The Battle of Britain The People Remember


The Battle of Britain

History documentary series. John Sergeant shares his fascination for wartime planes and the people who flew them. Plus an iconic World War Two song.


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Transcript


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Hello from the Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire.

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It's a former RAF base which played a pivotal role

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in the Battle of Britain.

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We're here throughout Remembrance Week

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celebrating courage, honouring heroes

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and remembering those who didn't return home.

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All week I'm exploring some of the treasures here

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with former army officer Andy Torbet.

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And celebrities from the worlds of entertainment and broadcasting

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share the role their families played during the war.

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On today's programme, the Battle of Britain.

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Journalist John Sergeant

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tells us about his fascination for wartime aircraft.

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Wow, look at that! I'm actually flying a Spitfire.

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Back in the air after 70 years,

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the pilot who delivered fighter planes to the front line.

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I hope I shall feel all right.

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And I've got to climb up on there. I think I can manage that.

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And we hear from a woman whose father's Lancaster bomber

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went missing in Germany.

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I've been waiting a long time to see this.

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I didn't think I'd ever see it.

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Good morning and welcome to the Imperial War Museum, Duxford.

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This site was an RAF air base from 1918 until 1961

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and now it's home to thousands of exhibits

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from all periods of warfare,

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from this Lancaster bomber next to me

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to a Battle of Britain Operations Room

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and even a Polaris nuclear missile.

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During World War II, the runways

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here were packed with Battle of Britain pilots

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taking to the skies in the fight for air superiority.

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It was a battle that changed the course of history,

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and someone who is passionate about that period joins us today.

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John Sergeant, welcome to Duxford.

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Incredible to think what was going on here during World War II.

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Why is it, do you think, 75 years later,

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the Battle of Britain still captures our imaginations?

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I think it was because we really did stand alone.

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The Germans had knocked out France,

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they controlled most of the continent

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and really it was a question of,

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would the Brits fight and how would they fight?

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And the answer was emphatic that we would put all the young men

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into the skies and they would fight brilliantly

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with a new prime minister urging them on

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and urging the country on after the humiliation of Dunkirk.

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So the timing and the importance of this battle,

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well, you really can't exaggerate it,

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it was just so critical, and once it had happened

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the Germans knew that they couldn't invade Britain

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without a hell of a fight

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which they knew they couldn't win at that stage.

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It was definitely one of those times where the start, a great defeat,

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followed almost instantly by the underdog fighting back and winning.

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That's right and that's what makes it so exciting in retrospect

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but also so impressive because,

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as you know as a military man,

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everything depends on the quality of the fighting men

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and the women who were involved at that point.

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Will they fight and how hard will they fight?

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And, of course, if they do it courageously,

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we value courage so highly

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but in those circumstances, without courage, you lose your country.

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I mean, it couldn't be more devastatingly important, I think.

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And I know, John, you are particularly fascinated

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about the Battle of Britain.

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You're going to explain more about that later on.

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We talk about men in their flying machines for good reason,

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but for much of World War II, women weren't allowed in the skies at all.

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That was until there was a desperate need for pilots to fly aircraft

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from the factory to the front-line RAF bases.

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At that point, women took to the cockpits.

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They were known as the Spitfire Girls

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but only a handful of these women are left.

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The freedom of being up there in the air, you know.

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The wide-open spaces, and seeing the ground from the air.

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You never took it for granted, you were thrilled at every time.

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During the war, Joy Lofthouse was one of just 168 female pilots

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who helped to keep our overstretched fighter squadrons going,

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by ferrying planes across the country.

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Other women certainly were envious of our job

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because all women were doing something during the war

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and there we were flying aeroplanes and they paid us for it, too!

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We were doing, I should think, just about the most exciting job

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that there was to be done by women in the war.

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I flew a Barracuda, two Mustangs...

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This book tells the story of Joy's remarkable time as a pilot

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in the Air Transport Auxiliary.

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That was quite a good month.

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Joy flew 18 different types of aircraft on hundreds of missions.

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She's now 92 but her flying started when she was just 18.

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I saw a news item to say that ATA had run out of qualified pilots

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and were training people with no experience at all.

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And I thought that sounded better than working in a bank.

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I'd never even been in an aeroplane

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and I didn't even drive a car, so I learnt to fly before I could drive.

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As war raged across Europe,

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the pressure to have fighter planes ready at the airfields grew rapidly

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and pilots were in great demand.

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NEWSREEL: 'The delivery of new aircraft from factories

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'to operational centres is the responsibility of

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'a vast organisation known as the Air Transport Auxiliary -

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'with men of 14 different nationalities in its ranks.

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'And also helping in this important work are several women.'

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You never knew from one day to the next where you were going.

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They would hand out the little bits of paper we'd call "chitties".

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And then that was the exciting bit, "Where are you going?

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"What are you flying?", you know? And they knew, of course,

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that we were all trying to fly as many types as possible.

