IBDP IAs on The Battle of Britain


Was Radio Direction Finding the main cause of British victory in the Battle of Britain?
[This internal assessment was submitted by an HL student who would receive a 7 in the course]
Section A

This investigation will answer the question: ‘Was RDF the main cause of British victory in the Battle of Britain?’ My first source is a book The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History Of The Battle Of Britain written by Stephen Bungay, which is relevant because he points out advantages of the RDF system and analyses tactical flaws committed by the Luftwaffe during battle. The second source is an article in The Independent, V for Victory: The day the battle of Britain was won, by Correlli Barnett, which assesses the effectiveness of the RDF system and highlights how it preserved valuable resources.

The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History Of The Battle Of Britain, Stephen Bungay
The content of the source is valuable as it provides information covering nearly every day of the Battle of Britain, as well as specific advantages of the RDF system: its ability to estimate hostile squadrons direction, bearing, strength and height. The purpose of the source is valuable as it provides accurate information, and because of the far reaching history of the battle of Britain, Bungay's inclusion of the RDF shows that it was an important part of the bigger picture. Lastly, the origin is also valuable as the book is an influential account of the Battle of Britain, released in 2010 it allows hindsight on the events of the battle especially through primary sources (archives) which Bungay used frequently.

A limitation of content is that the book is focused on the Battle of Britain as a whole and therefore only passes over the RDF system. A limitation of the purpose is that Stephen Bungay is subjective in his introduction demonstrating a strong stance against the German efforts, which may indicate bias. For instance Bungay states “Our boys (RAF) were braver and better still” suggesting a nationalistic British viewpoint. Lastly, a limitation of the origin is that it does not incorporate the insight and feelings of someone who actually experienced the battle.

V for Victory: The Day The Battle Of Britain Was Won, Correlli Barnett

The origin of the source is valuable as it is written by military historian Correlli Barnett, who has written a book in which he examines the Battle of Britain in the context of WWII. Moreover, the article was published in The Independent, therefore it is bolstered by the reputation of an international newspaper. A value in content is that Correlli uses vital quotes. For example, the Chief of Staff concluded that "the crux of the matter is air superiority" revealing what critical officials thought of the situation. Barnett also effectively analyses the role of RDF in the battle. As a military historian Barnett’s purpose is to present accurate information about the Battle of Britain and to analyse factors that lead to British victory.

However, the origin of the source is a limitation because it is a newspaper and has to go through far less fact-checking compared to an academic book. A limitation of the content is that newspapers typically do not cite sources for claims they make, forcing the reader to believe the statistics provided by Barnett. A limitation of the purpose is that the article was published in a British newspaper on the Battle of Britain day suggesting that it is not as nuanced as it could be, and is triumphant as that is a day for celebrating victory.

Section B

The Radio Direction Finding (RDF) system was vital for the RAF in securing victory over the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain . As the system provided early warning of hostile raids, it allowed the British to identify direction, size, bearing and height of enemy Luftwaffe squadrons and was also valuable in rationing resources. However, tactical errors on the part of the Luftwaffe also led to a British advantage in the battle. But, RDF meant that Luftwaffe, which outnumbered the RAF in front line strength by about 2:1 at the beginning of the battle (Bungay 02/7:10), was ultimately defeated by May, 1941.

RDF was highly effective as it allowed the RAF to estimate four things: the range, bearing, strength and height of hostile squadrons (Bungay 61-62). The system worked through the RDF masts which would calculate the position, rough height and raid size and pass data on to filter rooms. Information was then passed on to command operation rooms and then to six group operations rooms where the Air Officer Commanding would assign units from different sector operation rooms to intercept incoming raids (Notes on the Air Defence of Great Britain). After being detected, it took 6 minutes 55 for planes in "readiness" to take off (Notes on the Air Defence of Great Britain - Appendix B). Eventually the system was so effective that Fighter Command was aware of the position of German Planes when they departed from their airfields in western Europe (Shirer 250). This was crucial as fighter command could intercept hostile squadrons before reaching the mainland. Furthermore, the bearing (direction of flight) was given, allowing fighter command to vector intercepting squadrons closest to the path of the incoming hostile planes (saving fuel and engine hours). The strength of the raid was also indicated, this was vital as fighter command would only send the necessary amount of squadrons to intercept the raid. And lastly the height was estimated, this was crucial because it allowed fighter command to forecast the movement of hostile aircraft making interception much more feasible, through which radar became an invaluable asset (Taylor 137). The effectiveness of the RDF is substantiated by the Luftwaffe’s loss of bombers during the phase 1 battle, with the RAF destroying 40 stuka dive bombers (12% of the total force) and another 127 twin engine bombers (10% of the total force) (Dildy 34). The use of radar improved so that during the Blitz in March 1941, 39 Luftwaffe planes were downed, 87 in April and in May 128 planes, showing a steady increase (Cross et al. 63). Therefore, according to the triumphant perspective of Barnett, the Luftwaffe continuously found Spitfires and Hurricanes ready for combat at the right place and at the right time (Barnett). But RDF was not continuously accurate at the beginning of the battle, and fraught with problems until July 1940 (Cumming 689). But when the battle began on July 10 1940, RDF allowed RAF to track Luftwaffe squadrons and down 11 Luftwaffe planes, and distract German bombers so that only 1/150 bombs hit their target, revealing that RDF was actually working effectively in July. These points show how RDF helped to effectively and destroy hostile plane squadrons, and maintain air superiority which won the Battle of Britain.

