Battle of Britain (film)

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Battle of Britain is a 1969 war film portraying the historic Battle of Britain, when in the summer and autumn of 1940 the British RAF inflicted a strategic defeat on the Luftwaffe, forestalling Hitler's plan to invade Britain.

Directed by Guy Hamilton. Written by James Kennaway and Wilfred Greatorex.

Reichsmarschal Hermann Goering[edit]

  • [Watching a massive Luftwaffe bomber force heading for England] My God, if we lose the war now... they'll tear our arses asunder!
  • I have promised the Fuehrer that we will clear the skies and completely destroy the RAF. I expect my orders to be obeyed!
  • [To his officers, upon learning of the Battle of Britain's failure and Operation Sea-Lion's cancellation] You have let me down! You have betrayed me!

Senior RAF Officer[edit]

  • Or, in other words, beware of the Hun in the sun- who, for reasons best known to himself, has confined his recent attacks to our Channel convoys. However, this won't last forever. But it has given us time to pull ourselves together and train people like you. As air traffic controllers, you'll be playing a key role in the battles. Radar stations send information up to command, command passes it to group, group passes it to the squadrons and you, as controllers, guide our chaps to the interception. This system is tried and tested. It works. So don't blame the system if you're no good.

RAF Polish Squadron Leader[edit]

  • [His Polish pilots are chattering excitedly in Polish while leaving their training flight to attack a group of German bombers] Shut up! Silence- in Polish!

Dialogue[edit]

[Early in the film, an RAF Spitfire does a barrel roll over a column of retreating soldiers and civilians; a group of weary British Army soldiers are not impressed]
British Soldier: Who the 'ell's he tryin' to kid?
[Later, the Spitfire lands and its pilot is revealed to be Jamie; his squadron leader saw him perform the barrel roll]
Squadron Leader Harvey: What the hell was that? One wrong twitch and you'd have been spread all over a field like strawberry jam. Never again, clear?
Jamie: I thought it might buck up the civilians!
Squadron Leader Harvey: Oh, for God's sake, Jamie! Give your brain a chance!


[In neutral Switzerland, Baron von Richter is meeting with the British ambassador to Switzerland.]
Baron von Richter: The Fuehrer is being very reasonable. He offers guarantees-
Sir David Kelly: Experience shows the Fuehrer's "guarantees" guarantee nothing.
Baron von Richter: David, we are not asking for anything. Europe is ours! We can walk into Britain whenever we like!
Sir David Kelly: If you think we're going to gamble on Herr Hitler's "guarantees", you're making a grave mistake. All those years in England seems to have left you none the wiser. We're not easily frightened. Also we know how hard it is for an army to cross the Channel. The last little Corporal who tried came a cropper. [Rising from his chair, Sir Kelly faces Baron von Richter, visibly angry] So don't threaten or dictate to us until you're marching up Whitehall! And even then we won't listen!
[Seeing the offer he has come to make is refused, von Richter goes to leave, pausing at the door.]
Baron von Richter: Heil Hitler.
[As von Richter leaves the embassy, Sir Kelly's secretary enters his office with a cup of tea. He looks up at her, sitting behind his desk.]
Sir David Kelly: It's unforgivable. I lost my temper. [Stirs his tea absentmindedly] And the maddening thing is that he's right. We're on our own. We've been playing for time. And it's running out!


[Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding is meeting with a senior civil servant who is involved with the planning of Britain's defense against the coming German air campaign.]
Senior civil servant: Damn it, man, we've got 650 planes!
Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: And they have... 2,500 aircraft, haven't they?
Senior civil servant: But, they've got to cross the Channel first! And we have radar! Churchill puts great faith in radar.
Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: It's vital, but it won't shot down aircraft.
Senior civil servant: [Mildly annoyed] Well, I must say, you don't exactly exude a spirit of optimism.
Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: God willing we will hold out, Minister.
Senior civil servant: I see. So I'm to tell the cabinet, that you're trusting in radar and praying to God, is that right?
Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: [chuckles] More accurately the other way round. Trusting in God and praying for radar. But the essential arithmetic is that our young men will have to shoot down their young men at the rate of four to one, if we're to keep pace at all.


[A RAF ground-crew sergeant approaches Simon as he climbs out of his Spitfire; Simon forgot to drop his landing gear when he first came in to land]
RAF Sergeant: Undercarriage lever a bit sticky, was it, sir?
Simon: [relieved] Well, yes, as a matter of fact, it was!
RAF Sergeant: Well, I wouldn't tell the CO that, sir. Not if I were you.

[A group of boys are watching a formation of German bombers approach London]
Boy 1: Messerschmitts!
Boy 2: "Einkels!
Boy 1: Messerschmitts!
Boy 2: No they ain't, they're 'Einkels!

[A group of German bomber crewmen taken as prisoners have been brought to a bombed airfield]
Squadron Leader Skipper: Where are you taking those vultures?
RAF NCO: Officers to the mess, NCOs to the guard room, sir.
Squadron Leader Skipper: Like hell you are. They're responsible for all that [turning and gesturing to the ruined field], get 'em to clear it up!
RAF NCO: But, what about the officers, sir?
Squadron Leader Skipper: Give 'em a bloody shovel!

[A fighter pilot from the RAF's Polish squadron is shot down while his squadron is intercepting a German bomber formation with fighter escort. His parachute descends, landing in an English farmer's field. The pilot greets the farmer, speaking in heavily-accented English that makes him sound like a German.]
Polish RAF Pilot: Goot- afternoon.
[The farmer stares at the pilot for a moment, then raises his pitchfork.]
Farmer: "Good afternoon" my arse, you boche bastard. [Gesturing with his pitchfork] Come on, put your hands up.
Polish RAF Pilot: [Confused] Why?
Farmer: [Gesturing again] Come on, put 'em up!
Polish RAF Pilot: I'm a Polish pilot, I'm fighting on your side!
Farmer: Cor blimey- get 'em up! Let's go!
[The Polish RAF pilot gives up and raises his hands; scowling, the farmer takes him prisoner and marches him across the field, keeping his pitchfork raised.]

References[edit]

  • Mosley, Leonard. Battle of Britain: The Story of a Film. London: Pan Books, 1969. ISBN 0-330-02357-8.
  • Schnepf, Ed, ed. "The Few: Making the Battle of Britain." Air Classics Vol. 6, No. 4, April 1970.