During the summer of 1940, with the Third Reich having invaded huge swathes of western Europe, scenes like this were a common sight across airfields throughout Great Britain as the country fought to stave off a similar fate to its European colleagues. Hundreds of Fighter Command pilots went through this same shared ordeal, day after day, pushed to the limits of human endurance and being at the very sharp end of this dog fight between the Luftwaffe and the RAF, as the two forces tussled for aerial supremacy of the skies over England.
On hearing the ringing of the bell, or getting the call to scramble, all hell would break loose, with pilots grabbing their flying gear and equipment, and making the mad dash to reach their waiting and prepped aircraft in a race to face the onslaught of another raid on Blighty by German bombers and fighters Blighty.
The average age of those fighter pilots tasked with facing Hermann Goering’s much vaunted Luftwaffe were just 20 years-old, and the average life expectancy given to these fighter pilots during this period was a mere four weeks. Sadly some 544 pilots out of the 2936 aircrew from 15 different nations who flew the fighters of RAF Fighter Command, were killed during the Battle of Britain.
Today the 15th September has come to symbolise our commemoration of the Battle of Britain, viewed as the day on which the aerial battle for control over England’s skies was effectively won by the RAF. The consequence of the Luftwaffe’s failure to gain aerial supremacy saw the eventual permanent postponement and scuppering by Hitler of his plans to invade England.
This design is dedicated to all those fighter pilots who had to make this scramble during the summer of 1940, and to the many young men who would never return from it. It also wishes to remember and commemorate the countless hundreds of thousands, which helped ensure that ‘The Few’ of the RAF Fighter Command could keep fighting throughout. The RAF ground crews, the Observer Corps personnel, the factory workers, the pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary who ferried countless replacement operational aircraft to the squadrons were just some of ‘The Many,’ who all played their vital part in ensuring Britain never gave in and ultimately prevailed during the Battle of Britain.