Another advantage that the system had was that it allowed the RAF to ration critical resources such as planes and pilots (Harrison 181) which secured them the victory. This was crucial as air marshal Hugh Dowding believed the battle was one of attrition and could go on for a long time, therefore resources had to be used conscientiously (Bungay 311). The RAF were able to reduce strain on pilots and planes, because they were able to save on having to man and fly continuous patrols like they had to in France (Zabecki 1067). It also enabled the RAF to manage other critical resources such as fuel and engine hours, as typically a Merlin engine needed to be reconditioned after 240 hours, but normally planes would only manage roughly 100 hours (Bungay 231). Therefore continuous patrols would have worn down engines quicker than the industry could produce new ones, leaving Britain disadvantaged as Germany would have had significantly more planes. RDF was so effective that the RAF managed to increase their number of planes by 15% on August 3, compared to the beginning of the battle (Gropman 140). These elements reveal the sheer power of the RDF system, which even the Germans had to recognize as German fighter ace Adolf Galland admitted, “the British had an extraordinary advantage [...] radar and fighter control” (DeGering 43) therefore supplying first hand accounts of the RDF’s value which complements Bungay's secondary source. RDF was very important, as it provided the British with early warnings of incoming raids, allowing them to intercept raids earlier, while simultaneously saving vital resources.

On the other hand, another factor leading to the British victory was tactical errors committed by the commanding staff of the Luftwaffe, suggesting that it was not just British defensive superiority that led to victory. From Eagle Day on the 13 of August, when 1,485 Luftwaffe sorties heavily bombed RAF infrastructure, until September 7th, RDF was functional but the Luftwaffe was doing serious damage to the RAF. On August 16, 84 Stuka dive bombers, 214 Messerschmitt 109e and 43 Messerschmidt 110 overwhelmed the RAF which left the Stukas to wreak havoc. 22 bombs destroyed the CH mast on Ventnor Island, ten servicemen were killed at the RAF base in Tangmere and hangars were wrecked (Bungay 007/2:28). Furthermore, on August 31, 39 RAF aircraft were downed, 14 pilots killed, and airfields in North Weald, Debden and Duxford were badly hit (8 Important Dates In The Battle Of Britain). But after RAF bombings of Berlin (Clapson 84), the Luftwaffe started bombing London not the RAF. This was a severe tactical mistake as the Luftwaffe were coming close to forcing 11 group (RAF squadrons) to retreat from South East England (Levine 033/1:48), leaving the area vulnerable and securing air dominance over the channel which was a necessity for operation Sealion. The decision to switch to London was based on unreliable intelligence. German Intelligence believed British fighter production to be running at about 250 a month in July, when they actually produced roughly 500 new planes (Bungay 256). Additionally the senior Luftwaffe Intelligence officer Joseph Schmid estimated that prior to the battle the RAF had 200 fighters and 500 bombers, when in fact they had 608 fighters and 536 bombers (Wood 104). Because of this Generalfeldmarschal Albert Kesselring believed the Luftwaffe had air superiority, and therefore urged bombings of London forcing the last RAF fighters into the sky to protect the city where they could be destroyed. The flaws of this decision were seen contemporarily by Luftwaffe commander Hugo Sperrle, who realized how crucial sector stations were and was against switching tactics (Bungay 305-306). Hugh Dowding was relieved that the Luftwaffe targeted London as this took pressure off the south east air fields and the Sector Stations (Bungay 311). Even though Bungay argues that tactical errors by the Luftwaffe helped the British win, RDF was the main system that allowed defence of the mainland through early interceptions of incoming German raids over the channel. This demonstrated the role of bad German decisions in the result of the Battle of Britain, showing that RDF was not the only reason for victory.

