battle of britain
Created on April 5, 2022
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The Battle of Britain is a battle in the air between Great Britain and Germany during World War 2. Indeed, after the fall of France at the end of June 1940, Nazi Germany had one major enemy left in Western Europe : Great Britain. Overconfident and with little planning, Germany expected to quickly conquer Great Britain by first gaining domination over airspace and then later sending in ground troops across the English Channel (Operation Sealion) trop control it.
Unfortunately for the Germans, British morale stayed high and the reprieve granted to British airfields gave to the British Air Force (RAF) the respite it needed. While the German air force (the Luftwaffe) had more planes than the Royal Air Force of Great Britain, the British were able to re-arm and replace pilots a lot faster than the Germans were. Hitler changed tactics at a crucial point in the war, and these facts led to unsustainable losses, the Luftwaffe abandoned its attempt to establish air superiority over the United Kingdom. It was the first major military defeat of Nazi Germany.
The name ‘Battle of Britain’ comes from a speech by Winston Churchill, he said ‘the Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin.’
The battle took place in the air and especially over the English channel and the UK. The English Channel, also called simply the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates Southern England from northern France. It’s a strategic point for Hitler because if he had the control on the channel (whether in the air or in the water) he will be able to conquer Great britain.
At the beginning, when the British were not prepared and aware, the Luftwaffe succeeded in reaching the UK so they bombarded many cities of Great Britain.
During WW2, after the fall of France. Aircrew of the RAF faced the Luftwaffe from July to October 1940. So the battle of Britain lasted 4 months.
The Battle itself lasted roughly from the 10th of July 1940, to the end of October 1940, and can be divided into four sections:
10th July – 11th August – ‘The Channel Battles’ (Kanalkampf)
12th – 23rd August –‘ Eagle Attack’, attacks on the airfields along the British coast
24th August – 6th September – attacks focussed on airfields around the UK.
7th September onwards – daytime attacks on British cities.
German leaders felt it was essential to destroy the British air force to stop it sinking the ships that would carry German soldiers across the Channel. Indeed, Hitler’s aim was always to conquer as much territory as possible in order to create a "living space" which he called "lebensraum" so that the Germans (and more particularly the Aryan race) could have a place large enough to live.
This battle opposed the Royal Air Force (United Kingdom’s air and space force) and the Luftwaffe (German Air Force). The dirigeant of these air force are Hugh Caswall (British air chief marshal) and Albert Kesselring (German air chief marshal).
Hitler is the person who launched this murderous and destructive battle. Indeed he is the most totalitarian, dangerous, racist dictator of the XXth century.
At that time, the prime minister of the UK were Winston Churchill. He foresaw a dark and difficult period ahead in which the military strength and civilian spirit of Great Britain was to be pushed to the limit, and he made a speech encouraging unity and determination in the face of the enemy. We can attribute the British victory to this man and of course all the soldiers who participated at this battle.
Consisting of 2,945 aircrew, the RAF was joined by volunteers from 13 different nations, some of whom had battle experience against the Luftwaffe in their own air forces. This international force became known as 'The Few'. Roughly a fifth of the RAF's Battle of Britain aviators were not British.
Millions of ordinary men and women across the UK played vital roles, including Air Raid Wardens, firefighters and members of the Home Guard. Thousands across the UK worked in aircraft factories, building the aircraft that would defend the country.
The Battle of Britain was a decisive British victory, since Hitler failed in his aim of establishing German air superiority. The RAF was vastly more efficient than the Luftwaffe had expected, leading to the first military defeat for Nazi Germany. Churchill’s prediction that this would be the ‘finest hour’ was proven correct, and he famously said of the Fighter Command that ‘never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’ (August 20th 1940). It was this event that caused the US government to change its views towards the war: Britain now seemed to have a chance of winning the war, and so should be supported.
Unsubdued, the UK and its allies continued to wage war on Nazi Germany. Five years later, in May 1945, with the Allies advancing into Germany from all sides and Berlin in Soviet hands, Nazi Germany surrendered.
This battle allowed the RAF to train and above all to make many advances on science, ingenuity, and support : the RAF had also developed a powerful weapon: radar, it’s system took the RAF from strength to strength
By 1940, dozens of radar stations had been constructed along the British coastline. This system, called ‘Chain Home’, was the first early warning radar network ever built. Men and women in the radar stations could detect approaching German aircraft from up to 80 miles away.
Some numbers: 50 000 dead (including mainly civilians) / 415 dead British pilots / 1,547 allied aircraft lost /1,700 Germans aircraft lost / 2 000 000 homes destroyed
=> catastrophic assessment
Air Battle / Britain / RAF / Luftwaffe / defeat of Nazi Germany / British victory / Winston Churchill / Hitler / English channel / bombing / living space / radar