Battle of Britain

Posted: Monday, July 11, 2011 by Travis Cody in
6

By the summer of 1940, Hitler's Blitzkrieg across Europe had forced the evacuation of over 300,000 French and British troops at Dunkirk.  Paris had fallen, the the majority of western Europe lay under Nazi occupation.  Hitler's generals began consolidating their hold and planning for an invasion of Britain, which would begin with the destruction of the Royal Air Force.

The Battle of Britain hinged on air superiority.  Britain's forces had to retain it and Germany had to gain it in order to launch Operation Sea Lion, which was the name given to the plan to invade England by sea and with airborne troops.

The German Luftwaffe included 2.550 aircraft, most notably the Messerschmitt Bf 109E and Bf 110C fighters.  Initially the RAF relied on the Hurricane MkI and Spitfire Mk I, putting a little less than 2,000 aircraft into service.  Although the Luftwaffe fighters were faster, the British had access to high octane fuel to increase power. 

The battle raged over the UK from mid July through the end of October 1940.  Luftwaffe casualties included nearly 2,700 killed, 967 captured, and more than 600 missing.  The British destroyed nearly 1,900 aircraft.  The RAF lost 544 killed, 422 wounded, and over 1,500 aircraft destroyed.

The efforts of The Few, as the British forces are remembered, ultimately made Hitler realize that an invasion of the Isle would be lengthy and costly, with the outcome uncertain.  Nazi strategies were altered from direct fighter contact to Blitz bombing of British cities.

Although the battle was a decisive victory for the RAF over the Luftwaffe, it was still only 1940.  There were still five more years of hard fighting and suffering, in Britain and across the globe. 

But the efforts of The Few, and the hardiness of the British people in the face of the Blitz bombings, proved that the Germans could be turned away from an objective.  Victory was possible.

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."  Winston Churchill


6 comments:

  1. Debra says:

    Thinking about the early 1940's this post reminded of my Dad who just shy of one week graduating from high school joined the US Navy. Not too many years later he would be involved in the Guadalcanal conflict with the Japanese! Great historical post as I've not read much about the Batle of Britain.

  1. Akelamalu says:

    I wasn't around during the Blitz but my Dad has told me all about it. I'm proud of the resilience of the British people. :)

  1. Jeni says:

    I'm thinking now that perhaps the efforts of "the Few" -their courage, resistance, bravery, etc., -is something that would be well-advised for many of us today to adopt and utilize not necessarily with respect to doing battle, as it were, here against many of the ills our country, our society, the world in general, are all facing -poverty, starvation, for openers and so many others too. Voices crying in the wilderness, maybe but still, a small way to start attacking those things you know but a necessary one none the less.
    Great post Trav to show how powerful those few actually were!

  1. I remember thrilling to this story when I was young. I read several books on The Battle of Britain. Amazing courage.

  1. "the the majority of western Europe lay under Nazi occupation"

    Shudder the thought.

  1. Thank you for your historical post. There's so much to know and remember, eh? I liked the aerial photo.