THE BEGINNING  July 10th 1940

When the "immediate" award of the 1939-1945 Star with Battle of Britain Clasp was announced in 1945, July 10 was considered to be the starting point of the Battle. This date was favoured by Lord Dowding though he accepted that it was an arbitrary choice.

Extracts from The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust Day by Day Diary

The first fighter pilot to be lost was Sergeant Ian Clenshaw of No 253 Squadron, whose Hurricane crashed during a dawn patrol.

In the early afternoon a Hurricane of No 111 Squadron, flying in defence of Convoy Bread, collided with a Dornier.

The Hurricane pilot (formerly of the Oxford University Air Squadron) did not survive.  One ship in the convoy was sunk.

Pilots noted the "circles of death" adopted by Messerschmitt Me 110s for mutual protection. One RAF pilot would later recall that, "the 110 was inferior in all respects to the Hurricane and Spitfire, except possibly for its armament."

The day was typical of the first phase of the Battle, with much of the fighting being over British convoys in the English Channel although bombs fell on towns on the west side of Britain.

June 18th 1940 'Finest Hour'

At about 1pm Flying Officer Peter Higgs became the first to be lost in action after his No 111 Squadron Hurricane collided with a Do 17 off Folkestone.

Radio report by Charles Gardner