“Battle of Britain Day” in UK

From the BBC NEWS website on 18 September 2005:

“Prince Charles has unveiled a memorial to the fighter pilots, known as “the few”, who won the crucial victory in the Battle of Britain 65 years ago.

Seventy surviving pilots, and delegates from 14 countries whose citizens flew alongside British airmen, attended the ceremony on London’s Embankment.

Charles said the pilots’ young age made their sacrifice “even more poignant”.

Between 10 July and 31 October 1940, the RAF and the German Luftwaffe fought for air supremacy over Britain.

The Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill, Czech Defence Minister Jaroslova Pribylova and ambassadors from other nations that flew alongside the British pilots, were also present.

The prince also noted the “horrific injuries” suffered by some pilots which “remained with them for the rest of their lives”.

PILOTS FIGHTING ALONGSIDE BRITAIN

Australia (32 pilots)

Barbados (1)

Belgium (28)

Canada (112)

Czechoslovakia (88)

France (13)

Ireland (10)

Jamaica (1)

Newfoundland (now a province of Canada) (1)

New Zealand (127)

Poland (145)

Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) (3)

South Africa (25)

US (9)

The…London monument was…funded by public subscription

It is made up of two bronze friezes set in an 82ft-long granite structure, originally designed as a smoke outlet for underground trains when they were powered by steam engines.

One frieze depicts all the achievements of Fighter Command, while the other focuses on the people of London, featuring St Paul’s Cathedral and an Anderson air-raid shelter.

Accompanying them is a plaque inscribed with the names of the 2,936 pilots and ground crew from Britain and 14 other countries.

The plinth beneath the relief is engraved with Sir Winston Churchill’s famous phrase: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

Sculptor Paul Day told BBC News he had been touched deeply by stories about the battle.

“I’ve had some veterans come up to me in the last few days who have been moved by visiting the site and seeing their names.

“That was one of my first concerns – to make something that was going to be approachable and that would connect with the people that lived through this.”

In June 1940 France had surrendered to the Germans, while Russia and the US had not yet joined the war against Germany. Britain led the fight against Hitler’s Germany.

On 15 September 1940, RAF Fighter Command claimed victory over the Luftwaffe after a day of bombing raids…”

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