Spitfire and Hurricane in Battle of Britain flypast at Kenley

There is to be a flypast at Kenley airfield this Sunday, August 20, by a Spitfire and Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight to commemorate “The Hardest Day”.

While September 15 is widely considered to have been the climax of the Battle of Britain, August 18 1940 has become known as The Hardest Day after it saw the highest losses of aircraft on both sides.

After the retreat from Dunkirk and the defeat of France, Britain stood alone against Germany in a fight for survival in the Second World War, as the Nazis attempted to obliterate the Royal Air Force before their planned invasion.

In August 1940, six days of ferocious attacks by the Luftwaffe had been followed by an ominous silence on Saturday, August 17. It wasn’t to last.

The following day, wave after wave of bombers and fighter-bombers crossed the English Channel, to target the Fighter Command airfields at Kenley, Biggin Hill, Hornchurch and North Weald, Gosport, Ford, Thorney Island, and the radar station at Poling.

The British lost 68 aircraft and the Germans 69.

At Kenley, two of its three hangars, other buildings and 10 aircraft, including six Hurricanes, were destroyed, while six more, including a Spitfire and two Hurricanes, were damaged. The runways were also heavily cratered by the bombing. The Sector Operations Room had to be moved to an emergency location away from the airfield.

According to the excellent Kenley Revival website, “RAF Kenley was singled out for a complicated pincer attack, by Bomber Geshwader 76, which, if successful, would destroy the airfield for good.” So confident were the Germans that their Blitz on Kenley would succeed, they sent a war reporter and photographer on board one of their Dornier 17 bombers to record the expected victory.

In total, 13 personnel, from aircrew to soldiers guarding the nearby Kenley waterworks were fatal casualties that day, all individually remembered on the Kenley Revival website here.

What was once RAF Kenley is now generally open to the public, with memorials around the site. It is regarded as the last remaining, intact Battle of Britain airstrip, used for more peaceful gliders these days.

This Sunday’s Spitfire and Hurricane flypast is due just after 2.20pm.

Timing is subject to change, depending upon weather conditions and other operational causes and, worst case, it could all be cancelled, although the current forecast is for 23 degrees and 66per cent cloud cover.

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1 Response to Spitfire and Hurricane in Battle of Britain flypast at Kenley

  1. Andrew Pelling says:

    My father says he can remember seeing a PC with shredded trousers and bloodied legs from a bomb blast near Kenley aerodrome.

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