Monday, September 19, 2016

The Battle of Britain: 76th anniversary

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

75th anniversary stamp commemorating Battle of Britain

the famous quote from Churchill echoes the famous speech from Shakespeare's Henry V: on  StCrispen's day.

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;     For he to-day that sheds his blood with me     Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,     This day shall gentle his condition;     And gentlemen in England now-a-bed     Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,     And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks     That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.




Battle of Britain Day occurred on Sunday 15 September 1940 when the German 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 that lasted until dusk. The day is seen as a major turning point in the Second World War as Hitler, having lost the battle, decided to postpone Operation Sea Lion – the amphibious assault by German armed forces intended to prelude an invasion onto the British mainland.

Before the war, there was a huge anti war movement in the UK among the elites, and the students in even took an oath never to fight for king and country. That changed when the German aggression against Poland and France made it clear that there was no choice in the matter.

 The classic book, The Last Enemy, about a Spitfire pilot is on line HERE.

and the battle was not just that of the pilots: It was the people of London. From this book:

All this went on at a time when night after night the East End was taking a terrible beating, and it was rumoured that the people were ominously quiet. Could their morale be cracking? The answer was provided in a story that was going the rounds. A young man went down to see a chaplain whom he knew in the East End. He noticed not only that the damage was considerable but that the people were saying practically nothing at all. 'How are they taking it?' he asked nervously. The chaplain shook his head. 'I'm afraid,' he said, 'that my people have fallen from grace: they are beginning to feel a little bitter towards the Germans.'

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