Battle of Britain Pilots Remembered at Heritage Centre

17 Sep

In the week when the UK has especially marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre unveiled a new display focusing on pilots who took part in the aerial battles in the summer of 1940.

And exquisite models of aircraft from both the RAF and the Luftwaffe are on view at the Centre, in the Royal Dockyard Chapel.

Three Battle of Britain fighter pilots who took part in the campaign are remembered – from among nearly 3,000 airmen entitled to wear the Battle of Britain clasp for their part in the campaign, of whom 544 lost their lives.

Their stories reflect the dramatic and painful affects this pivotal wartime campaign had upon communities throughout Britain – not least Pembrokeshire.

Charles Albert Henry Ayling was a Portsmouth man who married a Monkton woman, Joan Briscoe. An experienced pilot, Charles survived many aerial battles in the summer of 1940, but was shot down and killed on October 11th – his Spitfire falling victim to Luftwaffe ace Adolf Galland. Aged 28, he was buried in his wife’s home community, at St Nicholas Cemetery, Monkton.

Cecil Halford Bull, a 24-year-old Londoner, had only been married for a few months to a Hundleton woman, Dorothy Nesta John. He flew Blenheim twin-engined nightfighters during the battle but died in a shooting accident on August 8th while on leave at his wife’s home near Pembroke. Cecil is buried in Hundleton Churchyard.

Rodney Levett Wilkinson is remembered at Angle Church where a plaque was placed. His mother, Ruth, was a member of the well-known Mirehouse family of Angle. In July 1940 Rodney took command of No 266 Squadron, flying Spitfires, but was killed on August 16th, and is buried at Margate.

The highly detailed models on display represent actual aircraft flown during the campaign, by both the RAF and Luftwaffe. They are Hurricanes and Spitfires, Heinkel He111 and Junkers Ju88 bombers. All were researched and built by Martin Blow of the Penfro Model Group who is a volunteer for the Sunderland Trust at the Heritage Centre.

Another volunteer, Malcolm Miles, has provided several display items including books signed by both RAF and German Air Force participants in the Battle of Britain.

The Battle of Britain display will be on view at the Heritage Centre until early October.

Battle of Britain pilots remembered at the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre: Left to right: Charles Ayling, Cecil Bull and Rodney Wilkinson. The painting of Rodney Wilkinson is by Miss Dawn Maureen Adoree Augustine Steele, courtesy of the Allen-Mirehouse family of Angle. The photographs are from the Sunderland Trust Archive.

Battle of Britain pilots remembered at the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre: Left to right: Charles Ayling, Cecil Bull and Rodney Wilkinson. The painting of Rodney Wilkinson is by Miss Dawn Maureen Adoree Augustine Steele, courtesy of the Allen-Mirehouse family of Angle. The photographs are from the Sunderland Trust Archive.

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