Never let it be said that, in its history when the call came, The Bahamas did not answer. For it did, exponentially, in relation to its size and available resources.
By the end of World War II, the United Kingdom had lost some 42,010 planes (including 30,045 fighters and 11,965 bombers) in the fight in Europe alone.
Of these 42,010, some 21,821 were the iconic Spitfire. Britain had 22,000 Spitfires built, but only 179 survived, and of these 179 surviving fighter planes, many were just wrecks.
Of these 22,000 Spitfire planes that were built, a small island colony, called The Bahamas, gave the money for at least six planes in the fight for world freedom.
Six planes might not sound like a lot, but at a cost of £5,000 each, for a tiny colony like the Bahamas, £30,000, during the war years, it was a small fortune.
In July 1942, the Bahamas received a plaque from the Ministry of Aircraft Production which was awarded to every colony that had contributed £5,000 and over for the purchase of aircraft. The Bahamas War Committee had already given money for five planes and was securing more for the sixth. So prized was the plaque that a special cabinet was ordered to be made, by the Public Works Department, to house it.
The plaque which was to hang in the Post Office, and then permanently in the museum at the Public Library read as follows:
“In the hour of peril the people of the Bahamas 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 war planes.
They shall mount up with wings of eagles.”
(The Nassau Daily Tribune, Thursday July 16, 1942)
What type of plane did the Bahamas help to buy?
Well, it was the famous Spitfire of course.
In May 1940, a fund a plane campaign was set up for the Spitfire. A cost of £5,000 per aircraft was announced. Within weeks of the campaign, funds were set up by councils, businesses, voluntary organisations and individuals across Great Britain, as well as, across its many colonies. The Bahamas War Committee was quick to action in collecting enough funds for at least six war planes.