World War Two fighter aircraft to target their old airfield in Doncaster

On Sunday May 5 the Merlin engines of a Spitfire and a Hurricane from the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will roar across the skies of South Yorkshire.
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Their target will be the site of the former WW2 airfield RAF Doncaster. There is not much left of it now but in the 1930s and 40s it was the home of air aces Douglas Bader, Cocky Dundas, Butch Casson and their famous 616 Squadron.

From the air it will be easy to find. The pilots will fly up the Great North Road from their airfield in Lincolnshire aiming for the Doncaster Racecourse and the Dome leisure centre. They will find what’s left of their old base just behind the Vue Cinema and the Bowling Alley.

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Sadly, they won’t be able to land because the runway disappeared years ago under the waters of Lakeside but several buildings remain and today they house the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum.

A Spitfire and a Hurricane in flight.A Spitfire and a Hurricane in flight.
A Spitfire and a Hurricane in flight.

So why are they coming and what’s their mission? They will be paying the RAF’s tribute to a few young pilots who stopped Adolf Hitler’s vastly superior German army invading this country back in 1940.

It became known as the “Battle of Britain”. The most important battle this country has fought since we were invaded by the Normans in 1066.

Years later a national monument was built in London to recognise those pilots who Prime Minister Winston Churchill called “The Few”. This was followed by other monuments and memorials across the south of England.

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Sadly there was nothing in the North despite many of the pilots, support crews and aircraft coming from north of Watford.

Bill Bond the man behind the London monument felt this was wrong and he started looking for a site for a Northern Memorial. He eventually settled on Doncaster and found a team of enthusiasts to make it happen.

On May 5 after many decades and many plans a Northern Memorial will be dedicated at the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum on the site of the former RAF Doncaster.

A simple brick wall has been built with the names of the fallen pilots inscribed alongside their RAF Crest and the words “Remembering the Few - Reminding the Many”. Above the wall are metal sculptures of a Spitfire and a Hurricane.

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At 1.45pm in the skies above this new Memorial two of the aircraft that helped the win the Battle of Britain will play their part in its dedication.

On the ground a group of today’s young men and women from the RAF Cadets will salute their forbears as they march past the Memorial before guests from across the country.

It may be 84 years since the Battle took place but thanks to the vision of the late Bill Bond and a group of Doncaster-based enthusiasts and their supporters “We will remember them”.

The current development is the first phase of a three-phase project. In Phase Two an education programme is being developed to educate and inform visitors. This will focus on the history of the Battle of Britain.

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In Phase Three the team are hoping to find a benefactor to help them source a full-size replica Spitfire. The aircraft will be displayed on the land former Mayor Peter Davis and Bill Bond originally secured and gained planning permission for.

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