Five facts you didn’t know about the Battle of Britain

Fancy yourself as a history buff? Well, our latest video could be the perfect thing to test your knowledge!

You see this year marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and we’ve been busy compiling some interesting and hidden facts that you may (or may not) know about the battle…

Did you know all of these amazing facts or have you got some of your own? Let us know in the comments below!

If you’re interested

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  1. Jake Glanville on June 22, 2020 at 9:50 pm

    I know all the facts you presented and a great deal more besides. Are you aware that the Germans also had radar? What made us different however was the way radar was co-ordinated into a very effective ground control system which gave our fighters a very good picture of the attacking forces (even if it wasn’t that brilliant at getting a fully accurate assessment of the height of the enemy aircraft).
    I wasn’t too impressed with the background footage of the presenter. The Hawker Typhoon was NOT a Battle of Britain aircraft. The presenter was good, however.
    Dis you know there was a THIRD single-engined monoplane which took part in the BoB? That was the Bolton & Paul Defiant, which as a combat machine during the Battle, was an absolute deathtrap (I knew one of the pilots). It carried a stupid gun-turret which ruined its fighter vs fighter performance and which couldn’t fire forwards, leading to the ridiculous situation of the gunner trying to tell the pilot how to aim the aircraft at the enemy. Once the Luftwaffe discovered that the Defiant couldn’t fire forwards, the Messerschmitt 109s cut the Defiants to pieces and they had to be pulled from the Battle
    I could tell you more, but that’s probably enough for now.

  2. Tony geroge blanchard on June 22, 2020 at 11:03 am

    If you watch the film battle of Britain the number of deaths is in the credits at the end the actual number of pilots I didn’t so about 90%

    • Jake Glanville on June 23, 2020 at 9:25 pm

      I’m afraid the Battle of Britain’ film (and I’m assuming you mean the one with Michael Caine released about 1965) wasn’t too accurate in a number of respects and I wouldn’t use it as a reference. One thing that got me was that most of the pilots were far too old! Also there were too few NCO pilots. For every officer pilot there was at least one NCO pilot, especially as the Battle progressed and they started to run out of officers.
      Jake -who actually witnessed the Battle from the ground.

  3. Terry Williams on June 21, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Knew it already. I was born in 1945 though. That may be an advantage.

  4. Ted Ward on June 21, 2020 at 10:31 am

    Did not know fact number 5.
    Reading up on it now.
    Well done!

  5. M.O'Halloran on June 20, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    Knew all 5 items. Ex R.A.F.

  6. Anne Sankey on June 20, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    My father,George Henry Gathercole, working for Cable and wireless joined the City of London local Defence Volunteers on 10th June 1940, 4 months before I was born. He told me some stories of fire watching from the roof and going into St.Clement’s church climbing over rubble as high as the widows.
    anne Sankey

  7. Stephen Ball on June 20, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    My late partner was based at Uxbridge a non combat unit and was involved in so much during
    WW11. She was seconded to the second in command at the station and remained for the duration of the war, in spite of “you have been posted, but you are not going”. One night she was on duty up stairs waiting for any radio contact. In the morning when all was bright she saw an unexploded bomb lodged in a tree just outside the window. Coming down to breakfast she passd the comment to a senior officer, this was laughed off, until they went to look and then all systems go to get the bomb disposal unit in, they took it away to detonate it.

  8. Nicholas Bradbury on June 20, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Did you know five facts?
    Churchill did use this phrase which he thought up a few days earlier after a meeting with Dowding and used it in his speech.
    Radar was called RDF. Range & Directional Finder was used by both the Allies and Axis powers in World War II in Germany the name Funkmeß (radio-measuring) was used and their technology was superior to the point of the allies capturing a German radar to see how it worked.
    Ray Holmes Holmes decided to ram the German bomber cutting off the rear tail section with his wing. 65 years later, the wreckage of Holmes’ Hurricane was discovered and successfully excavated from the streets of London. The discovery was featured on the National Geographic Channel documentary,
    “The Search for the Lost Fighter Plane”.
    The Spitfire you show in the background is a late Mk20, and did not appear in the battle of Britain. Most Spitfires were Mk II or Mk V. The Messerschmitt Bf109 was superior but lacked range.
    You left out the Indian pilots of the battle of Britain.

    • Jake Glanville on June 23, 2020 at 9:35 pm

      I agree absolutely with most of the comments here. However most of the Spitfires were Mk 1a’s. The Mk II’s only came in towards the end of the Battle, and Mk V’s not at all.
      The 109’s had the edge above 20,000 ft and the Spitfires below that height. However there wasn’t a great deal of difference in performance between the two types. The Mk II Spitfire was actually slower than a Mk, though it had a better rate of climb.

    • Jake Glanville on June 27, 2020 at 4:03 pm

      There were no Mk 20 Spitfires, I’m afraid, either in the Battle or afterwards. The Mark number was never allocated to an actual Spitfire. The Spitfires with 4-bladed propellers shown in the backdrop are most likely Mk IX’s or Mk XVI’s, neither of which Mark participated in the Battle of Britain.. This is what I mean about the backdrop being inappropriate -it also shows Wellington bombers, Typhoons, and tanks of a type not even around in 1940.
      Ray Holmes wasn’t the only pilot to destroy an enemy bomber heading towards Buckingham Palace. Sergeant James (Ginger) Lacy of 501 Sqdn. and one of the Battle’s top scorers also downed a Luftwaffe bomber on its way to the Palace. I believe Sgt. Lacey was hit by return fire and had to bale out. He survived to become the 11th highest top scoring RAF pilot of WW2.

  9. Robert Hampson on June 20, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    R.A.D.A.R is the acronym for Radio Detection and Ranging.I should know I worked on the radar after the war we still used in when I was in the territorial army, and another little snippet. we also had. IFF Identification Friend or Foe, this was an American system which ran at 110 volts, the radar on 240 volts, and as it used microwave energy if you put something in the cheese (the part that spins around) it would cook it, that where you get today’s microwaves from. the magnetron was shrunk down to fit the household ones.


  10. Anthony Jennings-Temple on June 17, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    Yah. I knew all five… ??

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