The ‘Tangmere and the Battle of Britain 80’ exhibition was due to be held in 2020 to mark the 80th anniversary of the battle. However, due to Government Covid restrictions it was decided to postpone the exhibition until the following year. The exhibition was held in 2021 in the Museum’s ASTRA cinema from 1 June until the 30 August. It opened with Covid Safe procedures in place in the Museum (one-way system, social distancing etc.) but this changed on 19 July when the guidelines changed and the Museum was able to operate normally seven days a week.
The aim of the exhibition was to supplement the story of the role of RAF Tangmere and RAF Westhampnett, its satellite, in the BoB, covered in the Museum. To achieve this, display boards were created on ‘Prelude to the Battle’, ‘Defence of the Convoy Peewit’, ‘Spitfire Pilots over Sussex in 1940’ and ‘Keith Park, BoB Commander’. For children, colouring sheets were provided in the exhibition with drawings of the main British and German fighters in the BoB.
Two seven minute films were made in-house featuring two No 601 (the ‘Millionaires’) Squadron pilots, the American Billy Fiske and Willy Rhodes-Moorhouse, both of whom fought and died flying from Tangmere in the summer of 1940.
The display boards and films proved very popular with the estimated 5,000 visitors to the exhibition.
To support the exhibition Dudley Hooley, the Museum’s Chairman and Pete Pitman, Head of Simulators and Projects, both gave excellent and well received talks to our visitors on the Luftwaffe’s raid on RAF Tangmere on 16 August 1940.