Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Battle of Britain Commemorative Weekend

This weekend, there are various events and services taking place to mark the 73rd Anniversary of  Battle of Britain Day. The Royal Air Force Museum Cosford (Shropshire), plan to have a Lancaster flyover this afternoon at 15:15 (GMT) and a Spitfire is scheduled for tomorrow at 14:45 (GMT).

They are also holding various events this weekend, including Merlin and Griffon engine demonstrations. There is a Land Army re-enactment group and a range of military vehicles on display.
The world's last surviving Dornier Do 17 (known as the flying pencil)  is also on public display. This was a Luftwaffe Bomber, used during the Battle of Britain.

When Germany attempted to gain air superiority over Britain, from July 1940 - September 1940, this period duly became known as The Battle of Britain.

The Battle began in mid July, with the Luftwaffe concentrating on attacking coastal towns, defences and Channel shipping. In August, Goering altered tactics and they began attacking airfields and Radar bases.
On the 4th September they changed tactics once more, upon Hitler's instructions, and began bombing major towns and cities. On the 15th September, which has come to be known as Battle of Britain Day, the RAF launched a savage, counter-attack upon the swarms of German aircraft, in the skies above London and the South Coast. Hitler then realised that they had failed to break the strength of the RAF and gain air superiority that he so desperately craved. Hitler's plans for the invasion of Britain were called off on September 17th. He then turned his attentions to invading the Soviet Union.

It's difficult to establish accurate figures of aircraft lost, but it's estimated that between the 10th July and the end of October 1940, the RAF lost approximately 1023 aircraft, the Luftwaffe, 1887. Britain lost around 544 aircrew and pilots during this time.
The conflict saw the formation of a multinational force, with pilots and aircrew from America, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland, Jamaica, Newfoundland, New Zealand, Rhodesia, Poland, South Africa and Czechoslovakia.
56 Squadron scramble
Pilots of 56 Squadron scramble to their Hawker Hurricanes at North Weald, Essex, 1940.
It was Churchill who announced on the 20th August 1940, "The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in  their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."


About the Author

Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965) was prime minister of Great Britain from 1940 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955. A prolific writer, whose works include The Second World War and A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.