"The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen, who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of world war by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day; but we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power. On no part of the Royal Air Force does the weight of the war fall more heavily than on the daylight bombers, who will play an invaluable part in the case of invasion and whose unflinching zeal it has been necessary in the meanwhile on numerous occasions to restrain. " - Winston Churchill, House of Commons, 20th August, 1940

This was Winston Chruchill's address to the House of Commons as the Battle of Britain (May-Oct 1940) was being won. He was applauding the bravery of pilots of the Royal Air Force (RAF), who through their courage and sacrifice were wresting control of the airspace over Britain and the English Channel from the Luftwaffe and making the invasion(Operation Sea Lion) all but impossible.

If the RAF had not succeeded, then the events later in the war would never have taken place. There would have certainly been no staging ground for an Allied Invasion of France (Operation Overlord,D-Day) in 1944. It is quite possible that Hitler would have controlled all of Europe and turned his attention toward the Americas.

"The Few" came from all over the world:
1,790 from Britain
141 from Poland
88 from Canada
86 from Czechoslovakia
73 from New Zealand
21 from Australia
26 from Belgium
21 from South Africa
13 from France
8 from Ireland
7 from the United States
2 from Southern Rhodesia
1 from Israel

537 of whom were killed or wounded


http://www.iwm.org.uk/

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