Battle of Britain in Norwich

How is the Battle of Britain commemorated in Norwich? At the end of the First World War, a variety of small organisations aimed to promote the welfare of former Royal Air Force personnel and keep members in touch with their former squadrons. However, by the early 1930s there was a movement to form one dedicated organisation to carry out these tasks.

Following a series of articles by William Coen, editor of The Planesman, the inaugural meeting of the Comrades of the Royal Air Forces Association (known as the Royal Air Forces Association from 1943) was held in London in April 1930. In 1941, this association amalgamated with the Women’s Royal Air Force Old Comrades’ Association (which was itself formed in 1919).  The Norwich Branch of the Comrades of the Royal Air Forces Association (known as the Royal Air Forces Association: Norwich Branch from 1943) was formed in the mid 1930s, under the chairmanship of Captain Berry and its secretary, Mr R. P. Braund.

The Royal Air Force was formed on 1 April 1918 and the Norfolk Record Office holds this certificate of the appointment of one of its first officers, Clement Rolfe Ingleby, which bears that exact date:

ING 240 edited

Certificate of Appointment. Click for larger version.

The Norwich Branch did not have permanent club premises and its meetings, usually held monthly, took place at various venues in Norwich. At the end of the Second World War, the aim of the Association was to honour those who fought, keep former members of squadrons and units in touch with each other and to assist the dependants of those who had died.

The Association holds a Battle of Britain week in Norwich every year in September. This includes an opening ceremony by the Lord Mayor on the steps of City Hall and the week ends with a service at Norwich Cathedral.  From the end of the war until 1957, contingents from units of No. 12 Group attended a No. 12 Group Battle of Britain Service held in Southwell Minster, Nottingham.  The move of the Headquarters to Horsham St Faith in August 1958, caused a break in this traditional event and in September 1959, the ceremony was renewed by joining the Battle of Britain Service and Parade of the Norwich branch of the Royal Air Force association. No. 4 Regional Band led the Parade and also played within the Cathedral.

This year’s service is from Monday 14th to Sunday 20th September. Details can be found here

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