Today is the 100th anniversary of the RAF – relevant to this website – particularly in regard to the Battle of Britain which took place from 10 July to 31 October 1940 – more than 3000 young pilots went up to engage the invasion in the air. Basically – it could be seen – the first type of major air battle of its kind – where everything depended on the outcome of the air battle itself. Below as you can see I’ve given the link to the film about RJ Mitchell whose genius and dedication developed the Spitfire – which was motivated by what he could see was coming. Some say he worked himself to death – passing away at the age of 42. Leaving behind his wife Florence – who had supported him all away – and with whom he had had a good life. But to think – RJ Mitchell passed away on 11 June 1937 – just-in-time to hear that his creation for our defence – had been fully accepted and taken on board – and which heralded the planned production of 22,000 of these machines – to think that this was more than two years before the war actually started. So it was a combination – of the RAF in general – with more than 3000 dedicated and courageous pilots – and their team supports – and of course the Spitfire – that turned the tide. We must also include the sophisticated development of radar that aided our pilots very considerably. As it was – there was unexpectedly and surprisingly huge losses of aircraft from the vastly larger invading side – and then it was soon realised – that they would not be able to launch the planned for invasion across the English Channel – that they had so carefully prepared – not now without any adequate air cover. This left the coasts of the UK littered with defensive pieces and apparatus of various sorts – some of which can still be seen today – all along the South Coast and in Dorset. Two very large steel constructed piers in Bournemouth, Dorset – had been blown up in the centres (at that time Bournemouth was located just inside of the county of Hampshire till the border was moved in later years) – but these piers had been left with huge gaps in the middles of them – so as they would not act as landing stages for what was the deeply ominous gathering sense of an imminent and overwhelming invasion expected on our shores. This strategic battle – The Battle of Britain – paved the way for the preparations that took place in the UK – and in a very significant way in Dorset itself. This was the long arduous dedicated enormous and magnificent preparation for the D-Day landings that eventually took place on June 6, 1944 – with more than 2 million troops from the US alone arriving in the UK – first registering in Bournemouth – and remaining in the South of England and spreading out over the South-West of England. Troops of many other countries as well – and very notably Canada – which was a major force along with the British and the US troops in the D-Day landings. In the South and South-West there was this absolutely vast build-up of military equipment. All concealed and hidden and conducted in secret – so as not to alert the continent. It might be added that many more millions of American troops that joined the battle (after the D-Day landings had been successful) – came directly from the US to Europe. And it is of note – that in Dorset there were a vast number of US troops – of which I have very many stories. There are now not many people who remember the stories first-hand because of the time that has passed by – but nevertheless in May of this year I will be meeting someone – who was a young boy at the time – to hear some more incredible details about US troops in Weymouth, along also with some sad and traumatic stories related to the very many bombing and strafing raids on the South Coast. I will also be meeting another person – a young girl the time – who was witness to a number ‘dogfights’ seen first-hand in the Dorset skies.
D-Day itself – was the greatest invasion in the history of the Earth. Involving millions of troops, 7000 ships of all kinds and sorts, and more than 10,000 aircraft (some doing repeat sorties on that day) – with more than 156,000 troops landing on the first day – though of course – this did not take place without considerable losses on the beaches, and by far the most tragic at Omaha Beach!
The impregnable ‘Atlantic Wall’ had been breached.