One of the most crucial campaigns of World War Two will be remembered when the town commemorates the Battle of Britain.
A flypast by a Spitfire and a Hurricane on Sunday, September 15, will bring back wartime memories for many residents.
The Battle of Britain was fought in the skies above southern England in the summer and autumn of 1940 and the RAF’s defeat of the Luftwaffe was a major factor in preventing Hitler’s forces from invading England.
Banbury played an important role in the battle.
In the mid-1930s, Banbury’s aluminium factory (then the NAC, later Alcan and Sapa but always known locally as The Ally) supplied much of the country’s aircraft industry needs, including the wings of the Spitfire.
It has been said that if the Banbury factory hadn’t existed the outcome of the Battle of Britain could have been very different.
To deceive German bombers and protect the site from air raids, the real factory was camouflaged and a decoy building was erected north of Banbury.
The fake factory, known as the ‘dummy ally’ , was situated in fields midway between Great Bourton and Mollington.
People were employed to keep fires burning on the dummy site to produce smoke like the real factory.
In reality, the buildings housed chickens and pigs. The plan worked well. The real aluminium factory was never bombed while the decoy was targeted on October 3, 1940.
Almost 1,000 factory workers were called up during the war and many did not return.
Their jobs at ‘The Ally’ were taken on by the women they left behind. A roll of honour was published in October 1945 and a memorial garden was created in the factory grounds.
Banbury’s Battle of Britain Day, organised by Banbury Town Council, will begin at 11am with a military and civic parade marching from Broad Street, up High Street, round the Cross into Horsefair, and to St Mary’s Church for a memorial service at 11.30am.
The parade will return to Broad Street at 12.30pm with the marchers taking the salute near the bandstand in High Street. The Dakota flypast will highlight the event.
Leader of Banbury Town Cllr Kieron Mallon said: “This event is a sincere tribute to those who defended this country in the most courageous way. Many lost their lives. They and those who survived the battle must never be forgotten.
“Banbury is one of many towns the length and breadth of the country that commemorate the Battle of Britain every year. It is proud to do so and even though the town’s aluminium factory has gone, we should not forget the part it and its workers played in the war.”
The flypast was originally planned to include a Dakota transport plane (as reported in the printed addition) but has now been amended and instead features a Spitfire and Hurricane. The aircraft are due to be over Banbury around 12.48pm.