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First World War centenary: Hainault Farm pilots to be remembered

PUBLISHED: 15:00 28 March 2015

Aeroplanes at Hainault Farm aerodrome in 1917, where 44 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps was based

Aeroplanes at Hainault Farm aerodrome in 1917, where 44 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps was based

Archant

The pilots who risked and gave their lives battling the Zeppelins which unleashed terror on London’s streets are to be remembered 100 years on.

David and Barbara Martin with the replica of the Royal Flying Corps flag, which will be flown at the eventDavid and Barbara Martin with the replica of the Royal Flying Corps flag, which will be flown at the event

The Fairlop Heritage Group is marking the centenary of the First World War by holding an event to commemorate all those who served at Hainault Farm aerodrome.

The site was home to 44 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps – the Royal Air Force’s predecessor.

David Martin, the group’s chairman, said: “It was something that had been in my mind for a while.

“We are only a small group, but we are very enthusiastic about this.”

Officers of 44 Squadron at Hainault Farm aerodrome in 1918Officers of 44 Squadron at Hainault Farm aerodrome in 1918

The day of the commemoration, April 11, has been chosen to sit between two significant dates.

In October 1914, land by Hainault Farm was earmarked by the Admiralty to be used as a day landing ground.

Then, in October 1915, the Hainault Farm pilots had their first encounter with the feared Zeppelins.

Mr Martin said they were slow in climbing to the height of the German airships and were not able to halt their raids on civilians.

The event, at Fairlop Waters Country Park, in Forest Road, Barkingside, will begin at 11am.

A replica of the Royal Flying Corps flag, handmade by Mr Martin’s wife Barbara, will be raised and saluted by former air crew.

Simultaneously, John Barfoot and Sean Grant will lay a floral tribute on behalf of the group.

They have been selected as the oldest and youngest members.

The day, to run until 3pm, will invoke the spirit of reconciliation.

Two special guests will be Hans Haenlein, a survivor of the Allied firebombing of German city Dresden 70 years ago during the Second World War, and former flight sergeant Max Bean, of 115 Squadron Bomber Command.

The group plans to host commemorations every year until 2019.

The aerodrome closed in 1919.

Mr Martin said: “For what they did for us and our freedom, it is important that we remember them and keep their memory alive.”

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