Breaking Point begins today…

by | Aug 18, 2020

August 18th, 1940 is now known as ‘The Hardest Day’ in the Battle of Britain, when the RAF and the Luftwaffe lost a combined total of more than 200 aircraft destroyed or damaged in a single day. This is the day we meet Johnnie, a Spitfire fighter pilot, who will fly five missions against the enemy before the day is over, and Eleanor, as she begins to apply her mathematical brilliance to the battle in the skies…

From Breaking Point

0430 hours, Sunday, August 18, 1940
RAF Christhampton, Surrey, England

Johnnie Shaux awoke an hour before dawn. His tiny cubicle felt dank. He groped for his uniform and pulled it on in the darkness, fumbled into his heavy sheepskin flying boots, and clomped down the darkened corridor, still half-asleep, unshaven and unwashed…
…A young airman, scarcely more awake than Shaux, wordlessly handed him a mug of hot, sweet tea. He felt his way to a decaying armchair on the veranda and sat down. He sat with his eyes closed, gathering his senses, slowly stretching his limbs one by one, taking an inventory of his brief life, wondering dispassionately if he would still be alive to do so tomorrow…
…The eastern sky grew perceptibly lighter, and the graceful outlines of Supermarine Spitfire fighters emerged from the darkness like wraiths, their long noses lifted skyward as if scenting the early-morning breeze for prey…

1200 hours, Sunday, August 18, 1940
Air Ministry, London, England

Flight Officer Rand replaced the telephone in its cradle and stared at her notes. She turned to her typewriter and began her report…
…This was the sixth consecutive day of attacks on RAF stations. If the Luftwaffe continued to pound the airfields, it was only a question of time—measured in days, rather than weeks—before 11 Group would be forced to withdraw north of London, ceding air superiority over southern England to the Germans…
…At last the report was finished. She glanced back at her summary of the morning’s battles. The equation was clear. It required the RAF to be able to put up twenty squadrons of aircraft, 250 Hurricanes and Spitfires, at any time. At this very moment, she calculated, 11 Group had twelve fully operational squadrons at best…
…She stared at her report. It was, as usual, a recitation of attrition, but she had the nagging feeling it showed something else as well, something about the balance of forces above southern England … True, she was no expert in aerial warfare, God knew, but these were numbers, and she did know mathematics. There ought to be more … She was certain there was more…

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