By Sonya Anderson
Each year, on the third Sunday of September, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) celebrates the Battle of Britain. This year marked the 79th anniversary of what was deemed the first battle of the Second World War fought mainly in the air.
Waged from July to October 1940, it pitted a small group of fighter pilots from around the world against a far larger Luftwaffe. After nearly four months of anxious combat, the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Fighter Command stopped the German air force’s attempt, in advance of a planned invasion, to dominate the skies over southern and eastern England.
Hundreds of Canadian air and ground crew participated in the battle, most as members of the RAF. This victory gave hope to the people of Great Britain and to other freedom-loving nations.
Estimates vary regarding the number of Canadians who served during the Battle of Britain because the definition of “Canadian” was still hazy at the time. It’s estimated that more than 100 Canadian pilots served during the Battle and 23 lost their lives.
Ceremonies commemorating the Battle of Britain were held across the country and our region marked this event with a parade and ceremony at Base Borden. Hundreds of military personnel, reservists, veterans, and air cadets withstood the pouring rain to honour those who served in this battle, including the last surviving Canadian Battle of Britain Pilot, John Stewart Hart, who died in June 2019 at the age of 102.