As one born 6 years after World War II, it was natural that we grew up reading everything we could about the War. A stirring battle that caught everyone’s imagination was the Battle of Britain after which emerged victorious the Fighter Command of the Royal Air Force.
In Spring 1940, German forces had swept across most of western Europe so rapidly that by the end of June resistance had ceased. Only Britain stood in the way of Germany’s complete domination of the continent. The Battle of Britain took place when the Luftwaffe attempted to win air superiority over southern England from the Royal Air Force as an essential prerequisite for the invasion of this country by German naval and land forces. For the British, it ran from 10 July – 31 October 1940. For the Germans it began on 13 August, Adlertag or “Eagle Day”.
In the summer of 1940, 2,936 pilots took part in an historic battle against the German Luftwaffe that was to become the only battle to be fought entirely in the air, this battle has become known as: The “Battle of Britain” and the pilots as “The Few”
During that battle which lasted four months, 544 of them would lose their lives, many of them killed in action, while other were never to be heard of again, and officially listed as missing in action. The German invasion of Great Britain had to be abandoned because of the dedication, courage and tenacity of those 2,936 pilots, who, against a formidable and experienced foe and against all odds, fought only for success.
Churchill knew the sacrifice he demanded of them; he was “never more moved” than on August 16, when he watched the entire strength of Fighter Command in the air from RAF Uxbridge. On the way home he made the remark that, repeated four days later in the Commons, became immortal: “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.”
September 15 is celebrated as Battle of Britain Day.