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Reflections on the Battle of Britain

Air Marshal ‘Black’ Robertson, author of the Fighters in the Blood and A Spitfire Named Connie, continued the Trust’s exciting series of spring talks with a reflection on lesser-known aspects of the Battle of Britain,

He focused on individuals and organisations whose largely unheralded contributions helped ensure the nation’s survival, telling a fascinated audience about some of the people who, in the summer of 1940, helped turn the tide of events.

In a thought-provoking review of aircraft and aircrew losses in the Battle, Air Marshal Robertson contrasted the different outcomes experienced by the RAF and the Luftwaffe, which, he argued, enjoyed advantages in terms of aircraft numbers, training and combat experience.

He suggested that the flexibility and strategy of the RAF, together with the fact that the Battle was fought over this country, negated those advantages, but added that in the end it was the perseverance of many different people that allowed the Few to win this vital air battle.

The air marshal’s father, a decorated Spitfire ace, was in training at the time of the Battle but later flew with veterans of the conflict, which gave rise to a fund of related stories he was able to share in what was a fascinating talk.

‘Black’ Robertson joined the RAF in 1963, instantly acquiring the nickname that has remained with him ever since.

After three years at the RAF College, Cranwell, he spent the next 33 in flying, staff and command appointments, including tours of duty in the USA, Germany and the Falklands. He flew all the RAF’s front line fast jet aircraft and also qualified as a helicopter pilot.

After retiring, he spent five years with BAE Systems before establishing his own consultancy. A past Clerk to The Honourable Company of Gloucestershire, he is a trustee of the David Vaisey Library Prize and a Cranfield Trust mentor. His time is now devoted mainly to writing and lecturing.

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