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The 700 (City of Edmonton) Royal Canadian Air Force Association will be acknowledging the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain with a presentation by historian John Chalmers.
The presentation, From the Link Trainer to Wartime Combat: A Tribute to the RCAF, will take place at Alberta Aviation Museum, Event Hall on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. The presentation will focus on the Battle of Britain and Canada’s contribution to this historic battle through the eyes of aviation historian, John Chalmers. Chalmers examines the Hurricane and Spitfire and will highlight two Alberta pilots, Peter Blatchford (Edmonton) and Willie McKnight (Calgary), who flew these famous planes in the battle. Chalmers will also look behind the covers on how wartime history is preserved and kept alive in our Alberta aviation museums.
This event is sponsored in part by the Veterans Affairs Canada Commemorative Partnership Program. Veterans Affairs Canada is committed to honouring those who served Canada in times of war, military conflict and peace, and to keeping the memory of their achievements and sacrifices alive for all Canadians. To support this commitment, the Commemorative Partnership Program provided funding to the 700 Wing RCAFA for undertaking remembrance initiatives, such as commemorating the Battle of Britain.
The Battle of Britain was a military campaign of the Second World War, in which the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Fleet Air Arm (FAA) of the Royal Navy defended the United Kingdom (U.K.) against large scale attacks by Nazi Germany’s air force, the Luftwaffe. It has been described as the first major military campaign fought entirely by air forces. The British officially recognize the battle’s duration as being from July 10 until Oct. 31, 1940, which overlaps the period of large-scale night attacks known as the Blitz, that lasted from Sept. 7, 1940 to May 11, 1941.
Winston Churchill summed up the battle with the words, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” Pilots who fought in the battle have been known as The Few ever since; at times being specially commemorated on Sept. 15, “Battle of Britain Day”. On this day in 1940, the Luftwaffe embarked on their largest bombing attack yet, forcing the engagement of the entirety of the RAF in defence of London and the South East, which resulted in a decisive British victory that proved to mark a turning point in Britain’s favour.
In Canada, the RCAF and the RCAF Association commemorate the Battle of Britain with a parade on the Sunday that follows Sept. 15. This year, due to COVID-19, the Edmonton based parade has been cancelled but 700 Wing is using this presentation as a commemoration.