In conclusion, RDF gave the Royal Air Force several advantages, such as the ability to track and predict Luftwaffe squadrons directions, bearings, strength and height, allowing earlier interceptions resulting in less damage to the British mainland. Moreover, it allowed the RAF to conserve critical resources such as planes, pilots and fuel. The decision of the Luftwaffe to not destroy the RAF was the turning point of the battle, and therefore a necessary condition for victory. However the RDF was the main cause that allowed the RAF to intercept Luftwaffe squadrons long before reaching British mainland, therefore securing victory.

Section C

One issue raised by this study is the challenge of differentiating between fact and opinion in sources. For instance the article by Barnett was written as a celebratory article 70 years after the Battle of Britain day; triumphant to remember British victory instead of being purely objective which resulted in an opinionated article. Historians need to evaluate sources with scrutiny in order to identify if a source is based on facts that can be supported by evidence, or if the source is spiked with personal opinions of the author. This is crucial as an opinionated source may overvalue one perspective. Historians should use these sources while being aware of the perspectives which informed or swayed the authors, in order to maintain objectiveness.

Another issue raised by this study is for historians to decide between informing and persuading. In this IA the goal was to effectively evaluate the significance of RDF in WWII, and evaluate its merits in comparison to German tactical errors. I tackled this issue by incorporating a range of sources in order to obtain a non biased picture of various perspectives, through which I could then argue for the merits of the RDF without becoming subjective as I knew how important Luftwaffe tactical errors were as well. Therefore, historians must not start with a hypothesis and work towards confirming it, but should be guided by evidence towards the most accurate argument.

This leads to the next issue, which is the challenge a historian faces with bias in source selection. I solved the underlying problem by first analysing and evaluating sources from an English perspective and sources from a German perspective. For instance I looked at the Imperial war Museum, but also conducted research on the German News Media site ZDF and read up on the German perspective on the battle. Therefore, since I used sources from different perspectives I did not just pick the arguments and evidence to prove RDF won the battle. It can be concluded from this that historians need to evaluate their own paradigms when picking sources, in order to avoid confirmation bias. Language may be a barrier for historians as for instance someone not capable of reading German may not be able to access German sources, and may therefore be more likely to confirm the prevailing view of their native language.

Word Count: 2200


Barnett, Correlli. “V for Victory: The day the battle of Britain was won.” Independent. Sep. 12 2010, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/v-for-victory-the-day-the-battle-of-britain-was-won-2077139.html. Accessed 19 Jul. 2020

Bungay, Stephen. The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History Of The Battle Of Britain. Aurum Press Ltd; reissue Edition, 2010.
Bungay, Stephen. “Greatest Events of WWII in Colour.” ZDF.enterprises. 2019, https://zdf-enterprises.de/en/catalogue/international/zdfeunscripted/history-biographies/greatest-events-of-world-war-two-in-colour/battle-of-britain-eps-2. Accessed 12 Jul. 2020

Clapson, Mark. “European Cities Under the Bomb: Nazi and Allied Bombing Campaigns, 1939–45.” The Blitz Companion: Aerial Warfare, Civilians and the City since 1911, vol. 1, 2019, pp. 77–96. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctvggx2r2.10. Accessed 21 Oct. 2020.

Cumming, Anthony J. “Did Radar Win the Battle of Britain?” The Historian, vol. 69, no. 4, 2007, pp. 688–705. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/24453576. Accessed 17 Jul. 2020.

DeGering, Randall. The RAF’s Fighter Control System. Air University Press, 2018, pp. 43, “Radar Contact!”: The Beginnings of Army Air Forces Radar and Fighter Control, www.jstor.org/stable/resrep19549.9. Accessed 15 Sep. 2020.

Dildy, Douglas C. “The Air Battle for England: The Truth Behind the Failure of the Luftwaffe's Counter-Air Campaign in 1940.” Air Power History, vol. 63, no. 2, 2016, pp. 27–40. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/26276742. Accessed 10 Sep. 2020.

