Two Spitfires flew overhead after Peterborough’s new war memorial was officially unveiled by HRH The Duke of Gloucester this afternoon (Thursday).
The official unveiling of the war memorial followed the religious dedication in June which coincided with Fly a Flag for Armed Forces day.
Prince Richard, The Duke of Gloucester, is the cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and is 21st in line to the crown.
He addressed assembled dignitaries and passing shoppers who stopped to watch the official unveiling in Bridge Street at 4.20pm this afternoon.
Speaking without a script, The Duke said: “I am very glad that Peterborough has this splendid new war memorial.
“It is important to remember those who made the sacrifice and those who helped others.
“It is very appropriate for the new, expanding city of Peterborough to put its war memorial in a much more public place than before.
“In the last few decades Peterborough has grown bigger and bigger, so it is quite appropriate that it is now here outside your town hall.
“It is with that thought that I would like to congratulate all those who took part in the process.
“I hope that seeing it finished will be a reward for them.”
He then showed the crowd a plaque that said the memorial was unveiled by the Duke of Gloucester on September 13, 2012.
Before the Duke spoke, secretary to the Peterborough War Memorial Committee Ray Preston welcomed people to the unveiling.
Prayers were led for the armed forces by Canon Ian Black, Vicar of St John’s Parish Church.
The two Spitfires flew over Bridge Street four times, to great cheers from the crowd below.
There was also a stirring performance by 22 members of the Marham Bluebirds - the Military Wives Choir of RAF Marham.
Member Shamaine Elms said: “We had our album launch today, but left early to come to this.
“That shows just how importantly we take this unveiling.
“It means a great deal to us, and we hope it does to the whole of Peterborough.”
Amongst the military personnel there was Keith Partridge (74), from Chaucer Road, who served in the Third Battalion Parachute Regiment in Cyprus and the Suez Canal.
He said: “It was a fantastic turnout for the event and I am glad a member of the royal family came.
“I do prefer the war memorial in the Cathedral, because it is more quiet and you can pay your respects there.
“But that is still there and the younger generation might prefer this one.”
After the ceremony finished at 5pm, dignitaries including councillors, MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson and city entrepreneur Peter Boizot moved to the Mayor’s Parlour at the Town Hall.
Leader of Peterborough City Council Cllr Marco Cereste said: “It was extremely nice to see the Duke of Gloucester for the unveiling.
“It was a really tremendous event and I loved the Spitfires.
“If you fought in the war and saw them coming over for real, it must have been quite a sight.”
Mr Boizot said: “I think it is a tremendous war memorial.
“I still like the fact there is one in the grounds of the Cathedral, but maybe more people walking past will make this one more prominent.”
Also in the Mayor’s Parlour were four Year 3 children from Southfields Primary School, who went with teachers Natalie Bailey and Rizwana Farooq.
There was one thing that stood out for seven-year-olds George, Sue, Ryan and Kianna - the impressive Spitfire display.
Sue said: “I loved it when the planes flew - I didn’t know that was going to happen.
“It was really exciting.”
Mrs Bailey said: “All of our children helped to fund-raise for the new war memorial.
“We think it is important for them to understand what happened.
“George, Sue, Ryan and Kianna were all chosen because they have done well at school this term, and we wanted to reward their good behaviour.”
Councillor Irene Walsh helped to bring the new monument to the city in her role as chairman of the Peterborough War Memorial committee.
She said: “The support we have received from the public for the war memorial has been tremendous.
“We saw this most recently at the dedication of the war memorial in June when hundreds of people turned out to celebrate its installation.
“We are really proud to have achieved our aim of having a more prominent memorial in the centre of the city to honour all those people who have died fighting for our country.”
George Bennett, chairman of the Royal British Legion Peterborough branch, said: “I am incredibly grateful for the support we have received from the people of Peterborough.
“We must not forget that without the generosity of members of the public, school children, local businesses and everyone else who made a donation to the appeal, we would not be where we are today.
“Our goal from the beginning has been to provide a memorial in a prominent position in the city centre which will be a focal point for remembrance, not just on special occasions, but every day of the year. Thank you to everyone who has supported the committee to make this possible.”
The new war memorial was sculptured by Stamford Stone Company Ltd and installed by John Lucas Ltd of Peterborough.
The memorial stone is Ancaster white limestone. The war memorial was designed by The Architects Design Consortium Ltd of Peterborough.
There are steps leading up to the obelisk and on the memorial are the words ‘Lest We Forget’ in gold leaf.
After the unveiling, the Mayor of Peterborough Cllr George Simons left a wreath of poppies at the base of the memorial.
It was joined by a wreath from the Marham Bluebirds and a cross dedicated to Corporal Michael Boddy signed by Jim, Louise and Margaret - who is his sister.
It included a poignant note that read ‘Loved and remembered every day, and missed every day and always.’