17 OCTOBER 1998, Page 27

Our year of grace

Sir: Richard Lamb makes some telling points in support of the view that 'Britain and France were far stronger vis-à-vis Hitler in 1938 than in 1939' (Letters, 10 October), but they are outweighed by cru- cial factors to the contrary.

Prominent among these was our lack of adequate air defences in 1938. This was put right, but only just in time, when after Munich enough Hurricanes and Spitfires were built to achieve victory in the Battle of Britain and the vital radar chain around our coast was brought to completion. The RAF officer directly responsible for seeing that all its radar stations were adequately pro- vided with technicians for the requisite pitch of efficiency was the Conservative MP Patrick Donner. In his autobiography, Cru- sade, he recounts how it was not until 20 July 1940 that he was able to report that for the first time the staffing was adequate to cope with a full-scale German aerial assault, expected as a prelude to invasion. That assault began a mere 19 days later. Irfon Roberts

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