Spitfire link a source of pride to people of Chorley and Leyland

The Chorley Spitfire, which the Chorley Guardian campaigned for
The Chorley Spitfire, which the Chorley Guardian campaigned for
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We are coming to the end of the 75th anniversary year of what was the Battle of Britain.

We are coming to the end of the 75th anniversary year of what was the Battle of Britain.

Battle of Britain veteran and 'Chorley & District' Spitfire pilot Douglas Watkins, DFC

Battle of Britain veteran and 'Chorley & District' Spitfire pilot Douglas Watkins, DFC

Immortalised by Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s speech - “Never in the field of human conflict, has so much been owed by so many to so few” - the battle was fought in 1940.

The Royal Air Force acknowledges the battle running from July 10 to October 31, and although the battle was raged in the skies above southern England, its outcome would prove pivotal for the direction the war would take.

Hitler was massing an invasion force in the north of France and they were poised to storm across the Channel once the Luftwaffe had swept aside the RAF.

However, the multi-national array of pilots in their RAF Spitfires and Hurricanes had other plans, and forced Germany to call off their invasion plans indefinitely.

During the Battle of Britain, the people of Chorley and Leyland were doing their bit as subscribers to the national Spitfire Fund.

Both towns were successful in raising over £6,000 each to pay for the production of a Spitfire which would be emblazoned with the name of their sponsor on the fuselage.

Although the Spitfires ‘bought’ by the people of Chorley and Leyland did not take part in the Battle of Britain, they replenished the losses incurred by the RAF in the fight.

They allowed the hardened and experienced pilots to take ownership of the latest versions of the fighter aeroplane, while the older models could be utilised to educate and train young and upcoming pilots which included men from our area.

As a tenuous link to the famous battle of 1940, it is known that Spitfire ‘Chorley and District’ was for a time piloted by distinguished Battle of Britain veteran Douglas H. Watkins while serving with No.611 (Lancashire) Squadron.

We can look back today with the benefit of hindsight and knowing what ensued in the five years of war following the Battle of Britain, and appreciate just how much we owe those few.