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Non - British RAF in the Battle of Britain

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by Kiwi Ace, Feb 11, 2003.

  1. Kiwi Ace

    Kiwi Ace Member

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    Hi All,

    I found some interesting stats on Non English in the RAF during the BoB.This is out of 553 non British fighter pilots.

    Poles - 27.5%
    New Zealand - 18.6% (2nd!)
    Canadians - 16.8%
    Czechs & Slovaks - 16.5%
    Other - 20.6% (inc. South Africa + Australia!)

    Now how often do you hear about New Zealanders in the BoB? - And the Man running the Figher Wing was a NZer too!
     
  2. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    You're right, Kiwi Ace - actually, during the war, a lot of publicity was given to the 'men from the domions' etc who flew with the RAF.

    This was an important morale-builder for the public to show that Britain wasn't 'alone'.

    Since the war, too, serious books about the airwar have given due credit to all nations who flew with the RAF ( not just in fighters ). The film 'Battle of Britain' also made the fact clear.

    ( And don't forget Les Munro, pilot on the Dams Raid ! ;) ;) )
     
  3. Stevin

    Stevin Ace

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    Actually Kiwi, I have got a book coming my way written by a vet from 468 Sqn (I think). That was a NZ sqn that flew Spitfires. I am in touch with the author through e-mail. Obviously he lives in NZ. He was not in the BoB, though.

    BTW you guys got some funky money! :D
     
  4. Kiwi Ace

    Kiwi Ace Member

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    Hi guys,

    Wow, I've never seen these books down here, could you tell me the title the book?

    Whats this about our funky money? :confused: [​IMG]
     
  5. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    One of the absolute best NZ first-hand accounts ( sadly out-of-print ) is 'Spitfire Patrol' by Colin Gray, DSO, DFC who was WWII's top-scoring NZ 'ace' and flew with 54 Squadron throughout the Battle of Britain. he was originally from Christchurch, NZ and his book ( published by Hutchinson in 1990 ) is a BofB 'must'.

    Another one that I've never seen is 'New Zealanders With The Royal Air Force' published by the NZ Government in 3 volumes, 1953-1956.
     
  6. Stevin

    Stevin Ace

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    No NZ flag...

    This is a self-published book about 485 Sqn called GREEN KIWI VERSUS GERMAN EAGLE. You can contact Norby King himself at norby.king@clear.net.nz

    He wrote the book and it cost me NZ$25 to have it airmailed from NZ.

    I like the penguin on the $5 bill!
     
  7. Brad T.

    Brad T. Member

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    Does that Canadian percentage count Canadians fighting while in the RCAF?
     
  8. Kiwi Ace

    Kiwi Ace Member

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    Guys - Thanks for those Ideas on books, Ill look into it futher.

    Brad - I think it was RAF only

    and Stevin, on the other side is the First person to climb Mt. Everest!
     
  9. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Very interesting--Never gave it much thought until now:

    http://www.pan.net/history/enigma/enigma9.htm

    Authors:
    Andrzej Dabrowa, Ph.D.
    Richard Lobodzinski, MsME


    On the 11th of June 1940 the Polish Government in Exile signed an agreement with the British Government to form Polish Army in Britain and specifically Polish Air Force. First two (of ten) Polish fighter squadrons went into action in August 1940. Total of 89 Polish pilots defended the British sky. The squadron named after the Polish-American hero General Tadeusz Kosciuszko, achieved the highest number of kills (273) of all fighter squadrons in the Battle of Britain.


    http://2ndww.tripod.com/England/britain.htm

    On 30 August the first foreign fighter, Flight Officer Ludwik Paszkiewicz from the Polish Squadron 303 shot down his first German. This victory came somewhat incidentally - during a training flight. Dowding so far did not trust foreign pilots and their experience gained over the continent. Paszkiewicz's success had dismissed his prejudices. The next day he ordered to introduce foreign squadrons to fights.


    http://egyptian.net/~leftypen/biggen.htm

    Located just outside London, Biggen Hill now houses St. George's Chapel, which is dedicated to the memories of the pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain. Each stained glass window in the chapel has an image of a pilot representing every one of the squadrons that served with the Royal Air Force (RAF).

    Since the United States did not enter the war until over two years after the invasion of Poland, a number of American pilots saw early action by flying with the RAF. The Biggen Hill Chapel lists no American pilots, however. Because of laws which prohibit Americans from fighting with foreign countries, those Americans who battled the Nazis before Pearl Harbor first went to Canada and then registered as Canadian citizens. There is no designation on the Biggen Hill wall to tell which of the Canadian pilots was actually an American.
     
  10. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    The Polish squadron was the legendary 303 Squadron, operating from RAF Northolt where there is now a very impressive landmark, the Polish War Memorial.

    As a further twist, 303's highest-scoring pilot in the Battle, Sergeant Josef Frantisek with 17 confirmed victories was - a Czech.

    There is a very interesting chapter about 303 in Anthony Robinson's book 'RAF Fighter Squadrons In The Battle Of Britain' ( 1987, reprinted 1999 ) which is fairly easily obtainable.
     
