Port of Dover by Remi Jouan © Wikipedia Commons

Battle of Britain MemorialCanterbury
New Dover Road
Capel-le-Ferne
Kent CT18 7JJ

 

Visitors to Britain, who roar in their cars along the main A20 road from the southern coastal port of Dover to Folkestone are missing one of the finest war memorials in England. Carved into the top of the White Cliffs at Capel-le-Ferne, near Folkestone, is the National Battle of Britain Memorial.

This stunning memorial to the nearly 3,000 young men of the RAF who participated in the Battle of Britain is unusual and very moving.
 
An enormous three-bladed propeller has been carved out of the chalk. Seated on the boss of the propeller is a young man in full flying kit, clasping his knees, and gazing out over the English Channel. He appears to be watching and waiting for the rest of his squadron to return safely home. We know that 515 of these courageous young men never did.
 
During the Second World War, just after the evacuation of Dunkirk in early June 1940, Britain was at its lowest ebb; France had fallen to the invading German army and the enemy was just 26 miles (42 kms) away, across the English Channel.
 
The RAF ranks were swelled by young men from 13 allied countries: Polish, New Zealanders, Canadians, Czechoslovakians, Belgians, South Africans, Australians, Free French, Irish, Americans, Southern Rhodesians, a Jamaican and a Palestinian.
 
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain officially began on 10 July. The Luftwaffe aimed to destroy the RAF Fighter Command by 13 August but when they failed to do so, they attacked airfields and then turned to mass attacks.
 
On 1 August 1940 Adolf Hitler ordered “…the German Air Force is to overcome the British Air Force with all means at its disposal, and as soon as possible."
 
On 13 August the Luftwaffe launched its offensive ‘Eagle Day’ against Britain, with 1,485 sorties. The Germans lost 45 'planes and the RAF 13.
 
15 August was a day of intense attacks. The Luftwaffe launched a total of 1,790 sorties and lost 75 'planes. The RAF lost 34.
 
On August 17 the enemy established an 'operational area' around Britain within which any ship was to be sunk without warning.
 
By 20 August it seemed that the RAF would be able to hold out against the Luftwaffe and therefore invasion was not a certainty.
 
On 25 August the RAF launched its first raid on Berlin.
 
On 7 September the Germans retaliated with an attack on London involving some 300 bombers escorted by 600 fighters.
 
On 15 September the RAF claimed to have shot down 183 German 'planes but this figure later found to be inflated. By 17 September Adolf Hitler knew the RAF was not to be defeated so easily and postponed his invasion plan ‘Operation Sealion’ temporarily. On 12 October ‘operation Sealion’ was postponed until 1941.
 
The Battle of Britain had been won by Britain with the help of her allies against overwhelming odds.
 
Winston Churchill's Tribute
In Parliament, Prime Minister Winston Churchill paid tribute to these heroes with the immortal words “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”.
 
Capel-le-Ferne
At Capel-le-Ferne nearly 3,000 British and allied aircrew took to the skies over this very spot. Carved on the propeller boss are the squadron badges of the RAF units that took part in the battle. The names of the aircrew involved are listed on the black granite Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall nearby.
 
Parked beside the Visitor Centre are full-scale replicas of a Hawker Hurricane and a Supermarine Spitfire aeroplane.
 
Open
The memorial is open all year but the car parks and Visitor Centre are only open from April to September. Refreshments and souvenirs are available from the Visitor Centre.
 
If the car parks are closed there is some limited parking in the lay-by leading into the memorial site.
 
Events Every year on the Sunday closest to the date of the start of the Battle of Britain a Memorial Day parade is held, with a fly past by the Battle of Britain Flight.
 
Accommodation - Search & Book through Hotels.com here:     External Link
 
Useful Links
Comprehensive information on the Battle of Britain and associated heroes can be found at  Web:  Battle of Britain Information    External Link
 
The Memorial Trust organises regular tours in south east England of places connected with the Battle of Britain. Use the contact details below for more information.
 
Another excellent site to visit is the nearby Kent Battle of Britain Museum at the original Battle of Britain Hawkinge Fighter Command airfield, Aerodrome Road, Hawkinge, Nr. Folkestone, Kent CT18 7AG Tel: +44 (0)1303 893 140.
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0)1732 870 809 or +44 (0)1303 249 292
Mail   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Getting There
The memorial is just off the B2011 at Capel le Ferne.
For detailed ‘Getting There’ information, please refer to the Dover article in this website 
 
Google Maps - Battle of Britain Memorial