Many Kiwis will not have heard of Sir Keith Park, but they should.
In the Daily Telegraph, Tony Benn and Lord Tebbit call for a permament memorial to be established for Sir Keith.
Sir Keith was born in Thames, joined the NZ Army and fought in WWI at Gallipoli. He transferred to the British Army and then the Royal Flying Corps. He shot down 14 planes during WWI.
After the war he was promoted to Air Chief Marshal (equal to a full General) and returned to NZ in 1946. He was elected to the Auckland City Council and died in 1975 aged 82.
Anyway Benn and Tebbit say:
In a combined political career stretching to the best part of 100 years, the two of us have rarely agreed on anything. But on one issue we have discovered common ground – the need for a permanent memorial in London to Sir Keith Park, the Battle of Britain hero.
London is the city that he helped save and the Sir Keith Park Memorial Campaign is shortly to submit an application to the planning committee of Westminster City Council to erect a memorial statue to this great man. It is an application that we both fervently support because it would give long-overdue recognition to a man whose achievements have never been properly recognised in this country.
Even today, despite the efforts of the Sir Keith Park Memorial Campaign, a surprising number of people have never even heard of Park. But he played as important a role as the great Admiral Lord Nelson, who dominates Trafalgar Square, in securing the freedom that we enjoy today. As Hitler’s army gathered in the Channel ports in 1940 in preparation for his planned invasion of Britain, the Luftwaffe was fighting a battle for control of the skies over southern England. Hitler needed to achieve air supremacy for the invasion to go ahead and the only thing preventing him was the stubborn Royal Air Force.
Had we lost the Battle of Britain, Hitler would have been able to knock our country out of the war, either through a direct invasion or prolonged aerial bombardment. The consequences would have been horrific both for Britain and the wider free world.
Now people may say how much is due to the commander. Well he led from his plane – not a desk:
Sir Keith was the unsung hero of the Battle of Britain. Commanding 11 Group Fighter Command, he was responsible for the defence of London and south-east England and his squadrons bore the brunt of the fighting. His role in the battle led the then Marshal of the RAF, Lord Tedder, to say after the war: “If ever any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did. I don’t believe it is recognised how much this one man, with his leadership, his calm judgment and his skill, did to save not only this country, but the world.”
We can be very proud of Sir Keith.
There is a campaign page where you can go to and support the campaign for a suitable memorial in London to Sir Keith.
The planning applications have just been submitted to the Westminster City Council for a tribute to Sir Keithto be erected permanently in Waterloo Place (next to the Athenaeum) and also a temporary version on the 4th Plinth in Trafalgar Square. The statue of Sir Keith will be created by Wellington’s Weta Workshop.
The Park Memorial campaign is currently calling on Kiwis to lend their support to this final stage by sending letters in support of the planning applications to the Westminster City Council. The campaign is aiming to generate as many letters/emails as possible backing the planning applications.
Supporters can visit the campaign web site at http://www.sirkeithpark.com and in the left hand column there is a click through banner that takes you to an email letter of support. All you have to do is drop your name into the profoma and e-mail it off (takes less than 60 secs). Note it works better in IE than Firefox.
I’ve just sent a letter off myself.