NEWS

Battle Of Britain Photographs Reveal The Faces Of The Royal Air Force's Finest Moment Of World War II

15/09/2015 14:18 | Updated 15 September 2015

For close to four months, the Battle of Britain raged above the British Isles.

In July 1940, and having decisively won the Battle of France, Germany re-focused its efforts across the Channel, embarking upon an air war with the ultimate ambition to facilitate an invasion by air and sea.

Britain's Royal Air Force and the Canadian Air Force, and pilots from at least 14 other nations helped defend Britain from the Luftwaffe.

544 pilots from the UK, the Commonwealth and other Allied nations died in the Battle, with over 400 thought to have been injured.

These stunning photographs reveal the faces of those who piloted the planes, reminding us of the human stories behind Britain's finest hour...

READ MORE

  • Fox Photos via Getty Images
    An RAF pilot at Hawkinge Airport in Kent, during World War II, July 1940. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  • Fox Photos via Getty Images
    An RAF pilot at Hawkinge Airport in Kent, during World War II, July 1940. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  • Fox Photos via Getty Images
    RAF Pilot Officer Douglas Grice of No. 32 Squadron, 29th July 1940. Grice flew a Hawker Hurricane fighter during the Battle of Britain. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  • Fox Photos via Getty Images
    Pilot Officer Keith Gillman, pictured in July 1940. Gillman, from Dover, was 19 when he failed to return from combat over the Channel on August 25, 1940.
    He was 32 Squadron's first pilot to be lost in the Battle of Britain. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
  • Fox Photos via Getty Images
    An RAF pilot at Hawkinge Airport in Kent, during World War II, July 1940. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  • Fox Photos via Getty Images
    A group of fighter pilots from the 32nd Squadron at the RAF Fighter Squadron HQ at Hawkinge, Kent, relax on the grass, in July 1940.
    Left to right: R F Smythe; K R Gillman (killed in action 25th August 1940); J E Proctor; P M Brothers; D H Grice; P M Gardner; A F Eckford. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
  • IWM/Getty Images via Getty Images
    Pilot Officer A V 'Taffy' Clowes of No. 1 Squadron RAF, standing by the nose of his Hawker Hurricane Mark I, P3395 'JX-B', at Wittering, Huntingdonshire, October 1940.
    The wasp emblem was painted on the nose of his aircraft during the Battle of Britain, Clowes adding a new stripe to the body for each enemy aircraft which he shot down. His final score was at least twelve. (Photo by S A Devon/ IWM via Getty Images)
  • Central Press via Getty Images
    An RAF fighter station in England during the Battle of Britain, 16th August 1940. Two Polish pilots stationed with the RAF give the OK sign. On the left is Sergeant Glowacki, who has shot down one aircraft, whilst his companion has shot down two. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  • Central Press via Getty Images
    An RAF fighter station in England during the Battle of Britain, World War II, 16th August 1940. An Intelligence Officer receives reports from the Squadron upon their return from combat. On the left and centre (Sergeant Glowacki with knees bent) are two Polish pilots stationed with the RAF. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  • IWM/Getty Images via Getty Images
    Squadron Leader Douglas Bader and fellow pilots, First Lt Ball and P/O McKnight DFC, study an emblem of Hitler painted on a Hawker Hurricane of 242 Squadron, Royal Air Force, October 1940. (Photo by Fg. Off. S A Devon/ IWM via Getty Images)
  • Arthur Tanner via Getty Images
    A fighter pilot sitting in the cockpit of his Spitfire after returning from a battle with enemy aircraft, in July 1940. (Photo by Arthur Tanner/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
  • Central Press via Getty Images
    Two RAF pilots at a fighter station in England, during the Battle of Britain, 16th August 1940. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  • George W. Hales via Getty Images
    RAF Spitfire fighter pilots reporting to the Intelligence Officer at Biggin Hill on their return from a cross Channel sweep on 26th June 1941. (Photo by George W. Hales/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
  • Keystone-France via Getty Images
    A Royal Canadian fighter squadron on March 25th 1941. Location unknown. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
  • IWM/Getty Images via Getty Images
    Surviving pilots of No. 601 Squadron RAF pose on a tractor used to negotiate the muddy conditions on the airfield at Exeter, Devon, November 1940.
    601 Squadron suffered crippling losses during the Battle of Britain and moved to Exeter on 7 September 1940 after being classified as overdue for rest and training of new pilots.
    Among the pilots identified are two flight commanders, Flight Lieutenant W P Clyde (first left) and Flying Officer T Grier (second left), who shot down nine and one shared , and eight and four shared, enemy aircraft respectively during the air battles over France and Britain. (Photo by S A Devon/ IWM via Getty Images)
  • IWM/Getty Images via Getty Images
    The 303 Polish fighter squadron in the Battle Of Britain. Here, a group of pilots of No 303 Polish Fighter Squadron RAF walking toward the camera from a Hawker Hurricane after, purportedly, returning from a fighter sortie, October 1940.
    Left to right, in the front row are; Pilot Officer Miros?aw Feri?, Flight Lieutenant John A Kent (Commander of 'A' Flight), Flying Officer Bogdan Grzeszczak, Pilot Officer Jerzy Radomski, Pilot Officer Witold Okuciewski, Pilot Officer Bogusaw Mierzwa (obscured by Okuciewski), Flying Officer Zdzisaw Henneberg, Sergeant Jan Rogowski and Sergeant Eugeniusz Szaposznikow. In the centre, to the rear of this group, wearing helmet and goggles is Flying Officer Jan Zumbach. (Photo by S A Devon/ IWM via Getty Images)
  • Central Press via Getty Images
    An RAF fighter station in England during the Battle of Britain, 16th August 1940. Members of the Squadron rest between battles, and listen to an account given by a New Zealand officer (right) who has just bailed out of his aircraft, having been shot down by an enemy aircraft. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  • Fox Photos via Getty Images
    Pilots return from action to an RAF station at Hawkinge in Kent, during World War II, 31st July 1940. (Photo by Peter Trapp/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  • Fox Photos via Getty Images
    An RAF pilot rests on the grass, on his return from combat, at Hawkinge Airport in Kent, 29th July 1940. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
  • Davis via Getty Images
    British pilots wait to take off from an RAF fighter command station in England during the Battle of Britain, World War II, 12th January 1940. (Photo by Davis/Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  • Fox Photos via Getty Images
    A RAF fighter station at Hawkinge Airport in Kent, during World War II. Pilots rest by a Hurricane, having just returned from a battle in the skies, July 1940. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
  • Hulton Archive via Getty Images
    1940: British Royal Airforce (RAF) pilot Douglas Horne walks away from his Hawker Hurricane airplane after flying a sortie against the German Luftwaffe over the Thames Estuary in the Battle of Britain, England. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS