Glasgow Spitfires Win Battle of Britain's First Fight





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Published on Oct 15, 2013

Alistair McConnachie, of http://www.aForceForGood.org.uk, on Glasgow's 602 Spitfire Squadron, the first into WW2 aerial conflict over British skies.

We're here today on the beach at Crail. And directly behind me is the Isle of May.

And in the skies above us is where the first aerial combat of what was to become known as the Battle of Britain occurred.

It was on the 16th of October 1939 when a Junkers 88 Bomber was shot down by 602 Squadron from Glasgow.

The Luftwaffe were coming in to destroy principal units of the Royal Navy which were moored in the Firth of Forth. At that time in the war, land targets were not permissible.

And so, contrary to popular belief, the Forth Rail Bridge would not have been a target.

And so it was on the 16th of October 1939 that the Luftwaffe flew in heading west, up the Firth of Forth towards their targets.

And it was Glasgow's 602 Spitfire Squadron which was scrambled to intercept the enemy.

And they found them just as they were making their escape, heading down the Firth of Forth, in the skies above me. Just off the Isle of May.

And it was during that engagement that Flight Lieutenant George Pinkerton of the City of Glasgow 602 Spitfire Squadron made the first kill of the Battle of Britain.

Somewhere in the seas behind me lies a Junkers 88 Medium Bomber of the Luftwaffe.

When 602 met the enemy that day, it was flying out of RAF Drem in East Lothian. And throughout the war it was to operate also from England, Wales, France and Belgium.

During the Battle of Britain over the skies of southern England in the summer and autumn of 1940, it was to be one of the highest scoring units of Fighter Command, and it was to serve longer on the front line than any other Squadron.

It fought at D-Day. It attacked V1 and V2 launch sites. And it's also credited as being the Squadron which straffed Rommel's Staff Car, and put him out of action for the duration of the Normandy Campaign.

And 602 Squadron is still with us.

Today it's part of the RAF Reserves.

On 25 of June 2013, this Memorial was established in the grounds of Kelvingrove Museum. And it's to commemorate the 54 men of 602, who gave their lives in that momentous conflict.

It says: "602 City of Glasgow Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force."

"In honour of those who gave their today for our tomorrow 1939 to 45."

And there's a Latin inscription which reads, Per Ardua Ad Astra, which means "Through Adversity to the Stars". The motto of the Royal Air Force.

Crail (Fife), Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (Glasgow).
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