Guernsey Governor welcomes Battle of Britain change

A woman watching the Guernsey Air Display from St Sampson
Image caption Thousands of islanders in both Guernsey and Jersey watched the display in fine weather

Guernsey's Lieutenant Governor, Air Marshal Peter Walker, says he welcomes the dropping of the phrase "Battle of Britain" from the island's air display.

The show, which ran from 11:00 until 13:22 BST on Thursday, has been rebranded as the Guernsey Air Display.

The move comes 14 years after the Jersey International Air Display dropped the Battle of Britain tag.

Lt Gov Walker said some potential sponsors "don't want to be associated with... the dark days of warfare".

He said the Guernsey Air Display was "an appropriate title, fit for the 21st Century".

Many of those watching the event from St Sampson on Guernsey's east coast were disappointed by the decision.

Bernard Wills said: "I don't think it was necessary. It was still the battle of Britain. The men still lost their lives and won the war for us."

Phil Horsepool watched the display from the sea wall, where he was taking photographs.

"It should stay Battle of Britain - it should never be changed," he said.

"I wasn't around in the war years but my father was. He fought for our freedom. I've been part of the forces and I feel strongly that it should stay as a remembrance."

'Horrible time'

Gary Cutler said for the sake of those who lived through the occupation of the Channel Islands by German forces from 1940-1945, the title should not have been changed.

"I grew up around people that had been in the occupation and they always felt this was a good reminder of how important their freedom was," he said.

Annette Carpentier questioned the argument that the name change could be justified by the need to secure funding.

Image caption Annette Carpentier questioned whether sponsorship issues justified the change

"It's a two-edged sword, isn't it? You need the money but it would be nicer if the resources were coming from somewhere where what's behind the display was closer to their hearts."

Other display spectators shared broadly similar views.

Barry Mahy said: "I was here during the war and I know too much about it.

"It was a horrible time. It's nice to get away from it. Times have moved on."

The displays in both Guernsey and Jersey remain part of Battle of Britain Week, during which the RAF Association collects money for the Wings Appeal.

This provides funds for serving and former air force personnel.

The phrase is also used to describe the memorial flight which traditionally opens Guernsey's event.

This usually consists of a Lancaster bomber, a Spitfire and a Hurricane.

However, an oil leak prevented the Hurricane from making the trip over the English Channel this year.

Image caption The phrase Battle of Britain is still used to describe the traditional memorial flight

Mike Higgins, who organises the Jersey event, said he instigated the rebranding there in 1998 in order to "bring it up to date and make it more relevant".

He said it would have been misleading to go on referring to the Battle of Britain when collecting charity donations from the public on the day of the display.

"People thought we were collecting for pilots injured in WWII," he said.

"Keeping the original title would have ignored all the servicemen and women hurt in all the other conflicts that have happened since."

Mr Higgins said the display brought more tourists to Jersey than any other event on the calendar and the name change had helped to bring that about.

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