Today, 18th August, is the 80th anniversary of the hardest day in the Battle of Britain fought in the skies over England between July and October 1940.
While the decisive turning point in the Battle of Britain was not until a month later, on 15th September, the 18th August will always be remembered as the day the Luftwaffe tried its utmost to destroy Britain’s fighter airfields, flying three big afternoon raids of 850 sorties involving 2,200 aircrew. The RAF resisted with equal vigour flying 927 sorties involving 600 aircraft.
The targets were airfields at Kenley, Biggin Hill, the Fleet Air Arm airfields at Gosport and Ford, Thorney Island, Hornchurch and North Weald, and the radar station at Poling. RNAS Ford (HMS Peregrine) came under attack from a formation of German Stuka dive bombers causing extensive damage. 28 naval personnel died and many more were injured.
It is not generally known that Naval Air Squadrons also took part in the Battle of Britain. On 18th August, the RAF and Fleet Air Arm lost 68 aircraft, 31 in air combat. 69 German aircraft were destroyed or damaged beyond repair.