The military is shutting down the Biggin Hill air base in southern England, which played a key role in repelling Nazi air attacks during the Battle of Britain.

Roger Freeman, a junior undersecretary at the Defense Ministry, said the Royal Air Force will close the base in the next few months.The RAF stopped flying at Biggin Hill in 1959 and turned it into an officer and aircrew selection center. Freeman said the center would move to the RAF College at Cranwell in eastern England "as part of our continuing search for economy and efficiency."

From July to October 1940 Nazi Germany tried but failed to wipe out British air defenses ahead of an anticipated sea-borne invasion.

Despite major losses, heavily outnumbered British fighters from Biggin Hill and other bases wore down the Germans in daily battles over southern England as crowds on the ground gathered outdoors in bright summer sunshine to watch the savage dogfights overhead.