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There was one plane that was at the very top of any ATA girl's list.

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Of course I remember the first day I ever flew a Spitfire

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because that was the culmination of our training

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and, of course, it was quite the fastest thing you'd ever flown.

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But my big worry the first time I flew it

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was whether I'd lose the airfield.

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You're so busy looking at the cockpit

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and then you shut the hood

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and you're miles away by then because she's going so fast.

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Joy also has a fondness for a more humble aeroplane,

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one that started the flying careers of so many pilots.

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One of the first aircraft I ferried was a Tiger Moth

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because we were barely through our training,

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and they suddenly had a whole gaggle of Tiger Moths to fly down to Wales.

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There was a little bit of banter, of course.

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"See you there, Joy, if you get there," sort of business.

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The ATA pilots often flew alone and with no navigation aids.

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The dangers were high.

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173 air crew died.

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I suppose we lost perhaps a dozen women.

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Some of the accidents were weather,

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some were aircraft malfunction, you know.

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But none of my close friends were killed, no.

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Joy's flat in Gloucestershire

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is a treasure trove of memorabilia from her flying days,

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the centrepiece being her uniform, still in pristine condition.

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And the first time you wore it, of course you were very proud.

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We had two hats. This seems to be the only one that survived.

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I don't know whether my head's got bigger

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but it will just about go on for me.

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After the war, the ATA was disbanded

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and for most of these remarkable women,

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life was never quite the same again.

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I missed flying dreadfully when we first stopped.

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I think I last flew in September 1945

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and I thought to myself,

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"What am I going to do the rest of my life?

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"I'm never going to do anything as exciting as this again,"

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and I was probably right.

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For Joy, the years she spent as part of that unique service

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delivering planes to the front line will never leave her.

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It was wonderful. There you were, up in the sky

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and no-one could talk to you, nobody could say, "Come back,

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"you're going the wrong way," or anything like that.

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I mean, it was such a wonderful job to be doing.

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You couldn't really better it, could you?

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What an incredible woman, and make sure you stay with us

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because later in the programme, we have a real treat for Joy

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as she takes to the skies once again.

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Now, John, we heard there about Joy flying Spitfires,

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the iconic Spitfire,

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and I believe you've been lucky enough to get in one.

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I have indeed. I was making a film a few years ago about the Spitfire

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and they didn't tell me that I was going to fly in one

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and there I was then, the two-seater Spitfire

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and with me at the controls and allowed to fly it by the pilot,

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so that was one of the greatest moments, I suppose...

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well, of my life. What did it feel like?

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It was so exciting and it was so like the planes I used to fly

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when I was learning to fly as an RAF cadet

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and I went straight back to that.

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You've been flying for a long time, then.

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I was trained under a flying scholarship scheme as a cadet

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because they were so worried about what happened in 1940

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that if it happened again,

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they would have to train the young pilots in the 1950s.

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So although I'd failed my driving test the day before,

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I set off for a month-long training in biplanes,

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converted Tiger Moths at Thruxton,

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to get my private pilot's licence, which I did.

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They wouldn't let you on the roads but they let you in the skies.

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Now, clearly, flying planes and the Battle of Britain especially

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is a real passion of yours.

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Have you ever met any of the heroes of the Battle of Britain?

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Yes, I've met a few of them and, of course, they do make

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the rest of us feel sort of small and pointless, don't they?

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I mean, these are great characters, but they also...

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Anyone who's risked their lives in that way,

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you feel it's an aura around them which you can't take away

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and you don't want to take it away from them,

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you want to just think, "You are a hero and how wonderful."

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Some of these guys became...

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effectively became celebrities during the war.

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Yes, that's the bit that people sort of forget,

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how important it was for the government and for Churchill

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to laud all their exploits,

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because if people could see what these young men were doing,

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it would inspire them in all kinds of ways during the Blitz

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and the bombing. You've got to see that in the context of

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when you've got the possibility of a hero, play up to them,

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let the newspaper people interview them.

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Douglas Bader being one of the heroes.

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And Douglas Bader, who was in this base first of all,

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this was his first base,

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he was over the evacuation from Dunkirk in a Spitfire.

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He came here, trained in Spitfires. He had no legs, for goodness' sake.

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So, what a fantastic person to then make a squadron leader.

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And then, when he was shot down,

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he collided with a plane in France and he was shot down,

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and he only got out of his plane

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because he could detach one of his legs.

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And so he could parachute. Well, that is...

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I've been a journalist all my working life,

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that is just gold dust, isn't it?

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And it wasn't just British pilots

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flying in the Battle of Britain, was it?

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No, that's also the rather exciting thing,

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that they came from all the old Commonwealth countries

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but they came also from France

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and from Poland, that had been taken over.

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They were people with intense feelings for what they were doing

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and they didn't want to let their countries down.

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It gives a sort of impression of young people so proud of the fact

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that they could do something.

