At the height of the Battle of Britain Lord Beaverbrook launched the Spitfire Fund, an appeal that gripped the nation.

The South Wilts Spitfire Fund was promptly set up with support from everyone, including the Salisbury Journal and Salisbury Times, which published updated progress on money raised.

With £5,000 being the target, every type of fund raising activity took place during that summer of high drama. The arrival on September 16 of a Dornier 17P in Salisbury’s Market Place, where it was displayed for a week, also helped raise the fund.

Admission for a close look at this German bomber was 6d for adults and 3d for children (probably a tough decision for children as Pannicias were also there selling their ice-cream for 3d!)

The Dornier had been shot down by Flying Officers Blake and Considine on August 27, near Tavistock, Devon, and was put on show at a number of venues.

With the money raised the Spitfire was duly bought and bearing the inscription, Sarum and South Wilts Spitfire, was delivered to No33 Maintenance Unit to be fitted with guns and other operational equipment, ready for final test on May 18, 1941.

On July 2, 1941 it was issued to No 234 Squadron at Warmwell, Dorset, bearing code letter AZ.

Sadly Salisbury’s Spitfire failed to return from an offensive sweep over Northern France on July 9, 1941, after only a week of service.

A plaque presented to the Salisbury Times read: “In the hour of peril people of South Wiltshire (Through the Salisbury Times) earned the gratitude of the British Nations sustaining the valour of the Royal Air Force and fortifying the cause of freedom, by the gift of Spitfire aircraft. They shall mount up with wings as eagles.”

This the inscription on the plaque issued by the Ministry of Aircraft Production 1941.