Wednesday 15 September 2010 marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the first major campaign fought entirely by airforces. Kiwi Air Vice-Marshal Sir Keith Park played an important role in the defence of London and south-east England. A statue of Sir Keith was recently unveiled in London’s Trafalgar Square in recognition of his role.
Between 1942 and 1948, 38 lace panels were manufactured by Dobsons and M Browne and Co. Ltd in England to commemorate the Battle of Britain and to be a tribute to all those who fought in the Battle. The looms used to produce the laces were destroyed after the last lacework was completed.
Te Papa was gifted its lace by Mr F.C. Renouf in 1949 and it was loaned to the Air Force Museum in Christchurch in 1981. The lace was returned to Te Papa in August 2000 and has been having a well-earned rest ever since.
Te Papa has received many requests to lend and/or display the lace since that time. But, given that it was on display for almost 20 years, our conservators have advised against this, as further extended display and handling may damage the already delicate lace.
But, for one day only, you will be able to see this magnificent lace (a total of 4.5 metres long) displayed on Te Papa’s marae, Rongomaraeroa. It’s being displayed in conjunction with a commemorative service at the National War Memorial in Wellington, including a fly past of a Supermarine Spitfire at 11.05am (weather permitting). Te Papa will also be the venue for a lunch for WWII veterans who will also view the lace.
Many New Zealanders participated in the Battle of Britain and other air force missions, alongside other Commonwealth servicemen. My great uncle, Philip Henry Edwards (an Englishman), flew in the Australian 464 Mosquito Squadron. He was killed on mission over France, aged 21, and buried at the Grandcourt War Cemetery. My brother was named after him and treasures the medals awarded to him posthumously.
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