Of all the actions during the Battle of Britain the most famous was that on 15 September 1940, commemorated each year as ‘Battle of Britain Day’.
On that day the Luftwaffe mounted two large-scale daylight raids on London.
Winston Churchill, on a visit to No. 11 Group’s underground headquarters, watched Air Vice-Marshal Park direct his Spitfires and Hurricanes against the enemy with devastating effect.
The dogfights were among the most concentrated ever fought, with no fewer than eight aircraft destroyed in mid-air collisions.
Bombs caused severe damage in Battersea and East Ham, and Buckingham Palace was hit. Its tail knocked off when it was rammed by a Hurricane, a Dornier smashed into the forecourt of Victoria station. One of the plane’s crewmen, landing by parachute near Kennington Oval cricket ground, was set upon by enraged civilians and received fatal injuries.
That evening the defenders triumphantly proclaimed that they had destroyed 185 German planes, giving a much-needed boost to British morale. The German High Command knew the true number of aircraft lost was only 56, but the day’s hard fighting forced them to realize that there would be no victory over Royal Air Force Fighter Command before the weather broke in the autumn.
Without air superiority over the Channel a successful invasion of England was out of the question, and Adolf Hitler called a halt to the preparations to invade England.
This book tells the story of the momentous events of 15 September 1940, seen through the eyes of more than sixty of those who witnessed them in the air or on the ground.
Alfred Price served as an aircrew officer in the Royal Air Force and, during a flying career spanning fifteen years, he logged some 4,000 flying hours. While in the service he specialized and instructed in air fighting tactics. Now working full time as an author, he has written more than thirty books on aviation subjects including Battle of Britain: Target Berlin and One Day in a Long War on the hardest-fought action over North Vietnam. He holds a PhD in history from Loughborough University, is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and compiles aviation questions for the popular BBC programme Mastermind.