look forward confidently to the exploits of our Fighter Pilots -
these splendid men, this brilliant youth, who will have the glory of
saving their native land, their island home, and all they love, from
the most deadly of all attacks". Churchill before the
Battle of Britain.
of the Second World War 450 Australians were serving in he RAF either as aircrew
or as ground staff. There were as many Australians on active service with
the RAF as there were with the RAAF. The first Australian to take part in
a World War 2 air battle was a young Tasmanian, Flight-Lieutenant J.
Brough of 99 Squadron, who flew in a raid of Wellington and Halifax
bombers on 4 September
1939 to attack the German navy in it's home ports.
Spitfire, one of the saviours of the RAF
May 1940 Germany invaded Norway, Denmark, Holland and Belgium before
striking at France. The RAF was allotted the twin tasks of defending
allied communications and slowing up the German advance. Its
European‑based units fought desperately to win control of the air.
Among the 40 Australians who took part in this fighting was the nation's
first ace of World War 11, Flying Officer Leslie Clisby
Walkerville, South Australia. Clisby joined in the battle n 1 May and
within five days had shot down eight enemy aircraft. On 15 May he was shot
down in flames and killed.
Hurricane. The other mainstay of RAF in the Battle of Britain
Australian RAF fighter pilots were killed in the Battle of Europe. The 30
who survived took an active part in the Battle of
Britain during the spring of 1940. The Luftwaffe mustered some 3,000
fighters and bombers to defeat the RAF. The fighting
was constant and the odds enormous.
15 August alone the Germans lost 76 planes. The Australians were right in
the thick of the action. Flight
Lieutenant Sheen from Canberra later recalled: 'Lots of aircraft were
blowing up and people bailing out all over the sky and bombs dropping into
the sea'. Lieutenant Sheen shot down two enemy planes that day. Such
gallantry came at a price:
Australian fighter pilots were killed during the Battle of Britain, while
five more died in British bombing raids against German landing barges in