Eighty years ago, from early July until the end of October 1940, a deceptively straightforward battle was fought in the skies over England… a battle that ultimately would shape the rest of the Second World War for the Allied Forces in Europe and beyond. It would also shape the future of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
In 2020, the challenges we face with COVID-19 mean there will be no large gatherings, no parades. But with almost no survivors of the Second World War left among us, we must take time to remember those who fought in the Battle of Britain.
Here is the story of Norma Zelia Watts, who was part of the British Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and one of the many Canadians who took part in the Battle of Britain.
Norma Zelia Watts (née Tilley), formerly from Coventry, England, served as a radio telephonist with the British Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF).
During the Battle of Britain, she was the ground contact for the aircrews that fought back the German Luftwaffe in the British skies. Later in the war, she first served with Fighter Command, and then with Bomber Command which is where she met her husband, Flight Lieutenant Jack Vincent Watts, a Royal Canadian Air Force navigator.
During the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe attacked airfields and radar stations on the southeast coast of England.
“I started at Fighter Command Biggin Hill, which the Germans bombed the hell out of . . . and killed 30 of us WAAFs, at which point [our leaders] decided they…