Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

September 16, 2012 10:00 ET

Statement by the Minister of National Defence Marking the 72nd Anniversary of the Battle of Britain

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 16, 2012) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, made the following statement today:

"The 72nd anniversary of the first battle ever fought and won in the air-the Battle of Britain-will be commemorated today in Ottawa.

As the threat of a large-scale invasion of Great Britain approached, many Canadians served within the Royal Air Force (RAF) Fighter Command, which was comprised of pilots and ground crew from 13 allied nations. Whether flying with No. 1 Fighter Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force or with other RAF Squadrons, including 242 (Canadian) Squadron, they put their lives at risk to defend the ideals of society and the way of life that we so cherish today.

The Commonwealth had fewer pilots and fewer aircraft than their formidable foe. That did not stop them. They ramped up their efforts to train as many pilots as possible and switched aircraft production into high gear, with factories employing men and women across Canada.

The RAF and the British Government knew they were in a battle of attrition, and yet Fighter Command prevailed through the use of skillful tactics and new technologies. Success would not have been possible without the courage and single-mindedness of its pilots and ground crew.

Canada's efforts came with a price: of the more than 100 Canadian pilots who flew in the battle, 23 were lost forever. Their sacrifice continues to be remembered to this very day.

I am constantly humbled by the achievements of our veterans, and am certain that the men and women of the Canadian Forces -as well as the Canadian public- share this sentiment. They served when the world was on the verge of collapse and led the way for what the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Forces have become today. Commemorative events, such as the 72nd anniversary of the Battle of Britain, ensure that the dedication and courage of our Canadian heroes are never forgotten. Today, please join us in honouring their memories and incredible achievements."

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