In May 1940, Germany invaded France. The French and British armies were overpowered by the German blitzkrieg. Toward the end of May, in a daring rescue attempt, ships from England picked up 300,000 British and French soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk. Britain stood alone against the might of the German war machine. Hitler was surprised that Britain did not surrender like France.

He ordered his generals to invade Britain. Their invasion plan was code named Operation Sealion. In order for the German blitzkrieg to work the Luftwaffe had to first destroy the RAF, to prevent it posing a threat to German troops as they landed in Britain.

The battle of Britain was the first major battle fought entirely in the air. Hermann Goring's air force began its assault on England in July 1940 with more than twice the 600 aircraft available to the RAF.

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Starting on 10th May 1940, it took the German Army and Air Force just six weeks and one day to become the masters of continental Europe. The Low Countries were overrun, the British and some French were forced into a humiliating evacuation at Dunkirk and France itself surrendered on 22nd June.

It was a masterly campaign by the Wehrmacht, illuminated by bold and imaginative strategy, close integration of infantry, armour and air power and executed with ruthless determination. The war was totally transformed and even the victors seemed somewhat surprised and uncertain about what to do next.

It was a logical strategi  for Hitler to dispose of the British, but time was wasted in the forlorn expectation of British overtures for peace. Instead of acquiescence to German feelers, Winston Churchill responded with: What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over.

I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to defeat us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free. . .. Directive No 16 "Preparation for a Landing Operation Against England."

In the preface to this directive Hitler wrote: As England despite her hopeless military situation still shows no sign of willingness to come to terms, I have decided to prepare, and if necessary to carry out a landing operation against her.

The aim of this operation is to eliminate the English motherland as a base from which war against Germany can be continued, and if necessary, to occupy the country completely . ... Armed with Directive No 16, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW), the German Armed Forces General Staff, started to plan for the invasion of England, Operation Sealion. The German Army's initial desire was for a broad front landing by some 13 divisions in three separate areas.

The German Navy, on the other hand, seriously doubted its ability to carry out such an ambitious scheme in the face of the inevitable reaction of the Royal Navy and much preferred a narrow front landing. These differences were resolved, in the Navy's favour, by Hitler on 16th August. 

At this same conference, an invasion date of 15th September was set by the Fuhrer. Despite their other disagreements, there was one matter on which both the German Army and Navy agreed; the imperative necessity of air supremacy over the Channel and the projected landing sites.

battle of britain

In the summer of 1940, the German Air Force attempted to win air superiority over southern Britain and the English Channel by destroying (he Royal Air Force and the British aircraft industry. This attempt came to known as the Battle of Britain, and victory over the RAF was seen by the Germans as absolutely essential if they were eventually to mount an invasion of the British Isles.

The Germans had conquered Belgium, the Netherlands and northern France in May 1940, using the Bill "Lightning War"  technique that relied, among other things, on close coordination between ground troops and the German Air Force. Although the German Air Force proved  competent in this role, it was not trained or equipped for the longer-range operations that became pan of the Battle of Britain.

It is widely believed that had the Germans succeeded in their aim of destroying the RAF, they would have been able to invade Britain relatively easily. This was, after all, all a time when the country was the only European power resisting Nazi Germany, even though she did enjoy massive support from her Commonwealth partners.

A plan to use the German Air Force as the prelude to the invasion of the UK had been discussed in 1939, and was at first rejected. However, in view of the strength of the Royal Navy, the Germans did eventually decide they had to crush the RAF first. They had won convincingly in the Polish campaign in 1939 and the Scandinavian and French campaigns in 1940, but they were now up against a well-organized air defense system, and things were going to be more difficult for them. The British, on the other hand, over-estimated German strength and competence.

This was worrying, but not something that would lose them the battle, and they also had a new invention— radar—to help direct the lighters to intercept attacking German aircraft. Furthermore, the British were starting to get intelligence from intercepting German communications, having cracked the Enigma code system. One of the most Iconic years in British History was 1940 when The Battle Of Britain was fought against the Luftwaffe.

