New Zealand High Commission London, United Kingdom
Sir Keith Park statue unveiled in Trafalgar Square
A statue of Sir Keith Park, the New Zealand born RAF Air Vice-Marshal, who commanded 11 Group, Fighter Command, during the Battle of Britain has been unveiled on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.
Sir Keith Park commanded the squadrons which bore the brunt of 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.
The statue is a fitting memorial to Park in London’s Trafalgar Square, in the heart of the United Kingdom’s capital City which he helped to defend in 1940, and beneath Nelson’s Column – a memorial to another commander (this time Naval) who likewise defended Britain from invasion 135 years earlier.
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.
Marshal of the RAF, Lord Tedder, said of Park: "If ever any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did. I don’t believe it is recognised how much this one man, with his leadership, his calm judgement and his skill, did to save not only this country, but the world."
The statue of Sir Keith Park commemorates the c.2950 pilots from 15 countries who fought to defend Britain in the Battle of Britain in 1940.
The statue has been designed by sculptor Les Johnson. It will be exhibited temporarily for six months on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth from 4 November 2009, and a permanenet bronze statue will be erected in Waterloo Place on the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain on 15 September 2010, Battle of Britain Day.
For more information visit www.sirkeithpark.com