Compiling the list of “The Few”
The definitive list of those that fought in the Battle has been produced in conjunction with the Battle of Britain Fighter Association.
What qualified a pilot to be included in the list?
The War Ministry issued a clasp to those airmen who took part in the Battle of Britain. In order to qualify they had to meet several criteria: They had to have served in one of the 71 squadrons of Fighter Command that were engaged in the Battle; This had to be between the dates of 10 July 1940 and 31 October 1940; They had to have flown in at least one operational sortie (being scrambled to attempt to intercept the enemy).
Why did you have to produce a complete list of flyers?
At the time of the battle the main aim was to get as many planes and pilots into the air as possible. Paper records were produced by clerks at each airfield but these did not always survive the war. After the war these were stored in the public records office in Kew.
Post war research revealed more details and some extra crew were uncovered. A number of lists were produced and published but they were based on incomplete information.
Until the monument was planned there was no major reason why any one should produce a definitive list. However, when we decided to commemorate each individual airman’s name permanently in the monument it obviously became vital that we produce the definitive list that was as accurate as possible.
So when we started the project there was no definitive list. We had to go through every record available. This include not just the war records from the time but also photographs, newspaper articles, books, in fact any relevant source of information we could find. Some of these records are in other countries.
Further problems were encountered with the documenting of overseas pilots since their names were not always spelt correctly by the British clerks. A number of pilots also changed their names after the war when they settled in new countries.
We believe that this record is unique in being the only battle in history where every single active combatant on one side is known and named.
Edward Mc Manus
Battle of Britain Monument Committee. July 2004