The reader must remember our parents and grand parents were involved or lived through the war and during my growing up in the 1960's the war was a very big thing to British families and a lot of my teachers in the 1960's and 1970's were in the Army, Royal Navy or RAF during the Second World War. The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces and was also the largest and most sustained aerial bombing campaign to that date.

From July 1940 until October 13th 1940 coastal shipping convoys and shipping centres, such as Portsmouth were the main targets; one month later the Luftwaffe shifted its attacks to RAF airfields and infrastructure. The last true day of The Battle of Britain was on September 15th. 1940. The bombing raids of British cities continued until October 13th 1940. As the battle progressed the Luftwaffe also targeted aircraft factories and ground infrastructure.

Eventually the Luftwaffe resorted to attacking areas of political significance and using terror bombing tactics. The failure of Germany to achieve its objectives of destroying Britain's air defences or forcing Britain to negotiate an armistice or an outright surrender is considered its first major defeat and one of the crucial turning points in the war. While we British were using radar for air defence more effectively than the Germans realised, the Luftwaffe attempted to press its own offensive advantage with advanced radio navigation systems of which we British were initially not aware.

One of these was knickebein ("crooked leg"); this system was used at night and for raids where precision was required. It was rarely used during the Battle of Britain. Towards the end of the Battle of Britain, Britain begun slowly running out of aircraft and pilots. The Germans were targeting airfields and then suddenly changed direction and started to bomb London over a period of days. This gave the RAF time to repair the airfields and replace the damaged aircraft.

If Germany had gained air superiority, Adolf Hitler would have launched operation Sea Lion, which was the amphibious and airborne invasion of Britain. On 15th September two massive waves of German attacks were decisively repulsed by the RAF, with every aircraft of 11 Group being used on that day. The total casualties on this critical day were 60 German and 26 RAF aircraft shot down. The German defeat caused Hitler to order, two days later, the postponement of preparations for the invasion of Britain. Henceforth, in the face of mounting losses in men, aircraft and the lack of adequate replacements, the Luftwaffe switched from daylight to night-time bombing.

If the Germans had invaded and beaten us Brits then the World would have been completely different and instead of English this article would have been in German and the continent of Europe would have been controlled by Germany ( Not like today then!!! ). On 13th October, Hitler again postponed the invasion "until the spring of 1941"; however, the invasion never happened, and October is regarded as the month regular bombing of Britain ended.

It was not until Hitler's Directive 21 was ordered on 18 December 1940, that the threat of invasion finally dissipated. The Royal Air Force roll of honour for the Battle of Britain recognises 595 non-British pilots (out of 2,936) as flying at least one authorised operational sortie with an eligible unit of the RAF or Fleet Air Arm between 10 July and 31 October 1940.

These included 145 Poles, 127 New Zealanders, 112 Canadians, 88 Czechoslovaks, 32 Australians, 28 Belgians, 25 South Africans, 13 French, 10 Irish, 7 Americans and one each from Jamaica, the British Mandate of Palestine and Southern Rhodesia. Winston Churchill summed up the effect of the battle and the contribution of Fighter Command with the words, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few".

Pilots who fought in the Battle have been known as The Few ever since. Battle of Britain Day is commemorated in the United Kingdom on 15th September. Within the Commonwealth, Battle of Britain Day is usually observed on the third Sunday in September. In some areas in the British Channel Islands, it is celebrated on the second Thursday in September. Paul Hussey


Every day between June and October 1940 the RAF and the Luftwaffe clashed over Britain. Both sides were equipped with the latest aircraft technology. However, the RAF had the edge over the Luftwaffe with its new faster fighters the Spitfire and Hurricane. The Luftwaffe were equipped with Stuka dive bombers, Messerschmitt ME109 fighter and the Heinkel bomber. The design and speed of the Spitfire and Hurricane meant that they could out manoeuvre the German fighters.

Another advantage that the RAF had over the Luftwaffe was radar technology which enabled it to see when the German aircraft were about to cross the English Channel. The RAF used this information to concentrate its fighters in the areas where they expected the Luftwaffe were about to attack. This clever piece of cutting edge technology helped the RAF overcome the fact that it was outnumbered.

