The official Sir Keith Park Memorial Campaign website can be viewed here.
I'm often asked why I led the campaign to commemorate Sir Keith Park which culminated in the unveiling of his statue on in Waterloo Place, London, on the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain Day, 15th September 2010.
Keith Park fought with the Anzac Brigade in Gallipoli in World War One. He then volunteered for service in the British Army and fought in the Battle of the Somme where he was invalided out and declared unfit for service after being blown off his horse by an artillery shell. However, he then volunteered for the newly formed Royal Flying Corps and qualified as a pilot. He was credited with some 20 enemy aircraft downed whilst flying his Bristol fighter. By the end of the War he had been awarded a Military Cross and Bar, a Distinguished Flying Cross and the Croix de Guerre. He stayed with the newly formed Royal Air Force after the War.
In the build up to World War Two, Park was a staff officer to Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding, the head of Fighter Command. Dowding trusted Park to follow the strategy he had devised and in April 1940 Park, by then an Air Vice Marshall, was given commmand of 11 Group Fighter Command which guarded London and the South East of England and was to bear the brunt of the forthcoming Battle Of Britain. Park's handling of his fighters was impeccable and he won the Battle against the odds.
However, as so often with unassuming men like Park he lost the peace. After the Battle he and Dowding were cast aside as the result of political infighting. This travesty of justice led to Park being consigned to Training Command. In a shameful episode, the official history of the Battle did not even mention him. However, Park was too good to languish for long and in July 1942 he was appointed to lead the air defence of Malta where he turned the tide of the battle and defeated the Luftwaffe once again.
Park had won the greatest and most significant aerial battle in history and had twice won defensive aerial battles, a unique record.
Despite these achievements, there was no significant monument prior to the erection of his statue on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square in 2009. The Campaign then secured permission for a permanent statue of Park in
London which was unveiled on the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain Day, 15th September 2010, in Waterloo Place. Now Sir Keith Park will forever gaze over the city he defended.
Recent Sir Keith Park Articles
Sir Keith Park
Appeared in The Times, 7 November 2009
The Capitalist: Flying High
By Victoria Bates, City AM, 5 November 2009
Fitting place for a hero: The man who won the Battle of Britain
By Tony Rennell, Appeared in the Daily Mail, 5 November 2009
Statue of Battle of Britain hero Sir Keith Park wins place on fourth plinth
By Yinka Shonibare Appeared in The Guardian, 5 November 2009
Statue unveiled to brains behind Battle of Britain
By Ross Lydall, Appeared in the ES, 15 September 2010
Battle Hero: Memorial to Commander
Appeared in the Daily Telegraph, 16 September 2010