The Battle of Britain comes with its own mythologies and folklore, but amid these many histories the contribution of foreign Royal Air Force pilots seems to be widely recognized and celebrated.
Thousands of overseas pilots came to Britain during its hour of need. Thousands were Poles. The majority were posted to Bomber Command or reserve squadrons, but Poles eventually constituted the largest of the overseas contingents serving in Fighter Command.
Two frontline fighter Squadrons, 302 and 303, comprised Polish ground crews totalling 89 Polish pilots. Another 50 Poles were spread across RAF Squadrons during the Battle.
Now The Royal Air Force Museum is honouring this fact with its latest Battle of Britain podcast, Repeat Please!: Poles in the Battle of Britain.
The podcast's release, on October 11, commemorates the 70th anniversary of the withdrawal of 303 (Polish) Squadron from the front line after a successful tour of duty which recorded the destruction of 126 enemy aircraft in 42 days. This made 303 the most successful of all the RAF Squadrons during the Battle.
"These airmen had seen their country overrun but were determined to fight on," explains Peter Dye, Director General of the Royal Air Force Museum. "They all had a burning passion to defeat the enemy. Their sacrifice and willingness to defend our nation provides an enduring example of selflessness that resonates down the years."
The podcast's title references the famous scene in the Hollywood movie, The Battle of Britain, in which Polish pilots pretend to misunderstand their British flight commander by saying "repeat please" as they peel away in formation to attack German fighters.
The RAF Museum has produced a year-long series of podcasts examining many of the myths and misconceptions that have grown around Battle of Britain. To listen visit www.rafmuseum.org/podcasts.