Spitfire fly-past at the ‘Church in the Fields’
22 May 2023
Around 250 people gathered in the festival church of St Peter’s, Haveringland to see the church dedicated by Bishop Graham as a memorial church to the RAF 100 (Bomber Support) Group.
The group flew from RAF Swannington and other Norfolk airfields in the latter part of the Second World War.
The perimeter road of the old airfield passes close to the church of St Peter, and the church is a significant place for the people who treasure the memories of those who served at the base.
Amongst those who gathered at the church on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon were Senior Officers from the air forces of the USA, France, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Norway. These nations worked with the RAF 100 Group, and their representatives joined the congregation to remember those who served and those who died. Also present at the service was Deputy Lieutenant Lt. Col. Ian Lonsdale along with representatives from UK armed forces, emergency services and ex-service and youth organisations. Perhaps the most important guests, though, were the RAF 100 Group Association, which brings together family members of those who served with the Group, many of whom were killed in action.
In the service, accompanied by the Aylsham Band, the packed church heard memoirs read by family members of those who had served with the 100 Group, and Bishop Graham led an act of dedication which will be commemorated with a memorial plaque to be installed later in the year. After the service, the crowd was treated to a fly-past by a Spitfire; part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
The Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich said, “I was delighted to join a packed church at St Peter’s, Haveringland, to mark its dedication as a memorial church to the RAF 100 (Bomber Support) Group. It was very moving to meet relatives of those who served in that group, including those who, at a young age, had lost their fathers to war. As well as being a place of memory about the terrible business of war, St Peter’s Church is also a place to pledge ourselves to become the ‘blessed peacemakers’ that Jesus calls us to be”.
Event organiser and RAF 100 Group Association Member, Mike Hillier, said “The stories told by relatives during the service, brought home the personal side of conflict and how it also affected those who were left behind. The Church of St. Peter, sitting as it does next to the path on which aircraft would pass to take off on their missions at night, will now be a constant reminder to all those who visit of the sacrifices that were made so that we who are left can live in peace and freedom.”
The Team Vicar for Haveringland, Revd Andrew Whitehead, said “becoming a memorial church to the RAF 100 (Bomber Support) Group is an important moment for the church in Haveringland. As well as helping us to look back, with gratitude, to those who fought for our freedom, this new status also enables us to look forward to an exciting future for the church as it seeks to serve the people of today’s generation.”