When the Spitfire AA810 Project launched in November 2018, one of the missions we set out to achieve was recognition of the efforts and sacrifices made by the Photo Reconnaissance Unit during the Second World War. The sole purpose of Photographic Reconnaissance was to provide the most up-to-date critical intelligence to the Admiralty who used this information to strategically plan the Allied actions in the war. Alongside the information gathered by the Special Operations Executive on the ground, and the Bletchley Park Code-breakers through the airwaves, the Photo Reconnaissance Unit physically captured 20 million images of enemy operations and installations during six years of war. Without this vital information, the success of operations and ultimately the outcome of the Second World War could have been very different.

From its inception in 1939 through to the end of hostilities in the far East in 1945, this highly effective unit suffered horrendous losses, indeed records now show that the survival rate was proportionally the second lowest of any Allied aerial unit during the entire war. Yet these crews have never been officially recognised, their sacrifices largely unknown. In total 209 men would lose their lives flying with the PRU, five of those men flew AA810. Due to the solitary nature of their work 74 of those lost have no known grave including two of our AA810 pilots.

In 2019 the Spitfire AA810 Project began to spearhead a national memorial to the Photo Reconnaissance Unit, to directly challenge the UK government to at last recognise the role this unit played in securing an Allied victory. Meetings began in April of 2019 and by the end of June the question of a National memorial was raised in the House of Commons where it was met with approval. In July the formal application for debate was submitted and accepted and Westminster Hall was set aside for the 12th September to hear the case and formalise a Government position on such a memorial. Sadly changes in Government circumstances meant this hearing had to be postponed and it is anticipated that the hearing will be rescheduled for early 2020.

A National Memorial remains a major goal and within our first 18 months of operations we may well have gained formal Government approval for one. If successful the journey will not stop there, as the Spitfire AA810 project will continue to lead this project forward until a design is accepted, funded, and built.

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 by Jennifer Tye.

Spitfire AA810 Restoration Ltd Registered in the U.K. company number 11538932