The Battle of Britain: 1940
July 10th, 1940 — fifty enemy aircraft were spotted near Britain. Nobody knew at the time, but the Battle of Britain had begun.
During July of 1940, the people of Berlin were delighted with Hitler’s promises of success. France had collapsed after six weeks of fighting, and German troops stood on guard throughout Europe. Norway and Belgium, not to mention Poland, were under occupation. All that stands between Adolf Hitler and dictatorship of all of Europe is Great Britain. Conquest seems to be only a matter of time. Winston Churchill announced that Britain was unconquerable and that “the curse of Hitler will be lifted”, and for some period of time the British never thought of losing.
Yet, it would be proven that Germany had the power necessary to take down the great Empire.
Because two plus two equals five, if that is what Fuhrer Hitler desires.
In July 1940, Britain refused to accept defeat even as it stared them in the face. In the west, Hitler’s troops continued to advance further and further. In the east, Hitler had signed a pact with the Soviet Empire. All seemed lost in the eyes of Europe. At this point, Britain seemed to stand alone — defenseless at the power Germany held. German aircraft as the best at the world during this era, with war planes going up to 375 miles per hour with screaming sirens used to petrify the enemy in fear.
Everything Britain has is used to fight these mechanisms of air warfare brought in by the Germans, and metal is stripped down everywhere. Only a mere two hundred airplanes were war worthy in all of Britain, making it a 1 against 5 fight. Because of their empirical power, London is merely a massive target etched into the ground. Hitler wanted to invade England by September 15th, and he demands complete air control throughout Europe. Attacks continue, and in September of 1940 the battle finally made its way to the capital of Britain.
The German air-force is told to do anything and everything it takes to crush the British Royal air force. However, it wouldn’t take much. The Royal Air Force learned defense through clumsy attempts at trial and error. Some men become heroes, such as Richard Hilary, who was shot down by a German plane, only to survive and be shot down again — this time killed. While the Germans knew air control like the back of their hand, the British learned it through combat, fatigue, depressing defeats, and war itself. In fact, the British air force was full of volunteers — some from America, some from Holland, some from France. English classes were held for French pilots, but do to pressed time they were only able to learn the basics of communication in three days.
France, at this point, is now incredibly determined.
On the 13th of August, forty German planes were shot down by the ragtag nationalistic groups working in the British air force. This was the first of many major air victories for Britain. However, this isn’t incredible, as some German pilots were able to shoot down fifty to a hundred planes during their careers. One thing that helped the British was the fact that German planes only had enough fuel to go to London and back, which made German pilots feel like hounds on leashes. They soon became bitter as other air forces grew more confident. Ironically, British and German pilots oftentimes became friends after the war. Many men from both sides, all high ranking, would eventually meet up with their once rivals after Europe was peaceful again.
On August 24th, 1940, the battle hit its climax. Even Hitler himself is surprised after London is bombed by a German plane. Hitler was outraged, yet impressed at the same time. The reason the bomb dropped was because of an error in the plane’s mechanics. Churchill would have none of it, though. Eighty one British planes raided German airspace and bombed Berlin in revenge at 23:59. This was a political trap set by the British government, and Hitler made perhaps his biggest mistake by falling for it. He changed his objectives. Instead of finally cracking the British air force, he ordered that all German planes bomb English cities instead. Overall, 20,000 people died in the two weeks afterwards.
The British air force was able to patch their wounds in those two weeks. Germans no longer considered themselves masters of the sky as they were defeated again and again by England. One-fourth of Hitler’s air force was crushed, and on September 17th, Hitler announced that the attacks on Britain would be postponed indefinitely. In less than three months, Germany would lose over 2,000 planes.
The Battle of Britain would be a major decisive battle in World War II, possibly one of the major turning points for strategy and military advancement for the allied powers.