Following a two-year war of independence, Ireland seceded from British rule in 1922. As a result, relations between Ireland and Britain were still not repaired when the war began in 1939, or when the Battle of Britain broke out in 1940. In fact, Ireland as a country remained neutral throughout World War Two.
Despite this, many Irish citizens felt a desire to enlist in the British military during the war and contributed to the success of the troops across many theatres of war. This included the Battle of Britain, during which ten Irish pilots fought as part of the RAF Fighter Command. These pilots were treated with great respect by the British pilots, having signed up to risk their lives for a country their home nation had previously fought against.
One of the most celebrated of these Irish aces was Brendan "Paddy" Finucane, who managed to claim a total of 32 enemy planes before he was killed in 1942. Paddy was just 17 when he enlisted in the RAF, becoming operational in 1940 just in time for the Battle of Britain to break out. Paddy became the youngest Wing Commander in the RAF, earning the title at the age of just 21.
The Irish pilots who were part of the RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain included:
W/Cdr = Wing Commander
S/Ldr = Squadron Leader
F/Lt = Flight Lieutenant
P/O = Pilot Officer
F/O = Flying Officer
"Eire and the Battle of Britain". HistoryLearning.com. 2023. Web.