THE BLOG

Marking the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain

10/07/2015 16:55 BST | Updated 10/07/2016 10:59 BST

Today marks the beginning of the national commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

As we recall those fateful days and celebrate the bravery of the airmen involved, we also remember our enduring debt of gratitude to all who serve or have served.

The RAF Benevolent Fund believes it is important for the country to share in the memory of that battle, which played out in the summer skies overhead and saw the heroism of The Few save Britain from invasion.

It was Winston Churchill who first named the Spitfire and Hurricane fighter pilots The Few, when he paid tribute to their service: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

The speech was a reference to the pilots who were outnumbered by German Luftwaffe aircrew almost four to one at the beginning of the Battle of Britain. They stood as the last line of defence against Hitler's Nazi regime. These young men, whose average age was just 20 years old, were relied upon by the nation to defend our shores against invasion.

Hitler's forces had marched across Europe and in June of 1940, France became the final country to succumb to his occupying troops. Churchill was adamant Britain would not 'flag or fail' in the face of such a threat to democracy and so the RAF prepared to do battle in the skies above Great Britain.

As a former Jaguar and Tornado pilot, I feel it is my duty to remember the sacrifice of The Few and to ensure their legacy is an understanding of the sacrifice they made in serving their country.

Sadly a recent survey carried out by Opinion Matters on behalf of the RAF Benevolent Fund revealed 40 per cent of those questioned did not know what the Battle of Britain was. As the nation marks this milestone, it is my hope a new generation will take time to discover more about the pilots and the ground crew who bravely answered their country's call.

In the 75 years since the Battle of Britain, the RAF Benevolent Fund's commitment has not waivered. Indeed, as the RAF's leading welfare charity, we deliver the housing, mobility and the financial assistance RAF family members sometimes need to lead full, independent and dignified lives, especially in their retirement. Last year alone we spent nearly £19m supporting almost 40,000 RAF personnel, past and present, and their families.

We want to invite people across the UK to join us in showing their thanks for The Few and celebrating a defining moment in our nation's history.

That is why we are launching the RAF Benevolent Fund's inaugural Great British Sunday Lunch - a chance for families, friends, and communities to gather together on Sunday 13th September to host their own lunch, whether it be around the dining table or on a picnic rug in the late summer sun.

We hope your readers will join us in honouring The Few and helping us raise vital funds so we can continue to support RAF veterans, serving personnel and their families. Your readers can find more information or sign up to get a free pack at www.rafbf.org/gbsl