2020 marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, widely recognised as the country’s finest hour. The Royal Air Force Museum is inviting the country to remember this significant story of bravery, international alliances and ingenuity both at the Museum and online. The RAF Museum is FREE to enter and has sites at both London and the West Midlands. With wide open spaces both inside and out, the Museum is a great and safe day out for all the family and will be commemorating Battle of Britain 80 with a series of special events and exhibitions.
The London Museum is home to the most complete set of Battle of Britain aircraft in the world including the ‘fighter four’: Spitfire, Hurricane, Messerschmitt 109 and Fiat CR42, all participants in the Battle. This year they will be supported by new displays telling the wider Battle of Britain story, including an enigma machine, Dowding and Goering’s busts and medals, and Newall’s uniform. A new interactive will explain in an engaging way how the Dowding System worked, challenging the visitors to help detect the raids that happened on the 15 August 1940. Complimenting the new display will be stunning year-long art exhibition: In Air and Fire: War Artists, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. The exhibition will present over 50 works of art created in response to the war in the air by acclaimed artists such as Nash, Kennington, Laura Knight, Graham Sutherland, Nessler, Nevinson and Olga Lehmann. Many of these works have never been shown to the public. For more information visit RAF London.
Home to the world’s oldest Spitfire, the Cosford Museum houses a collection of both British and German aircraft from the Battle of Britain era. The Spitfire forms the centerpiece of the new display, where the RAF’s frontline fighters, the Spitfire, Hurricane, Gladiator and Defiant are face to face with their German rivals the Me 109 and Ju88, to tell a coherent story. Previously unseen objects from the Museum’s collection including a Rhino suit worn by Defiant pilots, Dowding’s jacket, artefacts from the plotting rooms and medal bars, will share the stories of the people who helped win the Battle, in the air and on the ground. A highlight of the new display is James Nicolson’s flying jacket and medal bar containing his VC medal, the only VC awarded during the Battle. Nicolson also flew the Spitfire on display at Cosford.
To ensure that everyone across the country is able to commemorate this historic occasion, the Museum has a number of online events as below.
Livestreamed Event – The Museum will be livestreaming a talk with Jim Nicolson’s Nephew; and a talk from the Air Historical Board.
Untold Battle of Britain Podcast – An exclusive podcast created in conjunction with The National Archive and the RAF, which looks at a range of untold and unheard stories from the Battle of Britain.
The Battle of Britain Bake – The Museum is inviting master bakers and baking novices alike to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain by taking part in The Battle of Britain Bake, with a prize bundle worth £80 up for grabs. Make and bake your own Battle of Britain inspired cookies, cupcakes or cakes, and get creative with the decoration. Share a photo of your Battle of Britain inspired baked goods on social media and tag @rafmuseum to be in with a chance of winning. The winners of each category (Under 10s / 10-18 years / Over 18s) will receive a Battle of Britain prize bundle worth £80 from the RAF Museum Shop. Competition closes on Tuesday 15 September and winners will be announced on Sunday 20 September.
Virtual BoB celebrations – The Museum is also commemorating the Battle of Britain virtually this year with the Spitfire 10K and Spitfire Family Run. Complete 10K any time between the 29 August and 15 September, wherever and however you choose – running, cycling, rowing, or even walking the dog! Participants will then be rewarded with one of the highly sought after 2020 Spitfire 10K medals! Find out more and register online at rafmuseum.org.
Adopt a Battle of Britain Artifact – Support the Museum by adopting a Battle of Britain artifact. With several objects up for adoption including RAF flying ace Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader’s Logbook, entries record Bader’s flights and victories in wartime Britain as a Hurricane pilot, plus a selection of objects from the new displays including a Sector Room Clock and Aircraft Recognition Cards. For more details on how to Adopt an Artifact and to browse the items available, visit rafmuseum.org.uk
For more information on Battle of Britain 80 anniversary activities at the RAF Museum visit rafmuseum.org.