The Luftwaffe’s final effort to destroy the RAF began on Eagle Day, August 13, 1940. Göring thought that his aircraft could sweep the Royal Air Force from the sky in just four weeks, but poor weather and the skill of the RAF pilots hampered the Luftwaffe's raids. Eagle Day ended with 46 German aircraft destroyed, compared with only 14 RAF fighters. The Battle of Britain was one of the greatest moments in British history: although short of planes and pilots, the RAF had held off the Luftwaffe and prevented a German invasion.

Churchill called it Britain's "finest hour". The skill and determination of the RAF’s pilots, backed up by the latest in technology helped them win the battle of Britain. Germany had been defeated for the first time in the war. The bravery of the British people and their pilots impressed many Americans who began to urge their leaders to help Britain.

German soldiers paraded down the Champs Elysees

In August 1940, the German air force, the Luftwaffe, led by a German man named Goering, second in command next to Hitler, began to attack Britain’s Royal Airforce bases. The German Air Force consisted of 3,000 long range bombing planes against only 600 planes made up of Americans, the British and Free France. The advantage that Britain had was the speed of their small planes called Spitfires.

The job of the German Luftwaffe at the beginning of the Battle of Britain was to put the Royal Air Force out of action. Germany’s aircraft outnumbered those of the Royal Air Force, but the British had a secret weapon of radar. Radar stations along England’s coast provided warning of approaching planes and helped the Royal Air Force intercept them.

The turning point of the war in Europe is clearly the Battle of Britain since if Germany had defeated the Royal Air Force and conquered Britain, Germany could have taken over control of Europe. In 1940, most of Europe was under the control of Germany.

After France had fallen, victorious German soldiers paraded down the Champs Elysees, the famous Paris Boulevard. France’s surrender in June 1940 left Britain alone in the fight against Germany. Hitler had believed that Great Britain would seek peace with Germany after the fall of France but Britain fought on with the war alone.

The British expected Hitler to order an invasion of their nation. Hitler made preparations to cross the English Channel and invade southern England. Before the Germans could invade, however, they had to defeat Britain’s Royal Airforce. The Battle of Britain, which began in July of 1940, was the first battle ever fought to control the air.

Each side greatly overestimated the number of enemy planes it had shot down, but the British had an advantage over the German invaders. The Battle of Britain drained the Luftwaffe of pilots because Germans that were shot down over Britain spent the rest of the war in prisoner of war camps.

By September 1940, the Luftwaffe mistakenly believed it had destroyed the Royal Air Force. The Germans then halted their strikes against Royal Air Force bases and began to bomb London and other civilian targets. They hoped to weaken civilian morale and force Britain to surrender.

The bombing of London caused much destruction to the area. Londoners sought safety in subway tunnels during the nightly raids. Air raids known as the Blitz took place nearly every night through the fall and winter. German bombing raids were restricted to nights after British fighter planes shot down many of the bombers in daylight.

These raids only caused the British response to be that of a greater determination to fight. Most importantly, the British sent bombers to Berlin after German pilots bombed London, which hurt the morale of Germans. In May 1941, Germany finally gave up its attempts to defeat Britain from the air.

RAF Fighter Command

Ten American pilots flew with units under the command of RAF Fighter Command between 10 July and 31 October 1940, thereby qualifying for the Battle of Britain clasp to the 1939-45 British campaign star. During this period the USA was officially neutral, but American pilots were drawn across the Atlantic by the urgency of defending democracy in Europe and their sense of adventure. Through special arrangement with the UK, they did not have to give up their US Citizenship to fly for the RAF.

The first American to give his life in the Battle of Britain was Pilot Officer William M.L. Fiske of No. 601 Squadron. Fiske was a graduate of Cambridge University and a leading personality in the American bob sleigh teams that won the Olympic championships in 1928 and 1932. he died in hospital on 17 August 1940 after bringing back his damaged Hurricane to Tangmere.