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We're going to hear more from you, John, later on.

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But, of course, this year marks

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the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

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In the summer of 1940,

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with the imminent threat of attack from Germany,

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Prime Minister Winston Churchill was determined we wouldn't be defeated.

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He rallied the nation with one of the most powerful weapons

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in his armoury - words.

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On the 18th of June, Churchill delivered a speech

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to galvanise the nation for the brutal battle ahead,

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read today by veterans who took part in the war effort.

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The Battle of Britain is about to begin.

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Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation.

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Upon it depends our own British life,

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the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire.

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The whole fury and might of the enemy

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must very soon be turned on us.

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Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island

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or lose the war.

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If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free.

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And the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.

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But if we fail,

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the whole world, including the United States,

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including all that we have known and cared for...

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..will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age...

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..made more sinister,

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and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

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Let us therefore brace ourselves that if the British Empire

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and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years...

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..men will still say,

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"This was their finest hour."

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On the 10th July, the Battle of Britain started.

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Wave after wave of German bombers

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and fighter aircraft launched attacks on Britain's air defences.

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BELL RINGS

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The RAF fighter pilots were outnumbered, but they held firm.

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After nearly four months of battle raging in the skies,

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the Luftwaffe retreated, wrecking Hitler's plans to invade Britain.

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Churchill was deeply moved by the bravery

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and sacrifice of the air force.

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He delivered a speech at the height of the battle,

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praising and encouraging the pilots in the epic struggle

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which turned the course of the war and of history.

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The gratitude of every home in our island,

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in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world...

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..except in the abodes of the guilty...

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..goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds...

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..unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger...

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..are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and devotion.

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Never in the field of human conflict

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was so much owed by so many to so few.

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Well, this is the original Battle of Britain hangar at Duxford

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and in here are some of the aircraft that actually took part,

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and here to tell us all about it is Carl Warner.

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Now, this is a Hurricane.

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Explain the role that the Hurricane played during the Battle of Britain.

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The Hurricane was one of the RAF's two main fighters

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in the Battle of Britain. The Spitfire is more famous

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but what the Hurricane did

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was it provided the Royal Air Force with numbers.

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It was easier to build than the Spitfire so, of course,

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there were more Hurricanes, and they shot down more aircraft

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than any other aircraft in the battle.

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And in terms of performance, what was it...what was it like?

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It was a great workhorse. It was able to take on the bombers,

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so the slower-flying bombers, and indeed,

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it did tangle with German fighters and often came off best,

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but it didn't have quite the same performance as the Spitfire.

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The Spitfire is what gave the RAF

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that sort of performance edge in the Battle of Britain as well.

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Now, you mentioned German fighters, because we've got one over here.

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Yes, this is the Messerschmitt Bf 109,

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so this is the main single-seat fighter that was used by the Germans

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in the Battle of Britain. And it crashed in England? It did.

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This one, it's a classic example of one of the many reasons

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why the Battle of Britain was won by the RAF.

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Of course, it crashed, its pilot became a prisoner.

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When Hurricanes and Spitfires crashed,

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frequently their pilots were back in action that afternoon.

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So, that made a huge difference?

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It did, it kept fighter numbers up and it's one of the key problems

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with attacking over a foreign country -

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you tend to lose your guys.

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This particular aircraft actually went on a tour,

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a fundraising tour of North America,

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so it was used to drum up support for the war effort,

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the British war effort, and in fact, people would pay to see it and

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quite a lot of them scratched their names into the wing of the aircraft.

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During the war, really? During the war, yeah,

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prior to America's entry and just after America's entry,

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trying to drum up that support for the British war effort,

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to remind the Americans that they should come in on the right side.

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And it was a good plane, though, wasn't it? I mean, you can see

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what the Spitfires and the Hurricanes were up against.

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It was, it was a very successful fighter.

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Um, the problem was that the Germans didn't have enough of them.

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They needed many, many, many more aircraft than they had to actually,

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if they were going to win the Battle of Britain,

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so, despite it being a very well-performing aircraft,

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the RAF was always able to remain in being

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and not get shot down in the numbers that the Germans needed.

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I've just heard a plane take off here, at Duxford. Just give us

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an idea what it would've been like here during the Battle of Britain.

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Well, Duxford's still a living airfield,

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so you can still see examples of these types taking off,

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but during the Battle of Britain, Duxford was essentially

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responsible for the defence of the Midlands,

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but it also helped out with the defence of London,

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so a lot of fighters were concentrated here, so, on some days,

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you would see up to 60 aircraft taking off from Duxford

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and its satellite station at Fowlmere

0:19:010:19:03

to head down to London to help with the defences.

0:19:030:19:05

It must've been incredible. Carl, thank you. Thank you.

0:19:050:19:08

Still to come on today's programme...

0:19:100:19:13

former Spitfire girl Joy Lofthouse takes to the skies again aged 92.

