Page last updated at 23:11 GMT, Friday, 12 September 2008 00:11 UK

Spitfire tribute to WWII airmen

Spitfire
A Lancaster bomber and a Spitfire will conduct a flypast

A full-sized replica of a Mark 1 Spitfire is being unveiled in tribute to air cadets killed while training at Grangemouth's former RAF base.

A special ceremony, which will include a flypast by a Hurricane and Lancaster bomber, is being held on Saturday to mark the contribution of the men.

RAF Grangemouth served as a major air centre until 1949 and was where pilots from all over Europe trained.

A memorial garden to those who died will also be opened.

The flypast will be the first time a Spitfire has taken to the skies above Grangemouth since World War II.

The contribution of the hundreds of Polish pilots who developed their skills at the base as members of the 58 Operational Training Unit during the war are being given special significance.

Many who test flew the planes were killed during training as a direct result of the poor condition of the aircraft.

Many of these planes had been badly shot up, one of the reasons that so many were killed in training accidents
Tom McMorrow
Flying officer
The commemoration has been organised by the 1333 (Grangemouth) Squadron of the Air Training Corps who began a campaign to trace the former cadet's families in 2006.

Commanding officer Tom McMorrow said: "With Grangemouth now hosting a growing Polish community, I just felt that now was the right time to try to do something to commemorate all these brave Polish boys who learnt to fly using Battle of Britain Mk 1 Spitfires.

"Many of these planes had been badly shot up, one of the reasons that so many were killed in training accidents.

"We were granted a site for the memorial garden on a piece of ground on the perimeter of where the old airfield once stood."

Exact copy

A wall featuring the names of each of the Polish fighter pilots who died at Grangemouth will also be unveiled.

Officer McMorrow added: "Two flag-poles will be raised on Saturday, one with an RAF flag and the other with the Polish flag.

"The plane will bear the distinctive markings and colours of the Polish 303 Squadron, which was the highest scoring foreign squadron in the Battle of Britain."

By late 1939, RAF Grangemouth was used solely as a Battle of Britain satellite airbase, strategically vital for the protection of the Forth Bridge and Rosyth Docks, where many of the Royal Navy fleet were based or repaired.

Polish RAF airmen flying from Grangemouth played a crucial part in the Battle of Britain.

The full-size replica Spitfire being unveiled is an exact copy of an aircraft flown by 58 OTU Sergeant Eugeniusz Tadensy Lukomski.

He was killed in 1941 when his Spitfire came down in Avondale Estate in nearby Polmont.




SEE ALSO
Move to contact airmen families
28 Dec 06 |  Tayside and Central

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