Flypast marks 70th anniversary of Battle of Britain

20th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

World War II aircraft roared across the London skyline on Friday to commemorate 70 years since the Battle of Britain, the key aerial conflict in which outnumbered British planes fought off the Nazis.

Veteran actor Robert Hardy read out the iconic speech by wartime leader Winston Churchill praising Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots which includes the line "never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few".

Hardy began reading the speech at 3:52 pm (1652 GMT), exactly 70 years after then prime minister Churchill delivered it in parliament in London.

The world's oldest Spitfire plane and a Hurricane fighter then emerged over the trees to fly low over London's government buildings.

Churchill's daughter, Mary Soames, 88, who watched the re-enactment of the speech and the flypast, said: "It is very moving because 70 years ago I was in the House of Commons to hear my father deliver the speech.

"For me it has particular meaning but I find it wonderful that I look around this crowd and for all of us somehow the speech rang a bell."

The Battle of Britain began on July 10, 1940, and ended on October 31 the same year.

More than 2,900 British, Commonwealth and Allied airmen took part in some 600 planes -- less than half the 1,750 German aircraft involved.

The RAF defeated the Luftwaffe, in what is considered a turning point in World War II.

Adolf Hitler had Britain in his sights after British troops were forced to evacuate Dunkirk in June 1940, but the Battle of Britain caused Hitler to abandon his plans to invade and laid the foundations for Allied victory five years later.

© 2010 AFP

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