The fund-raising and hard work of the South West Airfields Heritage Trust could result in a life-size bronze statue of a Battle of Britain Pilot being erected at the entrance to Exeter Airport if all goes to plan. The Trust, who want to recognise the debt the region owes to the aircrew based at the airfield and to mark the part it played during the Second World War, are embarking on a fifty thousand pound campaign to raise the money for the Exeter Airport RAF Memorial Project.
Following the success of the planning application, the South West Airfields Heritage Trust with the cooperation and consent of the management of Exeter International Airport, are now planning a life size bronze statue of a Battle of Britain Pilot for the airport. The statue, which is to be mounted on a plinth near the main entrance shows a pilot scanning the sky for his missing comrades and honours all who served there.
Robin Gilbert of the South West Airfields Trust said: “Seventy years ago the Exeter International Airport site was the base for a many aircraft involved in the conflict including the 87 and 213 R.A.F. Fighter Squadrons. Together with the rest of the expeditionary forces they had retreated from France having failed to halt the advancing Nazi War Machine. The Squadrons found themselves being called upon to defend our own shores by playing a major role in the Battle of Britain but they were often overwhelmed by the number of enemy aircraft.
“Our first task is to reach the one thousand pounds for the sculptor’s maquette, which is a small scale model of the statue. We are hoping to find funding in a variety of areas and in particular we are appealing to those who lived through the Second World War for their help.”
Welcoming the launch of the project, Jamie Christon Exeter Airport’s managing director said: “At present there is little to remind our passengers of the heroic wartime efforts or the part the airfield played during WWII. There is a great deal of interest in paying tribute to those who served at Exeter here so we are pleased to be able to provide a suitable site for the monument. We also wish the Trust the best of luck in their appeal for the fifty thousand pounds needed to complete the statue.”