These are two brothers, Ewan an actor and Colin a modern-day fighter pilot, exploring this epic battle and flying Spitfires and Hurricanes.
The battle was about inspirational leadership and great courage against impossible odds.
The very sound of the engines begins to evoke memories of what was achieved and at what great cost. The very sight of the Spitfire swooping and diving reawakens the skill and vulnerable brilliance of those who fought.
This film is a “must see” for those who want to understand how the battle was won. There are leadership lessons aplenty and so much to appreciate, but allow me to pick out my highlights:
The brothers meet their heroes; amazingly a few of “The Few” remain.
Each man is dignified, self-effacing in victory, humble in survival, able to find humour in adversity, but serious and single-minded in battle.
At an average age of 22, five hundred and forty four of their fellow pilots did not make it.
How did they win?
It took all their young courage, gruelling five-sorties-a-day, never-give-up dedication. And inspired leadership.
From Dowding who designed a futuristic radar “internet”, to great competing commanders Keith Park and Douglas Bader, Churchill had the best.
He personally oversaw key moments of the battle himself, but not in the arrogant or morphine-fuddled mind of Goering, but by drawing on the tactical brilliance of his team.
On the hardest day Churchill humbly admitted he was “sick with fear”.
Bader was champing to attack with his “Big Wing”, but instead Park held him back for the key moment, the defence of the Blitz. Goering thought that the RAF was defeated, but instead it had regrouped and been allowed to strengthen as the attacks on Britain’s airfields ceased.
Bader’s “Wing” was let out of the traps to defend London. They won the battle of the mind, by demoralising the enemy Command, with their unexpected show of force.
The planned invasion was called off. The Battle of Britain was won.
Throughout this programme, the brothers see, embrace and fly those potent symbols of the battle. Colin actually has to “un-learn” some of his modern flying skills, to progress to fly the Spitfire.
What an amazing moment, especially after he handles the tricky landing, turns away to compose himself, and then stands tall to acknowledge the realisation of his childhood dream.
Proud brother Ewan is no less moved when he flies as a passenger, in formation, with the Memorial Flight.
My emotion too is pride; an intense pride in the achievement and sacrifice of others. As the roar of the Merlin engine fades, I am grateful to have inherited their legacy.