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Calls for War hero memorial

PUBLISHED: 15:01 12 March 2008 | UPDATED: 09:49 12 August 2010

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A BATTLE of Britain hero should have a tribute statue erected in Trafalgar Square, according to campaigners. The drive to honour New Zealander, Sir Keith Park, with his statue on the fourth plinth in the historical square was launched last Friday. Forme

A BATTLE of Britain hero should have a tribute statue erected in Trafalgar Square, according to campaigners.

The drive to honour New Zealander, Sir Keith Park, with his statue on the fourth plinth in the historical square was launched last Friday.

Former Battle of Britain pilots and a great-great neice of Sir Park joined other supporters at a full-size replica of a Spitfire to launch the campaign.

Sir Park was commander of RAF squadrons at Biggin Hill airfield, Britain's principal fighter station, which defended London and the South East from German air forces in 1940.

Businessman and historian Terry Smith, who initiated the campaign, said: "Trafalgar Square commemorates Nelson, who defended England in her hour of need. Yet, amazingly, there is no public memorial to Sir Keith Park.

"It is hard to imagine that the fourth plinth could serve a greater purpose than commemorating a man who did so much for this country.

"Hitler's failure to beat the RAF in 1940 forced him to call off his plans for invading Britain. Had Park lost, think what our future might have been.

"Such a memorial would help keep both his memory alive, and also help educate the young and all visitors to London of the incredible sacrifices made in that epic battle which raged above London and the South East in 1940."

Biggin Hill squadrons, commanded by Sir Park, claimed more enemy aircraft than any other station, with 1,400 over the course of the war, including 400 during The Battle of Britain.

Historian and Kentish Times columnist Bob Ogley, said Sir Park is a worthy choice for the fourth plinth.

He added: "It's a superb idea to have a tribute to Sir Keith Park by way of a statue.

"There seems to be a bit of a revival of statues at the moment and recognition of those people who played a crucial part in winning our freedom.

"If Sir Keith Park and his pilots had not protected the southern approaches to London from the Luftwaffe, then we would have lost the war.

"You can look at a statue and the name comes alive again, which is particularly good for young people who may have no idea who Keith Park is.

"The only way to do that is by having it on public display. It's a brilliant idea and I'm all for it."

After the War, Sir Park's pivotal role in defending Britain against Luftwaffe attacks was recognised by Lord Tedder, the RAF chief, who said: "If any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did.

"I do not believe it is realised how much that one man, with his leadership, his calm judgment and his skill, did to save not only this country but the world."

For more information about the campaign, see www.sirkeithpark.com.

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