Men lost in Battle of Britain honoured

04:12, Sep 17 2012
Jim Tebbutt
Jim Tebbutt lays a poppy in the flag and salutes his fallen comrades.

About 40 people gathered under a grey Blenheim sky yesterday to remember the New Zealand airmen who died in the Battle of Britain.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force Association hosted the event at the war memorial in Seymour Square.

It commemorated the 72nd anniversary of the air battle which saw the German air force, the Luftwaffe, try to gain superiority in the air over Great Britain.

A total of 135 New Zealand airmen flew with the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain which lasted from May 10 to October 31, 1940. Twenty of them were killed, two of whom were from Marlborough.

Marlborough War Birds began the proceedings with a flyover at 11am before Deputy Mayor Jenny Andrews gave thanks to those in attendance and spoke of the airmen's sacrifices.

St Mary's School student Jack Dalton, 8, helped his leadership mentor Marlborough RSA vice-president Peter Slape lay a wreath on the memorial.


He chose Mr Slape as a leadership role model for a school research project and has learned a lot about respect and integrity from him.

He said he hoped to become a leader one day and believed it was "something you're born with".

He jumped at the chance to lay the wreath when Mr Slape asked if he would like to join him at the front during the ceremony.

Speaking at a reception at the Marlborough RSA after the ceremony, former RNZAF transport navigator Rick Oxenham said his highlight was retired air vice-marshall David Bamfield's historical speech on the importance of the battle in turning the tide of the war and paving the way for D-Day in 1944.

Mr Oxenham trained at Base Woodbourne in 1956 when he was 16 and spent 20 years in the service.

"I came out of respect to the memory of the Battle of Britain and the sacrifices made by the New Zealand pilots."

The Marlborough Express