1 September is celebrated as No 303 Polish Fighter Squadron Day - the legendary RAF Squadron, which became the most successful Fighter Command unit in the Battle of Britain
1 September is celebrated as No 303 Polish Fighter Squadron Day – the legendary RAF Squadron, which became the most successful Fighter Command unit in the Battle of Britain.
The Battle of Britain was a major air campaign fought in the skies over the United Kingdom in 1940. It was the first battle in history fought entirely in the air.
The battle received its name from a speech Winston Churchill delivered to the British House of Commons on June 18, 1940, in which he stated, “The Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin.”
– There is no other word like it for reviving the sensations of the Battle of Britain 80 years ago.
For Royal Air Force fighter pilots it was the signal to fling themselves into the sky ready for combat.
Though the battle took place between July and October 1940, September 15 saw the British Royal Air Force (RAF) gain a decisive victory over the Luftwaffe in what was Nazi Germany’s largest daylight attack.
Germany needed to control the English Channel to invade Britain, and the battle prevented them from gaining that valuable control.
Following the invasion of Poland in 1939 and the subsequent fall of France, Polish forces were withdrawn to Britain. By the year 1940 – 8,000 Polish airmen had crossed the Channel to continue the war effort in Great Britain.
Polish pilots in Royal Air Force squadrons played a substantial part in all operations against the Luftwaffe in increasing numbers.
A total of 145 experienced and battle-hardened Polish airmen fought in the Battle of Britain – 79 airmen in various RAF squadrons, 32 in No. 302 (Polish) Fighter Squadron and 34 in No. 303 (Polish) Fighter Squadron.
The Polish Air Forces played a leading role in protecting Britain and defeating the Luftwaffe, in total destroying 957 enemy aircraft. As the war raged on, more Polish squadrons were created and Polish pilots also served individually in other RAF squadrons. By the end of the war, 19,400 Poles were serving in PAF.
Today a Polish War Memorial stands at RAF Northolt, commemorating those who served and died both for their country and for Europe.
Remember about all the heroes from above the clouds.