Service to remember Battle of Britain war hero Pip

A service was held at the Great Paxton War Memorial.

A service was held at the Great Paxton War Memorial. - Credit: HUNTS POST

A service was held in Great Paxton on Saturday to remember, and pay tribute to village war hero Philip 'Pip' Cardell.

A blue plaque was unveiled at Manor Farm, Great Paxton - the former family home of Pilot Officer Cardell - and a 100-year commemoration service for the war memorial, which has Pip's name inscribed on it, was also held.

Air Commodore Neil Connell unveiled the plaque and the bells of the church were tolled 23 times - one to mark each year of Philip Cardell's life. Canon Annette Reed gave a blessing said the final prayers.

Air Commodore Neil Connell unveiled the plaque at Manor Farm.

Air Commodore Neil Connell unveiled the plaque at Manor Farm where Philip Cardell lived. - Credit: HUNTS POST

The Blue Plaque on the wall of Manor Farm at Great Paxton

The Blue Plaque on the wall of Manor Farm at Great Paxton where Pip Cardell lived. - Credit: HUNTS POST

The Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Julie Spence, read out the words spoken at the unveiling of the village war memorial and also the names of those who died in both world wars. A bugler also played The Last Post and a Spitfire fly-past was organised.

Pilot Officer Cardell was a member of 603 Squadron and historian David Ross, who has written several books on the subject, said he got to know many of the families of Battle of Britain veterans during his research project.

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His books include Richard Hillary and The Greatest Squadron of Them All. The photos of Philip Cardell form part of his collection.

"It was an honour to be entrusted with so many photos and other artefacts by the families which allowed me to publish exclusive material on their behalf," he said. 

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"Many years ago I used to visit Pip’s grave with a lovely lady who was his fiancée at the time of his death. It was always so moving."

David Duker, who has also carried out research as part of the Tally Ho project, organised the event on Saturday, and he said: "It was the absolute least we could do to pay our respects to a young man who gave so much. It was a day where the power of community and togetherness shone brightly.

‘The Spitfire flypast was such a fitting tribute to one of our nations 'few' and I am so incredibly pleased that Saturday's ‘Great Paxton Remembers’ event was a great success despite some uncertain whether forecasts.

"The gathered crowd marked the 100th anniversary of the village's war memorial before moving across to Manor Farm to observe the unveiling of a blue plaque for Battle of Britain pilot and local lad Philip ‘Pip’ Cardell of 603 Squadron.

The day was made all the more special as The Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire Julie Spence, the mayor of St Neots, Cllr Stephen Ferguson, district councillor Richard West and President of St Neots Royal British Legion. Keith Ridley, were in attendance. Relatives of the serviceman listed on the memorial were also present to pay their respects.

The service at the Great Paxton War Memorial.

The service at the Great Paxton War Memorial. - Credit: HUNTS POST

Readings from Julie Spence, Graham James, David Duker, Philip Harvey and Jeff Hill brought the lives of these young men to the forefront of our minds once again in a humbling moment of remembrance.

"As the morning's events came to an end, the church bell in Great Paxton rang out 23 times, one for each of Pip's years when he sadly lost his life on September 27,  1940.

"After a very emotive two-minute silence, the unforgettable sight and sound of a Spitfire flew low overhead to mark the contribution made by one of this nations ''few'.  

"A huge thank you goes out to John Romain from the Aircraft Restoration Company who despite challenging flying conditions made the effort to pay his respects in such a spectacular and unforgettable way.

"I am immensely proud to have worked closely with the community in Great Paxton to make this happen. Despite the years that have passed, the genuine emotion on display showed just how much the sacrifices made by these brave young souls are still appreciated today. It was a day that will live long in the memory."

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