Airmen who lost their lives whilst serving at Nuneaton 's two local Wartime airfields and their former adversaries were remembered during a special service on Battle of Britain Day.
The service which took place at the Oaston Road Cemetery, Nuneaton on Battle of Britain Day 15th September 2013 was held to remember those British Commonwealth and Polish airmen who lost their lives while serving at RAF Nuneaton and RAF Bramcote during the Second World War.
Flight Lieutenant Paul Hincks RAF VR(T) who helped to organise the service said, “This was the first time for many years that Nuneaton has held a Battle of Britain Day service and the Oaston Road Cemetery where the Commonwealth War Graves and those of the Polish airmen and Germans stand together made it the ideal location for a service, held to remember them all, irrespective of nationality”.
He added, “For many years Air Cadets from Nuneaton have attended the Polish Ex-Combatants Association service at the St John the Baptist Cemetery, Baginton near Coventry when the Polish community gather to remember Warwickshire based Polish airmen who lost their lives while serving with the RAF during the Second World War and we thought it was time that a similar service were held in the Oaston Road Cemetery to remember all the young men from the Commonwealth Nations, Poland and Germany who lost their lives during the war”.
The service at the site of the War Graves began with a colourful parade of over twenty standards (under the direction of Mr Jesse Owen), led by the drummers of the 121 (Nuneaton) Squadron band who also constructed the Drum-Head Altar onto which the standards of the Coventry and Hinckley branches of the Royal Air Forces Associations were laid.
In keeping with the multi-national theme of the event, the service was conducted by Rev Alex Potts (former padre to Bramcote Barracks), Rev Fr Romuald Szczodrowski (Chaplain to the Polish Community in Coventry ) and Major Conny Vogler of the Salvation Army, all of whom expressed the need for both remembrance and reconciliation.
A touching moment in the service came as the Salvation Army Band began to play and the young people from the Cadet Forces and the Polish community who had stood vigil at the graves came forward to lay tributes of poppy crosses and candles. Wreaths were also laid by the Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire, Mr Timothy Cox, Mayor of Nuneaton and Bedworth, Councillor Bob Copland and Marcus Jones MP followed by representatives of ex-service organisations and the Cadet Forces. Wing Commander Stuart Iles RAF VR(T) Officer Commanding the Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing of the ATC was also in attendance.
A minute's silence was observed as the bugler, Brother Albert of the Lord Leycester Hospital Warwick, sounded the Last Post and the standards were lowered.
After the service the Mayor of Nuneaton and Bedworth, Councillor Bob Copland commented, “I didn't actually realise there were young men from the different countries, Poland, Germany and Britain – all buried here in the same area of the Oaston Road Cemetery. It was a lovely ceremony and at the end of the day, they might have been fighting against each other but today we have remembered them all as young lives that have been lost as a result of War”.
Flight Lieutenant Paul Hincks Officer Commanding 121 ( Nuneaton ) Squadron said, “I am delighted to say that the service ran very much to plan and thankfully the weather forecast which predicted heavy rain and gales didn't. I was also really pleased by the large number of people who came to take part in the service and I would take this opportunity to thank each and every one of them for their support. I just hope that everyone involved found the whole event a rewarding experience, I certainly feel that this service has been somewhat unique in the fact that we have managed to get everyone together to remember all those from each nationality who lost their lives during the War who are buried here and to that end I must say a special thank you to Rev Alex Potts, Rev Fr Romuald Szczodrowski and Major Conny Vogler for their outstanding support for this endeavour”.
He added, “This was the first time we have organised such an event and we hope that we will be able to count on everyone's continued support should this Battle of Britain Day service become an annual occasion”.
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