The Battle of Britain: Five Months That Changed History, May-October 1940 by James HollandIf Hitler fails to invade or destroy Britain, he has lost the war, Churchill said in the summer of 1940.He was right.The Battle of Britain was a crucial turning point in the history of the Second World War. Had Britains defences collapsed, Hitler would have dominated all of Europe and been able to turn his full attention east to the Soviet Union.
The German invasion of France and the Low Countries in May 1940 was unlike any the world had ever seen. It hit with a force and aggression that no-one could counter and in just a few short weeks, all in their way crumbled under the force of the Nazi hammer blow. With France facing defeat and with British forces pressed back to the Channel, there were few who believed Britain could possibly survive.Soon, it seemed, Hitler would have all of Europe at his feet.
Yet Hitlers forces were not quite the Goliath they at first seemed, while her leadership lacked the single-minded purpose, vision and direction that had led to such success on land.Nor was Britain any David.Thanks to a sophisticated defensive system and the combined efforts of the RAF, Royal Navy as well as the mounting sense of collective defiance led by a new Prime Minister, Britain was not ready to roll over just yet.
From clashes between coastal convoys and Schnellboote in the Channel to astonishing last stands in Flanders, and from the slaughter by the U-boats in the icy Atlantic to the dramatic aerial battles over England, The Battle of Britain tells this most epic of stories from all sides, drawing on extensive new research from around the world. In so doing, it paints a complete picture of that extraordinary summer - a time in which the fate of the world truly hung by a thread.
Battle of Britain
Winston Churchill during an air raid warning. Credit: Library of Congress. The stage for the battle was set in May , when Nazi Germany launched a massive blitzkrieg against Western Europe. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Despite being fresh off his lightning conquest of France, Hitler was wary of invading Britain. A small contingent of British politicians also favored a compromise, but Winston Churchill brushed off talk of surrender and announced that Britain was determined to fight on.
In the summer and fall of , German and British air forces clashed in the skies over the United Kingdom, locked in the largest sustained bombing campaign to that date. But Prime Minister Winston Churchill rallied his stubborn people and outmaneuvered those politicians who wanted to negotiate with Adolf Hitler. This then would be the first all-air battle in history. Britain possessed an effective air defense system, first-rate fighter pilots, and a great military leader in Air Marshal Hugh Dowding. On the other hand, the Germans had major problems: they had no navy left after the costly conquest of Norway, their army was unprepared for any form of amphibious operations, and the Luftwaffe had suffered heavy losses in the west the first two factors made a seaborne attack on the British Isles impossible from the first. Even more serious, the Germans had poor intelligence and little idea of British vulnerabilities. They wasted most of July in waiting for a British surrender and attacked only in August.
2. The British had developed an air defence network that gave them a critical advantage
Battle of Britain , during World War II , the successful defense of Great Britain against unremitting and destructive air raids conducted by the German air force Luftwaffe from July through September , after the fall of France. Victory for the Luftwaffe in the air battle would have exposed Great Britain to invasion by the German army, which was then in control of the ports of France only a few miles away across the English Channel.
The Battle of Britain was one of the most pivotal moments in the country's history. It marked a turning point when Britain stood alone against Hitler's seemingly unstoppable military power. In the summer of after Hitler swept through France and drove the British army out of the European mainland - the people of Britain made ready for a Nazi invasion. But before Hitler could conquer the country he needed to gain air superiority. The Luftwaffe launched a large scale attack, intent on wiping out Britain's air defences.
Hitler ordered planning to begin for an invasion of Britain on 2 July But the Nazi leader specified air and naval superiority over the English Channel and proposed landing points before any invasion. The accuracy of the information being reported was also greatly improved. That figure included around fighter aircraft, bombers and coastal aeroplanes. The Luftwaffe could deploy 1, fighter aircraft, bombers, dive-bombers, reconnaissance planes and 80 coastal planes. Germany had begun carrying out daylight bombing raids on Britain on the first day of the month, but attacks intensified from 10 July.
Explore the key events of the Battle of Britain with clips from over 50 years of BBC television and radio programmes. Their ultimate failure was one of the turning points of World War Two and prevented Germany from invading Britain. Photo: A RAF fighter squadron 'scrambles' after receiving the signal to engage the enemy during the Battle of Britain. Getty Images. Michael Flanders narrates an overview of the major events of the Battle of Britain, including a discussion between Battle of Britain pilots Douglas Bader and Paddy Barthropp about the significance of the battle. Mo Mowlam MP describes the Battle of Britain and Churchill's intimate involvement in the day-to-day running of the air campaign.