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WWII: The Battle of Britain | Memories of 'Britain's finest hour'

About this collection

By the summer of 1940, the Nazi war machine had conquered much of Europe and now Britain was its next target. The RAF was heavily outnumbered by the Luftwaffe, but Britain's determination was strong and by October 1940 Hitler had abandoned his plans for invasion.

In this collection of programmes and documents, we hear from some of the battle's heroes, see the Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane fighter planes in action and discover why the Battle of Britain should always be remembered.

WWII: The Battle of Britain Collection

Winston Churchill making a radio broadcast in 1942.

Winston Churchill Broadcast

Finest Hour Speech

RECORDED 1940
3 MINUTES

'The news from France is very bad.'

Spitfires in the air.

News Report

Air Battle off Dover

BROADCAST 1940
7 MINUTES

BBC reporter Charles Gardner comments live on a dogfight over the Channel.

Lord Beaverbrook seated at radio microphone.

Tonight's Talk

Lord Beaverbrook on Aircraft Production

BROADCAST 1940
8 MINUTES

A rousing message of encouragement to the nation from the Minister of Aircraft Production.

An exhausted pilot lies on two chairs on an airfield.

News Reports

Dangers of Combat

BROADCAST c. 1940
6 MINUTES

The perils of a pilot's life.

A member of Robin Duff's recording crew and recording car.

News Report

Convoy Shelled in Straits of Dover

RECORDED 1940
5 MINUTES

Robin Duff reports from the scene of an attack on a convoy in the Channel.

'RAF vs Luftwaffe' written on newspaper seller's blackboard.

Battle of Britain

A Radio Dramatisation

BROADCAST 1941
58 MINUTES

Day-by-day re-enactment of encounters with the enemy.

A spitfire in the sky.

Fighter Pilot Shot Down

RECORDED 1941
12 MINUTES

A pilot vividly recounts his experience of being shot down over the North Sea.

Shirtless ground crew at work on fighter plane.

Postscript to the News

Group Captain Peel and JH Brown

BROADCAST 1943
12 MINUTES

Memories of events in the hot summer of 1940.

RAF operations room team in action in 1947.

Now It Can Be Told

Wing Commander Ronald Adams

BROADCAST 1945
14 MINUTES

Recalling the vital role of the Operations Room team.

Sir Keith Park wearing pilot's headgear.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park

RECORDED 1961
24 MINUTES

Battle of Britain tactics, strategies and post-campaign conspiracies.

Douglas Bader standing on wing of parked plane October 1940.

Late Night Line-up

Douglas Bader

BROADCAST 1965
11 MINUTES

The Battle of Britain was won by 'everyone in this country'.

Hugh Dowding in civilian clothes, September 1942.

Air Chief Marshal Hugh C Dowding

RECORDED 1968
37 MINUTES

Commander-in-Chief Hugh Dowding talks about the Battle of Britain.

An unidentifed group of pilots gathered on an airfield in July 1940.

Man Alive

The Few

BROADCAST 1969
50 MINUTES

What 'The Few' did next.

Prototype for Spitfire on test flight in June 1936.

Spitfire!

Two Seconds to Kill

BROADCAST 1976
30 MINUTES

The story of the race to design and build a fighter plane fit to win a war.

A spitfire fighter plane pictured in 2007.

Spitfire!

Forty Years On

BROADCAST 1976
29 MINUTES

Celebrating an iconic symbol of Britain's 'finest hour'.

James 'Ginger' Lacey in uniform in front of  fighter plane.

A Fine Blue Day

James 'Ginger' Lacey

RECORDED c. 1978
53 MINUTES

Recollections of war by a pilot ace.

An unidentifed RAF pilot wearing a 'Mae West'.

A Fine Blue Day

WH 'Dizzy' Allen

RECORDED c. 1978
45 MINUTES

Frank views from a Battle of Britain fighter pilot.

Woman working at machine in wartime factory.

Inside Story

The Spitfire

BROADCAST 1987
30 MINUTES

'A symbol of defiance and hope for Britain in the dark days of 1940.'

Two men on guard at beach lined with barbed wire.

What If

The Battle of Britain

BROADCAST 2000
29 MINUTES

What would have happened next if Germany had won the Battle of Britain?

Tony Pollard and Neil Oliver in uniform on a clifftop.

Two Men in a Trench

The Battle of Britain

BROADCAST 2004
59 MINUTES

Archaeologists explore the site of the RAF airbase at Hornchurch.

Hawker Hurricane on ground, 9 others in air overhead circa 1938.

Ancestors

Billy and the Fighter

BROADCAST 2004
49 MINUTES

The story of the squadron that fought the battle before the Battle of Britain.

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