Nazi Lauck NSDAP/AO

THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Likewise the myths about 'The Battle of Britain' have been repeated so often they are now accepted as gospel. It was Phillip Knightley, the special correspondent (Sunday Times) and renowned author who in his book, The First Casualty - The War Correspondent as Hero, Propagandist, and Myth Maker from the Crimea to Vietnam', revealed that Britain in 'its finest hour' was far from being the underdog of legend.

British air defence consisted of 1,416 aircraft against 963 German aircraft. Britain had the further advantage of retrieving downed pilots and salvaging downed airplanes whereas German aircraft and pilots were irretrievably lost.

".... yet throughout the battle the RAF regularly lost more fighters than did the Luftwaffe. It was the German bombers that swelled the score and to break even the British had to shoot down a great many of them." The author goes on to point out owed more to the radar advantage."

Fighter pilots often found Churchill's rhetoric embarrassing, not the least such descriptions as 'crusaders' who 'grin when they fight'. It was in many respects an ignoble and bloody confrontation in which German pilots, knowing that the parachuting enemy could be airborne again within hours had no compunction about firing on them. Similarly, the RAF had no qualms about shooting down a Heinkel 59 clearly marked with the Red Cross and civilian markings as it engaged itself in rescuing downed German pilots.

In fact, the only RAF pilot to be awarded a Victoria Cross, Flight-Lieutenant J.B Nicholson, was wounded by the British Home Guard who mistaking him for a German pilot, blazed away at him as he parachuted to earth.

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