A helicopter fly-past over Belfast City centre marked the beginning of the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
The event paid tribute to all those who took took part, particularly the Royal Air Force (RAF) members from Northern Ireland. The RAF received the freedom of the Belfast city in 1957 and marched there every year until the outbreak of “the Troubles”. The parade provided further evidence of an improved security situation in Belfast.
There was one incident when man at a flat overlooking St Anne’s Cathedral flew a Tricolour and made gestures at the parade. He was taken away by the Royal Ulster Constabulary for questioning.
Marchers included personnel from squadrons based in Aldergrove, members of the RAF Association and British Legion, as well as young cadets.
Over 1,000 people attended a service at the Cathedral including Lord Mayor Sammy Wilson and Security Minister Adam Ingram.
At the outbreak of the Second World War around 4,800 people from Northern Ireland were already enrolled in the auxiliary and reserve services. One veteran Albert Smith from county Armagh believes the activities of these people were vital to the success of the Battle of Britain.
Without that support, in other words, well then we wouldn’t be commemorating a Battle of Britain today as I don’t think we would have made it.
An RTÉ News report by Michael Fisher broadcast on 17 September 2000.