Gale and Polden Ltd, C1936
Dimensions: 22cm x 29cm
Material: Leather and Paper
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The Fighter Command visitor book is approximately A4 size and opens to a landscape orientation. Its cover is a rich green leather, with a slightly crackled texture. On the cover in debossed gold is the text ‘Fighter Command Bentley Priory’, and the RAF badge. This is circular with a crown mounted on the top and an eagle in flight in the centre. Around the edge of the circle is the RAF motto which reads in Latin ‘Per Ardua Ad Astra’ which translates to ‘Through struggles to the stars’. The spine of the book has some raised ridges and the edges of the paper are edged in gold. On the inside edge of the cover is a green and gold decorative border, which appears as a frame around the pages of the book when it is open. There is a light blue ribbon attached at the spine, used as a page marker.
RAF Fighter Command was created on 14th July 1936, as part of the reorganisation of the Air Defence of Great Britain into four specialised Commands: Bomber, Fighter, Coastal and Training. Headquarters Fighter Command was based at RAF Bentley Priory, under the control of its first Commander-in-Chief, Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding (who was promoted to Air Chief Marshal in 1937).
The Fighter Command Visitor Book was first used on 9 September 1936, and is still used to this day for commemorative occasions. Prominent signatories include King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower. Prominent members of the RAF have also signed, including Sir Hugh Dowding, Sir Keith Park, Trafford Leigh-Mallory and Sholto Douglas.
The book was signed by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, on the occasion of the opening of the Museum in 2013.