0:19:130:19:19

I don't think I'm going to do anything fancy! Ha-ha!

0:19:200:19:24

John Sergeant hears the tragic tale of a Lancaster lost in a lake.

0:19:240:19:29

That's all that's left.

0:19:310:19:33

That little bit of metal.

0:19:330:19:35

Of seven men's lives.

0:19:350:19:37

And Boogie Woogie Bugle Boys -

0:19:390:19:42

a special performance by The Three Belles.

0:19:420:19:44

One of my favourite exhibits here at Duxford is this -

0:19:520:19:56

the Lancaster bomber. John Sergeant is still here,

0:19:560:19:59

and I know you're fascinated by these incredibly majestic planes.

0:19:590:20:02

They are. Kids nowadays talk about things being awesome,

0:20:020:20:05

but that really is awesome, isn't it? Mm-hm.

0:20:050:20:08

And what's amazing is that,

0:20:080:20:09

when I was a child looking at these things, you didn't associate it

0:20:090:20:12

with death and destruction, you just looked at the plane

0:20:120:20:16

and you thought, "This is just so..."

0:20:160:20:18

Well, it's so cool, isn't it? It's just so beautifully designed.

0:20:180:20:22

And to think this big thing will go up into the air,

0:20:220:20:24

carrying all these people,

0:20:240:20:26

it was just in a very simple way, can a plane do that?

0:20:260:20:29

And can they do it with such sort of fortitude

0:20:290:20:32

and with all the ack-ack guns going off round them?

0:20:320:20:34

And this thing is flying through the night.

0:20:340:20:37

I just thought then, and I think now, awesome!

0:20:370:20:39

But they must've been incredibly frightening for the crew on board.

0:20:390:20:42

They were, and, er, you know, a lot of them, of course, would be killed

0:20:420:20:46

and a lot of them couldn't communicate very well,

0:20:460:20:48

because there's the rear gunner, so there are seven in all.

0:20:480:20:51

Then there's the gunner here - the middle position -

0:20:510:20:54

but they're very vulnerable below here.

0:20:540:20:57

So you've got the navigator, various people there,

0:20:570:20:59

but there's not much contact.

0:20:590:21:01

You met, earlier this year, a woman called Elaine Towlson, whose father,

0:21:010:21:05

Stan Shaw, flew one of these Lancaster bombers in the war. Yeah.

0:21:050:21:08

And she told you all about that, about his experience.

0:21:080:21:11

Let's have a look.

0:21:110:21:12

I often wish, you know, that I could go back in time...

0:21:180:21:24

just to see him once more.

0:21:240:21:25

Impossible.

0:21:270:21:28

Absolutely impossible.

0:21:290:21:30

I loved him to bits.

0:21:330:21:34

Stan Shaw and the crew of DV202

0:21:350:21:39

were just seven from tens of thousands of British service men

0:21:390:21:44

and women recorded as lost without trace after the Second World War.

0:21:440:21:49

All are remembered by the memorial at Runnymede.

0:21:500:21:54

'DV202's last flight took off from Dunholme Lodge in Lincolnshire

0:21:550:22:00

'at 9:40pm on August the 17th, 1943.

0:22:000:22:06

'They were headed for Peenemunde.'

0:22:060:22:09

Most of the Lancasters that were lost went down in the sea,

0:22:090:22:12

or crashed into these woods.

0:22:120:22:14

All of them have disappeared.

0:22:140:22:16

All but one.

0:22:160:22:19

This is Lake Kolpinsee,

0:22:200:22:23

just a few hundred yards from the missile base at Peenemunde.

0:22:230:22:27

During the raid, Botho Stuwe watched as a Lancaster Mark III

0:22:280:22:33

was shot down by German night fighters and crashed into the lake.

0:22:330:22:38

HE SPEAKS GERMAN:

0:22:400:22:43

There were 40 aircraft lost during the raid on Peenemunde.

0:23:100:23:15

Not one is recorded as crashing into a lake.

0:23:150:23:19

After the war, a special team was set up to search for those lost.

0:23:190:23:24

They'd heard the rumours of the Lancaster in the lake.

0:23:240:23:27

It was never found.

0:23:270:23:29

But it IS here.

0:23:290:23:31

A Lancaster Mark III,

0:23:310:23:33

part of the third and final wave.

0:23:330:23:37

And here, in Peenemunde, they have no doubt who the rear gunner was.

0:23:370:23:43

He was worried, I think,

0:23:430:23:45

because he'd got to go and he couldn't see me mum.

0:23:450:23:49

And, er, he got his uniform on,

0:23:490:23:52

I didn't have time to clean his buttons that time.

0:23:520:23:54

And, er...

0:23:560:23:58

I ran to the bottom of the street and waved.

0:23:580:24:00

It was the last time Elaine saw her father.

