80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain

Special Event Station GB80BOB

1st September to 28th September 2020

The Royal Air Force Amateur Radio Society (RAFARS) operated a Special Event Station (SES) from 1st September to 28th September 2020 to commemorate the Battle of Britain. 2020 marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain which took place between July and October 1940.

The 15th September 1940 was officially named Battle of Britain Day as it was the day when RAF Fighter Command claimed what proved to be a decisive victory over the German Luftwaffe.

Due to the prevailing circumstances Ofcom relaxed their rules for SES's and allowed this call to be operated from a home QTH. This SE callsign was allocated to RAFARS members and a list of operators and postcode locations are displayed below.

01/09/2020TColinMW0OZILD1 5BH19/08/2020
02/09/2020WDaveG0KUCLU2 8JH18/08/2020
03/09/2020TRaymondMI0RUCBT57 8AE18/08/2020
04/09/2020FMikeG3JKXTF2 9RB18/08/2020
05/09/2020STerryG4PSHNR12 9RF18/08/2020
06/09/2020SKenG4KCFYO42 2BX18/08/2020
07/09/2020MChipG1FJDPE6 8HR18/08/2020
08/09/2020TBernardG0SWOHU3 6QY18/08/2020
09/09/2020WStuartG0TBIDY7 6BN18/08/2020
10/09/2020TJohnG0JYLBA13 4TH18/08/2020
11/09/2020FKevinG6ZRLSN13 9st26/08/2020
12/09/2020SRaymondMI0RUCBT57 8AE07/09/2020
13/09/2020SVinceG4DQPHU15 1RJ18/08/2020
14/09/2020MRegG8VHICV10 0HP18/08/2020
15/09/2020TVinceG4DQPHU15 1RJ09/09/2020
16/09/2020WBrianG4HIVLN6 9BS07/09/2020
17/09/2020TStuartG0TBIDY7 6BN18/08/2020
18/09/2020FKenG4KCFYO42 2BX09/09/2020
19/09/2020SVinceG4DQPHU15 1RJ18/08/2020
20/09/2020SVinceG4DQPHU15 1RJ18/08/2020
21/09/2020MDavidG3RZFSL1 2LQ27/08/2020
22/09/2020TBernardG0SWOHU3 6QY18/08/2020
23/09/2020WDaveG0KUCLU2 8JH19/09/2020
24/09/2020TBrianG4HIVLN6 9BS18/08/2020
26/09/2020SBernardG0SWOHU3 6QY12/09/2020
27/09/2020SIanGI0AZBBT47 4PN02/09/2020
28/09/2020MJohnG0JYLBA13 4TH12/09/2020

GB80BOB QSL via the RAFARS QSL Manager

Andrew Humphriss 2E0NDZ
44 Bishops Close
Stratford upon Avon
CV37 9ED

The Battle of Britain 1940

Nearly 3,000 aircrew served with RAF Fighter Command between the dates of July 10th and October 31st 1940, the official period known as the Battle of Britain. Each one of those 2,937 British and Allied airmen were awarded the Battle of Britain clasp for having flown at least one authorised sortie with an accredited unit of RAF Fighter Command.

".......the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin, upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization, upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institution and our Empire." WINSTON CHURCHILL, JUNE 18 1940 FROM HIS "FINEST HOUR" SPEECH

Sunday September 15th 1940

This is the date after which I believe Hitler's chances will rapidly dwindle. The weather holds good in a miraculous manner but there are faint premonitory puffs of wind from the South- West and a chill in the air. Dispatches received through Switzerland say that there are the beginnings of a press campaign in Germany breaking the news to the people that England is to be subdued by blockade and bombing. If this is true, Hitler is on the downgrade. I can’t for the life of me puzzle out what the Germans are up to. They have great air power and yet are dissipating it in fruitless and aimless attacks all over England. They must have an exaggerated idea of the damage they are doing and the effects of their raids on public morale.
RAYMOND LEE, United States Military Attaché in London, 15th September 1940

Notable facts about the Battle of Britain

  • It was part of a longer-term invasion plan by the Nazis. Hitler ordered planning to begin for an invasion of Britain on 2 July 1940. But the Nazi leader specified air and naval superiority over the English Channel and proposed landing points before any invasion.

