It’s now 74 years since the heroic young pilots of Royal Air Force Fighter Command won the Battle of Britain (German: Luftschlacht um England, literally "Air battle for England")and Allied pilots prevented the German Luftwaffe gaining air supremacy and attempting an invasion of the British Isles.
On this day in 1940, the Luftwaffe embarked on their largest bombing attack yet, forcing the engagement of the entirety of the RAF in defence of London and the South East, which resulted in a decisive victory in favour of Britain that proved to mark a turning point in Britain's favour.
Pilots who fought in the Battle have been known as The Few ever since.
During the Battle of Britain there were 544 aircrew killed, 422 aircrew wounded, 1,547 aircraft destroyed and around 90,000 civilian casualties, 40,000 of them fatal.
The ‘Battle of Britain’ is derived from a famous speech delivered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the House of Commons more than three weeks prior to the generally accepted date for the start of the battle:
What General Weygand has called Battle of France is over ... the Battle of Britain is about to begin." — Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill also summed up the effect of the Battle of Britain and the contribution of Fighter Command with the words,
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”