Today is Battle of Britain Day, the 80th anniversary of Sunday 15 September 1940, the day that marked the turning point of the Battle of Britain. However, very few people realise that the Royal Navy participated, too, in this decisive battle of the air. In all, 56 pilots of the Fleet Air Arm fought in the skies to defend these shores from the German bombers.
23 of the pilots flew Spitfires and Hurricanes across 12 RAF squadrons, three of them under the command of Douglas Bader in 242 Squadron. Four of the FAA pilots were classified as 'aces' in that they shot down at least five enemy aircraft. The remaining 33 naval pilots served in two naval air squadrons, 804 and 808, as part of Fighter Command and responsible for air defence over the naval dockyards. Five of these pilots were petty officers.
Rightly, the RAF take great pride in celebrating Battle of Britain, but let's not forget the very few of the Fleet Air Arm either.