Spitfires to Soar at Isle of Wight Armed Forces Day

Spitfires to Soar as part of D-Day Commemoration at IOW Armed Forces Day

Last year there was one classic war bird, this year there are two. Joining the Red Arrows on the Air Asset bill at Isle of Wight Armed Forces Day, is the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Last years Spitfire display left an indelible impression on many and you couldn’t have asked for more. Well, we did. The aviation history that the Island boasts is something to be incredibly proud of, especially when it comes to the Spitfire. For this year’s event, we had to go one plane further making it really special. We have.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight are sending two aircraft to perform a chase display as part of Isle of Wight Armed Forces Day. Like the Red Arrows, this is a full display and feature two classic warbirds, going through their moves one chasing the other.

Essentially the BBMF tail chase display routine is identical to the singleton fighter display, but is flown with a combination of any fighter aircraft, displaying in 100-200ft trail; slightly displaced to avoid prop-wash. It is as dramatic as it is exciting and depending on the aircraft available on the day, it could be two Spitfires or one Spitfire and a Hurricane!

Fishbourne Parish Council is sponsoring this element of the event and with good reason. As well as those in the community of Fishbourne with Armed Forces connections, in the Ward itself sits a war memorial on which, a number of RAF personnel are commemorated.

One such individual is Sgt Edmund Eric Shepperd who joined the RAF in 1935. During the Battle of Britain, as a Sergeant Pilot with 152 Sqn, he was credited with the destruction of various German aircraft including a ME109, three junkers and a Stuka. Sadly,in October of 1940, he was killed instantly when his Spitfire crashed as he was returning to his base at RAF Warmwell in Dorset. He was buried in the same cemetery as his father, who died during the First World War.

All members recognise the significance and importance of this Anniversary, plus what Armed Forces Day represents to the Island and the local community. This display they feel is a fitting tribute to those that gave everything for our freedom and democracy.

When I said we will be commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day with the inclusion into the programme of two very special guests, this is what I was referring too. Fishbourne Parish Council appreciate how momentous such a display will be. What it will mean to new generations, what it signifies for past generations; and how it will be warmly welcomed at this year’s event.

War should never be glorified or celebrated, but remembered and commemorated, yes. Along with many others, we are forever in Sgt Shepperds debt. As we look to the skies to catch sight of the display, let us not lose sight of that debt. As they tip their wingtips, let us tip our hats to those that never returned.

Isle of Wight Armed Forces Day 2024 - Spitfire TE311 - 1 (Photographer - Darren Harbar)