Thanksgiving Service 83rd anniversary of the Battle of Britain
17 September 2023
11.00 at Westminster Abbey, London, SW1P 3PA.
Applications for tickets, stating all names, addresses, place and date of birth, Passport or Driving Licence number and email addresses and/or phone numbers of individuals wishing to attend, should be made in writing and are to be accompanied by a stamped self-addressed envelope. Applications should reach Mrs Michèle Small, SO3 RAF Ceremonial Events, RAF Ceremonial Office, Bentley Priory Building, RAF Northolt, West End Road, Ruislip, Middlesex, HA4 6NG by the 16th July.
The congregation should be seated by 10.30 and to assist with seating, applicants are requested to state which of the following categories is appropriate:
* relatives of aircrew who lost their lives in the Battle of Britain or since;
* past or present members of the Royal Air Force and its Reserve Forces;
* members of the general public.
Please state if a wheelchair user.
Tickets, and a note on dress and timings for the occasion, will be issued two weeks before the Service. Please note that applications are NOT to be made to Westminster Abbey.
Representatives of the Polish government, the Polish Air Force, the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee and Polish squadron veterans and their descendants are expected to attend.
The 147 fighter pilots in the Polish Air Force engaged in the Battle of Britain played such a vital role in the conflict. They represented 5% of the 2,936 aircrew that took part, but at the time were officially credited with 8% or 216 of the RAF’s overall 2,692 aerial victories for the loss of 31 pilots, 5.5% of the 544 aircrew lost during the Battle. The 303 Polish Kościuszko City of Warsaw Squadron, flying Hurricanes from RAF Northolt, became by far the most successful fighter unit during the 16 weeks of the Battle. In the six weeks it was operational 303 Sqn was credited with 126 victories for the loss of eight of its pilots; six in actual combat. The Czech pilot Sgt Josef Frantiŝek, a member of the Polish Air Force flying with 303 (Polish) Kościuszko Squadron, was the most successful pilot in the Battle, credited with 17 aircraft destroyed and one probably destroyed.
"Had it not been for the magnificent material contributed by the Polish squadrons and their unsurpassed gallantry, I hesitate to say that the outcome of battle would have been the same." - Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, Commander of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain.