20 July 2024

Spitfire fly-past in July

The Secret Spitfire Charity today released details of the unveiling of what will become Salisbury’s newest landmark: The Secret Spitfires Memorial.

The event will include a Spitfire fly-past on the evening of Friday July 9th 2021.

After three years of planning and after raising over £100,000, the Memorial will serve as a lasting tribute to the hundreds of young women, boys, elderly men and engineers who constructed approximately 2,500 Spitfires in total secrecy in Salisbury between 1940-1945 after the bombing of the Southampton Supermarine factory.

The ceremony at Salisbury Rugby Club, in the shadow of the Memorial, will take place on Friday 9th July on the pitches adjoining Castle Road, with the public very welcome to attend.

The event will be honoured by significant involvement from the Royal Air Force.

  • Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston KCB CBE ADC, the Chief of the Air Staff will represent the RAF supported by Secret Spitfire Charity Co-Patron Air Commodore Suraya Marshall ADC MA LLB RAF
  • The Queen’s Colour Squadron and the Band of the RAF Regiment will be present to support the occasion, concluding with the Sunset Ceremony
  • A Spitfire flypast will take place at 18:30

This official ceremony, which will also be witnessed by the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire Mrs Sarah Troughton and Mayor of Salisbury Mrs Caroline Corbin, will take place between 17:45 and 18:30.

Attending public are advised to arrive by 17:30 and bring seating and refreshments as required, and are also advised that whilst parking will be available on Hudson’s Field, there will be no welfare facilities or refreshments available on site at the Rugby Club. Whilst the ceremony will not be a ticketed event, the public are encouraged to dig deep and donate; collection buckets will be on site.

Those wanting the best view of the Spitfire flypast are advised to take advantage of the parking at Hudson’s Field and walk up to Old Sarum hill fort ready for 18:30.

The reception following the ceremony at the Clubhouse will take behind closed doors on an invitation-only basis, due to Covid restrictions and there will be no access to Salisbury Rugby Club itself for those without a formal invitation.

Secret Spitfires Charity Chairman Chris Whalley commented, “Whilst we are delighted that the Spitfire will finally be unveiled – and with great fanfare – we are of course bitterly disappointed that we are unable to welcome the wider public, who have been so generous in their support, to join us for celebrations at the Clubhouse following the Ceremony. 

“We had hoped that the lifting of Covid restrictions would take place on 21st June, allowing us to do this, but sadly it was not meant to be. The immovable date of 9th July has long been confirmed, and we are inviting our biggest supporters to join us alongside those who served in the secret factories and their families.

“We plan to hold a yearly fundraiser, complete with live music, drinks and delicious grub every Summer to celebrate the Memorial and hope to see large numbers turn out next year.”

Today, the Secret Spitfire Charity also announces that it has a new Co-Patron, Air Commodore Suraya Marshall ADC MA LLB RA (pictured), the most senior currently serving female aviator in the Royal Air Force.

As Commandant of Royal Air Force College Cranwell, she is responsible for inspiring, attracting, training and developing the next generation of the Royal Air Force.

In her role as Patron, she plans to use her position to spread the story of the Secret Spitfires and forge a link between the story and her role as STEM champion for the RAF in inspiring young people – in particular girls and young women – to pursue a career in engineering or piloting aircraft. The Secret Spitfire Charity has every intention of supporting this ambition to the best of its ability.

She commented, “I am delighted and immensely proud to be involved. The collective endeavours of this group of unskilled and unqualified people are breath-taking. They exemplified courage, innovation, and determination and are an inspiration and example to us all.

“The memorial reflects the incredible efforts made by those extraordinary secret workers and exemplifies our gratitude and respect. I want young people today to see their story as an example that proves that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.”

Fundraising for the Secret Spitfire Charity continues in earnest, with Secret Spitfire Charity Chairman Chris Whalley recently having completed a walk from Dover to Salisbury, raising over £5,000. Accompanied by his wife Lindsey, the challenge was undertaken in three phases; Dover to Hythe, South Downs Way and Clarendon Way.

Dubbed ‘Whal’s Walk II’, it was a sequel to the hugely successful ‘Whal’s Walk’ of 2015 which raised over £10,000 for two local former rugby players whose lives were affected by tragedy.

Those wishing to donate to the Secret Spitfire Charity are encouraged to do so via JustGiving or by sending a cheque, ideally along with a GiftAid form, to the charity’s registered address.

Written by
David Harber
View all articles
Written by David Harber