TODAY marks the 80th anniversary of The Battle of Britain, a major air campaign fought in the skies over Britain in 1940 and Airmen from Powys made a significant and gallant contribution to eventual victory.

It was the first decisive battle in history fought entirely in the air. The German objective was to destroy the Royal Air Force to obtain air superiority in advance of an invasion during the Second World War.

In this fight for survival, 67 Welsh aircrew served with distinction, a number of whom won gallantry awards for bravery and for the destruction of enemy aircraft. Among those aircrew were a number from Powys.

One of them was Jack Royston Hamar, Born in Knighton, he was a pupil at John Beddoes Grammar School in Presteigne.

A keen racer of cars and motorbikes, Jack worked in the family grocery business in Knighton but joined the RAF in 1938 and began his flying training in May that year.

Pilot Officer Hamar joined No 151 Squadron in March 1939 at RAF North Weald, flying Hurricanes. He served in the Battle of France, destroying or damaging six enemy aircraft.

In the Battle of Britain, he destroyed an Me109 but was killed on July 24 when he stalled and crashed whilst attempting an upward roll in his aircraft prior to landing. He was 25 years-old. He was awarded a DFC on July 30,1940. Pilot Officer Hamar is buried in Knighton cemetery.

Russel Chapman Hamer was born in 1916 in Newtown. The son of alderman Richard Bryce Stephen Hamer and Edith Mary Chapman, he joined the RAF originally serving as an apprentice in January 1933 and qualified as an aircraft fitter in 1936. He later applied for pilot training which he began in 1938

On October 7, 1939 he joined 141 Squadron, then based at Turnhouse near Edinburgh flying the Boulton Paul Defiant night-fighter. The Defiant was a two-seat fighter, with the second seat occupied by a gunner who controlled a turret with four machine guns.

The type had no forward-firing guns as the more successful Spitfire and Hurricane had and was found to be very vulnerable if operated in daylight. It was eventually withdrawn from service in daylight and served instead as a night-fighter.

Sergeant Hamer served with the squadron throughout the Battle of Britain when he was stationed at Biggin Hill. Flying a night sortie on November 10, Sergeant Hamer, with his gunner Sergeant CR Hill damaged a He111 bomber south of Tunbridge Wells.

He was killed in September 1942 when flying a Bristol Beaufighter night-fighter over the Isle of Wight.

Air Commodore Adrian Williams, Wales’ most senior RAF Officer, said: “In this 80th year commemoration of the Battle, we remember the 'Welsh Few', 67 men from all corners of Wales, who served with distinction in the air and made a significant and gallant contribution to the Battle of Britain.

"They were part of the 2,947 aircrew from Britain, the Commonwealth and many other countries who fought in the battle. We remember too, the vital part played by RAF bases in Wales in supplying pilots and aircraft in that desperate struggle during the long hot Summer of 1940.

“That role played by the RAF in Wales in protecting the skies above Britain continues today. The crews of our Typhoon jets which defend our skies 24/7 are all trained at RAF Valley on Anglesey.”