Leeds nostalgia: RAF’s greatest war time victory

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sEPTEMBER 15, 1945 marked the 5th anniversary of the RAF’s greatest victory in the Battle of Britain. It was on this day 75 years ago, some 185 enemy aircraft were destroyed by the RAF, smashing the Luftwaffe.

In Britain, there was a flypast for hundreds of aircraft, passing just 1,000ft above the streets of the capital. They were supposed to be flying at 4,000ft but due to low cloud, they were forced to come closer to the ground.

Some 25 squadrons of Spifires, Mustangs, Typhoons, Tempests, Beaufighters, Mosquitos and jet-propelled Meteor fighters.

The 12-strong squadron of Spitfires was led by Group Captain Douglas Bader, DSO, the famous legless fighter pilot who fought in the Battle of Britain and was at one point shot down over France.

September 15, 1940 was a Sunday - the enemy launched two great attacks with 250 machines, 185 of which were destroyed by the British pilots.

America also acknowledged the “gallant few” who it said “gave us time to strengthen our arms.”

The celebration was also marked at Church Fenton airfield in Yorkshire, which was opened to the public.

Pork pies and lemonade was laid on for visitors and tours of the hangers were organised with airmen on hand to answer questions. Together with some of the aircraft on view, there was also a troop carrying glider. But pride of place was left for the Mosquitos, which were so effective on night-flights and made a name for themselves and the Yorkshire airbase during the battle.

Meanwhile, the Vicar of Leeds, the Rev A S Reeve, conducted a memorial service for those who lost their lives during the great air battle, at Leeds Parish Church - the service took place on Sunday September 16.