Also with No. 601 Squadron was Flying Officer Carl R. Davis, one of a small number of Americans who had seen active service with he RAF before the Battle of Britain. He had taken part in the attack on the German seaplane base at Borkum on 28 November 1939. A British Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane on the airfield at Falaise France in 1994.

A British Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane on the old German airfield at Falaise France in 1994. American pilots in the thick of the action also included Pilot Officers Vernon C. Keough, Andrew Mamedoff and Eugene Q. Tobin on No. 609 Squadron.

This trio had travelled to Europe with the original intention of joining the French Air Force. A notable American in Duxford's history is Pilot Officer Phillip H. Leckrone from Salem, Illinois. He was a member of No. 616 Squadron and fought alongside the British, Commonwealth, Czech and Polish pilots of the Duxford Wing in the late stages of the Battle of Britain.

Three Eagle Squadrons

The other Americans in the Battle of Britain were Pilot Officers Arthur G. Donahue, John K. Haviland, (64 and 66 Sqds), De Peyster Brown. The last one mentioned flew with No. 1 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force which arrived in Britain in June 1940. Some of the above individuals later became members of the three Eagle Squadrons made up of exclusively of American pilots and formed between September 1940 and October 1941. These were No 71, 121 and 133 Squadrons. The Eagle squadrons operated as part of the RAF Fighter Command on convoy escort duties and fighter sweeps over France.

All three were involved in the intense battle of Dieppe on 19 August 1942. In the late autumn of 1942 the USA had fully entered the war in Europe and the three RAF "Eagle" Squadrons were transferred to the 8th US Air Force and became the 4th Fighter Group.

The promise not to transfer any members away lasted a month. Around 1/2 were transferred to other units, back to the states to train other pilots soon after becoming officers in the 8th Air Force. Initially the 4th FG continued to fly Spitfires till they were re-equipped with P-47 Thunderbolts. Some members refused to transfer into the US Forces and remained as part of the RAF throughout the war.

German bomber planes attacked convoys of British ships

Unless the Germans won control of the air, the Royal Navy would be free to sink the invasion craft of 'Operation Sealion'. The Battle began on 10 July 1940 and for the first few weeks the German bomber planes attacked convoys of British ships in the English Channel, ports and naval targets. In mid-August they spread the attacks more widely using nearly 2000 aircraft.

Many German bombers - Junkers 88s, Dornier 17s and Heinkel Ills  -were shot down by the British fighter planes, the Spitfires and Hurricanes. What made the British fighters so effective was radar, a radio device which detected the approach of the German bombers. Göering, commander of the Luftwaffe, ordered more German fighters to escort the bombers.

This meant that German attacks had to be limited to targets within about 150 km, the effective range of the Messerschmitt 109. The Germans hoped to destroy the British fighters by drawing them into battle. This would then put Britain at the mercy of the German bombers. Air Marshal Dowding, who master-minded the British defence, kept as many Spitfires and Hurricanes out of the battle as possible and ordered those in combat to go for the German bombers but evade the fighters, thus frustrating the German plan.

Many German bombers, however, did get through to their targets and so much damage was done to British aerodromes that by early September it seemed as if the RAF would be unable to keep up the battle. But the British were given a breathing space when the Germans switched their efforts to raids on London, in revenge for a British raid on Berlin. This was a bad mistake on the part of the Germans because it relieved pressure on the British airfields at the critical moment.

The Battle of Britain could have been said to be the first major turning point of the war for the Germans were checked for the first time; they were not invincible. Britain was to remain in the struggle thus facing Hitler with the fatal situation of war on two fronts.

The decisive battles were fought on Sunday 15th September 1940, the worst of the German raids on London. British fighters were drawn into the fighter-to-fighter battle the Germans had been seeking. These battles between fighter pilots were called 'dog-fights'.

The pilot's tactical plan in an aerial dog-fight was to climb to a position above the enemy and, descending if possible out of the sun, to shoot him down from the rear, watching that another enemy was not trying to do the same to himself. The victim would try to turn out of the line of fire. At high speed the Messerschmitt 109 had to do this gradually in case its wings broke off but the Spitfire was more strongly built.

