A survey conducted by the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund has found that almost half (44%) of the British public surveyed don’t know what the Battle of Britain was and more than two-thirds (67%) of 18 to 24 year olds confused the battle with other military events.
FILE PHOTO: Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfires. Photo by LPhot Ben Corbett. UK MoD photo. Crown copyright.
Almost a third (30%) of the age group surveyed admitted to having no idea what the Battle of Britain was.
Younger people were found to be less familiar with the critical campaign in the Second World War, which saw fierce fighting between Allied and German air forces, with just one third (33%) of 18-24 year olds surveyed were able to correctly identify the Battle of Britain.
The RAF Benevolent Fund, which provides support to serving and veteran Royal Air Force and their families surveyed more than 2000 people across the UK to test the British public’s knowledge of the important historical event.
Of those Brits aged 18-24 unsure about the battle, many (67%) confused it with other military moments in British history.
Remarkably, 12% of respondents believed it to be a fight for supremacy over the English Channel during the First World War, 9% believed it to be the Civil War fought between England and Scotland in 1646, 6% a Viking invasion and a further 3%, the 2019 General Election.
Despite 56% of all those surveyed being aware of the Battle of Britain, a majority were still unable to correctly identify key details about the conflict.
Almost half (46%) were unaware it took place in 1940, and 78% either didn’t know how long the three month and three-week battle lasted or guessed incorrectly.
Younger people aged 18-24 also struggled to identify key details of the Battle, with just over a third (34%) knowing it took place in 1940 and only a quarter (25%) identifying ‘The Few’ as fighter plane pilots, compared to 76% of those aged between 55 and 65 years old.
Encouragingly, half (51%) of those in the younger category (compared to 48% of all respondents) stated they would like to learn more about historic events that took place in the Second World War.
Air Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot, Controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: “As we reach this significant 80th anniversary, it is vital the sacrifice of The Few and all who supported them is remembered and marked by all generations.
“Such important historical moments have lessons for all of us and that’s why we’re encouraging the British public to find out more.
“By supporting RAF veterans and their families we get to hear their incredible stories first-hand but as time passes, those opportunities are running out.
“It’s crucial we not only listen to these veterans and others, but also repay their service by supporting them when they need us, which is the mission of the RAF Benevolent Fund.”
To raise awareness of the Battle of Britain, the RAF Benevolent Fund launched a six-part Battle of Britain podcast.