Today, lest we forget, is Battle of Britain Day. The date of remembrance commemorates the defence of the British Isles by the Royal Air Force against the German Luftwaffe throughout the summer of 1940. Some background: Hitler needed to wipe the RAF out in order to invade England, something he was unable to do despite overwhelming superiority in both pilot experience and numbers of aircraft.
On Sunday, 15 September 1940, the Luftwaffe launched its largest and most concentrated attack against London in the hope of drawing out the RAF into a battle of annihilation. Around 1,500 aircraft took part in the air battles which lasted until dusk. The action was the climax of the Battle of Britain.
It’s hard to imagine swarms of planes advancing across the English Channel day after day for months on end to do their very worst, but it happened, 72 years ago. Canada’s contribution to the battle was significant. Our top scoring ace was one Flt Lt H. C. Upton, who shot down 10+ German planes. Over 100 Canadian pilots flew Supermarine Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes in “defence of the realm” during this time. 23 of these were killed in action. Our country officially commemorates the battle on the 3rd Sunday of September (tomorrow), but since Scout seldom publishes on Sundays, we’re doffing our caps now and raising a glass.
The clip above is from a film called First Light, adapted from a wonderful memoir by former Spitfire pilot and Battle of Britain veteran Geoffrey Wellum (language NSFW).