Cities of London and Westminster MP, Mark Field, attended the launch this morning of the campaign to erect a statue of Battle of Britain hero, Sir Keith Park, on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. Former Battle of Britain pilots joined senior serving RAF officers, a great-great-niece of Sir Keith Park, and politicians to support the campaign.
New Zealander Sir Keith Park played a crucial role in winning the Battle of Britain. As Air Vice-Marshal, Park commanded the RAF squadrons which defended London and the South East of England in 1940. He then led the defence of Malta in 1942 and reached the rank of Air Chief Marshal.
After the war, Lord Tedder, GCB, Marshal of the Royal Air Force, said of Park: “If any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did. I do not believe it is realised how much that one man, with his leadership, his calm judgement and his skill, did to save, not only this country, but the world.”
Mark said, “In our celebrity-obsessed culture, it is vital that we are reminded of the people who have really helped to defend our nation and allowed it to prosper. Sir Keith Park is one of the unsung heroes in our history and without his brave contribution to our war effort, who knows how different London would be today?”
A full-size replica of a Spitfire was brought to Trafalgar Square to mark the campaign’s launch. Commenting on the aircraft’s size, Mark said “Standing next to a Spitfire, one realises just how small these planes are in comparison to today’s fighter jets. My grandfather fought in the RAF and seeing the equipment this generation of men were using to fight brings into focus just how brave their actions were”.
The campaign for a statue of Sir Keith was initiated by Terry Smith, a businessman and keen historian. Terry Smith said: “Trafalgar Square commemorates Nelson, who defended England in her hour of need. Yet, amazingly, there is no public memorial to Sir Keith Park. It is hard to imagine that the Fourth Plinth could serve a greater purpose than commemorating a man who did so much for this country. Hitler’s failure to beat the RAF in 1940 forced him to call off his plans for invading Britain. Had Park lost, think what our future might have been.”
“Such a memorial would help keep both his memory alive, and also help educate the young and all visitors to London of the incredible sacrifices made in that epic battle which raged above London and the South East in 1940.”
To learn more about Sir Keith and to sign the online petition calling for the memorial, visit the campaign’s website