I have spent the whole of my life living in the shadow of the Battle of Britain. I say this because the Village that I’m from and indeed the road in which I grew up are less than half a mile from the runway at Biggin Hill.
And throughout the whole of my life I’ve been fascinated by the Battle. Indeed during the 1980s I attended every single Biggin Hill Air Show and always headed for the Veterans’ tent where men of ‘The Few’ were selling and signing their autobiographies.
So I was lucky to meet many of the famous names that helped save our country.
There was always the added spice in this tent of the presence of German veterans such as their top scorer Adolf Galland.
For anyone who would like to know a little bit more about the Battle, the pilots and their lives I would heartily recommend Geoffrey Wellum’s First Light.
Mr. Wellum is still very much with us today, a fit 94 years old.
When asked last year what he thought when he first heard Churchill utter the phrase “never in the field of human history, was so much owed by so many to so few”, Wellum replied: “I thought he was referring to my bar bill.”
The book describes an eighteen year old who was nicknamed ‘Boy’ and how he became a fighter ace including a gripping account of an ME109 on his tail and his desperate desire to avoid being killed.
When you read this book it is as if that you are actually in the cockpit.
This 75th anniversary of the Battle has awakened many millions of people to this vital story, without which the Nazi invasion would have meant inevitable defeat for our country.
I think all of us that read this story regard the 3,000 men that flew the spitfires and hurricanes as heroes.
The handful that remain insist that they were only doing their job.
But there is a forgotten hero of that summer of 1940 at Britain’s most famous fighter base Biggin Hill.
20 years ago I was out for a walk with my children on a wet Sunday afternoon when I came across some military headstones in the small parish church of Cudham.
And when I looked at one of them I could scarcely believe my eyes. It said Squadron Leader Eric Moxey, George Cross.
How could I having grown up in the area have been unaware that this medal had been awarded? It is the equivalent to a Victoria Cross but for bravery displayed not under direct enemy fire.
So I researched Squadron Leader Moxey and discovered that he had been an Infantry Officer in the trenches in the western front in World War One. But he had then turned to the Royal Flying Corps and flew Sopwith Camels. Given casualties rates in those days, he was lucky to survive.
With the advent of World War Two, Moxey volunteered again but by 1940, aged 46 he was deemed too old to fly so he became a bomb disposal officer. Whilst the 18th of August was known as the ‘Hardest Day’ of the Battle, it was certainly not the end of it. And on August 27th after a German bombing raid two unexploded bombs were imbedded in Biggin Hill’s air strip.
Moxey volunteered to go and defuse them, one of them exploded and killed him instantly.
Yet when I read Biggin on the Bump written by Kent historian Bob Ogley there was no mention of Moxey. And indeed his name has not been mentioned at all during these 75th anniversary events.
It is just as brave to attempt to defuse a bomb as to fire cannon shells at Dornier bombers and I will do my bit to make sure that the Battle of Britain’s unrecognised hero gets the merit he deserves.
Nigel Farage MEP is the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP)