Commuters to London Bridge surprised by D Day Spitfire

There was a Supermarine surprise for passengers at London Bridge this morning as a full-scale replica Spitfire fighter aircraft appeared in the station concourse, above.

Network Rail has teamed up with the Imperial War Museum to create this installation to mark the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings in World War II.

The replica Supermarine Spitfire is usually on display at IWM Duxford in Cambridgeshire and will be housed in London Bridge’s vast, airstrip-like concourse until 9 June.

Ian Hanson, stations director for Network Rail’s South East route, said: “The railway played a vital role during the Second World War, including transporting troops and equipment to the embarkation ports ready for the D Day operations. It’s fantastic to be able to help Imperial War Museum mark this important anniversary by hosting this Spitfire, and a great surprise which we’re sure will thrill our passengers too.”

London Bridge Station was chosen for the display thanks in part to its proximity to the permanent mooring point on the Thames of HMS Belfast, the WWII cruiser which was one of the first warships to fire on the Normandy beaches on D Day in support of Canadian and British troops on Juno Beach, opening fire at 5.27am on June 6, 1944.

The Southern Railway, as the operator of the railway through London Bridge was then known, made an immense contribution to the war effort, both before and after D-Day.

The railway insouth London played a vital role in the preparations for D Day in 1944

The railway was a vital part in Britain’s military supply chain, from the crucial evacuation of civilians away from London during the Blitz, to moving the masses of troops returning from Dunkirk back inland.

The Southern Railway also maintained a civilian passenger service, continuing to run trains during blackouts despite incurring heavy bomb damage. Some of the larger rail junctions in soouth London, such as Clapham Junction and Norwood Junction, were frequent targets for the Luftwaffe’s bombers in an effort to disrupt the war effort on Britain’s Home Front.

A dockyard at Southampton owned by The Southern Railway prior to the outbreak of WWII was also used extensively to ship large quantities of military freight and personnel over the course of the conflict and was especially busy around the time of D Day. From D-Day to VE Day, over two and a half million British and American service personnel passed through the dockyards at Southampton.

IWM is marking next week’s 75th anniversary of the D Day landings retelling the extraordinary land, air and sea story through its Second World War collection and its three historic sites: HMS Belfast, IWM Duxford and Churchill War Rooms.

As part of these events, IWM is distributing a free limited-edition newspaper, full of facts and stories about D Day, throughout the week at London Bridge and Waterloo stations. There will also be a small digital exhibition showing clips about D Day on screens at both stations.

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2 Responses to Commuters to London Bridge surprised by D Day Spitfire

  1. ronnie101 says:

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  2. Lewis White says:

    `Spitfire in the new London Bridge concourse ? Simply Wizard idea! Those johnies at the Imp War Mus have dreamed up a good ‘un ! That’ll cheer up the poor old commuters a bit, and then make them wish they could swap their boring old office chair for the cockpit of one of these beauties! Even if this one is a replica.

    Ginger and I both flew sorties in the old spitfire from Kenley back in ’43, including that rather famous one where we dropped in to an airfield “somewhere in France” with dummy fueltanks filled with ale from a certain Kentish brewery, for the chaps who were mising real English beer ! Oldest one in the world, y’know, but can’t spill the beans, even now, as to the name. Mum’s the word. And If I told you, I’d have to kill you ! Still got my service revolver at the back of my socks drawer….

    Ginge and I will take French leave from our Purley care home and use our pensioner passes to get up to town. Those new Thameslink trains certainly do the business, speed-wise, but there are no coffee cup holders ! How on Earth they forgot those, in today’s world of cofee-on-the-go! It beggars belief!!

    So it’s Southern Electric we’ll be travellin’ on, even if the loos are a bit cramped. No worries for Ginge and me, as we were a contortionist act in ENSA ! The ” Twodinis”

    On second thoughts, might try to get our Russian-Brazillian Care Assistant, Varoomshka Ipanema Bossanova, to accompany us. She might enjoy seeing the HMS Belfast. Seems to have taken a bit of a shine to Ginge. If we play our cards right, perhaps we can have a few Rums on board before getting the train back to Purley. Spiffing idea. Carry on !

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