The Wing Battle Of Britain Memorial Capel Le Ferne

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.

 

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THE WING - Battle of Britain Memorial - Capel le Ferne

Date: 28th March 2015

THE WING - Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel le Ferne

Her Majesty the Queen officially opened The Wing on Thursday 26th March in company with the many generous donors (who made this mini miracle happen) and BOB Veterans.

I was fortunate in being invited to the Open Day on Friday 27th. Of course, I’ve been aware of The Wing throughout its 3 year gestation period but nothing could prepare me for its ‘Magnificence’. It is a ‘beautiful’ building roughly in the shape of a Spitfire and it is sited in such a way that it looks as though it has always been there – it complements the existing Memorial and the Wall of Remembrance.

The main attraction is The Scramble Experience which is quite ‘jaw dropping’. I don’t know how I can start to describe it – the walls are plastered with iconic black and white panoramas of the various stages of a day in the life of a fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain (July 10th – 31st October 1940). There are interactive exhibits - plenty to entertain parents and children alike. The one that I particularly liked was a table set with a chess board and two cups of tea/coffee and two chairs and the invitation to sit on one of the chairs and only when seated do you hear a typical conversation between two pilots on alert before being called into battle.

There is a short video depicting the experience of a fighter pilot taking off and returning from a mission – and without giving too much away there will be a tear in many an eye.

The Geoffrey Page Centre features books and interesting artefacts appropriate to the Battle of Britain period and many limited editions of books and replica Spits and Hurricanes. There’s the Cockpit Café which must be sited in one of the best places in the UK. On a clear day you wouldn’t be able to see forever but you would certainly see France.

The site was always free to visitors but, obviously, the Wing needs maintaining and there’s, in my opinion, a very small charge for a totally unique experience. The rest of the site including the Sir Christopher Foxley Norris Memorial Wall still remains free to the visitor although I think there is a request for a small donation as a parking charge. The whole site is predominantly run by unpaid volunteers.

I am a romantic and always like to make a purchase  to remind me of a lovely experience, holiday, memorable occasion and a book caught my eye. It was a biography of ‘Sailor’ Malan who happened to be Station Commander at Biggin Hill when ‘my’ French Pilot René Mouchotte was stationed there. In my documentary ‘Searching for René’ – you see Sailor Malan in the Pathé News film where René and Jack Charles are sharing the prize for the shooting down of the 1000th German plane. Because of this connection and the fact that it was signed by several of my favourite BOB veterans, I bought it. Imagine my delight, last night when I started reading it, to discover that Malan’s family were Huguenots who had left France and settled North of Cape Town at a town I’ve visited several times - Wellington.  Anyone who follows my Blogs will know that I am  very interested in the Huguenots.

To find out more visit      http://www.battleofbritainmemorial.org/the-wing/

 

The Scramble Experience
 

THE WING - Battle of Britain Memorial - Capel le Ferne

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.