Thank you to Channel 5 for this series marking the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain … and reminding us how, but for the bravery of the RAF fighters and those working with them, it could so easily have gone the other way, the results of which are unthinkable. If we were allowed to shake hands at the moment, I’d be shaking hands with everyone I could find who lived through the war. Four months of coronavirus-related restrictions have not been easy to cope with. They had to cope with far worse, and for six years. Don’t want to wear a little mask over your nose and mouth for half an hour whilst you’re in Tesco? Try lugging a great big gas mask with you everywhere you go, for fear that the Luftwaffe are about to drop poison gas on you and yours, as well as raining down bombs night after night.
Dan Snow and Kate Humble, in all the gear, flying around in wartime-era bombers did feel a bit Biggles-ish, but the stories of the ordinary people involved in the Battle of Britain were fascinating. It was very much done from a human interest angle, with relatives of those concerned being interviewed: it was very moving when one man was reduced to tears on hearing the details of the death of the uncle he’d never known. Most of the people we heard about were not career RAF men: they were just ordinary people, who’d been doing ordinary civilian jobs until the war happened.
And they weren’t all RAF men, either: it was fascinating to hear what was in the (somewhat illicit) diary kept by a 19-year-old girl in the WAAF, and to appreciate the crucial role that she, barely out of school, played.
Channel 5’s history programmes really have improved of late. This – a series of three programmes – really was very good. And anyone who thinks that we should stop remembering the Second World War might want to take a few minutes to think just what the consequences of the Battle of Britain being lost would have been. Never forget.