The 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain


2015-07-17  On July 10, 2015, the UK marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

According to a story on the UK MoD website:

75 years after the start of the Battle of Britain, the RAF marked the anniversary today [Friday, 10 July] with an enhanced Change of the Guard and a flypast in front of The Queen and six Battle of Britain veterans at Buckingham Palace.

After the Guard Mounting by the Queen’s Colour Squadron – the first time the RAF has mounted consecutive Queen’s Guards – Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family watched a flypast of four Spitfires, two Hurricanes and four Typhoon jets, showcasing the RAF aircraft protecting UK skies then and now.

This was followed by a Feu de Joie – ‘Fire of Joy’, a celebratory cascade of rifle fire – and Three Cheers for The Queen, led by Air Vice-Marshal Richard Knighton, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff.

The ceremony also involved ten Standards – military flags carried on poles – of Battle of Britain squadrons still serving in the RAF today as well as the RAF Central and Regiment bands.

Later a reception and lunch took place at the RAF Club attended by The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of Cambridge, The Earl and Countess of Wessex, The Duke of Gloucester, The Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra.

Squadron Leader Rick Evans, officer commanding the Queen’s Colour Squadron, said: “Today was a fantastic occasion and opportunity for the Queen’s Colour Squadron to mark the Battle of Britain 75th anniversary.

“It comes at the end of an extremely busy fortnight which also saw our gunners assist in the repatriation of British citizens killed in Tunisia. These two very different tasks demonstrate QCS’ ability to represent the RAF and the nation in very different ways but with the same professionalism, diligence and, ultimately, dignity.”

Leading the flypast in a Spitfire was Squadron Leader Duncan Mason, officer commanding the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at RAF Coningsby, who said: “For us, taking part today was an incredible honour.

Events like these events don’t happen often, but Leading the Typhoon element of the flypast was Squadron Leader Steve Kenworthy, of 3(F) Squadron at RAF Coningsby, who said: “It was a real privilege to lead the Typhoon formation in today’s flypast over Buckingham Palace, not only in front of Her Majesty, but also for the Battle of Britain veterans to whom we owe so much.

“It was a great event to be part of and something I shall look back on in years to come.”today gave us – the RAF and the nation – the opportunity to commemorate and recognise those extraordinary feats 75 years ago.

“Knowing that six Battle of Britain veteran pilots were watching us as we flew the very same aircraft they won the battle in, was humbling and I hope we did them proud.”

The Battle of Britain began on 10 July 1940 with a series of Luftwaffe attacks on shipping convoys off England’s south-east coast. On that day, the RAF shot down 14 enemy aircraft and severely damaged 23 more, according to the then Air Ministry. Some 200 patrols were flown involving 641 aircraft.

The battle ranks alongside the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo as one of the most significant in British history. It was the first major battle in history fought entirely in the air and was the first significant strategic defeat for the Nazis during World War II.

For catalogue of the official reports of the Battle of Britain, see the following:

And for what British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has referred to as “a new battle of Britain,” see the following:


Another busy start to the day at Biggin Hill in the summer of 1940. The Battle of Britain is at its height and 92 Squadron Spitfires with Geoffrey Wellum in ‘G’ for George, depart under early morning sunlight to engage a mass of incoming enemy aircraft over the southeast coast. By the end of 1940 the Squadron was credited with having destroyed 127 German aircraft.
Another busy start to the day at Biggin Hill in the summer of 1940. The Battle of Britain is at its height and 92 Squadron Spitfires with Geoffrey Wellum in ‘G’ for George, depart under early morning sunlight to engage a mass of incoming enemy aircraft over the southeast coast. By the end of 1940 the Squadron was credited with having destroyed 127 German aircraft.

And now:

Credit: UK MoD of Typhoon Fly Over
Typhoon Fly Over: Credit UK MoD

One of the many ironies of history is shown in these two photos.

The first shows the RAF on the way to engage the German Air Force.

The second shows the RAF flying an aircraft built with the Germans and others, and flown by the German Air Force as well.

And one good way to remember the Battle of Britain and the RAF is to fund the modernization of the RAF for 21st century operations, by no means a certainty.

What is not widely realized that the RAF has been able to put a template for transformation together, which can allow it to play an effective joint and coalition role.

At the heart of the RAF approach is necking down from a larger type model series of aircraft to a smaller set of multi-mission aircraft which can provide for a more effective integrated role.

The sustainable reach part of the RAF is seeing the introduction of the new A330MRTT tanker, and the introduction of the A400M along with the C-17.

In terms of fighter aircraft, the RAF is undergoing a double transition with the Typhoon via weaponization and combat system upgrades taking on the Tornado roles along with the introduction of the F-35B aboard the new carrier.

This means that not only are the dynamics of different generations of aircraft – Typhoon with F-35 — to drive change but from the outset the RAF is working new approaches for the integration of sea-based and land-based air in a variety of new scalable, modular combinations under the influence of innovative C2 solution sets.

For a look at the history of the Spitfire’s design and development, see the following:

And in a fascinating BBC piece, the story of the Battle of Britain was broadened beyond the pilots, to the importance of the infrastructure put in place which allowed the UK to survive the initial onslaught.

Examining the German side of the story is key to properly understanding what happened during that world-changing summer of 1940. 

For too long our image of the battle has been one of Spitfires and Hurricanes tussling against an over-mighty Luftwaffe, and of the Few who flew them saving Britain in our hour of need. 

Certain aspects of the myth are true. It probably was our finest hour.  By denying Germany the quick victory she so desperately needed, Britain did save the free world from Nazi domination. 

Failing to defeat Britain in 1940 meant Hitler was forced into a long attritional war he knew he could not afford. This was instrumental in making him turn on Russia earlier than he originally planned – with catastrophic results.

By examining both the German perspective and looking in closer detail at our own, fascinating new light is cast on the Battle. 

In reality, it was fought on a much broader front; beyond the Few were the men of Bomber Command and the rest of the RAF, and the full weight of a great maritime nation.   Britain was no David to Germany’s Goliath, while the outcome was as much to do with German failings as it was Britain’s achievements.

And finally, one can listen to RAF pilots telling the story of the Battle Of Britain at the following: