The Battle of Britain

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Social Studies
World War II

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The Battle of Britain

Canadian ContributionThe airmen who Churchill dubbed “the few” comprised 2,353 pilots and air crew from Great Britain and 574 from overseas. All flew at least one authorized operational sortie with an eligible unit of the Royal Air Force or Fleet Air Arm from July 10 to October 31 and were awarded the Battle of Britain clasp to the 1939-45 Star.Five hundred and forty-four lost their lives. More than 100 Canadians are deemed to have participated in the Battle of Britain, and 23 lost their lives. A Royal Canadian Air Force squadron fought during the Battle. The No. 1 Canadian Squadron, whose pilots were from both a regular force unit and an auxiliary unit but in February 1941 it was designated 401 Squadron. Many more flew with other RAF squadrons – as well as Bomber and Coastal Commands providing support to operations to prevent the German invasion. An untold number served as ground crew, keeping the fighters flying. Canada working from very early morning until late into the night, with a result that sufficient aircraft for flight use were available at all times. Replacing experienced pilots throughout the Battle had been a significant challenge, especially in the early days of the Battle. Later in the Battle replacements became less of an issue, but the pilots became exhausted and replacements were less experienced. 60 per cent of those casualties were experienced flyers who could only be replaced by inexperienced graduates of Operational Training Units and as time wore on less and less experienced pilots were taking to the air. …as pilots gained practical experience they were likely to be killed, wounded, or mentally exhausted by the strain, or else promoted into other squadrons. The Battle of Britain would not have been won without the contribution of another Canadian


The Battle of Britain


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