MY apologies – I cannot find the report which I read last year that Marshall Zhukov considered the Battle of Britain the most important of the Second World War (Letters, February 6). Maybe it’s deleted from the internet.

But whether literally true or not, for Leslie Smith (Letters, February 11) to write “it has no historical basis” is facile. The Battle of Britain was Hitler’s first major defeat since 1933, convincing the United States we could survive, and giving the USSR almost a year to increase industrial and military preparations against possible invasion, despite Stalin’s alliance with Hitler and mistrust of Churchill’s warnings.

Moreover, Sir Antony Beevor revealed that Stalin, Khrushchev and Zhukov all admitted that the USSR could not have won at Stalingrad or Kursk without the massive shipments of grain, tinned-food, arms, steel (for the superb T-34 tank) and 430,000 vehicles, from the US and UK (some via Churchill’s “worst journey on earth”).

Clearly, that aid would not have happened without our victory in the Battle of Britain, thus justifying its “most important” description (which is not the same as “turning-point”).

Equally clearly (per the historian John Ray) everything after late 1940 would have been different had we lost, such as almost certainly: the UK occupied and our men under 45 enslaved on the Continent; the USSR invaded earlier than June 1941, successfully; the Pacific war starting sooner than December 1941, with Japan invading India and Australia; a far greater Holocaust; and strengthened US isolationist tendencies, concentrating on the Pacific.

On the Indian volunteer army, while Mr Smith may have inferred it, I did not say that all 2.5 million served in Europe. They also served in Africa and Asia, with the British and Empire troops – and it is reasonable to regard these “theatres” especially Africa, as part of our war to deliver Europe from tyranny.

While no-one should underestimate the efforts, suffering and appalling losses of the Soviet troops, nor should anyone (as Mr Smith seems to) belittle the UK contribution to the war’s conclusion, particularly now with Vladimir Putin’s historical revisionism and rehabilitation of Stalin, resulting in 63 per cent of Russians believing they alone beat Hitler.

John Birkett,

12 Horseleys Park, St Andrews.