  11. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    Pilots in the Battle of Britain

    1,790 Britain
    141 Poland
    88 Canada
    86 Czechoslovakia
    73 New Zealand
    56 Fleet Air Arm
    21 Australia (53 - 32 born in Oz but had GB passports hence classed GB)
    26 Belgium
    21 South Africa
    13 France
    8 Ireland
    7 United States
    2 Southern Rhodesia
    1 Palestine

    No.9
     
  12. Brad T.

    Brad T. Member

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    Does that 88 Canadians include the RCAF or just RAF?
     
  13. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    The figure includes RCAF pilots. I belive 1 RCAF went into 401 Squadron, (Johnny Johnson), Martin probably has more on this.

    Some figures will vary depending on which records the compiler has used, how 'nationals' are categorised and how 'combat pilots' are reckoned.

    No.9
     
  14. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Oh dear...I think this is one to set CrazyD's blood racing - I've got ; -

    Great Britain 2353
    Australia 29
    Belgium 29
    Canada 97
    Czechoslovakia 87
    France 13
    Ireland 9
    Jamaica 1
    Newfoundland 1
    New Zealand 126
    Palestine 1
    Poland 145
    Rhodesia 3
    South Africa 22
    United States 11

    'A total of 2927 men, awarded the Battle of Britain Clasp for having flown at least one authorised operational sortie with an eligible unit of RAF Fighter Command during the period from July 10 to October 31 1940'.

    This from Kenneth G Wynn's massive book, ' Men Of The Battle Of Britain ' ( Gliddon, 1989 ). Wynn's book, which contains details for each and every pilot, resulted from years of research and is usually considered ( almost ! )definitive.

    Even so, it has, I believe, had to be amended now to include one or two pilots from RAF Training Command who became involved in aerial fighting in the West Country so it is extremely difficult to arrive at an exact and final figure.

    Incidentally, and bringing us back neatly to the original topic, Wynn published another book ( which I don't have :( ) called 'A Clasp For The Few ' in 1981 which described the careers of all the New Zealanders who fought in the Battle....

    [ 15. February 2003, 01:24 AM: Message edited by: Martin Bull ]
     
  15. De Vlaamse Leeuw

    De Vlaamse Leeuw Member

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    Very interesting figures.

    So we can all conclude that not only the Brittish themselves disturbed the conquest of their country, but also a lot of men from conquered countries or countries who were on the side of the Allies.
     
  16. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    Err…very interesting statement, Erwin??

    Were you really under the impression there were only British pilots in the BoB. At least the Polish content has always received a lot of general mention. Last year’s film Dark blue world about Czech pilots is also worth seeing.

    With the rolling success of Germany in the early years, Britain was the last holdout country in the war zone. People from all over were coming here to escape and carry on the fight, and, could be found in all branches of the services. In addition men were arriving from throughout the Empire and Commonwealth. Some did go straight to various theatres instead of coming to Britain first, but a lot didn’t.

    One other reason I should have mentioned for pilot figures differing, is what period the compiler is counting. e.g. A period of months or the few days usually considered the ‘peak’?

    No.9
     
  17. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    That's right, No. 9 and that's why Wynn was so careful to clearly define his parameters following his research.

    It applies to aircraft, too. For many years, the Hurricane in the BofB Hall at the RAF Museum was classified as being 'of the period' but not having taken part in the battle.

    Then, just a few years ago, an amateur researcher found the serial number in a veteran's logbook. The RAF Museum researched further and concluded that 'their' Hurricane had indeed flown just one sortie in the BofB period and so it is, indeed, an actual BofB veteran.
     
  18. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Martin, and that has to be one unlucky Hurricane.

    I was there this week, and reading its chequered history on plaque in front.

    Seems it had lots of accidents, undercarriage problems. Seems to have spent more time in the workshops than in the air..

    And lets not forget the bomber force and the nationality of crews involved there too.

    Did a tour in Lincoln area once, that took me overnights to the RAFs old basic training school for recruits. Only army guy there for a week, got lots of strange looks.

    Found a small monument there to the Polish aircrews that used the station in bomber command in the early days of ww2.

    Camp has gone now, used for boot sales though some of it, hope the memorial wasnt broken up.
     
  19. De Vlaamse Leeuw

    De Vlaamse Leeuw Member

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    No, I knew that a lot of pilots, non-english, were also fighting the BOB. But maybe the English themselves don't know this.
     
  20. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Only inasmuch as subsequent generations know nothing of the Battle of Britain. Believe it or not, I have worked with younger people ( ie people in their 20's and even 30's ) who have professed not to know anything at all of the events of 1940 or that Britain ever faced the prospect of invasion.

    Anyone with even a passing interest in the Battle knows and respects the achievements of the 'overseas pilots'; certainly every book I have ever read about the Battle makes it very clear and the film ' Battle Of Britain ' ( regularly shown on British TV ) emphasises the role of the Poles, Czechs, Free French, etc.

    And at the time of the Battle the contemporary press made much of the 'cosmopolitan' effort against the Luftwaffe for propaganda and morale reasons.
     

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