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Forces War Records Blog

ROYAL APPROVAL: PRINCE CHARLES OPENS NEW 'BATTLE OF BRITAIN' MUSEUM

Blogger: GemSen Treated to a memorial flypast, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall witnessed some WWII fighter planes fly overhead as they opened a new £9.5 million museum at Bentley Priory in Harrow, London.
pilots resting before the next attack from the Luftwaffe.

The 18th century, Grade II Listed  mansion house now home to the new 'Battle of Britain' museum was once the RAF Fighter Command’s Headquarters during the Second World War.
 
It was also the site where Air Chief Marshal Dowding planned and commanded the defence of the country during the vital 'Battle of Britain' conflict of World War II which kicked off on July 10, 1940. This conflict between the British and German air forces took place in the skies above the UK when the Germans tried to win air superiority over Britain by destroying their airforce. In retaliation, the British arranged more than 600 frontline fighters to take part in this first major military campaign in history to be fought entirely in the air. The British Air Force helped defeat the Germans and played a vital part in turning the tide of the Second World War and the museum pays respect to the battle's RAF pilots and all those who played a part in this significant battle. The building is now open to the public for the first time in 80 years. At the opening the royal couple met veterans including veteran female fighter controllers that once served at Bently Priory were at the event, which highlighted and commemorated the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) support team. The Beauty Chorus Known as the Beauty Chorus, the female fighter controllers were wartime members of the Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force and played a significant role in identifying and intercepting incoming Luftwaffe bomber raids. Every fighter pilot that flew into battle was buttressed by thousands of civilian and military personnel of the support teams — including the ATA. The ATA worked behind the scenes making sure that fighter aircraft went into battle and got back to base. Over the course of the war, 150 women flew with the ATA, and duties included delivering new planes from factories to RAF units and shuttling planes back for repairs. All ATA pilots were civilians, as the RAF thought it unacceptable to have women pilots flying military aircraft. Talking about being lucky to have met some of those who defended Britain as part of Fighter Command, Prince Charles who is patron of the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust, told the BBC: "I at least have some idea of the remarkable nature of such people like, of course, the wonderful lady veterans who are here today from the filter room. "At the age of 18, 19, 20 they were ensuring that this country never gave up." He also said: "Having just become a grandfather, one of the great things I remember when I was very small is having stories told to me about the war. "I wanted to know everything in those days, as I was born in 1948." The Prince of Wales also unveiled a bust of Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding, who led RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding Fighter Command’s leader, Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, was the creator of the strategy which saw Britain defeat Germany’s aircraft, halting Hitler’s planned invasion of the British Isles. His major contribution was to marshal resources behind the scenes (including replacement aircraft and air crew) and to maintain a significant fighter reserve, leaving his subordinate commanders' free to run the battle in detail. Dowding never commited more than half his force to the battle zone in Southern England. Fighter Command pilots came to characterise Dowding as one who cared for his men and had their best interests at heart — he was known for his humility and intense sincerity. Because of Dowding's good management and detailed preparation of Britain's air defences for the German assault, Dowding is today generally given a lot of credit for Britain's victory in the Battle of Britain. Source: BBC & Wikipedia Can any of your family members remember what life was like during World War II and the Battle of Britain? Did any of them serve? Are you looking for more information? Visit Forces War Records and search our wealth of records. Delve into our ‘historic documents’ library and read some of the interesting war diaries that we get sent – there’s nothing quite like reading a personal account of war as history unfolds itself through the eyes of somebody who was actually there. Forces War Records are fortunate to receive such amazing real life war stories involving lashings of courage, and now you can read some of them – completely free of charge.
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