The 31st October commerated the 76th year of the end of The Battle of Britain. The dates of the battle has always been a bit controversal but after many discussions and meeting with the powers that be after the war it was finally agreed that the official dates were from 10th July to 31st October 1940. In addition the number of pilots that flew for the RAF was given as 2917 which is also a bit controversal but that was the final figure that was set and the number of pilots that were awarde the special BoB clasp.
Of these there were 537 who were not UK Citizens and that does not even take into account dual nationals who signed up under their British passports. They came from Poland, New Zealand, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Australia, Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, U.S.A. France, Ireland, Jamaica and Palestine and without their help the invasion of the UK might have spelt the end of Europe as we know it. The South Africans totalled 25 pilots.
Sadly of these 537 non British pilots 102 lost their lives during the BoB. ( The total number of pilots who lost their lives during the BoB was 544 ) To break it down a bit further of the 25 South Africans 9 of them lost their lives during the period 10th July to 31st October. To pay homage to them they were : F.H.Posener 20th July. He was shot down and reported missing never to be found and has therefore no know grave. J.R.S.Oelofse 8th August, C.R.Davis 6th September, C.B.Hull 7th September, G.J.Drake 9th September, P.R.F.Burton 27th September, N.J.M. Barry 7th October, I.B.Difford 7th October, C.W.Goldsmith 27/28th October. All of the others were buried in various cemetries in the UK including G.J.Drake about whom I wrote an article about earlier ” Finding the Few ”
To add to the above statistics, of the remander that did survive the BoB nearly another 800 did not live to see victory in 1945. A total therefore of 1344 out of the 2917 who fought in The Battle of Britain lost their lives. It is recorded that the first pilot to have officially lost his life on 10th July in the BoB was Sgt I.C.C.Clenshaw in a Hurricane of 253 squadron which crashed in bad weather on a dawn patrol. The last to lose their lives, which was on 30th October, that were flying in a Blenheim of 23 Squadron that also crashed in bad weather during a night patrol in the Sussex area. They were F/O H.J.Woodward DFC, P/O A.A. Atkinson and Sgt H.T.Perry.
For those of you that might be interested in a very comprhensive and detailed information, an outstanding book entitled ” The Fallen Few of The Battle of Britain ” published in 2015 and written by Nigel McCrery, Norman Franks and Edward McManus details all of the 544 pilots that lost their lives during the BoB is a must.
I hope you have found this article interesting. Until the next time.