15 September is Battle of Britain Day and it is commemorated every year on this date. The Battle of Britain was the aerial conflict between the British and German air forces in the skies over the United Kingdom in 1940. If Germany planned to invade and occupy Great Britain, it was necessary for the Luftwaffe to destroy the Royal Air Force. The battle for the control of the skies took place between June and September 1940 during which time the RAF defended the nation.
The story was told by Norwich’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Mrs A M Bristow, at City Hall at the 1961 ceremony:
‘In the Second World War, on every military front, over all the seas, in home defence and in the air assault on Germany, the contribution of the Royal Air Force was immense. Of all its achievements during these years, the battle of Britain stands out as one of the greatest in the nation’s proud history.
The collapse of France necessitated the expansion and strengthening of the air defences at the greatest danger point, S E England. There was little time to make changes, for enemy activity marking the prelude to the Battle of Britain commenced on July 10th 1940. What happened between August and October in British skies is now recognised as one of the turning points of history. The German invasion was planned for September, but the Luftwaffe failed to wrest mastery of the air over the Royal Air Force – particularly Fighter Command – and the project was abandoned. The enemy lost 1,733 aircraft, while shipping in the ‘invasion ports’ suffered heavily from the attentions of Bomber Command. The Fighter Command Force of just over 1,000 aircraft opposed 3,500 German Bombers and Fighters. Of the 1,495 RAF aircrew casualties, 414 were Fighter Pilots. Therefore, in the dark days of 1940, the RAF’s victory in the Battle of Britain saved the homeland from invasion, and by beating back the German Air Force encouraged Hitler to turn his armies east –towards Russia and disaster.’ (NRO, N/LM 1/87).
Frank Meeres, Archivist