  • The British had developed an air defence network that gave them a critical advantage. In an effort to improve communication between radars and observers and aircraft, Britain came up with a solution known as the “Dowding System”. Named after its chief architect, the RAF Fighter Command’s commander-in-chief, Hugh Dowding, it created a set of reporting chains so that aircraft could take to the skies quicker to react to incoming threats, while information from the ground could reach aircraft quicker once they were airborne. The accuracy of the information being reported was also greatly improved. The system could process huge amounts of information in a short space of time and made full use of the Fighter Command’s relatively limited resources.

  • The RAF had around 1,960 aircraft at its disposal in July 1940. That figure included around 900 fighter aircraft, 560 bombers and 500 coastal aeroplanes. The Spitfire fighter became the star of the RAF’s fleet during the Battle of Britain though the Hawker Hurricane actually took down more German aircraft.

  • This meant its aircraft were outnumbered by the Luftwaffe’s. The Luftwaffe could deploy 1,029 fighter aircraft, 998 bombers, 261 dive-bombers, 151 reconnaissance planes and 80 coastal planes.

  • Britain dates the start of the battle as 10 July. Germany had begun carrying out daylight bombing raids on Britain on the first day of the month, but attacks intensified from 10 July. In the initial stage of the battle, Germany focused their raids on southern ports and British shipping operations in the English Channel.

  • Germany launched its main offensive on 13 August. The Luftwaffe moved inland from this point, focusing its attacks on RAF airfields and communication centres. These attacks intensified during the last week of August and the first week of September, by which point Germany believed the RAF to be nearing breaking point.

  • One of Churchill’s most famous speeches was about the Battle of Britain. As Britain was bracing itself for a German invasion, Prime Minister Winston Churchill made a speech to the House of Commons on 20 August in which he uttered the memorable line, 'Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few". Ever since, the British pilots who took part in the Battle of Britain have been referred to as “The Few”.

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few" PRIME MINISTER WINSTON CHURCHILL, HOUSE OF COMMONS 20 AUGUST 1940
  • The RAF’s Fighter Command suffered its worst day of the battle on 31 August. Amid a large German operation, the Fighter Command suffered its heaviest losses on this day, with 39 aircraft shot down and 14 pilots killed.

  • The Luftwaffe launched around 1,000 aircraft in one single attack. On 7 September, Germany shifted its focus away from RAF targets and towards London, and, later, other cities and towns and industrial targets also. This was the start of the bombing campaign that became known as the Blitz. On the first day of the campaign, close to 1,000 German bomber and fighter aircraft headed to the English capital to carry out mass raids on the city.

  • The German casualties were far higher than Britain’s. By 31 October, the date on which the battle is generally considered to have ended, the Allies had lost 1,547 aircraft and suffered 966 casualties, including 522 deaths. The Axis’ casualties – which were mostly German – included 1,887 aircraft and 4,303 aircrew, of whom 3,336 died.

Battle of Britain aircrew came from the following countries:

Country Number of Pilots
Great Britain 2,342
Poland 145
New Zealand 127
Canada 112
Czechoslovakia 88
Australia 32
Belgium 28
South Africa 25
France 13
Ireland 10
United States 9
Rhodesia 3
Barbados 1
Jamaica 1
Newfoundland 1
"The Battle of Britain has been under the intense scrutiny of historians and others for half a century. Aided by hindsight, they have been able to raise various controversial issues. Criticism is all too easy for those who come after. To touch on but one issue, it is known that both sides overclaimed by a considerable amount. (The British claimed that they had destroyed 2,698 aircraft. The German claimed they had shot down 3,058. Post war investigation proved that the RAF had actually shot down 1,733 German aircraft and that the Luftwaffe had shot down 915 British fighters.) No-one who has not experienced air fighting can possibly imagine the confusion. Neither can they judge. Relative scores are an effect, not a cause. What is clear is that the Battle of Britain was won by Fighter Command because it defeated the Luftwaffe in the battle to control the air over southern England". Mike Spick. The Height of the Battle/Battle of Britain Salamanda 1990