4 Wing Cold Lake commemorated the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain on Sunday.
In 1940, Hitler commanded air strikes to incapacitate Great Britain’s own air power and air defences. This would have paved the way for a Nazi invasion of the island.
Allied air forces turned the tide against the Luftwaffe, forcing Hitler to cancel his invasion plans. It was Hitler’s first setback in the Second World War, and the first major battle to be decided by air power.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously said after the battle, “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.”
Canada was among more than a dozen countries that contributed personnel to the Royal Air Force, with 112 Canadians participating. Canada also contributed a squadron of its own—No. 1 (RCAF) Squadron, which is now 401 Squadron based in Cold Lake.
Today, 401 Squadron has a special relationship with Royal Canadian Legion St. Paul Branch 100.
Twenty-three Canadians were killed in the course of the three-month-long Battle of Britain. In all, the Allies lost 1,547 aircraft and suffered 966 casualties, including 522 deaths. The Axis’ casualties included 1,887 aircraft and 4,303 aircrew, of whom 3,336 died.
Due to pandemic precautions, Sunday’s ceremony was smaller than the usual annual Battle of Britain observance. Twenty-five members from 4 Wing, including representation from 401 Squadron, gathered at Heritage Park at the base gate to remember, and draw inspiration from, the heroes