0:24:020:24:05

She tries to go to the Runnymede Memorial every year,

0:24:050:24:09

to pay respects to her dad,

0:24:090:24:11

but she's never been here to Peenemunde.

0:24:110:24:14

Until now.

0:24:140:24:16

Hello, Elaine. Hello. Thanks for coming.

0:24:330:24:36

Yeah. Your hands are cold.

0:24:360:24:38

I'm sorry, are you all right? Yes, thank you. OK. Right, let's, er...

0:24:380:24:43

'One of Elaine's sons, Russell, has come to support his mother.'

0:24:430:24:47

Hello. Hello, John. Very nice to meet you.

0:24:470:24:50

Pleased to meet you too. Yeah. Russell. Yeah.

0:24:500:24:53

Let's, er... Now, we've just got to go down here.

0:24:530:24:56

It's, er, the little jetty. Right.

0:24:560:24:59

It's a very...

0:24:590:25:01

desolate sort of area, isn't it? It is, yes. Yeah.

0:25:010:25:04

It is desolate.

0:25:040:25:06

We are now finally on the side of the lake.

0:25:140:25:17

Now, can you see over there?

0:25:170:25:19

Can you see that sort of little white thing? Yeah.

0:25:200:25:23

Now, that is part of the Lancaster.

0:25:230:25:27

VOICE BREAKS: I've been waiting a long time.

0:25:310:25:34

I really have, to see this. Yeah. I didn't think I'd ever see it.

0:25:350:25:40

This is very likely where your father died.

0:25:400:25:42

But it's good that you're here, isn't it?

0:25:420:25:44

Yes, very good.

0:25:440:25:47

It's wonderful, cos I can say... goodbye.

0:25:470:25:51

And look at the sun coming through the clouds.

0:25:530:25:56

Yeah. That's amazing, isn't it? Yes, it is. Like two searchlights.

0:25:560:26:00

Oh, yes, it's a lovely place.

0:26:010:26:04

It really is.

0:26:040:26:05

'In 1948, Elaine's mother Elsie received

0:26:070:26:11

'a letter from the Red Cross.

0:26:110:26:13

'By then, the Russian Army controlled Peenemunde.

0:26:130:26:17

'They had received information from local people that all of the

0:26:170:26:21

'crew from the Lancaster in the lake

0:26:210:26:24

'had been removed from the wreck.

0:26:240:26:27

'All were dead.

0:26:270:26:29

'Four of the airmen were buried on the lake shore.

0:26:290:26:32

'One of them was named as Flight Sergeant Stanley Shaw.

0:26:320:26:38

'No evidence of the graves exist.'

0:26:380:26:42

That's all that's left. Mmm.

0:26:440:26:46

That little bit of metal.

0:26:460:26:47

Of seven men's lives.

0:26:490:26:51

That's Reg. Yes.

0:26:540:26:55

Billy.

0:26:580:27:00

Peter.

0:27:030:27:04

Mac.

0:27:080:27:10

Les.

0:27:110:27:12

Tom.

0:27:140:27:16

And Dad.

0:27:190:27:20

THEY TALK QUIETLY

0:27:230:27:25

Clearly incredibly emotional -

0:27:410:27:43

understandably emotional for Elaine, for her son, but also for you.

0:27:430:27:46

Well, yes, to be there, on this lake,

0:27:460:27:49

with the remains of a Lancaster,

0:27:490:27:51

and to have Elaine reel out the names of the crew,

0:27:510:27:55

who had been with her father when they were all killed,

0:27:550:27:58

I was shaking with emotion. I thought it was...

0:27:580:28:01

It was certainly the most sort of tear-jerking episode

0:28:010:28:03

I've been involved in, I thought it was just extraordinary.

0:28:030:28:06

What were the total losses of Bomber Command?

0:28:060:28:08

About half of them were killed.

0:28:080:28:10

So, if you think of the whole sort of bomber force,

0:28:100:28:13

about 50,000 young men were killed

0:28:130:28:17

and their attrition rate was the same as it was in the worst period

0:28:170:28:22

of the First World War, so people go on about that,

0:28:220:28:26

but they have no idea just how dangerous it was

0:28:260:28:29

for a young man climbing into this Lancaster.

0:28:290:28:32

Their chances of returning often, well, they weren't very high.

0:28:320:28:36

But it's very difficult for people to understand nowadays

0:28:360:28:40

just what that's like.

0:28:400:28:41

You joined the BBC in the 1970s and then you covered

0:28:410:28:44

your fair share of conflicts, and a big range of conflicts as well.

0:28:440:28:47

I did, but I wasn't a hero.

0:28:470:28:50

I mean, I did it, because that's what you did as a reporter.

0:28:500:28:53

I wanted to be a top reporter.

0:28:530:28:55

And that was just, I suppose, what we had to do.

0:28:550:28:58

Um, but it was dangerous, very dangerous.

0:28:580:29:01

Vietnam, the Middle East, um, Rhodesia, as it was then.

