80 years ago today the Luftwaffe dropped the first bombs in the Battle of Britian

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    The famous battle lasted four agonising months, and saw 544 young pilots give their lives to defend the nation. RAF fighters have since become talismans of British pride. The pilots were on average just 20-years-old and only trained for two weeks. The conflict stands as a defining moment in both World War 2 and Britain’s history.

    A spokesman for the RAF paid tribute to the bravery of the young pilots who defended Britain in her hour of need.

    He said: “For over 100 years the Royal Air Force has defended British skies.

    80 years ago, it experienced its greatest test in the Battle of Britain.

    “Using science, ingenuity, and support from across the UK and overseas, the RAF defended the UK from Nazi Germany’s air force, the Luftwaffe.”

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    Around 3,000 pilots defended Britain from the Nazi swarm, with 544 tragic casualties during the conflict.

    At the height of the Battle of Britain, the RAF had only 749 fighters available, against an overwhelming 2,550 Luftwaffe aircraft.

    Consisting of 2,945 aircrew, the RAF was joined by volunteers from 13 different nations, some of whom had battle experience against the Luftwaffe in their own air forces.

    This international force became known as ‘The Few’.

    The pilots are of course now known as the few in acknowledgement of Winston Churchill’s speech honouring them.

    The RAF spokesman added: “Facing unsustainable losses, the Luftwaffe abandoned its attempt to establish air superiority over the United Kingdom.

    “It was the first major military defeat of Nazi Germany.

    “Unsubdued, the UK and its allies continued to wage war on Nazi Germany.

    “Five years later, in May 1945, with the Allies advancing into Germany from all sides and Berlin in Soviet hands, Nazi Germany surrendered.”

    The last surviving flying ace, Paul Farnes, died earlier this year aged 101.

    Joining the RAF as a volunteer reserve in 1938, Mr Farnes was called to serve as the battle broke out.

    In the first month of the conflict, he destroyed five Luftwaffe fighters, and by the end of the war he brought down another six.

    His record led him to be presented with the medal in October 1940 and commissioned as an officer.

    There are now just two surviving Battle of Britain pilots left.



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