Unveiling of Grangemouth Spitfire memorial promised for May 9, 2013
One of the items we latched on to some time ago (as in 5 years ago), was the arrival of a full size replica Spitfire in Grangemouth, due to be erected on the site where RAF Grangemouth had operated during World War II.
This was way back on Saturday, September 13, 2008, when the unveiling of the replica was set to coincide with the opening of a memorial garden dedicated to those from the airfield who had died during the conflict. At the time, the unveiling was to take advantage of the Leuchars Airshow, (taking place on the same day) when the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight – Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire – would carry out a flypast at the unveiling, in tribute to air cadets killed while training at Grangemouth, and remembering the contribution of the hundreds of Polish pilots who developed their skills there as members of 58 Operational Training Unit (OTU).
The full-size replica Spitfire is described as an exact copy of the aircraft flown by 58 OTU Sergeant, killed in 1941 when his Spitfire came down in Avondale Estate in nearby Polmont. The replica will bear the distinctive markings and colours of the Polish 303 Squadron, which was the highest scoring foreign squadron in the Battle of Britain.
Unveiling ceremony 2013
At the start of April 2013, there was news that the replica had been joined to its wings, and the Grangemouth memorial would finally be unveiled on Thursday, May 9, 2013:
Every Remembrance Day Air Training Corps cadets from Grangemouth lay wooden crosses and poppies on the graves of Spitfire pilots and other air crew who died while flying with 58 Operational Training Unit.
Chairman of the Grangemouth Spitfire Memorial Trust Iain Mitchell said: “It’s fantastic what’s been achieved. The cadets managed to raise the money to crate the base for the Spitfire.
“She will really be going home again, I suppose you could say.”
The Spitfire is to be installed on Bo’ness Road, near what remains of the airfield.
Ceremony completed on schedule
Thanks to one of commenters, Colin, we can confirm that the ceremony was successfully completed on the day:
The Spitfire was unveiled by cadets of 1333 (Grangemouth) Squadron Air Training Corps during a very impressive ceremony today, with representatives from Australia, Poland Defence Forces, Lord Lieutenant of Stirlingshire, Provost of Falkirk District, the Central Band of The Royal Air Force, and the Queen’s Colour Squadron RAF.
In the news later:
The idea for the memorial came from cadets in the 1333 (Grangemouth Spitfire) Squadron Air Training Corps. It cost £100,000 which was raised through campaigns led by the Grangemouth Spitfire Memorial Trust.
Chairman Iain Mitchell said: “The young men who trained at Grangemouth were among the bravest the world has ever seen, and it is a huge honour for us to be in a position to commemorate their sacrifice with this stunning memorial. It’s the first of its kind in Scotland and we can’t wait to share it with everyone.
“This project has been five years in the making for us. Ever since the memorial wall went up in 2008 we’ve been trying to raise the funds to have the replica put up so to see it finally happen is a proud moment for all involved.
“The effort the cadets have put into this has been astonishing. This would not have been possible without them.”
The memorial aircraft is a replica of a Spitfire flown by 23-year-old Polish Sergeant Pilot Eugeniusz Lukomski who crashed and died in the Avondale estate in Polmont during a training flight in November 1941.
Supermarine Spitfire Mark 1 was unveiled by 100-year-old former aircraft mechanic John “Dinger” Bell in a public garden in Grangemouth, close to the site of a former RAF airfield.
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