Gropman, Alan L. “The Battle Of Britain And The Principles Of War.” Aerospace Historian, vol. 18, no. 3, 1971, pp. 138–144. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/44522510. Accessed 16 Nov. 2020.

Harrison, Mark. “Resource Mobilization for World War II: The U.S.A., U.K., U.S.S.R., and Germany, 1938-1945.” The Economic History Review, vol. 41, no. 2, 1988, pp. 171–192. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2596054. Accessed 16 Nov. 2020.

Levine, Joshua. “Greatest Events of WWII in Colour.” ZDF.enterprises. 2019, https://zdf-enterprises.de/en/catalogue/international/zdfeunscripted/history-biographies/greatest-events-of-world-war-two-in-colour/battle-of-britain-eps-2. Accessed 12 Jul. 2020

Records of the Navy Board and the Board of Admiralty. Notes on the Air Defence of Great Britain (TNA, ADM199/64). London: undated. Web. Accessed 20 Sep. 2020

Records of the Navy Board and the Board of Admiralty. Notes on the Air Defence of Great Britain - Appendix B (TNA, ADM199/64). London: undated. Web. Accessed 22 Sep. 2020

Shirer, William. The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks; reissue Edition, 2011.

Taylor, A.J.P. The Second World War and its Aftermath. Folio Society, 1998.

Willmott, H.P., et al. World War II. Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2010.

Wood, Derek and Derek Dempster. The Narrow Margin: The Battle of Britain & the Rise of Air Power. Pen & Sword Aviation, 2010.

Zabecki, David, editor. World War II In Europe An Encyclopedia. Garland Publishing, Inc., 1999

“8 Important Dates In The Battle Of Britain.” Imperial War Museum. https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/8-important-dates-in-the-battle-of-britain. Accessed 24 Sep. 2020
Polish Squadron 303 in the Battle of Britain


  Section A
This investigation will explore the question: To what extent was the Polish Squadron 303 influential in the defeat of the Nazis in the Battle of Britain?. One of the sources chosen to answer this question is an educational video about Polish pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain published by the Imperial War Museums on Youtube and the other is a document about Polish pilots written by Marek Rogusz and published on a website about Polish history from 1918 to 1989 commissioned and approved by the Polish government.

Source I: Imperial War Museum and Craig Murray, dirs. 2020. The Polish Pilots of the Battle of Britain

The video was created to raise awareness of the importance of the role Polish pilots played in the Battle of Britain, which directly corresponds to the topic I’m exploring in this essay. This is incredibly useful as the source is focused on the topic and therefore provides detailed information. The value of the source is also high as it was released by the Imperial War Museums and the topic was explained by their curator (Murray, Craig ) who is a specialist in the history of the Royal Air Force. This shows that the information provided is reliable as it had to be extensively monitored and fact-checked before being approved for publication. The video was created by specialists with extensive knowledge on the topic. The source uses anecdotal evidence, numbers and a quote to present the impact of Squadrons 302 and 303. This kind of mixed data is very valuable as it provides unbiased information. On the other hand, the use of numbers and statistics isn’t fully useful as no comparative information is presented. This makes it difficult to realize the scale of squadron 303’s impact.

Source II: Institute of National Remembrance and Marek Rogusz. 2015. “That" Polish Squadron,” Additional article meant to help explore Squadron 303 and its role on IPN's page about Poles in Britain during WW2 in WW2. From Independence to Independence
This source was written by the vice president of the Polish Historical Aircraft Foundation and aeronautical engineer, Marek Rogusz. It was published as an attachment to an article about the Polish government and military in France and Great Britain in the years 1939-41 on the Institute of National Remembrance-funded website dedicated to explaining the history of Poland in the years 1918-1989. The value of the source is further increased by its detail, extensiveness and reliability. It is the result of the work of a specialist commissioned by the British government to focus on the efficiency of Squadron 303. It is crucial to consider the cultural context of the origins of the source, though. Seeing as Marek Rogusz is not a historian, but an engineer and an enthusiast of the Polish Airforce and the Institute of National Remembrance focuses on cultivating pride and
      legend from Polish history, the credibility of the source is called into question. This is because in the pursuit of creating a more captivating story about the pilots, the actual history behind them might have been slightly altered as it only served as a supplementary article to an educational board game, meaning the stories might have been sensationalized for the sake of entertainment. Although it is highly unlikely that the information provided is false, there is a chance that it may have been slightly biased in order to glorify the Polish pilots that fought in WWII to compensate for the feeling of injustice about how Poles were treated during and after the war.

