|by Bill Bawden, PRO|
18 August 2015
Members and guests of the Woking and District AirCrew Association were given an enthralling account of the formation and World War II exploits of No 609 (West Riding) Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force in an illustrated talk by David Darley.
David is the president of the 609 Squadron Association and the son of its commanding officer at the height of the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940. The weekend pilots and groundcrew had been mobilised at the outbreak of war, equipped with Spitfires but suffered severe losses at the withdrawal from Dunkirk. Moved to Middle Wallop in Hampshire, the revitalised squadron then proved more than a match for the Luftwaffe raiders and became the third highest scorer of destroyed German aircraft during the battle in the skies above south-eastern England.
An earlier talk at Fairoaks Airport had also featured the history of this period when Artur Bildziuk, the chairman of the Polish Airmen’s Association, had related the story of the Polish fighter pilots who took a leading part in the defence of this country after escaping from the Nazis following the invasion and occupation of their homeland. Forming their own squadrons or being absorbed into existing units of the RAF, the Polish airmen fought with great distinction throughout the war and No 303 Squadron, flying Spitfires from Northolt, pipped 609 Squadron to become the top scoring unit of the Battle of Britain.These talks have come at a most fitting time because next month will mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the culmination of the battle and the AirCrew Association will be participating in commemorative events including the service of thanksgiving and parade at Brookwood Military Cemetery on Sunday, September 20th.
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