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RAF Time Capsule

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
Thousands pay tribute to the 'many' of Battle of Britain
Thousands of messages paying tribute to the men and women who contributed to the outcome of the Battle of Britain have been sealed in a time capsule to mark the 80th anniversary of the conflict's end. The Royal Air Forces Association, which provides support to the RAF community, invited members of the public to document their gratitude so that future generations could experience the groundswell of appreciation felt by people in 2020. Almost 6,000 tributes, including some from celebrities, were sent to the charity which then sealed them in a capsule for burial in the association's Remembrance Garden at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. The burial ceremony, which involved just a handful of people due to Covid-19 restrictions, marked the 80th anniversary of the last daylight raid in the UK by Germany's Luftwaffe on 31 October 1940.

National Memorial Arboretum, RAF, Battle of Britain
The inscribed time capsule containing almost 6,000 tributes to the Battle of Britain's 'Many'

The tributes inside the capsule included many from people whose family members served, and, in some cases, died, in the RAF during the Battle of Britain. Others were written by serving and former RAF personnel paying tribute to their predecessors, while the majority were from members of the public who simply wanted to thank 'The Many' involved. One message read: "Thank you to all the men and women working behind the scenes, and whose role in the Battle of Britain has not always been recognised. And thank you to the crews of Coastal and Bomber Command, including my father, who were taking the fight to the enemy at the same time as the crews of Fighter Command were defending the skies of Britain." Former RAF jet pilot and ex-England rugby international, Rory Underwood, wrote: "I salute every single individual who contributed to securing victory engineers, operations staff, medical personnel and postal workers, just to name a few. Their incredible courage, resilience and sacrifice is an example to us all, and I can't thank them enough."

National Memorial Arboretum, RAF, Battle of Britain
The capsule is lowered into the ground by Jodi Johnson of the RAF Association and James Tweddle of the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA). Credit Philip Nixon, NMA

Among those present at the time capsule's burial was RAF Association member Terry Whittaker, aged 83, who said: "I salute all those who were involved 'The Few' who flew and 'The Many' who supported them in this endeavour. Their sacrifices were great, but their legacy of freedom was greater." Speaking after the ceremony, RAF Association president, Air Marshal Sir Baz North, said he hoped that preserving a record of the admiration felt for those vital wartime workers would contribute to future generations' understanding of the Battle of Britain's significance. He said: "We don't know when our time capsule will be dug up and opened, but we do know that whoever reads these tributes in the future will be bowled over by today's society's overwhelming gratitude to everyone who contributed to the Battle's hard-won victorious outcome."

National Memorial Arboretum, RAF
Another RAF tribute at the National Memorial Arboretum

More information about the Battle of Britain and about the RAF Association's work to support the RAF family can be found at
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Why? Time capsule marks 80th anniversary of Battle of Britain
When: 31 October
Where: National Memorial Arboretum, Croxall Road, Alrewas, Staffordshire DE13 7AR
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