21 Aug 2010

Britain remembers fateful World War II battle

4:01 pm on 21 August 2010

The 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain has been marked in London by a reading of one of Sir Winston Churchill's most famous speeches and a fly-past.

Precisely 70 years after the address in Parliament, actor Robert Hardy read extracts from Churchill's "so much owed by so many to so few" speech.

The reading outside the Churchill War Rooms - theb old wartime Cabinet rooms - was followed by a Spitfire and Hurricane fly-past over Whitehall.

The BBC reports the words were delivered at 3.52pm BST - exactly the same time as the original speech by Churchill, who had become Britain's Prime Minister just three months before.

The Battle of Britain between the Royal Air Force and the German Luftwaffe began on 10 July 1940 and ended on 31 October. More than 2900 British, Commonwealth and Allied aircrew took part.

Their bravery was captured in Churchill's speech on 20 August 1940 when he said: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Former Spitfire pilots now in their 80s and 90s gathered outside the old Cabinet rooms in front of a replica of a Spitfire - the aircraft credited with saving Britain from invasion.

Dame Vera Lynn, whose songs did so much to lift the morale of Britons during the war, was also at the event.