Chelsea Football Club and the Royal Air Force Museum have announced that they are jointly developing a new project to tell the untold stories of Jewish air force personnel who flew in the Second World War.
The Jewish ‘Hidden Heroes’ project is backed by Chelsea Foundation with funding from the club’s owner Roman Abramovich, who has spent the past two years prioritising the club’s support for an anti-racism campaign in football.
It will build on work already undertaken by the RAF Museum, whose researchers have, in recent years, sought to better understand the vital role in the war effort played by Jewish personnel, who joined the RAF from all over the world.
Organisers said they signed up “to fight against tyranny, racism and antisemitism, fully aware that they risked torture and execution if captured”.
The new project will be launched next year to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and seeks to tell the stories of Jewish veterans “to preserve their memory, and act as a challenge to antisemitism, racism and discrimination”.
Museum chief executive Maggie Appleton said the battle was the RAF’s “defining moment,” adding: “With many Jewish RAF personnel playing crucial roles, the 80th anniversary provides the perfect opportunity to remember these incredible people.”
Appleton said: “By highlighting the stories [of Jewish personnel] we want to play our part in calling out the rise in antisemitism and wider racism in our society.”
Chelsea FC chair Bruce Buck said the club was “committed to tackling antisemitism through education and the Jewish ‘Hidden Heroes’ tells important stories about the bravery of Jewish RAF personnel during the conflict”.
He added: “Since we launched our ‘Say No to Antisemitism’ campaign in January 2018, and under the leadership of Roman Abramovich, we have been focussed on tackling racism and discrimination in the stands and in wider society.”
To mark the partnership, the club will be hosting a dinner in one of its VIP boxes, followed by the Chelsea vs Aston Villa match on 4 December. During the evening, Jewish Royal Air Force veterans who fought during the Battle of Britain will share their stories and be honoured for their heroic contributions.