The Battle 1940
Following the fall of France and the subsequent retreat to, and evacuation from Dunkirk, It's fair to say that British survival depended on the outcome of this battle, and if it had been lost, Britain would be a different country today.
During the battle, which officially took place between 10th July and 31st October 1940, airmen of the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm, including those from the dominions and allied countries serving in or alongside those organisations, took to the skies up to five times a day to meet the approaching enemy bomber formations and their fighter escorts.
In addition to those fighting in the air, were the men and women working on the airfields and squadrons refuelling, re-arming and generally servicing the aircraft, those working in the Fighter Command and sector control rooms directing the batttle, and the men and women of the Royal Observer Corps, responsible for the visual detection, identification, tracking and reporting of incoming raids.
During the battle RAF Fighter Command lost 544 aircrew and 1220 aircraft in addition to which, Bomber and Coastal Commands lost a further 998 aircrew and 524 aircraft. Enemy losses were 2585 aircrew and 1977 aircraft.
Without the air superiority promised to him, Hitler had no alternative but to call off his plans for the invasion of Britain, and turn instead to the invasion of Russia, a move which in time allowed the allies to regroup and re-arm, and which subsequently lead to the 'D' Day invasion of Europe and the eventual victory of 1945.
Winston Church said of the battle "Never in the field of human conflict, has so much been owed by so many, to so few"
80th Anniversary Service of Commemoration
On 19th September 2020 the Battle of Britain was remembered by a Service of Commemoration held at the RAF and Allied Air Forces Monument, although due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the service was 'low key'.
With an official attendance of only twelve (numbers were swelled slightly by tourists and members of the public who gathered to watch), the service was lead by the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Councillor Chris Mavin, and Air Vice Marshall Garry Tunnicliffe MVO. RAF, representing the Royal Air Force. The service was conducted by the Reverend Joe Dent.
During the service, the Lord Mayor made an address (full text here) in which he praised the efforts of those airmen who "stood up to wave after wave of German fighters and bombers" and who had sent a clear message to the enemy that Britain would never surrender, and that their serious miscalculations would prove to be their undoing.
In response, Air Vice Marshall Tunnicliffe stated in his address (Full text here) that he was pleased, but not surprised that the city wished to recognise this important event, as it's long-standing relationship with the armed forces was second to none, for which he thanked the Lord Mayor.
He went on to say that over one fifth of Fighter Command aircrew came from overseas, and that 16 nations were represented in the squadrons involved. He pointed out that while we remember "The Few", "The Many" played an important role in the battle, and named amongst others, the Royal Navy and the army, air raid wardens, the fire service and the civilian population.
While it might have been 'low key', the service was a dignified and fitting tribute not only to "The Few" , but also to "The Many".