0:29:010:29:04

So, yes, I was in these dangerous places, but

0:29:040:29:07

I don't want to give the impression I was some kind of heroic figure,

0:29:070:29:10

or to compare myself with the young men who flew these planes,

0:29:100:29:14

knowing they had a high chance of being killed.

0:29:140:29:16

I didn't think I had a high chance of being killed.

0:29:160:29:18

It just turned out sometimes it was very dangerous.

0:29:180:29:21

John, thank you.

0:29:210:29:22

Well, back to World War II now and, during the Battle of Britain,

0:29:220:29:26

Duxford's Operations Room would have been a hive of activity.

0:29:260:29:29

Andy is there now.

0:29:290:29:31

OVER TANNOY: This is Operations! Operations! Air raid warning!

0:29:310:29:35

During the summer of 1940, Duxford was home to five RAF squadrons.

0:29:350:29:40

As German fighters crossed from Europe,

0:29:400:29:42

our boys would scramble into their planes to meet them

0:29:420:29:45

and the battles that ensued would be directed from places like this.

0:29:450:29:50

One of the ladies who worked in an operations room

0:29:500:29:53

during the Battle of Britain is Sheree Lygo-Hackett.

0:29:530:29:56

Sheree, thank you very much for joining us.

0:29:560:29:59

Now, when was the last time you were in an operations room?

0:29:590:30:01

Well, it'll be, let's see, it's about early 1943, it would be.

0:30:010:30:05

So, 72 years? Yes!

0:30:050:30:07

And what was your job?

0:30:070:30:09

Well, I was a plotter. OK.

0:30:090:30:10

Can you show me what you used to do?

0:30:100:30:12

Well, they'd send the number of the raids through... Mm-hm.

0:30:120:30:15

..which you've got it all set up here.

0:30:150:30:18

You had the number of the raid and you had the height

0:30:180:30:23

and the number of aircraft.

0:30:230:30:26

You'd put a plot, either according to the clock, the Ops Room clock,

0:30:260:30:31

you changed them every five minutes.

0:30:310:30:33

By doing that, the controller would be able to get the aircraft

0:30:330:30:39

up in the sector where we were to intercept the, um, enemy.

0:30:390:30:45

So you were monitoring where all the aircraft were?

0:30:450:30:48

You had to keep your wits about you, because you would have this on,

0:30:480:30:51

and you had to listen to the plots coming through,

0:30:510:30:55

and the sooner that you got them on the board,

0:30:550:30:58

the sooner the controller could act and get the kites airborne.

0:30:580:31:03

And what was it like when, you know, bombers were flying overhead?

0:31:030:31:07

In those days, you didn't allow yourself to be frightened.

0:31:070:31:11

You got on with it.

0:31:110:31:13

Generally, I think people didn't know whether they were going to be alive

0:31:130:31:17

the next hour, not just in the Ops Room, but generally with the public,

0:31:170:31:22

and, um, I think that, er,

0:31:220:31:24

yes, people were a bit afeard,

0:31:240:31:27

but we got on with it, you had to!

0:31:270:31:29

There was nothing else you could do.

0:31:290:31:31

So live life while you could.

0:31:310:31:33

Sheree, are you proud of the work you did during the war?

0:31:330:31:36

Yes, I am, and I think all of us

0:31:360:31:40

that were in the war are proud of what we did.

0:31:400:31:43

We were all cogs in a big wheel and,

0:31:430:31:46

if we hadn't all pulled together, we'd never have made it through.

0:31:460:31:50

Sheree, thank you very much

0:31:500:31:52

for sharing your experiences with us today.

0:31:520:31:54

Every year, thousands of people pour through the doors of the museum.

0:32:010:32:05

We've been finding out what's brought some of today's visitors here.

0:32:050:32:09

This plane behind me is the one I flew a number of times

0:32:140:32:19

on the Berlin Airlift.

0:32:190:32:21

We carried flour, coal,

0:32:210:32:25

anything needed at the time.

0:32:250:32:27

Berlin was completely cut off.

0:32:270:32:29

And so, we had to... literally feed Berlin.

0:32:290:32:33

It was hard work, but these are lovely aircraft to fly.

0:32:330:32:38

Today, we've seen the Spitfire, um, and that's been flying around,

0:32:430:32:47

and it's been great to see, because they've done it up, restored it,

0:32:470:32:50

and it's looking pretty good in its glory.

0:32:500:32:52

I'm reminiscing my childhood in RAF Duxford.

0:32:540:32:57

We came here to live in 1946.

0:32:570:33:00

We played around the RAF station and used to walk across the airfield

0:33:000:33:04

when the planes weren't flying to Duxford

0:33:040:33:06

and, er, we really had a lovely childhood here.

0:33:060:33:09

This is my first time here and it's just amazing. To get this close up

0:33:120:33:16

to something like a Vulcan is... is incredible. No, it's amazing.

