[Sir Keith Park and The Battle of Britain]

Rights Information
Year
1961
Reference
154870
Media type
Audio
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Rights Information
Year
1961
Reference
154870
Media type
Audio
Categories
Nonfiction radio programs
Radio interviews
Radio programs
Sound recordings
Duration
00:48:28
Credits
RNZ Collection
New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation (estab. 1962, closed 1975), Broadcaster
Park, Keith, 1892-1975, Interviewee

Sir Keith Park gives a full account of the Battle of Britain in World War II.

He begins by explaining how his World War I experience was invaluable to him in WWII during the Battle of Britain. He knew the Germans were good fighters but they were slow to adapt when a set plan was thrown out by surprise.
Aircraft flown in the two wars were basically the same, but had greater firepower in WWII and better armour. Fighter tactics started in WWII as they had left off in 1918. He learned in France in 1917 that massed formations of fighters were too cumbersome. Baron von Richthofen always patrolled in a flock of 50 or 60 fighters, so he could amass a huge score of hits, but the Royal Flying Corps refused to adopt these tactics and kept squads small to be more flexible. The Germans eventually gave up these mass wings also.
He was recalled from Egypt in 1926 to reform British air defences post-war.
The interview then moves into his post WWI career; how he helped reform British air defences from 1926-1939 and then his role in the Battle of Britain. He talks about the disputes over the numbers of enemy planes claimed destroyed and how the "little wing" strategy was the only response to the German battle plan which was feasible.
He says the first week in September 1940 was the period in which he was most worried, when his fighter aerodromes were being targeted by Goering's fighters. He talks about having limited resources with which to meet enemy attacks and having to rely on neighbouring squadrons who still believed in the "big wing" strategy which led to unnecessary losses.