THE HARDEST DAY August 18th 1940
Features of August 18 were attacks on Fighter Command airfields and heavy aerial fighting. Stations to suffer included Kenley, Biggin Hill, Croydon and West Malling.
Serious damage was inflicted at Kenley, the airfield was temporarily put out of action and the operations room moved into a shop.
According to Ismay, it was after a visit to the Uxbridge Operations room around this time that Churchill’s epic speech was born which he delivered on 20th August.
‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.'
Note by Geoff Simpson. 'Dr Alfred Price claimed, in a conversation with me, that he had invented the term "Hardest Day" to promote his book. The evidence seems to support that. There is, for instance, no reference to the term in the August 18 entry in my first edition of The Narrow Margin by Wood and Dempster (1961). They describe August 18 as "almost as decisive" as August 15.
Group Captain Tom Gleave argued forcefully to me that the real hardest day was August 31 and there is some justice in that. Perhaps Gleave was a touch biased though because that was the day on which he was shot down and badly burned!
Extracts from The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust Day by Day Diary
RAF airfields were targeted today, including Kenley and Biggin Hill. Part of the German plan was to send bombers across the Channel at very low level to beat the British defences, but the Observer Corps post on Beachy Head gave an early warning of what was happening.
The Stukas suffered. Another memorable photograph, taken from the ground, shows one tumbling to destruction on the outskirts of Chichester.
THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN 80th ANNIVERSARY - FIVE KEY DATES