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Sunday, 9 July, 2000, 20:59 GMT 21:59 UK
Battle of Britain survivors gather
A radar room
Skilled planning and pilots' bravery ensured the victory
The last survivors of the Battle of Britain have gathered to remember and honour their colleagues who died.

Sixty years to the day after Hitler began his invasion campaign from the air, about 66 survivors attended the event at the official memorial at Capel Le Ferne in Kent.

Battle of Britain
Up to 3,000 aircrew took part
80% of fliers were British
The other 20% were from 13 other countries, including Poland and New Zealand
Spitfires, Defiants and Blenheims were among the battle aircraft

The Royal Air Force recorded a famous victory over the German Luftwaffe at the 1940 battle over south-east England and the English Channel.

Of the 2,927 RAF and Allied airmen who fought in the battle, just 1,592 survived WWII. Those alive today number just a few hundred.

Heroes remembered included Spitfire pilot Sergeant Ronnie Hamlyn, the only RAF airman credited with destroying five enemy aircraft in a day.

Channel rescue

Group Captain Stanley Vincent, the only RAF pilot to shoot down enemies in both world wars and Flight Lieutenant Christopher Deanesley, who was shot down twice and rescued from the English Channel, was also remembered.

And Hurricane pilot Squadron Leader David Bayne and gunner Pilot Officer Sydney Carlin, who at the age of 51 was already a hero from the WWI, was commemorated.

These were just some of "The Few" - the name given by Winston Churchill to all those who fought the Battle of Britain.

Veterans were joined by current members of the RAF, the band of the RAF Regiment and the Queen's Colour Squadron.

'Grateful'

The Battle of Britain memorial was officially opened by the Queen Mother in 1993 and has since attracted tens of thousands of visitors.

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