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celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Dermot O’Leary meets veterans such as 95-year-old Wing Commander Tom ‘Ginger’ Neil, who recalls his training. It was minimal, and he was sent up with instructions to shoot down enemy aircraft while avoiding getting shot himself.
Dermot doesn’t just meet former pilots, he also encounters ground crew members, who often had just 20 minutes to carry out maintenance on damaged planes and faced being bombed as the Luftwaffe targeted RAF airfields. The 90-minute documentary also charts events on 15 September 1940, when the Luftwaffe sent wave after wave of aeroplanes in an unsuccessful attempt to break British resistance. On Channel 4, Battle Of Britain: Heroes Fly Again (Tuesday 15 September) charts a flypast over the south of England involving an expected 40 Hurricanes and Spitfires. The fighters will take to the air over sites strongly associated with the Battle of Britain, including the White Cliffs of Dover, Biggin Hill and RAF Uxbridge.
It’s Radio 2’s turn on Friday 18 September to mark the anniversary. Chris Evans and Jeremy Vine will broadcast from Biggin Hill, and there will be a special edition of Friday Night Is Music Night commemorating events during a summer when the fate of the nation hung very much in the balance.
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Spitfires patrol over the coastline during the Battle of Britain