UK

Memorial To WW2's 'The Few' To Recreate Famous 1940 Photograph

The life-sized bronze sculpture will recreate the famous image of seven airmen of No 32 Squadron.

A permanent memorial to 'The Few' is to be built within the grounds of the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust.

The life-sized bronze sculpture will recreate the famous photograph of seven airmen of No 32 Squadron taken at RAF Hawkinge on 29 July 1940.

Dave Brocklehurst, a trustee at the Kent Battle of Britain Museum, is working with sculptor Stephen Melton to capture the moment the famous photograph was taken and preserve the memory of those who fought.

He explained the "iconic" inspiration for the new statue: "The seven men were members of The Few, which is an exclusive club of 2,938 airmen that flew in the Battle of Britain - that’s between 10 July [and] 31 October 1940.

"Each person to be a member of the Few had to fly at least one operational sortie.

"The men we portray here flew hundreds of sorties."

What the memorial could eventually look like (Picture: Kent Battle of Britain Museum).

Of all the men pictured, one would not return from the war.

Keith Gillman was shot down three-and-a-half weeks later on 25 August 1940, three miles off Dover, his home town.

The 19-year-old was declared missing, having never been found, to this day.

The other airmen pictured survived the war and fought throughout the rest of it.

Six of the seven pilots' families are in touch with the sculptor to ensure the memorial is as accurate as possible.

Stephen Melton, the sculptor, stressed the importance of involving the airmen’s families in the process.

"It's an invaluable experience because obviously from photographs quite often things are staged and someone who grows up with someone is very familiar with an individual’s face, so they have an insight on how they smile and how their facial features are," he said.

"They were all prepared to put their lives on the line and some of them did pay the ultimate price and it’s important that we honour and remember these people for what they did for us."

The sculpture is set to take about 18 months to complete and it is hoped that 32 Squadron and relatives of the pilots will attend the unveiling in July 2022.

Cover image: The famous photo of seven members of No 32 Squadron taken at RAF Hawkinge taken in July 1940 (Picture: Fox Photos/Getty Images).

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