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On this day...

On this day in 1940 the Battle of Britain ended and the overwhelming threat of Germany invading Britain was reduced. Just under 3,000 airman are remembered as ‘The Few’ who defended the skies against the much larger German Luftwaffe. Five of ‘The Few’ were OEs, all attending the School in the 1930s. Two lost their lives in the war.

They were Horace 'George' Darley (OE1926-32), Colin Francis (OE1933-37), Brian Noble (OE1927-33), Harry Prowse (OE1932-39) and Kenneth Millist (OE1931-35).

Colin was killed in his maiden voyage in a dogfight against a large German offensive and his body remained lost in a field for 39 years until being discovered by a farmer. At the time the media called him ‘The Lost Boy’.

Brian was seriously injured after being shot down and required pioneering plastic surgery before returning to action and was part of the now famous ‘Guinea Pig’ programme which experimented with plastic surgery.

Harry was shot down over France and spent much of the war in German POW camps, of which a large collection of letters survives. The school archive also owns his copy of ‘The Emanuel School History’ which was sent to him while he was interred in a POW camp by his mother.

Kenneth also survived the Battle of Britain, but was later killed in the Middle East later in the war and was remembered at school as a fantastic rower. He earlier survived being shot down and a three day trek in the desert.

Finally, George Darley had the status of an 'Ace' pilot with five confirmed kills, led the 609 Squadron and was a pilot for the duration of the war. He was awarded the DSO after the Battle of Britain. The Spitfire which hangs in the Imperial War Museum was flown by George during the Battle of Britain.

Also, on an operational and tactical level, Sir William Sholto Douglas who reached the rank of Air Chief Marshall and attended Emanuel before the First World War was also involved in the Battle of Britain.

Mr Jones (Senior Librarian)