80th Anniversary Tour - Battle of Britain-September 2020
Only one Canadian Fighter squadron was operational during the Battle of Britain: No. 1/401 Squadron (Middle Wallop and Croydon) (*also the famous Polish 303 Squadron was based here). Canadians also fought in the RAF’s 242 (Canadian) Squadron, which was heavily - although not exclusively - Canadian. It was led by famous RAF Squadron Leader Douglas Bader during the Battle of Britain. More than 100 Canadians are thought to have participated in the Battle of Britain with mostly RAF squadrons, with 23 losing their lives during the battle. Many Canadian fighter aces also fought with various RAF units during the battle of Britain and after, such as George Beurling, Henry Mcleod, *Wille McNight (wingman to Sir Douglas Bader), Robert (Buck) McNair – and many others.
The Battle of Britain would not have been won without the contribution of another Canadian: Max Aitken – known as Lord Beaverbrook. Prime Minister Churchill appointed Lord Beaverbrook, a newspaper tycoon, as minister of Aircraft Production in May 1940. He took no ‘prisoners’ with British officialdom and actually increased product so that during the battle replacement aircraft was actually increased. In the month before his appointment only 256 fighters were produced. In the critical month of September, as RAF losses reached their height, his system produced 465 fighters. With the end of the Battle of Britain, another key Canadian contribution to the war in the air would begin to show its effect as the first pilots, observers and gunners were emerging from the schools of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada.