DIGNITARIES, RAF servicemen and women and residents today paid homage to the people who gave their lives and fought in the Battle of Britain.

There was a service of thanksgiving and commemoration in High Wycombe starting with a parade from the Wycombe District Council offices.

RAF personnel and cadets lined up outside All Saints Church while wreaths were laid at the town's war memorial.

Station Commander at RAF High Wycombe, Frank Clifford, said: "For the RAF this is one of the most important days in our calendar, remembering not just the airmen but the total force who stopped the German invasion of our country.

"Without the spirit and courage and sacrifice, today's generation may have been living in a different society. It is right and proper we remember the few."

The Battle of Britain day commemorates the great victory won by the RAF which saved Britain from invasion in 1940.

On September 15, German Luftwaffe launched two huge bombing raids on London, as part of a continued onslaught against the RAF since July.

The RAF defeated the German bombers, and it was called "one of the decisive battles of the war" by Sir Winston Churchill.

High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, Sir Stuart Hampson, who was in the parade, said: "Today is about thinking back to those people who knew what the risks were, yet put their country before their own lives.

"It is something in today's society we can learn from and remember and respect."

The event is organised by the Chairman’s Office at WDC in conjunction with RAF High Wycombe and the Royal Air Forces Association Club.  The current chairman, Cllr Ian McEnnis, is also the Honorary Secretary of the RAFA Club who provided a reception for the civic guests following the parade and service.

In High Wycombe we especially remember those of Bomber Command of World War Two, and now all who serve under the auspices of Air Command Headquarters.

Mayor of Princes Risborough, Alan Turner, said:

"It was a fantastic event during the War and as Winston Churchill said, 'Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.'

"It is a famous statement and it rings true.

"It is important to remember, particularly when you think most of these pilots were very young, some were not even 20, and the sacrifices they made. They deserve to be remembered and honoured."

During the sermon The Reverend Hugh Ellis thanked God for the airmen who fought so bravely and prayed for a time when there is no need for swords and spears.

He said: "The first and most important means of resistance is a spiritual battle wrought through prayer."

Deputy Mayor of High Wycombe, Paula Lee, was representing Mayor Trevor Snaith, who was taking part in the Great North Run for charity.

She said: "We should never forget the sacrifices they made to keep the freedom we have today."