The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day…
Today is the official day marking the Battle of Britain.
You can listen to or read Winston Churchill's speech "The Few" here, it's a tribute to the bravery of those who held back the Nazi war machine. Today is the day to remember all those who fought for the survival of our country, our Empire and the free people of Europe. The Brits, the Canadians, the Australians, the Kiwis, the Africans, the Czechslovaks, the Poles and all the rest.
Whether or not the Germans would ever have succeeded with Operation Sealion (our Navy would have probably pulverised their transports even if they had air superiority), the bravery, and sacrifice, of the pilots and their support crews over that summer of 1940 meant our relatives never had to face the grim prospect of Nazi troops landing en masse on the shores of the south and allowed us to fight another day.
My Nan was only very young at the time but my Great Aunt remembers the battle quite clearly. Being in Kent she was on the front line watching the Spitfires soar overhead ready to face the Luftwaffe. We were sitting in my parents garden together in June and a Spitfire flew low overhead, she very visibly reacted at that and for a second she seemed transported to another time and place. Her only comment was a quick "Oh, now that brings back memories."
Thankfully the bombs and the dogfights were the only bad memories she had, thanks to those who fought and died so that we can still be free.