Lord Dowding’s claim to fame was his judicious handling of the Royal Air Force’s tightly stretched air defence forces during the Battle of France and the subsequent Battle of Britain during 1940. Much of Fighter Command’s success is due to Dowding’s preparation for war in the late 1930s and his support of the revolutionary radar technology to enable the effective use of scarce fighter resources.

Hugh Dowding was born in 1882 and was one of the earliest members of the Royal Flying Corps. He rose to command an RFC Wing during the Battle of the Somme but he fell foul of Trenchard, who had a very different temperament from Dowding, and spent the last two years of the War running a training brigade in the UK.

Although well respected by many of his contemporaries, Dowding was never a popular man and was known for his reserve rather than strong leadership. However, he progressed through the inter-war RAF and was Air Member for Research and Development by 1935. He was instrumental in the procurement of radar and of modern fighters such as the Hurricane and Spitfire and became C-in-C of RAF Fighter Command in 1936. Following grievous losses during the Battle of France Dowding wrote an historic memo to the War Cabinet warning of the dire consequences should the drain of men and equipment be allowed to continue in France.

That he was successful in marshalling his resources to win the Battle of Britain and halt the threat of German invasion is now a matter of history. He also had to fight many difficult battles in Whitehall where he failed to maintain the support of many of his Air Ministry colleagues, especially with regard to the difficult relationship between two of his Group commanders, Park and Leigh-Mallory.

Many historians consider Dowding’s leaving of Fighter Command in somewhat ignominious circumstances after the Battle as distinctly unfair, although probably inevitable. Following an unsuccessful tour of the United States where Dowding came into conflict with official British policy, he retired completely, was created a baron in 1943, and spent much of the rest of his life in the study of religions and spiritualism until his death on 15 February 1970.

Sir Hugh Dowding

Fighter Command was established on 14 July 1936 under the leadership of Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding as part of a complete reorganisation and expansion of the Royal Air Force in Britain Its headquarters was Bentley Priory at Stanmore, Middlesex. The Command was organised into a number of Groups, each of which was responsible for the defence of a geographical area.

At the beginning of the Battle of Britain, 11 Group covered London and the south east of England and was commanded by Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park. 12 Group, led by Air Vice-Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, controlled the Midlands, East Anglia and northern England upto south Yorkshire and Lancashire.

13 Group defended the rest of northern England, southern Scotland upto Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scapa Flow and Northern Ireland under the command of Air Vice-Marshal Richard Saul. 10 Group, to cover the south west of England and Wales, became operational later in July, commanded by Air Vice-Marshal Sir Quintin Brand. Each Group was sub-divided into geographical sectors to facilitate tactical control.

Each sector contained a main fighter airfield equipped with an operations room to control all the fighters in its area, together with extensive maintenance and repair facilities. The sector station would also command one or more forward satellite landing grounds which would be used to re-fuel aircraft or provide advanced readiness capability.

Fighter Command was the apex of a command and control network which unified the different elements of fighter aircraft, radar and ground defences into a complex system of defence which gave it a formidable striking power and effective operational flexibility.

Bentley Priory was the heart of this system and it received information on incoming hostile aircraft, relayed on secure landlines from the radar stations, to its Filter Room. Once the direction of the plots was established, the relevant Group Operations Room was alerted, where the Group commander would decide which of his sectors would intercept. The sector station commanders then activated or "scrambled" the fighter squadrons.

Due to retire in June 1939, he was asked to stay on until March 1940 due to the tense international situation. He was again grudgingly permitted to continue, first until July and finally until October 1940. Thus, he fought the Battle of Britain under the shadow of retirement.

In 1940, Dowding, nicknamed "Stuffy" by his men, proved unwilling to sacrifice aircraft and pilots in the attempt to aid Allied troops during the Battle of France. He, along with his immediate superior Sir Cyril Newall, then Chief of the Air Staff, resisted repeated requests from Winston Churchill to weaken the home defence by sending precious squadrons to France.

