I was gobsmacked to read in Friday's paper that a survey conducted for (I think) the RAF Benevolent Fund - though it beats me why they should spend money conducting such a survey - showed that only 1 in 4 young people (however they define 'young') knows anything about the Battle of Britain. Well, just in case any of those young people happen across this blog, it was the first aerial battle and was fought between the Royal Air Force and the German Luftwaffe between July and September 1940, the first day of the battle being 10th July so Friday was the 75th anniversary.
Hitler was massing his troops on the other side of the Channel ready to launch Operation Sealion, the invasion of Great Britain. But he needed to gain control of the skies before he could start. The pilots of the RAF, flying Spitfires and Hurricanes, managed to prevent the Luftwaffe gaining control and Hitler switched his attention to the invasion of Russia. It seems highly likely that if Operation Sealion had been launched, the whole of Britain would have been occupied and the outcome of World War II might have been very different.
As Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared, "Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few". Those RAF pilots, many of whom were still in their teens, have ever since been known as The Few.
The Battle of Britain Memorial is sited high on the clifftop between Dover and Folkestone, at the heart of Hellfire Corner, as this part of England was known, right where the battle was fiercest. It features an airman sitting and watching over the Channel, waiting for the call to "scramble".