So it was that he told his adoring followers yesterday “Today is the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Was it being taught in schools across the country today? I hope so, but I doubt it”. To emphasise the point, he was shown with a background of RAF Fighter Command’s finest. But here a problem arose with Nige’s knowledge.
As the Tweeter known as Herbie Cumberland reminded him, “Today is NOT the ‘anniversary’ of the Battle of Britain - today is ‘Battle of Britain Day’ (15th Sept) which marks the recognised turn in our favour in the ongoing air assaults on the UK by Nazi Germany. I'm not surprised you don't know this though”. Is this true?
Had Mr Thirsty got it wrong (again)? It seems he had. The Battle of Britain was so named not after the event, but beforehand, by Winston Churchill when he told the Commons on 18 Jun 1940 that “What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the battle of Britain is about to begin”. So when did it begin?
This is the summary from Wikipedia: “The British officially recognise the battle's duration as being from 10 July until 31 October 1940, which overlaps the period of large-scale night attacks known as the Blitz, that lasted from 7 September 1940 to 11 May 1941. German historians do not accept this subdivision and regard the battle as a single campaign lasting from July 1940 to June 1941, including the Blitz”. But not September 1940.
So why that date? Also easy to find in the Wikipedia entry on the conflict is this explainer: “On 15 September, two massive waves of German attacks were decisively repulsed by the RAF by deploying every aircraft in 11 Group. Sixty German and twenty-six RAF aircraft were shot down. The action was the climax of the Battle of Britain. Two days after the German defeat Hitler postponed preparations for the invasion of Britain. Henceforth, in the face of mounting losses in men, aircraft and the lack of adequate replacements, the Luftwaffe completed their gradual shift from daylight bomber raids and continued with nighttime bombing. 15 September is commemorated as Battle of Britain Day”.
Only after that did Churchill utter the words “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”. Yes, 15 September is the day on which the Battle of Britain is commemorated. But it is not its anniversary. Someone who really knew their World War 2 history would not make such an elementary mistake.
Probably as well that Farage’s faux pas is not being taught in schools. What a clown.
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