When the Allied resistance in France collapsed, he worked closely with Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park, the commander of 11 Fighter Group, in organising cover for the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk.


July 1940, the German war machine had overrun France and was now poised at the English Channel. Britain anticipated that they would be the next to be invaded. The German army and the Luftwaffe had made short work of Poland, before turning their attention north and then west.

The British Norwegian Campaign had ended ignominiously while the British Expeditionary Force had been whipped in France. The successful evacuation of over 335,000 British and French soldiers from Dunkirk hid the apparent failure against the Blitzkrieg. The Germans appeared unbeatable.

With the Germans almost at their doorstep, all England looked to the Royal Air Force. Both the English and the Germans realized that before the German armies could invade, the RAF would have to be eliminated. With this in mind, the Luftwaffe first probed for weaknesses by attacking targets in southern England and shipping.

This was followed by attacks against RAF airfields and radar stations. The RAF, already weakened through having sent squadrons to France, was suffering heavily in the daily attacks on their airfields. Although fighting valiantly, losses of men and machines mounted, nearing a critical level. Relief came from an unexpected source.

A German bomber accidentally bombed London prompting the RAF to attack Berlin. Hitler was incensed, ordering that the Luftwaffe now turn their attention to leveling London. With the Luftwaffe's attention now turned to London and other British cities, the heat was still not off the RAF. The elimination of Britain's still developing war industry could have dealt Britain a grave blow.

Day after day the Luftwaffe came to bomb the docks, factories and infrastructure of the last bastion in Europe. Daily the RAF met the challenge. By the end of October, the Luftwaffe had exhausted itself. With it went the chance of an invasion of Britain during the remainder of that year.

Canadian airmen played their part in the Battle of Britain. Over 100 Canadian pilots flew on fighter operations during the Battle of Britain. Another 200 fought with the RAF's Bomber and Coastal Commands providing other support to operations to prevent the German invasion of England. An untold number served as ground crew, keeping the fighters flying.

Battle of Britain WW2 Fighter planes

These Canadian pilots distinguished themselves, not only in the Battle of Britain, but also in later battles. They were not alone however. Joining the British and Canadians, were pilots from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, from Czechoslovakia, France and Poland, and from the United States. It was an international effort to defend democracy.

Few of them recognized the importance of their actions at the time. The significance of the Battle of Britain is more than just a matter of Aircraft kills and medals. It was the first time that air power saved a nation and was the first battle to be won purely by air power.

For Canada, the leadership provided by these experienced fliers was to be instrumental in the development of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The Battle of Britain was also the first occasion in which Canadian airmen flew in a Canadian unit in a sustained battle.

Short Glossary of RAF slang ......

Balbo, A A large formation of aircraft. Bale out To take to one's parachute. Bind, A People who obstruct one. Black, A Something badly done, a "bad show". Blitz, A solid lump of Large formation of enemy aircraft. Blonde job, A Young woman with fair hair. Bogus Sham, spurious. Bomphleteers Airmen engaged on the early pamphlet raids. Brassed off Diminutive of "browned off". Brolly Parachute. Browned off, To be "Fed up". Bumps and Circuits Circuits and landings. Bus driver A bomber pilot. Buttoned up A job properly completed, "mastered". Completely Cheesed No hope at all. Cope To accomplish, to deal with. Crabbing along Flying near the ground or water.

Deck, Crack down on To "pancake" an aircraft. Dog fight Aerial scrap. Drill, The right Correct method of doing anything. Drink, In the To come down into the sea. Dud Applied to weather when unfit to fly. Duff gen. Dud information. Dust bin Rear gunner's lower position in aircraft. Erk, An A beginner in any job. Fan The propeller. Flak Anti-aircraft fire.