0:33:160:33:20

Well, earlier, we heard the amazing story of Joy Lofthouse,

0:33:310:33:34

who flew 18 different types of planes during the Second World War.

0:33:340:33:38

Joy never lost her passion for flying,

0:33:380:33:41

and what better way to celebrate the wonderful work she did

0:33:410:33:44

than by reuniting her with one of her favourite planes?

0:33:440:33:48

Today is a chance for Joy to turn back the clock.

0:33:520:33:56

More than 70 years after she learned to fly,

0:33:570:34:00

she's taking to the skies once again.

0:34:000:34:04

Well, it's a long time since I've been in a Tiger Moth,

0:34:040:34:07

so, part of me's looking forward to it

0:34:070:34:10

and part of me is wondering how I'll feel in the wide open spaces.

0:34:100:34:14

But I'm very much looking forward to it - taking me back

0:34:140:34:17

to my very, very early days of training.

0:34:170:34:19

Tiger Moths were the main training planes for ATA pilots.

0:34:210:34:25

With an open cockpit and simple controls,

0:34:250:34:27

they were the ideal plane to perfect flying skills.

0:34:270:34:31

Today, Joy will fly in this one at White Waltham Airfield

0:34:310:34:35

in Berkshire - her old training ground.

0:34:350:34:38

Many of the buildings here are still as they were

0:34:420:34:45

when the war ended and for Joy, the memories are flooding back.

0:34:450:34:49

She looks quite small. No smaller than a Spitfire.

0:34:500:34:55

But...somehow different.

0:34:550:34:57

Well, she would be different, wouldn't she?

0:34:570:34:59

But it's so long since I flew in an open cockpit.

0:34:590:35:04

I hope I shall feel all right.

0:35:040:35:06

And I've got to climb up on there,

0:35:060:35:08

I think I can manage that, just about.

0:35:080:35:11

Tiger Moths were designed in the 1930s

0:35:120:35:15

and stayed in service for more than 25 years.

0:35:150:35:18

Now, there are just a few remaining in the UK.

0:35:180:35:21

We would have used the height indicator, the height you were

0:35:210:35:25

flying at, and the speed,

0:35:250:35:28

and that was about all we needed to know.

0:35:280:35:30

Flying with Joy, another woman of the sky -

0:35:320:35:34

instructor Amanda Harrison.

0:35:340:35:36

I think she'll probably put me to shame.

0:35:370:35:40

She'll remember how to fly it perfectly and it will be such an

0:35:400:35:43

honour to take up Joy, my hero, and pass the controls over to her

0:35:430:35:47

and for her to feel the freedom

0:35:470:35:48

of the Tiger Moth again, it'll be brilliant.

0:35:480:35:51

Hello, Joy. Hello! Oh, it's a lady pilot! I'm your pilot today.

0:35:510:35:56

I hadn't realised that.

0:35:560:35:58

I have to say, I've wanted to fly an ATA Lady...

0:35:580:36:00

Have you? Absolutely. This is a huge privilege. I'm glad about that, yes.

0:36:000:36:05

So, it's fabulous. And I've brought my logbook

0:36:050:36:07

and I would be very privileged if you would sign it.

0:36:070:36:10

Oh, right, I'll sign your logbook for you, yes.

0:36:100:36:12

No charge! No charge!

0:36:120:36:14

After we've done the three circuits,

0:36:150:36:17

we're then going to fly out

0:36:170:36:19

and then I'm going to hand it over to you and say, "You have control."

0:36:190:36:22

Well, not for long! THEY LAUGH

0:36:220:36:25

How's that? That's OK.

0:36:310:36:33

Not since the 1940s has Joy done this.

0:36:330:36:36

Wow, look at that.

0:36:360:36:38

And there's no stopping her now.

0:36:380:36:40

Right, here we go. It'll get quite noisy!

0:36:450:36:48

A thousand feet above the Berkshire countryside,

0:37:080:37:10

and it's Joy's chance to be a pilot again.

0:37:100:37:13

Straight and level!

0:37:200:37:22

AMANDA LAUGHS

0:38:060:38:09

Well, I'm not allowed to say what her landing was like.

0:38:110:38:14

I'm sure it was better than anything I could have done!

0:38:140:38:17

I'd better say it was eight out of eight, shall I?

0:38:170:38:21

AMANDA LAUGHS

0:38:210:38:22

It was a great experience to be back in a Tiger Moth, yes.

0:38:220:38:25

I wouldn't like to do it day after day after day at my age.

0:38:250:38:29

But the experience of being back in an open cockpit aeroplane

0:38:290:38:33

that I flew during the war -

0:38:330:38:35

everybody wants to be reminded of when they were young,

0:38:350:38:38

and flying today does that for me.

0:38:380:38:41

It reminds me of when I was young.

0:38:410:38:43

Fantastic - I think Joy rather enjoyed that, don't you?

