London, U.K. (JFK+50) Seventy-five years ago today, July 10, 1940, Adolf Hitler's Luftwaffe launched its first attacks on Great Britain. In a battle that would last from July to October, the German dictator was to suffer his first military defeat.
On June 18, 1940, Winston Churchill said...
"What General Weygand has called the Battle of France is over. The battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon (it) depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our British life.
Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say 'This was their finest hour.'"
On the first day of the Battle of Britain, 120 German bombers and fighters struck a British Convoy in the English Channel while 70 more attacked key installations in South Wales.
The battle was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces and the largest and most sustained aerial bombing campaign to date. It was also costly for both sides. The Royal Air Force (RAF) lost 1023 of its planes and 544 of its pilots while the Luftwaffe lost 1187 aircraft and 2500 of her personnel.
British civilian casualties from July to December 1940 included 23,002 killed and 32,138 wounded, but the failure of the German war machine to defeat the RAF "was one of the turning points of the Second World War."
Today, on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, aircraft belonging to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF), based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, flew over Buckingham Palace. The aircraft included Hurricanes and Spitfires. Six RAF pilots who took part in the Battle of Britain were on hand for the celebrations.
"Battle of Britain 75th anniversary flypast takes place," BBC News, July 10, 2015, www.bbc.com/