The Battle of Britain: From the BBC Archives

  • by Mark Jones
  • Narrated by Tim Pigott-Smith
  • 2 hrs and 14 mins
  • Radio/TV Program

Publisher's Summary

First-hand accounts featuring the RAF pilots who took part in the Battle of Britain - one of the chief turning points of World War II.
‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’ - Winston Churchill. The ‘Few’ were the nearly 3,000 RAF pilots who fought against the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, which raged in the skies over southern England and the English Channel in the summer of 1940.
With a new prime minister, Winston Churchill, Britain fought alone in Europe - and under the threat of invasion from Hitler’s Germany. Douglas Bader, Flight Lt Richard Hillary, ‘Ginger’ Lacey, and Flight Lt. Brian Kingcombe describe the strains they had to face as pilots: ‘I didn’t have butterflies in my stomach - I had vultures’ and the ‘long, boring hours interspersed with moments of tremendous exhilaration’.
Their determination, bravery, and skill are evident as, outnumbered, they fought doggedly in their superior Hurricanes and Spitfires.
With news bulletins, reportage, personal accounts from the ground crews, and excerpts from Churchill’s famous speeches, this recording undeniably shows why, for the victorious RAF pilots, ‘This was their finest hour’.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

excellent, all first-person account

I have read a number of works (or listened to them) about the origins and beginnings of WWII. Many good works in the bunch. This BBC program is a nice complement to those more narrative history and scholarly works. It uses first-person accounts and actual first-person radio recordings to sketch what happened in the summer of 1940. Unlike some programs of its type, it is not completely fawning of the British side, or blindly supportive of the aficionados of the Spitfire over the Hurricane. You get some critical material on these topics and others among the more familiar discussion of the Battle of Britain. This is one of those programs that is nice, relatively light history that can be bought and stored on your MP3 player when you need a respite from more serious and longer books. Production quality is exellent.
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- D. Littman

What about Non-British Allied fighter squadrons?

At least 500 Non-British Allied personnel fought Germans in the Battle of Britain. Why are these heroes forgotten and not even mentioned in this book?

Two Polish fighter squadrons No. 302 and No. 303 fought in the Battle. The highest scoring allied pilot of the Battle was Josef František a Czech pilot flying with No. 303 fighter squadron. No. 303 (Kościuszko) squadron was the highest scoring squadron of the Battle of Britain with 126 kills. No. 302 shot down 26 Luftwaffe aircraft during the Battle.

Non-British personnel in the RAF during the Battle of Britain:
Poland 145
New Zealand 135
Canada 112
Czechoslovakia 88
Belgium 30
Australia 32
South Africa 25
France 14
Ireland 10
United States 11
Southern Rhodesia 4
Jamaica 1
Barbados 1
Newfoundland 1
Northern Rhodesia 1
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- Andrew

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-08-2010
  • Publisher: BBC Worldwide Limited