Battle of Britain pilots running to their planes

Battle of Britain

In 1940, from 10 July until 31 October, the Royal Air Force Fighter Command thwarted the German Luftwaffe's attempts to gain air supremacy over southern England, averting possible invasion and downing 1,733 German aircraft.

But the efforts were not without significant sacrifice: 915 British craft were lost and an estimated 544 of the 2,927 aircrew of the RAF were killed.

Their numerical disadvantage prompted Prime Minister Winston Churchill to describe them as the 'few' in his speech to Parliament on 20 August 1940.

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." Sir Winston Churchill

The Messerschmitt Bf109E (Me-109) was the principal German fighter, but with a range of 700km it had only 15 minutes' fuel over Kent and was at the limit of its range over London.

The RAF piloted the better-equipped Hurricane and the faster, more manoeuvrable Spitfire. Many of the RAF pilots were from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and central European countries overrun by the Germans.

The 'Blitz' continued after the Battle of Britain had finished, until May 1941.

Battle of Britain Day is celebrated on 15 September.

75th Anniversary events

A number of events are being held to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain including a service at St Paul's Cathedral on Tuesday 15 September 2015 and The Battle of Britain Anniversary Air Show as IWM Duxford on 19 and 20 September. Please visit the Royal Air Force Association Battle of Britain website for details. 

Schools and learning

Learning resources about the Battle of Britain can be found on the following sites:

Imperial War Museum: www.iwm.org.uk/history/battle-of-britain

RAF Association: www.rafa.org.uk/battleofbritain

RAF Benevolent Fund: www.rafbf.org/battle-of-britain/about-the-battle-of-britain

For free learning resources including assemblies on Remembrance in general and other associated topics, visit our Schools and Learning section.

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