This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, which was fought between July 10 and October 31, 1940, and our poll has shown that a proud 81% of 16-25 year olds think that this special anniversary should continue to be marked.
Among those who feel it is important to continue to celebrate the event, there were a number of differing opinions as to why; 76% feel that the bravery and sacrifice of those who served our country, past and present should not be forgotten and the same percentage believe that it will remind everyone of the sacrifice that men and women of previous generations made to protect the nation’s freedom.
It appears that our history lessons and war tales from previous generations have not been falling on deaf ears - with 80% of young men (16-25s) knowing that the Battle of Britain was to protect England against the invasion of the Nazis and 79% correctly thinking that it took place mainly in the air. While an encouraging 43% of young people know the Battle occurred in 1940, slightly less assuring are the two percent of the youths who think that the Battle of Britain is still in full swing.
Over half of 16-25 year olds see the RAF as a ‘highly professional force’ (54%), and that in modern times it still plays a vital role in defending our country (56%). An even higher 58% feel that they ‘deserve our respect’ (58%) while 45% believe it ‘performs a difficult job under the circumstances’. When it comes to modern relevance, youths in Wales are the most likely to know someone in active duty or who have served previously (53% compared to the national average of 37%).
However, 19% said they ‘don’t know much about what [the RAF] does’, while 24% don’t know which countries it is currently deployed in, and only 44% correctly identified that the number of those currently serving in the RAF is in the region of 40,000.
Winston Churchill once famously said of the Battle of Britain ‘Never was so much owed by so many to so few’. It seems those resounding words have planted a lasting memory in many young minds among English society – over half (54%) of young people correctly identified that it was the wartime Prime Minister who uttered these words.