About Battle of Britain Monument
The Battle of Britain Monument on Victoria Embankment is a spectacular, 25-metre wide monument created by sculptor Paul Day. It was unveiled by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in September 2005 on the 65th anniversary of one of the most famous battles in history.
Battle of Britain Monument history
The Battle of Britain took place between 10 July and 31 October, 1940, and was one of the most important British victories of the Second World War. Over the course of 3 months, the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy successfully defended the skies above Britain from large-scale attacks by the German Luftwaffe.
British defeat would have likely resulted in a German invasion from the newly-captured ports of France, instilling the Battle of Britain as a key moment in the war. The superior equipment of the British airforce coupled with the Germans’ lack of a consistent plan of action led to the latter’s defeat however, with almost double the amount of Luftwaffe to RAF planes shot down in the first month. The eventual British victory prevented a naval invasion by Hitler, and helped to ensure the future success of the Allies in the war.
Largely funded by private donations, the Battle of Britain Monument was conceived by Bill Bond, founder of the Battle of Britain Historical Society. The containing structure previously served as a smoke outlet for steam-powered underground trains, yet following its disuse was utilised as the base of the monument. The monument’s bronze centrepiece was cast at the Morris Singer Foundry, the same foundry that cast Landseer’s lions that sit at the base of Nelson’s Column.
Battle of Britain Monument today
Opened in 2005, the 25-metre wide monument was purposely built ‘at people level’ so passers-by could interact with it. A series of friezes depict scenes from the battle as well as scenes from both military and civilian life at that time, while all airmen credited with flying combat missions during the battle are inscribed on bronze plaques.
Across the bottom reads a quote from one of Winston Churchill’s most famous speeches, epitomising the significance of the battle: ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.’
The stunningly detailed bronze centrepiece is entitled ‘Scramble’, and depicts the rush of pilots to their planes, ready to intercept enemy aircraft intent on destroying London. With its picturesque position alongside the Thames, the monument provides a moment of contemplation and appreciation for those who fought and died in the first battle to take place entirely by air force.
Getting to the Battle of Britain Monument
The Battle of Britain Monument is located on Victoria Embankment in London. The nearest Underground station is Westminster, a 4-minute walk away, while the nearest train station is Waterloo, a 20-minute walk away. A number of buses stop nearby, with the closest stops at Westminster Pier, a 2-minute walk away, and the Banqueting House, a 7-minute walk away.
These historical sites linked to the Battle of Britain bring visitors close to historic aircraft and remarkable stories from a critical event of World War Two.
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