Flap A disturbance, general excitement. Fox, To do something clever or rather cunning. Gen. (pron. jen) General information of any kind whatever. George The automatic pilot. Get Cracking Get going. Gong, To collect a To get a medal. Greenhouse Cockpit cover. Hedge-hopping Flying so low that the aircraft appears to hop over the hedges. Hurryback A Hurricane fighter. Jink away Sharp manoeuvre. Sudden evasive action of aircraft. Kipper Kite Coastal Command Aircraft which convoy fishing fleets in the North and Irish Seas. Kite An aeroplane. Laid on,

To have To produce anything, such as supplies. Mae West Life-saving stole, or waistcoat, inflated if wearer falls into sea. Mickey Mouse Bomb-dropping mechanism. Muscle in To take advantage of a good thing. Office Cockpit of aircraft. Organize To "win" a wanted article. Pack up Cease to function. Peel off, To Break formation to engage enemy. Play pussy Hide in the clouds.

Pleep A squeak, rather like a high note klaxon. Plug away Continue to fire. Keep after target. Pukka gen. Accurate information. Pulpit Cockpit of aircraft. Quick squirt Short sharp burst of machine-gun fire. Quickie Short for above. Rang the bell Got good results. Rings Rank designation on officer's cuffs. Ropey Uncomplimentary adjective. "A ropey landing", "A ropey type", "A ropey evening", etc. Screamed downhill Executed a power dive. Shooting a line Exaggerated talk, generally about one's own prowess.

Shot Down in Flames Crossed in love. Severe reprimand. Snake about Operational aerobatics. Spun in A bad mistake. Analogy from an aircraftspinning out of control into the ground. Stationmaster Commanding Officer of Station. Stooge Deputy, i.e. second pilot or any assistant. Stooging about Delayed landing for various reasons. Flying slowly over an area. Patrolling. Synthetic Not the real thing. Also applied to ground training. Tail End Charlie Rear gunner in large bombing aircraft or rear aircraft of a formation. Tear off a strip To reprimand, take down a peg.

Tee up To prepare a job, to get ready. Touch bottom Crash. Toys A great deal of training equipment is termed toys. Train, Driving the Leading more than one squadron into battle. Type Classification - usually referring to people. Good, Bad, Ropey, Poor type. View R.A.F. personnel always take a "view" of things. Good view, Poor view, Dim view, Long distance view, Lean view, Outside view, "Ropey" view. Wizard Really first class, superlative, attractive, ingenious.

Both sides lost many aircraft, the Germans 1400, the British 800. The RAF was well supplied with aircraft but nearly ran out of pilots. Some young men were sent into battle only two weeks after qualifying as pilots. The inexperienced ones were quite often soon shot down. The strain of the long battle exhausted and demoralised the airmen. One was found to have fallen fast asleep as soon as he landed his Spitfire. But these brave men prevented the Luftwaffe from gaining control of the air space over Britain and Hitler realised he could not risk an invasion.

Britain had survived. As Churchill said of the RAF pilots: 'Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.' A dogfight, or dog fight, is aerial combat between fighter aircraft. Dogfighting first appeared during World War I, shortly after the invention of the airplane, and has since became a component in every major war despite beliefs after World War II that increasingly greater speeds and longer range weapons would make dogfighting obsolete.

Modern terminology for air-to-air combat is air combat manoeuvring (ACM), which refers to tactical situations requiring the use of individual basic fighter manoeuvres (BFM) to attack or evade one or more opponents. This differs from aerial warfare, which deals with the strategy involved in planning and executing various missions. Dogfighting was very prominent in the skies over Europe.

The air force in France, while a major force during the first world war, was inadequate and poorly organized, and quickly fell to the German onslaught. Hitler believed that the British government was on the verge of collapse, and offered them a choice between peace and war, being quite astonished when Winston Churchill opted, without hesitation, for war.

Douglas Bader

Having lost its principal ally, Britain with its Dominions stood alone and awaited a German invasion. Churchill, in eloquent speeches, rallied his people and expressed the determination of Britain to meet "the whole fury and might of the enemy." It was a formidable enemy.

