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As the countries of Europe fell and battle raged in the skies above Britain



'. . .The great air battle which has been in progress over this island for the last few weeks has recently attained a high intensity. It is too soon to attempt to assign limits either to its scale or to its duration. We must certainly expect that greater efforts will be made by the enemy than any he has so far put forth. Hostile air-fields are still being developed in France and the Low Countries. It is quite plain that Herr Hitler could not admit defeat in his air attack on Great Britain without sustaining more serious injury.

'If, after all these boastings and blood-curdling threats and lurid accounts trumpeted around the world of the damage he has inflicted, of the vast numbers of our Air Force he has shot down, so he says, with so little loss to himself, after tales of the panic-stricken British crouched in their holes (laughter) cursing the plutocratic parliament which has led them to such a plight - (laughter),- his whole air onslaught were forced tamely to peter out, the Fuhrer's reputation for veracity of statement might be seriously impugned. (Loud laughter.)

'We may be sure, therefore, that he will continue as long as he has the strength to do so and as long as any preoccupations he may have in respect of the Russian Air Force allow him to do so.

'On the other hand, the conditions and course of the fighting have so far been favourable to us. I told the House two months ago that whereas in France our fighter aircraft were wont to inflict a loss of two or three to one upon the Germans and in the fighting at Dunkirk, which was a kind of no-man's-land, a loss of about three or four to one, we expect that in an attack on this island we should achieve a larger ratio. This has certainly come true. (Cheers.)

'It must also be remembered that all the enemy machines and pilots which are shot down over our island, or over the seas which surround it, are either destroyed or captured, whereas a considerable proportion of our machines and also of our pilots are saved, and many of them soon again come into action.

'A vast and admirable system of salvage directed by the Ministry of Aircraft Production, ensures the speediest return to the fighting line of damaged machinery. At the same time the splendid, nay, astounding, increase in the output and repair of British aircraft and engines which Lord Beaverbrook has achieved by a genius for organisation and drive which looks like magic - (cheers) - has given us overflowing reserves of every type of aircraft and an ever-mounting stream of production both in quantity and in quality. (Cheers.)

'The enemy is, of course, far more numerous than we are, but our new productions already, as I am advised, largely exceed his, and the American production is only just beginning to flow in. It is a fact that after all this fighting our bomber and fighter strengths are larger than they have ever seen. (Cheers.)

'We hope and believe that we shall be able to continue the struggle indefinitely and as long as the enemy pleases, and the longer it continues the more rapid will be our approach first towards that parity and then into that superiority in the air upon which in a large measure the decision of the war depends.

'The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world except in the abodes of the guilty goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unweakened by their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of world war by their prowess and their devotion.

'Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. (Prolonged cheers.) All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day but we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aims their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often at serious loss, with deliberate, careful precision, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power. (Cheers.)

'On no part of the Royal Air Force does the weight of the war fall more heavily than on the daylight bombers, who will play an invaluable part in the case of an invasion and whose unflinching zeal it has been necessary in the meantime on numerous occasions to restrain. I have no hesitation in saying that the process of bombing the military industries and communications of Germany and the air bases and storage depots from which we are attacked, which will continue on an ever-increasing scale until the end of the war and may in another year attain dimensions hitherto undreamed of, assure one at least of the most certain, if not the shortest, of all the roads to victory. Even if the Nazi legions stood triumphant on the Black Sea or indeed upon the Caspian, even if Hitler was at the gates of India, it would profit him nothing if at the same time the entire economic and scientific apparatus of German war power lay shattered and pulverised at home.' (Cheers.)

-Winston Churchill, speaking to the House of Commons, to the British people and to the world 70 years ago today.

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