Section B-Investigation
To understand how meaningful the success of Squadron 303 is to Poland, it is crucial to consider the way the country had been treated throughout and after the end of the second world war. WW2 is marked with betrayal in Polish history. Starting with the invasion of Poland on the 1st of September in 1939, when Poles were expecting British and French support in vain to the Yalta Conference in 1945 in which the UK dealt with the Polish question by no longer supporting the existing Polish government in exile in London and instead allowing the Lublin Committee supported by the Soviet Union to take control of Poland, establishing a communist, authoritarian regime for 42 years1. This elicited feelings of betrayal and abandonment by the United Kingdom in Poland due to the former’s guarantee to protect Poland before it was invaded by the Third Reich 2 .
However, Britain’s perspective was quite different. At the time, the UK was actually praising Poland, especially the Polish pilots that fled there to help the war effort away from home. The men that received the most recognition and appreciation belonged to Squadron 303, famous for its help in the Battle of Britain3. They were praised for their bravery and ingenuity, which affected the stakes of the battle as well as the morale4. This investigation will explore the reality of Squadron 303’s impact on the outcome of the Battle of Britain.
First, it is important to understand the context and importance of British independence in the second world war.As the last undefeated Allied power in Europe, Great Britain was Germany’s next target to secure victory in WWII in 1940. Hitler planned to quickly dominate the skies over England to be able to sail over to Britain and perform the operation Seelöwe, the success of which would force Britain to capitulate 2. The key to this operation was swiftly crushing the Royal Air Force so that the navy transporting the soldiers to English shores wouldn’t be attacked from above. Although it was generally expected by the German officers for Britain to give up quickly early on in the fight, the Nazis were met with a strong retaliation, thus starting the Battle of Britain 2. The Battle of Britain is often remembered as one of the greatest Allied victories in WWII, and the bravery of the pilots fighting to protect Britain was even acknowledged by Winston Churchill when he paid tribute to them, saying that “never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few”.5 This brings up the question of exactly how much the squadron was valued by the British.
Squadron 303’s success in turning the odds of winning in Britain’s favour was not limited to the number of their victories in the air. It’s imperative to consider the positive effect that their “unsurpassed gallantry” had on their colleagues and the British civilians.6 Although at first, the British were doubtful about the Polish pilots’ skills mostly due to how quickly Poland fell in September 1939 as well as successful Nazi propaganda that played up Polish incompetence, they were quick to change their minds upon witnessing them in action.7 Even when Polish pilots were flying in the British squadrons waiting to be assigned to independent Polish squadrons subordinate to the RAF, their fellow British pilots were impressed by how skilled they were and requested that they stay in their Squadrons.8 This boosted morale and enthusiasm among all the pilots, making them more effective and daring in battle9.
Soon enough, Squadron 303 was also recognized by the general public thanks to their fighting prowess as well as their eagerness to engage with the German fighters and bravery in the face of danger.10 An example of this is the civilian-written report of a fight that was carried out above Westerham, where sergeant Wojtowicz’s final battle was seen by the townsfolk.11 The pilot emerged from over the clouds, with three enemy planes on his tail6. Even though he was outnumbered, he chose to stay and fight rather than retreat to safety and managed to shoot down two of the planes before being defeated by the third pilot6. This represented the spirit of the Polish pilots- even in the most hopeless of situations, they met their odds head on and did their absolute best until they couldn’t. This is one of the examples of how the civilians came to recognize and were uplifted and reassured by Squadron 303’s diligence and devotion. The Squadron became a recognizable enough symbol for the London press and broadcasts, as well as other serious institutions, to praise their efforts. The British Broadcasting Corporation sent in a telegram with “warm greetings” and “lively congratulations upon [the Squadron’s] magnificent record and best wishes for the future”, promising to tell the world of its “gallant exploits' '.12 Thanks to their nation-wide recognition, even King George VI decided to pay them a visit, during which they were called to fight 50 German bombers, sharing his appreciation of their skill with their superiors on the ground.13 All this shows that as Squadron 303 rose in fame, more and more people looked up to the pilots and were  inspired by their effectiveness and dedication to the cause, becoming more hopeful that Britain would actually be able to defend itself against Germany.
The positive influence of squadron 303 is further supported by Sir Hugh Dowding, the Commander-in-Chief of the Fighter Command. He said about them:“Had it not been for the magnificent work of the Polish squadrons [...] I hesitate to say that the outcome of battle would have been the same”14. This appreciation could be explained by the pilots’ performance during the Battle of Britain: as the highest-scoring squadron in the Battle of Britain,they had a highly impressive record15. From the start of its service, squadron 303 was very effective in their fights, shooting down six enemy planes on their very first day.16 Of the 126 confirmed planes shot down in total, 13 more were likely shot down and 9 were damaged- that being the highest result of all the 71 squadrons in Fighter Command 11. Another skill that made squadron 303 so successful in the air was their ability to avoid being shot down. An example of that was made on their very first day of active service, when they managed to debut without any losses on their side13. This proves they were highly skilled from the very start of their involvement in the battle, also giving credit to their training in Poland. Overall, it is not surprising, considering their skill and count of shot down planes, that Squadron 303 ended up receiving such high praise from Sir Hugh Dowding- their contribution to the war effort was certainly significant.
On the other hand, while the success rate of squadron 303 undeniably had a positive influence on Britain’s victory, in comparison to the overall results of the Fighter Command their results turn out to be quite underwhelming. While they did score the highest out of all the squadrons, their contribution to the overall RAF count was only 4,7%17. Although squadron 303 shot down the most planes out of the squadrons involved, the shared score of all the squadrons in the Fighter Command strongly overpowered it. This means that while the effort made by the squadron in those 42 days was definitely impressive, it could not have played a decisive role in the fight. Additionally, the reported numbers of the shot planes is not entirely reliable- oftentimes pilots would shoot the same plane, which then would be reported and counted separately18. Squadron 303, as remarkable as it was, was only part of the collective effort that defeated Germany in the Battle of Britain in the end, and the results would have been probably the same had Squadron 303 not participated.

