Battle of Britain flypast: Five things you didn't know about the Battle of Britain

Prince Harry to take part in a fly-past to mark 75 years since the Battle of Britain

Olivia Blair
Tuesday 15 September 2015 19:03

Today marks 75 years since the Battle of Britain.

From June until October in 1940, almost 3,000 RAF pilots took to the skies to fend off the threat of a Nazi invasion.

The odds were stacked against Britain, with the RAF comprising of 640 aircrafts and the German Luftwaffe holding a 2,600-strong fleet.

However, in October the RAF claimed victory. September 15th is Battle of Britain day, as it was on this day that the Luftwaffe launched its largest offensive against the RAF.

Prince Harry– who turns 31 today – will spend his birthday taking part in a fly-past to commemorate the historical event.

The prince will join veterans including Tom Neil, a 95-year-old former RAF pilot who will reportedly “lead” the formation from the rear of a spitfire.

A service will also take place at 11am at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, where David Cameron, Polish President Andrzej Duda and the new leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, are expected to attend.

Prince Harry flying in the back of a spitfire in April, 2015

To mark the day, here are five things you didn’t know about the battle of “the few”:

1. Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy of a spitfire pilot during the Battle of Britain was an astonishing four weeks. During the battle, 544 British RAF pilots died.

2. How old were the pilots?

The average age of a UK Battle of Britain pilot was 20-years-old. The age range of the pilots varied from 18 to over 30.

3. How many were British?

Around 20 per cent of pilots (574) were from either allied, occupied European, neutral or ‘Dominion’ countries. According to the RAF, 141 pilots were Polish and 87 Czech.

4. How much were they paid?

An officer in the RAF earned £264 per annum, which equates to approximately £30,000 per year today, say the RAF. Around two-thirds of RAF pilots were officers.

5. How does Germany remember the day?

The German name for the Battle of Britain is ‘Luftschlacht um England’, which literally translates to ‘Air Battle for England’. During the battle, 2,600 German pilots lost their lives.

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