Replica Spitfire Given To The Kingdom Of Lesotho In Recognition Of WW2 Service

One tiny kingdom, formerly a part of the British Empire, is being remembered this year by the Spitfire Heritage Trust.  The tiny, land-locked Kingdom of Lesotho in Southern Africa has been given a full-scale replica of a Spitfire, which will stand next to Lesotho’s War Memorial.

During Britain’s darkest hour this tiny country, situated five thousand miles away, not only sent men to fight on the side of the British, but they also collected enough money to buy 24 Spitfires. This mountainous country has a largely agrarian subsistence farming economy, but they still managed to contribute a significant amount to the war effort.

In remembrance of this long-forgotten story, the Spitfire Heritage Trust set about planning to build the replica as a thank-you to the people of Lesotho.  After five years of planning and work, the aircraft was delivered in time to be erected for Armistice Day this year, ITV News reported.

Some 20 000 men answered the Commonwealth call-to-arms and formed a part of the Southern African contingent that saw service in Burma, the Middle East, North Africa and Italy.  Several WWII veterans are still alive and spoke to ITV News.  Thuso Hlomeli, 93, told of the ‘Battle of Malta,’ in which he fought, and remembers searching through the rubble of the city looking for bodies to recover.  Khailie Molebatsti, a 95-year-old veteran of the war, told an interview with ITV News, “We were living under British rule, so we had to fight, but I was young, and I was happy to go.”

Their contribution is gaining the recognition it so richly deserves and this iconic warbird will stand proudly as a symbol of the sacrifice made by the people of Lesotho.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE