Bat­tle of Bri­tain re­mem­bered

Rutherglen Reformer - - News -

“Never, in the field of hu­man con­flict, was so much owed by so many to so few.”

The his­toric words of Sir Win­ston Churchill will res­onate across the coun­try this sum­mer as the United King­dom com­mem­o­rates the 75th an­niver­sary of the Bat­tle of Bri­tain, one of most piv­otal con­flicts in World War ll.

It be­gan in July 1940, the first ma­jor mil­i­tary cam­paign ever to be fought en­tirely in the air, with Hitler’s Luft­waffe, un­der the com­mand of Her­man Gor­ing, and the RAF, led by Fighter Com­mand un­der Sir Hugh Dowd­ing.

With his forces hav­ing over­run Bel­gium, the Nether­lands and north­ern France, Hitler was ready to in­vade iso­lated Bri­tain, with Amer­ica and Rus­sia opt­ing not to get in­volved.

He planned to get air supremacy over the Bri­tish across the south of Eng­land, and im­por­tantly, the English Chan­nel.

More than 1300 bombers and 1200 fight­ers were launched against Bri­tish ship­ping, air­fields and even­tu­ally towns and cities.

At the start of the bat­tle, the RAF could only call on around 650 air­craft and 1300 pilots, yet by the time the cam­paign ended, al­most 3000 air crew would have served with Fighter Com­mand, drawn from other units and pilots from other coun­tries in the Com­mon­wealth.

How­ever, the Luft­waffe were nei­ther trained, or equipped, for the long-range oper­a­tions that be­came a large part of the bat­tle. The RAF also had a good sys­tem of radar track­ing and guid­ance, and de­fend­ing against at­tacks on home turf meant that even if a pi­lot was shot down, he could para­chute to safety and re­turn to the fray.

The 12-week bat­tle cul­mi­nated on Septem­ber 15, 1940, a day on which the Ger­mans lost 56 planes, the RAF ex­actly half that.

By that time, 1733 Ger­man planes had been de­stroyed, com­pared with 915 Bri­tish air­craft, and Hitler, frus­trated by his in­abil­ity to con­trol the skies over the English Chan­nel, aban­doned, or at least, post­poned in­def­i­nitely, his plans to in­vade the UK.

The plans changed, as the Luft­waffe re­sorted to in­dis­crim­i­nate bomb­ing of larger cities like Lon­don,

More than 1300 bombers and 1200 fight­ers were launched against Bri­tish ship­ping, air­fields and towns

Sky­ward

a vet­eran air­craft from the RAF’s Bat­tle of Bri­tain Me­mo­rial flight

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