Best Bat­tle of Bri­tain on­line re­sources

Sur­veys the best web­sites for re­search­ing ‘the Few’ and the RAF ground staffff that sup­ported them in the Se­cond World War

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - CONTENTS - Jonathan Scott

It’s now 75 years since the Bat­tle of Bri­tain, the early turn­ing point in the Se­cond World War when the Luft­waffe tried and failed to as­sert air supremacy.

If your an­ces­tor flew with Fighter Com­mand you may al­ready have some fam­ily ephemera re­lat­ing to the con­flict, such as the Bat­tle of Bri­tain Clasp that was awarded to com­bat­ants. But in the build-up to this (and the pre­vi­ous 70th) an­niver­sary, lots of dig­i­tal re­sources have ap­peared, mean­ing that you can ex­plore the time­line, air­craft, tac­tics, con­tem­po­rary cov­er­age and of­fi­cial re­ports of the bat­tle in more and more de­tail.

In­deed if your an­ces­tor was a pi­lot, there are sev­eral web­sites that should record his name, rank and wartime ser­vice – and of­ten a lot more be­sides.

1 Bat­tle of Bri­tain 70th raf.mod.uk/his­tory/bat­tle­of­bri­tain70thanniver­sary.cfm

This is the RAF’s of­fi­cial 70th an­niver­sary web­site, which was pro­duced in 2010. It in­cludes a Roll of Hon­our, a day-by- day di­ary of events giv­ing sta­tis­tics of ca­su­al­ties, pa­trols, bar­rage bal­loons flown, lists of raids, move­ments of squadrons and weather con­di­tions be­tween 10 July and 31 Oc­to­ber 1940. The ma­te­rial is based on of­fi­cial re­ports and the com­plete Fighter Com­mand Op­er­a­tional Di­aries. There are also Home Se­cu­rity re­ports giv­ing de­tails of air raid dam­age, as well as brief bi­ogra­phies of the se­nior of­fi­cers in both the RAF and Luft­waffe. You may also like to try the of­fi­cial Bat­tle of Bri­tain Me­mo­rial Flight web­site, which is found at raf.mod.uk/bbmf.

2 Bat­tle of Bri­tain www.the-bat­tle- of- bri­tain.co.uk

A clunky-look­ing but con­tent-rich site that is ded­i­cated to the “pi­lots, crew, fit­ters, ferry pi­lots, cooks, and all con­cerned with Fighter Com­mand” dur­ing the pe­riod. It con­tains a list of all RAF pi­lots, pi­lots and crew by na­tion­al­ity, squadrons and a ba­sic di­ary. The en­try for Mon­day 29 July 1940, for ex­am­ple, reads “Dover was heav­ily at­tacked by 48, Ju 87s es­corted by about 80, Bf 109s. Smaller raids took place later in the day, off Port­land and Har­wich...” Many of the pi­lots’ names are hy­per­linked, which of­ten lead to bi­ogra­phies and pho­to­graphs.

3 The Na­tional Ar­chives na­tion­alarchives.gov.uk/ records/air-force.htm

TNA’s Air Force page lists the key RAF col­lec­tions now avail­able. WW2 ma­te­rial in­cludes com­bat re­ports, which pi­lots or air gun­ners filed af­ter op­er­a­tional flights. The re­ports record date/ time of the com­bat, squadron of the per­son sub­mit­ting the in­for­ma­tion, type/ num­ber of en­emy air­craft, losses, plus a de­tailed nar­ra­tive. The records are search­able via Dis­cov­ery. Fields in­clude the name of the au­thor/s of the re­port, whether pi­lot (for fight­ers) or air gun­ner (for bombers). You can also ex­plore TNA’s op­er­a­tions record books, com­piled by the Air Min­istry.

4 Bat­tle of Bri­tain Day by Day bat­tle­of­bri­tain­blog.com

This day- by- day bat­tle di­ary was ac­tu­ally com­piled and com­pleted five years ago, but it re­mains a very use­ful and well thought- out re­source. It fol­lows the ac­tion from 10 July to 31 Oc­to­ber in ex­haus­tive de­tail and was cre­ated by for­mer Mos­quito nav­i­ga­tor Tony Rudd, sup­ported by a team that in­cluded Dr Zoe Ba­gley, who for­merly worked at the RAF Mu­seum. You can fol­low events by day, or browse by squadron, air­field, or go straight to sec­tions on his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments, planes and more. There’s also a ‘ Top Gun Gallery’ as well as a sec­tion on ‘Unsung He­roes’.

5 Bat­tle of Bri­tain Me­mo­rial bat­tle­of­bri­tain­memo­rial.org

This web­site fo­cusses on the events sur­round­ing the 75th an­niver­sary, and is also the place to ex­plore pho­to­graphs of ‘The Wing’ (the new vis­i­tor cen­tre at the Capel-le- Ferne Na­tional Me­mo­rial) and the Bat­tle of Bri­tain Me­mo­rial Wall, which records all re­cip­i­ents of the Bat­tle of Bri­tain Clasp. There are also bi­ogra­phies of a ‘Few of the Few’, and an ‘en­thu­si­asts only’ Squadron Logbook sec­tion, which fea­tures an as­sort­ment of in- depth ar­ti­cles.

Hawker Hur­ri­canes fly­ing in for­ma­tion in the Bat­tle of Bri­tain

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