WWII

Battle Of Britain Day: Air Display Marks 80th Anniversary

The RAF's victory over the Luftwaffe stopped Hitler’s plans to invade Britain.

Eighty years on from one of the Second World War’s defining days, veterans have watched a tribute to those who served in the Battle of Britain.

The battle saw the Royal Air Force repel the German Luftwaffe and win, putting paid to Hitler’s plans to invade Britain.

Whilst there were many turning points in the four months of the battle, 15 September is officially known as Battle of Britain Day.

On that day 80 years ago, the Luftwaffe launched one of its fiercest attacks on Britain.

German bombers and Messerschmitt fighter aircraft roared over the English coast.

The RAF, however, was undaunted. Around 20 Spitfires and Hurricanes took off from London Biggin Hill Airfield, with many more launching from other bases, to defend the country.

Aviation historian Robin Brooks told Forces News: “They [Luftwaffe] were met by about 12 squadrons, not only from Biggin Hill but from the other airfields, but we had radar which allowed our aircraft to get up into the air prior to them actually crossing the Channel, and we were ready to come down onto the German bomber formation.

“If we hadn’t won the Battle of Britain, then Hitler would have crossed the Channel and you and I would not be here talking today, that was why we had to win”. 

Second World War veteran pilot George Dunn said watching the Battle of Britain pilots during his teenage years inspired him to join the RAF.

As part of 80th anniversary commemorations, London Biggin Hill Airfield hosted displays by the Blades Aerobatic Team, which was accompanied by a Spitfire and Hurricane – two of the Battle of Britain’s iconic RAF aircraft.

World War Two pilot George Dunn was there to see it.

He witnessed first-hand the Battle of Britain being fought over his head when he served in the Home Guard.

“I was 17 when the war broke out and I was 18 when the Battle of Britain started”.

“I saw quite a lot of the dog fights that went on and the contrails, as a young lad it was quite something to watch that.”

When asked whether it was exciting or frightening, he told Forces News: “I wouldn’t say it was exciting, but you, at the back of your mind, you were thinking of what was going on in the minds of some of those young pilots.

“When the Battle of Britain started, a lot of the pilots had only got a few weeks’ training behind them and their prospects were not great.”

Mr Dunn says it was watching the Battle of Britain pilots as a teenager that inspired him to join up just a year later.

“I had visions of trench warfare in the First World War and I thought ‘well that’s not for me’ and I thought ‘well the Navy, I didn’t fancy getting torpedoed or anything like that’ so I thought ‘I’ll have some of that what’s going on up there’.

Coronavirus disrupted plans to commemorate the Battle of Britain’s 80th anniversary, but the famous few who gave their lives have not been forgotten.