WALES’ hero pilots were celebrated with an exhibition in Cardiff.

The exhibition showcasing Welsh pilots and airmen and their efforts during the Battle of Britain in 1940 opened at City Hall, Cardiff this morning (September 16) with a parade and flypast.

South Wales Argus: A Spitfire control displayA Spitfire control display

Around 100 people, young and old, attended to learn more about the role Wales’ brave pilots played in defending Britain from Nazi attack and of course to witness the Red Arrows flypast.

Providing music for the opening was the RAF St Athan Voluntary Band. They performed music well-known in war films including Sing for Victory and Men of Harlech.

South Wales Argus: Members of the RAF St Athan Voluntary BandMembers of the RAF St Athan Voluntary Band

The parade consisted of members of the RAF No.4 School of Technical Training. Joining them were Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, Air Officer Wales Air Commodore Adrian Williams, secretary of state for Wales Simon Hart MP, Hannah Blythyn MS deputy minister for social partnership, Lord Mayor of Cardiff Councillor Rod McKerlich and deputy Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan Gareth Chapman.

South Wales Argus: Members of the RAF No.4 School of Technical Training. Picture: Huw Evans Picture AgencyMembers of the RAF No.4 School of Technical Training. Picture: Huw Evans Picture Agency

Following the Red Arrows flypast, the exhibition opened to the general public. Inside were members of the RAF past and present who were on hand to help with any queries and providing information.

Several poster boards detailed various events, planes and deaths. There were also real bullets from aircraft guns, some parts of planes and magazine cases.

South Wales Argus: Surviving Welsh Battle of Britain pilots pictures 50 years after the 1940 events.Surviving Welsh Battle of Britain pilots pictures 50 years after the 1940 events.

The exhibition also had records of all the fighter pilots from Wales who took part in the Battle of Britain in a book and were more than happy to help if there was someone you wanted information on.

There were also paintings done by a few artists of several of the RAF pilots, including one from Aberbeeg.

South Wales Argus: Pilot Officer Ernest Waite Wootten from Aberbeeg in a portrait by Ieuan Layton-WilliamsPilot Officer Ernest Waite Wootten from Aberbeeg in a portrait by Ieuan Layton-Williams

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said: “Over the years, Wales has been vital to the development and success of the Royal Air Force. Just as RAF pilots were trained for the Battle of Britain at RAF Hawarden on Deeside, so the fast jet pilots of today are trained at RAF Valley on Anglesey.

“This exhibition reminds us of the bravery, skill and teamwork shown by Welsh pilots and groundcrew in the summer of 1940. They are the very same qualities that we nurture and develop in the RAF of today, protecting the United Kingdom and our allies. I’m delighted to be returning to Cardiff to see this excellent exhibition for myself.”

South Wales Argus:

Air Commodore Williams said: “There is a long and close bond between Wales and the RAF which this exhibition really brings to life.

“The 67 pilots – The Welsh Few – came from all corners of Wales. Many, like Sgt Glyn Griffiths, came from ordinary beginnings, but they did extraordinary things. Some of these stories have never been told before and I do hope people will come and find out more on Wales’ important role in the Battle of Britain.”

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Secretary of state for Wales, Simon Hart MP, said: “I’m delighted to be attending this fascinating exhibition in Cardiff. It’s a wonderful tribute to the magnificent way in which Welsh men and women played their part in the Battle of Britain – a battle for the very survival of this country. Although 81 years have elapsed since then, the debt we still owe them is immeasurable.”

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Hannah Blythyn MS said: “This important exhibition tells a unique and special story of our past, outlining the vital role that Wales played during the Battle of Britain. The RAF has always had a strong connection with Wales, and it is right we mark the 81st anniversary of the Battle of Britain and recognise the sacrifices made by Welsh pilots, ground crew and communities.

“This event helps us remember the enormous contribution made by all and ensures their stories can be told again to the people of Wales.”

South Wales Argus:

The exhibition was due to be held last year on the 80th anniversary of the battle but was postponed due to the pandemic.

It is now being held in the week of Battle of Britain Day. The official Battle of Britain Day is September 15, seen as the decisive day in 1940 when Nazi aircraft losses were so high that they knew they could not defeat the RAF and invade Britain.

Following the exhibition in Cardiff, which is on until tomorrow (Friday, September 17) evening, it will go on to tour across Wales. Dates will follow.