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The Wakefield Appeal

Winston Churchill wasn't the only man to pay tribute to the bravery of 'The Few' during the Battle of Britain. Lord Wakefield, then chairman of the RAF Benevolent Fund, wrote passionately about the achievements of the RAF during WWII and appealed for donations on their behalf. Here is his letter in full.

"The wonderful achievements of the Royal Air Force in these critical weeks of the second Great War of our time have naturally led to various suggestions being made as to the best way in which we can give expression to our gratitude.

"In the deepest sense, there is no way in which the heroism of our airmen can be assessed or our debt to them in any way liquidated.

An RAF aircrew in an airfield

"As there is, nevertheless, the desire to express the nation's thanks in tangible form, let it be devoted in part to some constructive aim, some cause that can be shown to be solely and entirely for the permanent benefit of all ranks and their dependents.

"I venture to submit as the most appropriate object of our generosity, the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, which exactly fulfills these conditions.

"The Fund, founded in 1919 by Viscount Trenchard, in addition to assisting airmen in various circumstances of special need and difficulty undertakes the education of children of Royal Air Force parentage and helps to establish them in careers that their fathers would be proud to have them follow.

"Up to now, the funds of the RAFBF have been raised without any public appeal, largely by contributions from members of the RAF. It is only too sadly obvious that in the near future there must be heavy calls upon the Fund, to an extent not at present calculable.

"With the gallant heroism of officers and men of the RAF before us day by day, I am confident that as a tribute to their ceaseless fight for the cause of freedom, many will wish to support the cause."

The RAF Benevolent Fund is proud to have continued this support for the last 75 years. In 2014 the charity spent nearly £19 million supporting almost 40,000 members of the RAF family. The charity receives no regular financial support from the government so relies on the generosity of supporters.

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