Battle of Britain Service

Wednesday 13th September, 2017 at 1:30pm, at St Illogan Parish Church

A Service dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives

in the Battle of Britain 10 July – 31 October 1940

Battle of Britain Sunday commemorates the great victory won by the Royal Air Force, which saved Britain from invasion in 1940.
The enemy’s object was to eliminate the Royal Air Force, both in the air and on the ground, and to obtain air superiority for a seaborne and airborne invasion.

Confident of success, the gathered formations of the Luftwaffe along the French and Belgian coasts began their first heavy onslaught early in July, directed against British shipping and the channel ports. The intention of this first phase of the battle was to draw our Air Force into battle and wear down its strength. The second phase, from 8 – 18 August, consisted of intensive day operations against coastal radar stations and fighter airfields. The third phase began after a 5-day lull with increased night attacks and attacks on the fighter airfields in the London area.

The daylight assault on London itself marked the beginning of the fourth phase, which opened on 7 September with attacks on the docks, which although serious in themselves, brought vital relief to the fighter airfields which had been under such pressure. This phase lasted most of the month and reached a climax on 15 September, when over one thousand sorties were flown against the capital in the afternoon and at night. The Luftwaffe suffered a heavy defeat, losing 56 aircraft.

Throughout October, the fifth and last phase saw the decline of enemy daylight attacks on London and an increase in the night bombing of Britain’s major ports and industrial centres.

At the beginning of the battle the Luftwaffe had no less than 2,790 aircraft to launch against England. To meet this aerial armada we had less than 60 fighter squadrons, representing some 650 aircraft, and the ground staff had sometimes to work 16 hours a day to keep the machines in the air. Between 24 August and 6 September alone, Fighter Command lost 103 pilots killed and 128 seriously wounded, while 366 fighters had been put out of action. The position was indeed grave.

On Sunday 15 September came what Sir Winston Churchill called “one of the decisive battles of the war” and with it the Luftwaffe’s greatest defeat. In Churchill’s immortal words, “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 the odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, turned the tide of the world war by their prowess and their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”