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The Thames Air Cadets stand to attention during the commemoration ceremony. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

Airmen remembered

More than 100 people packed the Hauraki Aero Club Hangar at the Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield in Thames on September 10, to commemorate the Battle of Britain.

One hundred and thirty-five New Zealand airmen were involved in the 1940 conflict, as the nearly four-month battle played out in Britain’s skies.

The event was a solemn affair. Officials including Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Dines from the British High Commission in Wellington, Royal New Zealand Air Force Group Captain Mike Cannon, Thames-Coromandel Mayor Len Salt, Coromandel MP Scott Simpson, and Geoff Furkert, president of the Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield society, were invited to pay their respects to those who fought in the battle. 

It was also an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of Sir Keith Park himself, as the airfield society works towards completion of the Look Skywards project, a tribute to the Thames man who was one of New Zealand’s greatest aviators.

Stage one of the project, a replica of the Hurricane fighter Sir Keith flew during the battle, was erected at the entrance to the airfield during the Battle of Britain commemorations in September, 2020. Stage two will be a 2.3 metre bronze statue of the man by sculptor Joanne Sullivan, to be installed under the Hurricane. 

The airfield society is currently raising funds to complete the statue, with the aim of installing it at next year’s Battle of Britain commemorations.

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air

RNZAF Group Captain Mike Cannon addresses the crowd. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER
Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Dines. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER
Airfield society president Geoff Furkert. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER
The replica of Sir Keith's Hurricane fighter sits proudly above the airfield in Thames. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER