A GROUP of RAF veterans gathered at a Bolton war memorial to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Despite limitations caused by the coronavirus crisis, the Leigh Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association met for a socially distanced tribute at the memorial yesterday.

Though the battle took place between July and October 1940, September 15 saw the British Royal Air Force (RAF) gain a decisive victory over the Luftwaffe in what was Nazi Germany’s largest daylight attack.

Some 1,120 Luftwaffe aircraft were sent to attack London but were repelled by just 630 RAF fighters and two days later Hitler postponed his plans to invade Britain.

544 RAF aviators and 312 RAF ground personnel lost their lives during the battle and the airmen became known as “The Few” following a tribute by then prime minister Winston Churchill, who said: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”.

Joe Stanfield MBE, northern director of RAFA said “I am delighted to see RAF Association Leigh Branch commemorate this significant event.

"The Branch cover the northwest Manchester area and it is important during these difficult times that RAF veterans know there is support, help and comradeship available.”

Due to the restrictions in place in Bolton, the Mayor was unable to attend the event, but the Mayors Office laid a wreath on behalf of the people of Bolton earlier in the day.

Members and friends of the RAF Association are usually out in force with collection buckets for the charity’s Wings Appeal during September, but following the pandemic organisers have decided to move this year’s collection online, in the form of a JustGiving page.

Paul Newton, the chairman of the RAFA Leigh, added: "The JustGiving page means we won’t be constrained by the number of streets or supermarkets our volunteers can visit, so the sky’s now the limit in terms of how many people we can reach!”

To donate, please go to: justgiving.com/fundraising/rafaleighbranch