fiona Howell sang proms favourites ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’ and ‘Jerusalem’, and the band encored with ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ whilst the crowd bobbed up and down as per the Last Night of the Proms – clearly still enjoying themselves as the rain continued to stair-rod down. Perseverance personified!