New Zealand High Commission London, United Kingdom
Sir Keith Park statue unveiled in London's Waterloo Place
A statue of New Zealander Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park, commander of No. 11 Group, Fighter Command, responsible for the protection of London and the South East of England throughout the Battle of Britain, has been unveiled in Waterloo Place, London.
The unveiling was attended by 1000 invited guests, including Battle of Britain veterans and members of Sir Keith Park’s family. The ceremony commenced with a flypast from the RAF consisting of a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
The Honourable Dr Wayne Mapp, Minister of Defence, represented New Zealand at the event. A full copy of his speech given at the unveiling can be read here.
Sir Keith Park commanded No. 11 Group, Fighter Command – responsible for the defence of London and South East England. He therefore commanded the squadrons which bore the brunt of the fighting in the Battle of Britain. The failure of Nazi Germany to defeat the RAF in 1940 is seen as Hitler’s first major setback in the Second World War – and forced Germany to call off the planned invasion of Britain.
Park was a New Zealander, who fought in the First World War in the field artillery first at Gallipoli, and then the Somme where he was wounded and evacuated to England. Medically graded unfit to continue service with the artillery, Park joined the Royal Flying Corps, remaining with the air arm when it was re-formed as the Royal Air Force.
The statue is a fitting memorial to Park - erected in the heart of the capital city that he did so much to defend, within view of New Zealand House.