Battle of Britain 70th anniversary to be marked with Winston Churchill reading

20th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Actor Robert Hardy will recite celebrated 'so much owed by so many to so few' address ahead of fighter plane flypastThe 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain will be marked today with a reading of one of Winston Churchill's most famous speeches and a flypast.Churchill's stirring "so much owed by so many to so few" address will be read at 3.52pm, exactly 70 years after the wartime prime minister delivered it in parliament.The ceremony outside the Churchill War Rooms in central London will be followed by a Spitfire and Hurricane fighter-plane flypast over Whitehall. Veterans from the battle will also be present.The battle began on 10 July 1940 and ended a little under four months later on 31 October.More than 2,900 British, Commonwealth and allied aircrew took part and successfully fought off the Luftwaffe.The triumph helped wreck Hitler's plans to invade Britain and lay the foundations for an allied victory five years later.It was celebrated in Churchill's speech of 20 August 1940, when he told MPs: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."Phil Reed, director of the Churchill War Rooms, said: "In this speech, Churchill epitomised his ability to capture in the most stirring way the spirit of a nation fighting for its existence, as Britain stood firm against the Nazi war machine."Now part of the general folklore of the battle, the speech is today considered a defining moment of the conflict and one of Churchill's most emotive and stirring pronouncements."Today's re-enactment will also be attended by Dame Vera Lynn and Churchill's daughter, Lady Soames. The speech will be read by the actor Robert Hardy, best known as Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small, who also received acclaim for his portrayal of Churchill in the 1981 TV drama The Wilderness Years.In addition to the flypast over Whitehall, Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster planes will tour key Battle of Britain fighter bases across south-east England.Second world warMilitaryBritish identity and societyHelen © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions More Feeds

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