16 Sep 2010

Statue of Sir Keith Park unveiled in London

6:39 pm on 16 September 2010

A bronze statue of Battle of Britain hero Sir Keith Park has been unveiled in its permanent location in central London.

The New Zealander commanded RAF squadrons that defended the south-east of England from Luftwaffe attacks during World War II.

A Spitfire flew past to start the ceremony which was attended by World War II veterans, members of Sir Keith's family and New Zealand Defence Minister Wayne Mapp.

The event at Waterloo Place also marked the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain Day.

It came after a three-year campaign to commemorate Sir Keith's contribution to defending London and southern England from the Nazis.

The Battle of Britain was Hitler's failed attempt to win air superiority before a subsequent land invasion, which never materialised because of the RAF's victory.

Sir Keith Park memorial campaign chairman Terry Smith welcomed the statue unveiling as an expression of collective facts for what the New Zealander achieved.

A glass fibre model of the nine-foot bronze statue was placed temporarily in Trafalgar Square last November for six months.