The Battle of Britain was a major air campaign fought over southern England in the late summer of 1940. AftertheevacuationoftheBritishExpeditionaryForcefromDunkirkandtheFallofFrance,Hitlerneededtogainairsuperiorityover the Channel in preparation for an invasion of Great Britain.TheGermanhighcommandrecognisedthelogisticaldifficultiesofa seaborneattackanditsimpracticalitywhiletheRoyalNavycontrolledthe English Channel and the North Sea."What General Weygand called the 'Battle of France' is over. I expect that the ‘Battle of Britain’ is about to begin." Churchill. 18 June 1940HermannGöring,theformerWW1fighterace,Hitler’sDeputywhowasin chargeoftheLuftwaffe(theGernamairforce),boastedthat“myLuftwaffe willbringEnglandtoherknees”..andmaketheInvasionPlan(Operation SeaLion)arelativelybloodlesssuccess..andHitler,believinghim,sat back and waited for it to happen .. ..
The various stages of the battle
PreparationBritainbeganthewarwithseveralsecretweapons:RADAR-theabilitytobounceradiowavesoffincomingaircraftandmeasurethesizeof formations,theirheightanddistance:thousandsofOBSERVERCORPSstationswhichcontinuedtotraceenemyplanesaftertheyhadcrossedthe coast:FCHQFighterCommandHeadQuarters,buried80feetundergroundatBentleyPriorywhichcoordinatedtheincomingintelligenceandordered theappropriateSquadronsintotheairtointerceptenemybombersandfightersatthecorrectheightandlocation(the“Dowdingsystem”);&ULTRA theintelligencestreamfromBletchleyParkobtainedfrominterceptsfromtheEnigmaCode,givinginsightintoGermanHighCommandtacticsand intentions.Combat26June–16July:Störangriffe("nuisanceraids"),small-scale,scattered,probingattacksbothdayandnight,witharmedreconnaissance,mine-laying sorties and, from 4 July, daylight Kanalkampf ("the Channel battles") against shipping.17July–12August:daylightKanalkampfattacksonshippingintensifyandthereareincreasedattacksonportsandcoastalairfields,togetherwith night raids on RAF bases and aircraft-manufacturing factories.13August–6September:Adlerangriff("EagleAttack"),themainassault;anattempttodestroytheRAFinsouthernEnglandincludingmassive daylight attacks on RAF airfields followed, from 19 August, by heavy night bombing of ports and industrial cities including suburbs of London.7 September – 2 October: the Blitz commences, main focus is now day and night attacks on London.3–31October:largescalenightbombingraids,mostlyonLondon;daylightattacksnowconfinedtosmallscalefighter-bomberStörangrifferaids luring RAF fighters into dogfights.
United KingdomRoyal Air ForceCanadaRoyal Canadian Air Force1,963 serviceable aircraftCasualties and losses:1,542 aircrew killed 422 aircrew wounded1,744 aircraft destroyed 14,286 civilians killed 20,325 civilians injured
GermanyLuftwaffeItalyCorpo Aereo Italiano2,550 serviceable aircraftCasualties and losses:2,585 aircrew killed or missing 925 captured 735 wounded
John Gillespie MageeAn Anglo-American aviator and poet who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, which he joined before the United States entered the war.He died in a mid-air collision over Lincolnshire in 1941.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of .. wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air .. ..Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue. I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace where never lark or ever eagle flew and,While with silent, lifting mind, I’ve trod the high un-trespassed sanctity of space;Put out my hand .. .. and touched the face of God.The Spitfire PreludeOrganist, Andrew Unsworth, performs "Spitfire Prelude" by Sir William Walton (1942) - arranged by Dennis Morrell.
“Never, in the field of human conflict, was so much, owed by so many, to so few” wasawartimespeechmadebytheBritishPrimeMinisterWinstonChurchillon20August1940.Thenamestemsfromthisspecific lineinthespeechwhichreferstotheongoingeffortsoftheRoyalAirForcepilotswhowereatthattimefightingtheBattleof Britain,thepivotalairbattlewiththeGermanLuftwaffe.Afewmonthslater,withthebattlewonandGermanplanspostponed,the Allied airmen became known as "The Few".
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