Australians in the Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain is a historic day, despite lasting several months, known throughout Europe as well as in Australia. Little do most people know, the Australians played a huge role within this iconic air battle that helped the Allies gain a vital victory.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)

Australia was among one of the first countries to declare war on Germany. With one of the world’s oldest air forces, in the RAAF, Australia were able to train 37,000 new pilots. Their departure to European skies was slowed, however, by three factors: firstly, due to the RAAf’s large expansion, the training process took a much longer time, so troops didn’t graduate until 1940, secondly, the RAAF doctrine tried to emphasise other areas of their troops, such as their naval and land soldiers and thirdly, the authorities insisted that Dominion personnel should serve units within their own air forces. Despite all of this, Australia still played a vital role in the Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain

Australians in the Battle of Britain
The Hawker Hurricane flying in the Battle of Britain

A total of 32 Australian pilots took part in the Battle of Britain aiding the British, Polish, Canadians, Belgians and many other nations sending their men to contribute to this monumental battle. The most decorated of these being Flight Lieutenant Paterson “Pat” Hughes of squadron No. 234. After scoring 14 kills in the Battle of Britain, he was credited as one of the top 10 aces and the highest ranking Australian. Pat was sadly killed in action in September 1940.

The Australians were right in the middle of the chaotic scenes. After the Germans had sent 3,000 planes to British skies, Flight Lieutenant Sheen recalled “Lots of aircraft were blowing up and people bailing out all over the sky and bombs dropping into the sea.” 10 Australians lost their life in the Battle of Britain.

The Pilots

Known as ‘The Few’, all of the pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain have been immortalised by those who they fought for. The 32 Australian Few are listed below. We are forever in your debt:

F/O I N Bayles
P/O C C Bennett
F/Lt. R W Bungey
P/O F W Cale
F/O J R Cock
F/O A N Constantine
Sgt. V W J Crook
P/O J D Crossman
F/Lt. F W Flood
Sgt. D Fopp
F/O R L Glyde
P/O A L Hamilton
F/O H G Hardman
Sgt. K C Holland
F/O P C Hughes
F/Lt. JC Kennedy

S/Ldr. R B Lees
P/O B M McDonough
P/O C A McGaw
F/O H C Mayers
P/O W H Millington
Sgt. P J Moore
F/O W S Moore
F/Lt. C G C Olive
P/O J F Pain
P/O V Parker
F/Lt. R M Power
F/Lt. C A Pritchard
F/Lt. R C Reynell
F/Lt. D F B Sheen
F/Lt. S C Walch
F/Lt. L C Withall

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