Waiting for perfection from our rulers is just an excuse to shy away from doing your bit 

By Ayo Akinfe 

(1) Today is July 10. It was on this day in 1940 that the Battle of Britain began with Nazi German forces attacking shipping convoys in the English Channel

(2) Britain officially recognises the battle's duration as being from July 10 until October 31 1940, which overlaps the period of large-scale night attacks known as The Blitz, that lasted from September 7 1940 to May 11 1941. German historians, however, do not accept this subdivision and regard the battle as a single campaign lasting from July 1940 to June 1941, including the Blitz

(3) Germany would easily have overrun Britain had the army attacked in 1940 but the Germans wanted to clear the skies first to enable their troops cross the English Channel unmolested. This where they faced a hiccup as they had to eliminate the threat posed by Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) 

(4) I am not aware of any other war, where just a handful of just 9,000 brave men and women won a battle and subsequently war for a nation of 50m people. Equipped with about 2,000 aircraft, the RAF managed to keep the better equipped, battle-hardy and more experienced Luftwaffe at bay 

(5) The RAF was staffed by young men with an average of about 22. Over 1,500 of them lost their lives in this battle but alas, it did not dampen their spirit or kill their enthusiasm 

(6) Winston Churchill summed it all up when he said: “Never before in the history of human conflict have so many owed so much to so few.”

(7) Now Britain was fast asleep during the 1930s when Hitler was arming the Luftwaffe and Wehrmacht to the teeth. That was blatant negligence and dereliction of duty. Those RAF pilots could easily have blamed their leaders for incompetence and neglect but alas, they did not moan. They just got on with the job at hand 

(8) Were it not for the foreign volunteers, Britain would have found life a lot more difficult too. This must have served as a lesson in humility to the arrogant stiff upper lipped English gentry who managed the RAF. These foreign pilots, some of whom had to flee their home countries because of German invasion, fought with great distinction. For instance, the 303 Polish Fighter Squadron was not just the highest scoring of the Hurricane squadrons but also had the highest ratio of enemy aircraft destroyed to their own losses. Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding, the head of RAF Fighter Command, said of them: “Had it not been for the magnificent material contributed by the Polish squadrons and their unsurpassed gallantry, I hesitate to say that the outcome of the Battle of Britain would have been the same."

(9) Also, a lot of ordinary British lads from working class backgrounds were brought into the RAF to fight for the country. They showed no resentment at class distinctions and just got on with the job 

(10) What are the lessons to be learnt? If you are waiting for perfection before doing your bit, you will never build a nation state. There will always be selfish, incompetent, class conscious and irresponsible leaders but that should never deter a genuine patriot.