History Hour: Battle of Britain’s airport marks 100th anniversary
It was on the 13th February 1917 that the War Office first established a military camp on the site at Biggin Hill in South London that is the origin of the airport bearing the same name. The airfield became instrumental for the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a defence base of the United Kingdom during the World War II, mainly in the Battle of Britain, summer of 1940.
The Battle of Britain was a combat between RAF against the German Air Force from the end of June 1940. It was described as a major air battle by both air forces. RAF stated that the duration of the battle took place from the 10th of July to the 31st of October 1940. On the other hand, according to German historians, the battle was supposed to happen from July 1940 to June 1941.
The Biggin Hill Airport has just celebrated its 100th anniversary on the 13th of February 2017 and it organized a special event on the occasion.
Special flight of WWII veteran Ray Richards
The Biggin Hill Spitfire, a company preserving MK9 Spitfire aircraft and using them for tourist attraction, presented the guests with the opportunity to remember ‘Churchill’s Few’ who flew with skill and courage from RAF Biggin Hill throughout the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940.
One of the special shows at that day was the flight of the 100-year old WWII veteran Ray Roberts on a Spitfire. Piloted by Peter Kynsey, in the rear cockpit of the Spitfire was Roberts who flew Spitfires with the RAF and ATA during WWII. Roberts is a former Spitfire pilot who also took part in the Battle of Britain.
The British Statesman and former Prime Minister Winston Churchill summed up the effect of the battle and the contribution of RAF Fighter Command, RAF Bomber Command, RAF Coastal Command and the Fleet Air Arm with the words, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few". Pilots who fought in the battle have been known as The Few ever since.
Previous History Hour installments:
First Class of Women Naval Aviators
How NASA intentionally crashed a Boeing 720
First jet landing on aircraft carrier
First England to Australia flight