Today – 15 September is Battle of Britain day. The day we remember with immense gratitude the young men of the RAF who waged an aerial war over London, other UK cities, and the counties of SE England against the Bombers of the German Luftwaffe in 1940, seventy-five years ago. 15 September is commemorated as the day the tide was turned and Hitler’s determination to defeat the RAF as a prelude to an invasion of the UK was finally and decisively thwarted. 1,500 Aircraft were in the sky that day, engaged in aerial battle.
Today there was a service of remembrance at St Paul’s Cathedral and this afternoon the largest flight of Spitfires and Hurricanes ever seen since WW2 took to the air for a fly-past. As I write I am watching a TV programme documenting today’s events.
There is however something missing from what I have written so far. The daring, brave young men to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude were not just English. Men from many Commonwealth countries also flew, but the greatest non-UK contribution came from Poland. There were fifteen Polish Fighter squadrons of which Squadron No. 303 is the most famous being the highest scoring RAF squadron with 126 ‘kills’ to its credit. On 15 September 303 Squadron claimed 15 ‘victories’.
Winston Churchill said, referring to the Battle of Britain: ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’. We must never forget.
Purely by chance I walked back into London ten days ago after visiting my son in SE London and spotted this superb artwork on Southbank commemorating 303 Squadron. I couldn’t have found a better image to post to commemorate today.