Key facts About the Battle of Britain

What was the Battle of Britain?

The Battle of Britain took place during the Second World War in 1940. At the time Germany under Hitler was trying to invade Britain. The German Luftwaffe (air force) had to destroy Britain’s Fighter capability before they could launch an invasion of Great Britain. The Battle was fought in the skies between the Allies (airmen in the RAF from Britain and friendly nations) and the Germans (airmen in the Luftwaffe). See here for more information.

When was the Battle of Britain?

The Battle of Britain is officially designated as the period between 10th July and 31st October 1940. It was one of the first Battles of World War 2.

Who called it the Battle of Britain?

Winston Churchill coined the phrase in a speech in June 1940. This was just after France had been defeated and he said “I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin”.

Number of Airmen who flew in the Battle

2,937 airmen are officially recorded as having fought in the Battle.

Number killed during the Battle

544 airmen lost their lives during the Battle.  See the the airmen overview page for more information.

What qualified someone to be classed as a Battle airman?

To be classified as a Battle airman they had to have flown at least one authorised sortie with an accredited unit of RAF Fighter Command in the period 10th July to 31st October 1940. This was recognised by the awarding of the Battle of Britain clasp to the 1939-45 Star.

The Clasp

The Battle of Britain clasp was awarded to airmen who flew at least one authorised sortie with an accredited unit of RAF Fighter Command.

Countries

Airmen from 15 countries flew in the Battle.  See the list here.

Why are some countries listed that no longer exist?

The airmen are listed as coming from the country as existed at the time of the Battle. For example Newfoundland was a separate territory apart from Canada at the time and so is listed separately.

Where did the list of pilots come from?

There was no definitive list of airmen who took part in the battle before this project started. A number of partial lists and ideas did exist. Thus considerable research has been done as part of the overall project to produce a definitive list of names of pilots who flew during the Battle. See here for more details.

British aircraft used during the Battle

The following aircraft were used by the British and their Allies during the Battle

  • Hawker Hurricane – Front Line Fighter
  • Supermarine Spitfire – Front Line Fighter
  • Gloster Gladiator – Old Biplane Fighter
  • Boulton Paul Defiant    – Turreted Fighter
  • Bristol Blenheim – Fighter Bomber
Airfields used

The airfields used to a greater or lesser extent were:

  • Biggin Hill – Kent
  • Croydon – Surrey
  • Debden – Essex
  • Eastchurch – Kent
  • Gatwick – Sussex
  • Gravesend – Kent
  • Hawkinge – Kent
  • Heathrow – Middlesex
  • Hendon – Middlesex
  • Hornchurch – Essex
  • Kenley – Surrey
  • Manston – Kent
  • Martlesham Heath – Suffolk
  • Northolt – Middlesex
  • North Weald – Essex
  • Redhill – Surrey
  • Rochford – Essex
  • Stapleford Tawney – Essex
  • Tangmere – Sussex
  • Westhampnett (Goodwood) – Sussex
  • West Malling – Kent
  • Duxford – Cambridgeshire