Thurston Air Cadets will parade in Bury St. Edmunds on Sunday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The cadets will have an extra spring in their step as the occasion has even more poignancy for the air cadets, on the very same day the Squadron will be formally twinned with their namesake, a Spitfire, registration no. TB863. Stationed locally, it had an active role in the second world war and starred in the film ‘Battle of Britain’.
The Supermarine Mk XVI Spitfire is one of just over 50 still flying worldwide today and after a chequered history is now kept in the air by the historic flying club of Temora Aviation Museum in Australia since 2006.
Thurston Air Cadets Civilian Instructor, former RAF Wing commander and RAF Honington Tornado Navigator, Andy Tucker made the discovery and approach to the Temora board following the air cadets curiosity about the 4 month long Battle of Britain which saw the loss of 500 allied pilots.
The twinning declaration was made on 10th July, the date the Battle of Britain commenced. The Squadron was also presented with a photo and citation about the Spitfire.
The Museum’s Chief Executive Mr Kenny Love agreed “it would be a timely and fantastic connection to make, linking TB863, with all of its history, to a squadron of enthusiastic young air cadets (the next generation) in England some of whom will no doubt follow flying careers themselves.”
Commanding Officer, Flying Officer Richard Jacobs said “This makes 863(Thurston) Air Training Corps unique – the only Air Cadet Squadron in the UK that is twinned with a flying Spitfire !”
Cadet Flight Sergeant Hugh Williams(19) said; “It is amazing to learn that we have the same name as a Spitfire that’s still flying and an exciting opportunity for the Squadron to gain this link overseas”