0:38:500:38:52

Well, of course, who wouldn't? Tiger Moth!

0:38:520:38:55

You'd like to be up there, wouldn't you?

0:38:550:38:57

Yes. I learned to spin in a Tiger Moth,

0:38:570:38:59

you have to reverse the controls,

0:38:590:39:01

but then it just will sort itself out on its own.

0:39:010:39:04

Brilliant. Wonderful. Really wonderful.

0:39:040:39:06

Well, that's nearly all for today's programme, but to see us off

0:39:060:39:09

in style, here are the Three Belles

0:39:090:39:11

in all their '40s glory.

0:39:110:39:13

REVEILLE STYLE TRUMPET INTRO

0:39:150:39:19

MUSIC: "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B"

0:39:230:39:27

# He was a famous trumpet man from out Chicago way

0:39:300:39:34

# He had a boogie style that no-one else could play

0:39:340:39:36

# He was the top man at his craft

0:39:360:39:39

# But then his number came up and he was gone with the draft

0:39:390:39:42

# He's in the army now, a-blowin' reveille

0:39:420:39:45

# He's the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B

0:39:450:39:48

# They made him blow a bugle for his Uncle Sam

0:39:480:39:50

# It really brought him down because he couldn't jam

0:39:500:39:53

# The captain seemed to understand

0:39:530:39:56

# Because the next day the cap' went out and drafted a band

0:39:560:39:58

# And now the company jumps when he plays reveille

0:39:580:40:01

# He's the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B

0:40:010:40:04

# A-toot, a-toot, a-toot-diddelyada-toot

0:40:040:40:07

# He blows it eight-to-the-bar, in boogie rhythm

0:40:070:40:10

# He can't blow a note unless the bass and guitar is playin' with him

0:40:100:40:14

# He makes the company jump when he plays reveille

0:40:140:40:18

# He's the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B

0:40:180:40:21

# He was some boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B

0:40:210:40:25

# And when he plays boogie woogie bugle, he is busy as a buzzy bee

0:40:250:40:32

# And when he plays he makes the company jump eight-to-the-bar

0:40:320:40:35

# He's the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B

0:40:350:40:38

# Toot-toot toot-diddelyada toot-diddelyada, toot-toot

0:40:380:40:40

# He blows it eight-to-the-bar

0:40:400:40:43

# He can't blow a note if the bass and guitar isn't with him

0:40:430:40:48

# Ah-ah-and the company jumps when he plays reveille

0:40:480:40:51

# He's the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B... #

0:40:510:40:54

TRUMPET SOLO

0:40:540:40:57

# He puts the boys to sleep with boogie every night

0:41:110:41:14

# And wakes 'em up the same way in the early bright

0:41:140:41:17

# They clap their hands and stamp their feet

0:41:170:41:19

# Because they know how he plays when someone gives him a beat

0:41:190:41:22

# He really shakes it up when he plays reveille

0:41:220:41:24

# He's the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B

0:41:240:41:28

# Dat-da da-do-do da-dup

0:41:280:41:38

# Ah-ah-and the company jumps when he plays reveille

0:41:380:41:41

# He's the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B. #

0:41:410:41:44

The wonderful Three Belles.

0:41:530:41:55

John, thank you so much for joining us today.

0:41:550:41:57

Thank you, it's been terrific, I've really enjoyed it.

0:41:570:41:59

That's it for today's programme. Coming up tomorrow...

0:41:590:42:02

June Brown, who plays Dot Cotton in EastEnders,

0:42:040:42:07

tells us her memories of the war.

0:42:070:42:10

70 years since the end of the Second World War, we hear from those

0:42:140:42:19

who remember what it was like when the nation celebrated.

0:42:190:42:22

We ran into the street and everybody was cheering and yelling,

0:42:230:42:27

it was heaven, absolute heaven.

0:42:270:42:29

And a story of wartime sacrifice

0:42:320:42:35

that bonded two families together for 100 years.

0:42:350:42:40

My brother and I would not be here now, nor would my father have been,

0:42:400:42:43

and I think that that is something which has a profound impact on you.

0:42:430:42:49

Until then, from all of us

0:42:490:42:50

here at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, goodbye.

0:42:500:42:53

Goodbye. Goodbye.

0:42:530:42:55

# I put a spell on you

0:43:320:43:34

# Cos you're mine

0:43:380:43:41

Journalist John Sergeant joins Sophie Raworth and former Army Officer Andy Torbet at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire. The site was an important airbase during the Battle of Britain and John has a fascination with the heroic men and women who risked their lives in the skies.

Former 'Spitfire Girl' Joy Lofthouse reminisces about her service delivering fighter planes to the frontline and flies a Tiger Moth at the age of 92. Veterans read the inspirational words of Churchill's wartime speeches and Andy meets a woman who worked in a Battle of Britain operations room. There is also a performance of an iconic World War Two song by The Three Belles.


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