Statement Article from  National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces

Ministers Sajjan and Hehr mark the 76th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain

September 16, 2016 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence and the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans’ Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence today issued the following statement marking the 76th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain:

“This weekend, we celebrate the Canadian airmen who fought alongside our Allies in the Battle of Britain. 

“Seventy-six years ago, Hitler was determined to invade Great Britain. The German Luftwaffe, which possessed seasoned combat pilots and twice as many aircraft as the Allies, set its sights on Britain’s ports, airfields, radar stations and cities to destroy the nation’s defences and gain control of the English Channel and landing zones on British soil. 

“The spectre of defeat was real, but Canada contributed a courageous asset to the fight — more than a hundred pilots and an estimated 300 or more ground crew. Twenty-three pilots perished in the battle and 35 more died later in the war. 

“This battle was critical. It influenced the outcome of the Second World War and, in turn, the course of history. Repelling the Nazis was a task of Herculean proportions, but alongside our Allies, the Royal Canadian Air Force was up to the job. Exposed to perilous missions under enemy fire, pilots faced a formidable foe. Assisting them in this essential task were the tireless efforts of ground crew, radar operators, anti-aircraft gunners, and the men and women who worked on the aircraft supply chain. Without them, the Battle of Britain could not have been won. 

“The Royal Canadian Air Force’s number one asset was, is, and always will be its people. Today, we honour those who were willing to give everything in the summer and fall of 1940. We also recognize the sacrifices and dedication of surviving Battle of Britain veterans, like Squadron Leader (ret’d) John Stewart Hart, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday.  All of us owe them a debt of gratitude.

 “Each year, on the third Sunday in September, we pause to remember the sacrifices made by those who served during the Battle of Britain — sacrifices from which we benefit every day of the year.”



Royal Canadian Air Force Veterans stand during the national ceremony held at Parliament Hill on September 20, 2015, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. In the foreground is Squadron Leader (retired) Desmond Peters, who was the commander of the Veterans’ contingent.
Photo: Master Corporal Daniel Merrell

Major Dany Gilbert, parade commander, salutes during the parade held on Parliament Hill on September 20, 2015, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
Photo: Master Corporal Daniel Merrell

Squadron Leader Ernest McNab and other members of the RCAF’s No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron, pose for a photo on September 12, 1940, during the Battle of Britain: (left to right) Flying Officer William P. Sprenger, Flying Officer Otto John Peterson, Flight Lieutenant W.R. Pollock (adjudant), Flying Officer Paul Brooks Pitcher, Squadron Leader McNab, Flying Officer Peter William Lochnan, Flight Lieutenant Edwin Michael Reyno, Flying Officer Eric Walter Beardmore, Flight Officer S.T. Blaiklock (intelligence officer) and Flying Officer Robert William Norris.
Photo: Library and Archives of Canada, PL-906

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Jordan Owens
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-3100

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-2353
Toll-Free: 1-866-377-0811

Rob Rosenfeld
Director of Communications and Issues Management
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
Phone: 613-996-4649 

Media Relations
Veterans Affairs Canada
Phone: 613-992-7468




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