September 15, 2015 19 Comments
Today commemorated the climax of the Battle of Britain. You know the one, the one they made films about. And those few we still remember
‘The Few’ were immensely courageous, but the image of plucky Little Britain, David against the Goliath of Nazi Germany, is completely misleading
Seventy-five years ago today, fierce aerial battles were taking place over London and southern England, and later that evening, after the fighting was over and there was still no sign of a German invasion, reporters on the news announced some 185 enemy planes had been shot down. To all who heard it, and a large proportion of the population did, it appeared a significant victory had been won. Later, it emerged Sunday September 15 had also been the target date for Operation Sealion, the planned German cross-Channel invasion. With the RAF Fighter Command still in robust health, attempting such a high-risk venture was unthinkable. Two days later, Hitler postponed Sealion and then, on October 12, put it off indefinitely. Air battles continued and the night-time blitz lasted until May the following year, but the risk of invasion had passed.Britain won because it was ready and prepared to fight such a battle
Few moments in British history have been so mythologised, however. Woven into the story is the image of plucky Little Britain, David against the Goliath of Nazi Germany. We portray ourselves as backs-to-the-wall amateurs, with those young and gallant Few the last line of defence against the mighty Molloch – after all, the Home Guard were not going to be much good against hordes of Panzers. By a whisker, we held out – but it was a close run thing and thank God Hitler decided to switch from attacking airfields and turned on London instead. It was tough on the East End, but it gave the RAF breathing space and the fight back was on.
That’s pretty much true, and I think we should add that fully integrated air defence system (in the summer of 1940) is above all one of the bequests to his country of Neville Chamberlin. For this is what he bought for Britain at Munich with his ‘piece of paper’. He too is one of the few, who placed his honour and his courage at the disposal of his country. Americans will recognize that we had nothing like it in Hawaii, over a year later.
And here is a bit more of the most beautiful aircraft ever built.