Event to remember village's war hero
- Credit: DAVID ROSS
The community of Great Paxton will be hosting a dual commemoration on Saturday, May 15 to remember a Battle of Britain war hero.
The event has been planned to mark the 100th anniversary of the villages’ war memorial and to unveil a blue plaque in honour of Battle of Britain hero Philip ‘Pip’ Cardell who died at the age of just 23.
"It allows us all to pay our respects to the brave young souls whose names appear carved into the stone, which was unveiled here 100 years ago," said David Duker who has helped to bring the project together and is founder of the Tally Ho Project.
The service will be led by Canon Annette Reed and the Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Julie Spence, and will include readings from the original service, held a century earlier.
"Each soldier's name will be read out in turn, providing a fitting but humble tribute to these young men who gave up their futures so we could have our todays," explained David.
"The gathered crowd will observe a minute's silence, giving them the opportunity to reflect upon this most poignant of sacrifices. A bugler will then signal the end of the ceremony with a rendition of The Last Post. Numbers will not be limited due to the amount of open air space but social distancing rules will apply.
Immediately after this gathering, guests will be invited through to Manor Farm, which is adjacent to the church, for the unveiling of the village's first blue plaque. This will commemorate the life of Battle of Britain hero, Pilot Officer Philip ‘Pip’ Cardell who flew with 603 Squadron.
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Pip was born at Manor Farm,in Great Paxton, and is one of two local lads who became immortalised as members of this nations ‘Few’.
"Last September, it was a privilege to commemorate the life of Squadron Leader Victor Ekins DFC MBE with a blue plaque, but it is only fitting that the same is now done for Pip," said David.
"Pilot Officer Philip Cardell was one of our own. Born and bred in Great Paxton, he was described as being ‘cheerful, bright, energetic and kind’. As the threat of a Nazi invasion edged closer and the need for pilots to defend these shores intensified, Pip found himself very much on the front line.
"The future of the nation, if not the free world, hung on the outcome of a battle that would rage above Britain during 1940.
"On September 27, 1940, after weeks of hard fighting, Pip and his fellow 603 squadron members, found themselves in the centre of a huge scrap over the English Channel.
"On this fateful day, Pilot Officer Philip Cardell would make the ultimate sacrifice. His story is entwined with another character of the RAF, Flying Officer Peter Dexter DFC and will be told at 11:40 on the May 15."
To add extra significance to this unveiling, Pip's wartime medals, which were not claimed at the time, have been located and their current custodian, Philip Harvey, will speak at the event and proudly have them on display.
The present owner of Manor Farm, Jeff Hill, will also say a few words before the plaque will be officially unveiled by Air Commodore Neil Connell CBE at midday.
"Finally, and testimony to how incredible the community is at Great Paxton, the bells of the Church will toll 23 times as a mark of respect for Pip's age when he tragically lost his life," said David.
"Working with Annette Reed, Graham James, Jeff and Ursula Hill has been such a privilege and we welcome you to join us for what will be an emotional morning of remembrance and celebration for these young and heroic folk to whom we owe so much."