THE Royal Australian Air Force Association Ballarat Branch held the Battle of Britain Commemorations on Sunday, including a flyover of RV-6 and Grumman Tiger aircraft from the Ballarat Aero Club. This year marked the 75th anniversary of the historic battle over England. Taking to the microphone, City of Ballarat Mayor Cr John Philips, welcomed everyone to the special occasion, adding it was an honour to be there. Cr Philips recalled the British Prime Minster Sir Winston Churchill’s speech, a tribute to the Royal Air Force, given to the British House of Commons, which, in part, reads ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’.
“Seventy five years on and we are fortunate to be enjoying the freedom and quality of the life that is the lasting legacy of the brave young airmen,” Cr Philips said.
“Make no mistake life in Australia would be very different had the Luftwaffe not been defeated. “Victory was not without a high price 537 RAF fighter command pilots died in the battle, at least 10 were Australian.
“These airmen will remain forever young and we continue to honour their feats and their memory. “I would like to commend the Ballarat Branch of RAAFA for ensuring the sacrifice and bravery shown in the skies over Britain 75 years ago, continues to be remembered.”
President of the RAAFA Ballarat Branch Tom Roberts OAM said at the wreath laying that it wasn’t just about the ‘fighter boys’ the ‘glamour ones’, there was a whole lot of backup – observation corp., radar stations, navy, army, aircraft production and repair and so on. “The actual combat went from July 10 to October 31,” Mr Roberts said. “There were four phases – first attacking the channel convoys, secondly attacking the radar bases and thirdly attacking all the RAF fighter stations to try and destroy planes on the ground and finally the blitz on London, which developed and continued on after the Battle of Britain was considered finished.”
On September 15 the Luftwaffe launched its largest and most concentrated attack against London in the hope of drawing out the RAF into a battle of annihilation. Around 1,500 aircraft took part in the air battles which lasted until dusk. The action was the climax of the Battle of Britain. “There no Australians remaining from the Battle of Britain,” Mr Roberts said. “There were only about 36, I think, Australians available in the combat, there were twice as many New Zealanders and that was basically because the output of pilots before the war was too many for the RAAF, having graduated from Point Cook a number of them went over on short service commission.”