Why Commemorate 1940?
2010 is the 70th anniversary of 1940, the most momentous year in Britain’s history and one that helped determine the eventual outcome of the Second World War and the course of history. Churchill became Prime Minister in May and this was the start of a series of pivotal events that struck one after another. Rationing had made a big impact on the home front in early 1940, but it was the evacuation of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz, all happening within a few months, that brought the war closer to home than ever before and ultimately saved Britain.
A Snapshot of 1940
1940: Britain’s Finest Hour provides a short history of how these key events shaped the war, explored through our Collections. Our archive photographs and film provide a rich resource for understanding the war; the First World War was the first time a conflict was photographed, and by the Second World War, the growth of official photo journalism created an enduring, evocative story. Some of these photographs can be seen here, but this microsite is a doorway to history, through which you can discover more by searching our Collections and visiting us.
1940: Britain’s Finest Hour will keep you up-to-date on what is happening across all of the branches to mark the 70th anniversary year. The Churchill War Rooms and Imperial War Museum Duxford both played crucial roles in the events of 1940, offering excellent opportunities to find out more. Events are happening throughout the year, and our permanent exhibitions and galleries are also an excellent source of information relating to 1940: check out our Top 5 Things to See and Do on each page and delve deeper into history, and the people who made it.
For the first time, the complete Operation Record Books (ORBs) for RAF Duxford and No. 19 Squadron during the Battle of Britain can be viewed online. 1940: Britain’s Finest Hour is publishing these ‘daily diaries’ as they originally appeared to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Battle. The Duxford entries show the minutiae of daily life on an RAF station - church services, cinema shows, new appointments - while the No. 19 Squadron record often demonstrates the breathtaking pace of air combat.
Operations Record Books are held by the National Archives - the two ORBs we have used can be found under the files AIR 27/252 for No. 19 Squadron and AIR 28/232 for RAF Duxford. All material is Crown Copyright.
Follow us on Twitter
Keep up-to-date on the historical facts and all the events surrounding 1940, as well as what’s happening at the Museum, by following us on Twitter.
The ORB entries have their own dedicated Twitter site, where you can follow what was happening day-by-day 70 years ago.
Post your Photos on Flickr
If you’re planning on visiting us to discover more about 1940, don’t forget you can share any photographs of your experiences on our Britain’s Finest Hour Flickr group. From watching the Battle of Britain Air Show to exploring the Churchill War Rooms, we want to see how people have been commemorating 1940. We’d also love to feature some of these photos on this site, so please only submit if you’re happy for this to happen and know that the photo does not infringe on anyone else’s copyrights.
IWM Duxford is partnering with the RAF during this special anniversary year.
Unless otherwise stated, all images are reproduced by permission of the Imperial War Museum. For information about our copyright policy, please visit our website.
Churchill quotes are reproduced with the permission of Curtis Brown Ltd, London on behalf of The Estate of Sir Winston Churchill. Copyright © Winston S. Churchill