  It is also important to consider that the way the Polish pilots were organized to join the effort was unnecessarily inefficient. The entrance the pilots into the war effort was delayed due to the tedious bureaucratic process of creating an independent squadron within the RAF, so they only ended up actively serving for 42 days during the Battle of Britain- they joined two months late instead of joining immediately19. The arrival of Polish pilots and their demand to be allowed to fly with the RAF disturbed Britain’s actions to counter the Nazi advance as time and resources had to be used to control their integration into the Force. When the pilots first arrived to the UK, they had to undergo training in the English language as well as unlearn the metric system and adapt their style of flying due to the differences between Polish and British aircraft20. Those resources had to be dedicated to a foreign force rather than supporting the already trained and English speaking British pilots21. Despite such thorough preparation, there were times when the pilots couldn’t understand orders and had to improvise in the air, lowering the effectiveness of the whole formation.22
Nonetheless, it is important to address the fact that Squadron 303 couldn’t have been the only one to report more planes shot down than necessary, and even if, the RAF has explicitly said that this should not in any way diminish their contribution to Britain’s victory in the Battle. 23
In conclusion, the contribution of Squadron 303 to the triumph over the Nazis in the Battle of Britain is certainly notable. However, having reviewed the statistics of the battle, it is clear that the sources that dub them the sole heroes of the Battle of Britain, such as Jerzy Cynk’s The Polish Air Force At War seem to play up their importance- squadron 303 was hardly decisive in the defense against Nazis. It is easy to understand that Poles, feeling betrayed and abandoned by the West, would over exaggerate the success of squadron 303- after all, it was one of the very few events in WW2 they could be truly proud of, and with the shadow of the Soviet Union taking control of the country, national pride and comfort had to be found in half-truths about the glory days of squadron 303. Even so, it had the highest record among the RAF Squadrons and while it might not have been enough to be a deciding factor in the victory, that combined with the hope they provided to the civilians and cheerful attitude they shared with the other Fighter Command pilots was enough to make them very impactful. It also should be noted that squadron 303’s unreliability when reporting the amount of planes shot down was not exclusive to them. All of the pilots sometimes happened to take down a target without knowing that they had had help from another pilot24. This is also addressed by the RAF, who have stated that the fact that squadron 303 may have shot down fewer planes in reality does not diminish their contribution to the Battle of Britain25. It was squadron 303 in addition to everything else that helped defend Britain from Nazi victory, although they certainly weren’t the singular or the main reason for the defeat of the Nazis in the Battle of Britain.