From the north cape of Norway to the Pyrenees stretched a vast arc of coastline from which enemy submarines, surface ships and aircraft threatened Britain's maritime lifelines; in the air the German Air Force outnumbered the British three to one. However, Hitler hesitated and delayed Operation Sea Lion - the invasion of Britain - to mid-September. It was fortunate that an invasion did not come, for the forces in Britain were not yet prepared to meet such a powerful foe. While the troops had been rescued from Dunkirk, they had been compelled to leave behind most of their equipment.

Further, many of them had not yet received adequate training. The 1st Canadian Division, which still possessed the bulk of its equipment, therefore assumed a position of vital importance. In July the Canadians became part of the 7th British Army Corps. This new formation, comprising British, Canadian and New Zealand troops, came under the command of General McNaughton.

It engaged in intense preparation for a role of counter-attack against the expected German assault. However, before a Channel crossing could be attempted, the Royal Air Force would have to be knocked from the skies. On August 12, 1940 the German Air Force, the Luftwaffe, struck at Britain attacking the radar stations, bombing the airfields, and engaging British fighters in an attempt to gain air supremacy.

Had the policy been continued the Luftwaffe might have been victorious, but the Germans switched to mass daylight raids on London giving the Fighter Command the needed respite, and they were able to inflict staggering losses on the Luftwaffe. Unable to control the air, Hitler indefinitely postponed Operation Sea Lion. The Battle of Britain was over.

Few men become legends in their lifetime. Douglas Bader was one of these men. Fighter ace, international sportsman, constant rule-breaker and incorrigible escaper, he spread exasperation and irritation wherever he went. Yet his courage and determination in the face of crippling injuries continue to inspire people all over the world to this day.

Douglas Robert Steuart Bader was born on February 10, 1910, in London, England, son of Frederick Roberts Bader and Jessie Bader. From the start, his life followed no placid pattern. When Douglas was a few months old, his family returned to India, where his father worked as a civil engineer. Young Douglas was left behind because his family thought him too young for India's harsh climate. He did not rejoin them until he was 2 years old, beginning a long life as a loner.

The Bader family returned to England in 1913. The following year, when World War I began, Frederick Bader went with the British army into France. It was the last time Douglas saw his father, who died in France of complications from a shrapnel wound in 1922 and was buried near the town of St. Omer. Twenty-one years later, his son would be held prisoner in a hospital not far from where his father was buried. Jessie Bader later married a mild Yorkshire clergyman, Reverend William Hobbs. Throughout his early years, Douglas showed a fierce spirit of independence and nonconformity.

He excelled in sports such as rugby football; when he was captain of the rugby team, his natural leadership abilities became apparent. After graduating from Cranwell in 1930, Bader was commissioned a pilot officer and posted to No. 23 Squadron at Kenley Airfield, flying tubby Gloster Gamecock biplane fighters. Soon afterward, 23 Squadron was reequipped with Bristol Bulldog fighters.

The Bulldogs were faster than the Gamecocks but heavier and liable to loose height rapidly in low-altitude maneuvers. On Monday, December 14, 1931, Douglas Bader flew from Kenley to Woodley airfield along with two other pilots from his squadron. In the Woodley clubhouse a young pilot was discussing acrobatics with Bader, the Hendon star, and suggested that he give a demonstration of low flying. Bader refused, citing his inexperience flying acrobatics in a Bulldog.

The matter was dropped until Bader and the other pilots were leaving. Someone dared him to do it. In some agitation Bader took off, then turned back toward the field. Flying low and fast across the field, Bader began a slow roll, but in his inexperience with the Bulldog he flew too low.

The Bulldog's left wing struck the ground, and the plane cartwheeled quickly into a tangle of wreckage. Both of Bader's legs were crushed, his left leg under the seat, his right tom by the rudder pedal. Bader was pulled from the Bulldog's wreckage by shocked onlookers and taken immediately to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, where he was placed in the care of Dr. Leonard Joyce, one of England's best surgeons.

Joyce immediately amputated Bader's right leg above the smashed knee and, several days later, the left leg six inches below the knee. After his second amputation, Bader's condition worsened. None of the doctors expected the 21-year-old pilot to survive. But Bader had a great will to live.


End of ww2

End of ww2

Repeated 50 years later!

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