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Lunchtime Lecture: The Forgotten ‘Few’ — Bomber and Coastal Command in the Battle of Britain.

03 December 2021

At 12.30PM on 3 December, James Jefferies will explore the contribution made by Bomber and Coastal Command during the Battle of Britain. This free lecture will be hosted in our London lecture theatre with a live audience.

The lecture will also be live-streamed online via Crowdcast.

Impressionistic painting of aircraft on the ground and in flight

Talk Outline

The popular narrative of the Battle of Britain has focussed mainly on the role of RAF Fighter Command as they defended the skies over Britain from Nazi Germany’s Luftwaffe. However, the Battle of Britain was as much about the RAF’s offensive capabilities as its defensive ones.

Using contemporary sources, such as newspapers, eyewitness accounts and speeches as well as post war examinations, this talk strongly suggests that Winston Churchill’s ‘Few’, the title so often bestowed solely upon the fighter pilots, was equally attributed to the bomber crews of the RAF Bomber Command who engaged on frequent, and often fatal, missions over enemy territory attacking Luftwaffe airfields, bombing German industrial targets and attacking the invasion barges.

Coastal Command also made an important contribution , undertaking minelaying operations and coastal patrols. The role of Coastal Command and its contribution during the Battle of Britain will be examined.

As well as exploring the crucial the role of Bomber and Coastal Commands to the RAF’s success in 1940, this talk will then examine why their story was neglected in the historiography of the battle and why it has only come to light in the last decade. From Larry Donnelly’s The Other Few  to more recent works about the Battle of Britain, by historians such as James Holland and Stephen Bungay, this talk will look at how our historical appraisal of the Battle is slowly changing.

It will also examine the public memory of the battle that still often chooses to omit the role of the bomber crews and concludes that future narratives and sited ‘rolls of honour’ should include those members of RAF Bomber and Coastal Commands.


The lecture will take place in our London lecture theatre on Friday 3 December 2021. This lecture will begin at 12.30PM.


This lecture is free of charge however we do ask that you register now as tickets are limited. Booking is quick and easy:

Please note: That this lecture will also be available to watch remotely via the Museum’s Crowdcast Channel.

To access the lecture you may need to check your internet browser is compatible. It is currently reported that Google Chrome provides the best experience for using Crowdcast.

About James Jefferies

James Jefferies is undertaking his PhD at the University of Essex History Department studying depictions and memory of the First World War in computer games during the centenary. James also completed his MA History at Essex and his dissertation was entitled Bomber Command in the Battle of Britain: How Britain revered and then reviled the ‘few’ who flew bombers. He is a regular contributor to the History Indoors project at the University of Essex and is currently working as a historical consultant for The Logistics of the Battle of Britain by Real Engineering and Junto Media, to be released in the summer of 2021.

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