Section C

Having grown up in Poland, I have witnessed the almost cult adoration surrounding squadron 303, where they are featured as heroes vital to defeating Germany in the Battle of Britain in textbooks, fictional books, board games and movies like Squadron 303 directed by Denis Delic. Doubtlessly, the pride my fellow Poles feel towards the squadron has rubbed off on me, and thus I went into this investigation wanting very badly to prove that squadron 303 was pivotal to the Battle of Britain. Bearing in mind all the failures Poland has faced throughout History, I felt compelled to find the good impact left by my people, not even for Poland but for Europe. My goal was to justify my national pride and find at least one time when Poles were the winners.
This already shows a struggle historians have to face when investigating a topic they have a personal interest in- overcoming bias. It’s a challenge to remain objective when the evidence found doesn’t support your preferred version of history, but that’s the responsibility a person takes on when committing to a historical investigation.
Furthermore, hard evidence was scarce in my investigation. It was easier to access accounts of fights or general retellings of the pilots’ stories rather than statistics- numbers of planes shot down in each squadron, rate of success, efficiency, overall contribution to the effort. As mentioned in the footnotes above, I have had to seek out individual numbers regarding the scores of the 303rd squadron and of the Fighter Command overall. Then I had to decide how to measure their success and compare it to the overall score and having decided on a percentage, I had to calculate one individually. Furthermore, it’s important to consider that even the statistics I used for my calculations might not be entirely reliable as oftentimes pilots would often claim the same kill, which would then be counted as two. Not only does this reduce the credibility of the result as I am not a trained mathematician nor was this calculation monitored by anyone, which means it carries the possibility of human error, this shows the lack of sufficient evidence.
Additionally, it was easier to find sources supporting the idea of squadron 303 as the sole hero of the Battle of Britain than to find ones debunking it, so I struggled to balance the essay as one side of the argument had more evidence to support than the other. To find a variety of sources I have  had to contact museums and organizations like the Polish Air Force memorial in London or the Polish Air Force Museum in Dęblin. Fortunately, I heard back from Dr Roman Kozłowski who shared with me documents like Wacław Król’s The Polish Air Force in Britain or Jerzy Cynk’s The Polish Force At War. While many historical sources, including these two, are tainted by bias, this granted me access to statistics and accounts of events that aren’t usually available to the public. Unfortunately, the Polish Air Force Memorial couldn’t provide me with academic resources produced by the British, leaving me mostly with Polish-sourced recounts of the British perspective. This shows that historians might have limited access when carrying out their research, and have to make extra effort to access private sources and sometimes rely on less than they think is sufficient to support their arguments.
Overall, this investigation was a highly informative exploration of a historian’s experience. I have learned that there are so many factors that need to be taken into account- having a range of sources, making sure those sources are reliable and keeping your own bias in check to introduce a fair and objective argument. It is a whole ordeal and thus a good historical investigation has incredible value.

1. Cynk, Jerzy B. 1998. The Polish Air Force At War: 1939-1943. Vol. I. Warsaw: L&L.
2. Historic UK and Joss Meakins. n.d. “Polish Pilots and the Battle of Britain.” Historic UK. https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofBritain/Polish-Pilots-the-Battle-of-Britai n/#:~:text=In%20just%2042%20days%20303,who%20scored%2017%20downed%20 planes.
3. Hughes, Thomas A., and John G. Royde-Smith. 1998. “World War II - Yalta.” Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/event/World-War-II/Yalta#ref512234.
4. Imperial War Museum and Mariusz Gasior. 2020. “The Polish Pilots Who Flew in the Battle of Britain.” Imperial War Museum. https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-polish-pilots-who-flew-in-the-battle-of-britain.
 5. Imperial War Museum and Craig Murray, dirs. 2020. The Polish Pilots of the Battle of Britain.
6. Institute of National Remembrance. 2015. “"That" Polish Squadron,” Additional article
meant to help explore Squadron 303 and its role on IPN's page about Poles in Britain during WW2 in WW2. From Independence to Independence. History of Poland 1918-1989. https://www.polska1918-89.pl/index.html.
7. Król, Wacław. 1976. The Polish Air Force in Britain . Warsaw: Publishing House of the Ministry of National Defense.
8. Royal Air Force Museum. n.d. “303 Squadron.” RAF Museum. Accessed December 1, 2021. https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/research/online-exhibitions/the-polish-air-force-in-world- war-2/303-squadron/.
9. UK Parliament. n.d. “'Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.'” UK Parliament. https://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/private-lives/yourco untry/collections/churchillexhibition/churchill-the-orator/human-conflict/.