They attacked with the sun behind them so that the enemy were caught unawares. But German fighter pilots, famously seen off during the Battle of Britain, will not be commemorating their dead this year for a simple reason: they believe the British are talking up an 'insignificant' clash in the skies that did not alter the course of the war.
Ahead of the sixtieth anniversary of the famous dogfights between Spitfires and Messerschmitts, German pilots are still engaged in fighting talk over the events of 1940 that Winston Churchill declared the victory of 'the few' British pilots on behalf of 'the many' in a battle that saved Britain from becoming part of the German empire.
At 83, Julius Meimberg is typical. He can remember almost every detail of a war in which he flew more than 250 missions as a fighter pilot, including dozens over Britain.
'It's all exaggerated,' he said. 'Churchill succeeded in creating this myth that so few did so much for so many. When you look at how we fought against the Americans later, the Battle of Britain was very little in comparison.'