Minister marks Battle of Britain anniversary

  • Judith Collins
Veterans' Affairs

Veterans Affairs Minister Judith Collins today paid tribute to the New Zealand airmen who fought in the Battle of Britain, one of the crucial turning points of the Second World War.

Ms Collins joined veterans, His Excellency Lieutenant General, The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand, Government representatives, members of the NZ Defence Force and the wider Defence Community, and members of the Diplomatic Corps at the National War Memorial in Wellington to mark the 71st anniversary of the battle.

“In Britain’s most desperate hour, New Zealand and allied airmen took to the skies to repel the biggest and most sustained aerial bombing campaign to that date,” Ms Collins said.

“Relying on raw courage, their skill as aviators, and a determination to halt the German advance, our fighter pilots faced very short odds of survival every time they took on the enemy.

“Other Kiwis fulfilled vital roles bombing German ports and invasion craft, destroying infrastructure and supply lines so vital to the German war effort.”

The Battle of Britain was the aerial battle fought between the German Luftwaffe and the Allies in 1940, as the Germans attempted to invade Britain after successfully occupying most of Western Europe. 

More than 130 New Zealanders served as part of the Royal Air Force Fighter Command, and many others served with the Bomber and Coastal Commands. 

“Today is about paying tribute to all those who fought in the Battle of Britain.  In particular, we must pay tribute to the 57 Kiwi airmen who did not return.

“We must not forget that the sacrifices made by all those who fought with the RAF helped ensure an Allied victory. They were indeed the few, owed so much by so many.”