Sacrifice of the bravest of the brave remembered

A SPECIAL service was held at St Mary’s Church in Market Hill, Woodbridge, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Yesterday’s service was arranged by the Woodbridge Branch of the RAF Association to remember those who sacrificed their lives during what is acknowledged as the pivotal moment of the Second World War.

The Battle of Britain began in the summer of 1940 and lasted four months. It became the defining fight for national survival and took place in the skies over Britain.

The struggle determined not only the fate of the United Kingdom, but the course of the war against Nazi Germany.

In the summer of 1940 Britain stood alone, as Adolf Hitler turned his attention to the last free bastion of European democracy. Hitler’s intention was to force the surrender of Britain through blockade, bombing, or, as a last resort, invasion.

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To achieve this, Hitler knew that the Germans would need superiority in the air. Only if they controlled the skies could a heavy enough bombing campaign be mounted, or an invasion force cross the English Channel.

Britain’s air defence rested principally on the Royal Air Force.

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Nearly 3,000 aircrew would serve with Fighter Command in the course of the battle. Nearly 600 of them were from the Commonwealth and occupied European, or neutral, countries.

The Battle of Britain began in early July and ended in October that year.

Both sides took heavy casualties, many of whom were very young men.

By the end Fighter Command had lost 544 pilots killed, about one in six of those who fought.

The Luftwaffe lost nearly 1,900 aircraft and more than 2,500 air crew were killed.

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