Operation Sealion - how Britain prepared for the Nazi invasion in 1940

Alone and defiant

In early June 1940, Britain stood alone in Europe. Since the declaration of war in September 1939, the Third Reich’s armies had invaded and suppressed Poland, Norway, the low Countries (Holland and Belgium) Denmark, and finally France.

The British Expeditionary Force had withdrawn in haste from France and the Nazis dominated Europe.

There was fear, but also indignation in the country. No-one had invaded the country since William the Conqueror in 1066, and there was a disinclination to allow Hitler to re-set the clock.

As Winston Churchill, the new Prime Minister, put it, “the Battle of France is over, the Battle of Britain is about to begin.”

Neville Chamberlain declares war, 3rd September 1939

Declaration of War

On the 3rd September 1939, Britain declared war on the Third Reich.

On the 1st September 1939, the Blitzkrieg against Poland had started. The UK and France issued ultimatums to the Nazi forces.

The 3rd September 1939 was a Sunday, and Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister, broadcast the following:

This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note, stating that, unless we had heard from them by 11 o’clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us.

I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.


The Phony War

After the declaration of war, as far as the British Isles were concerned, very little happened. This period was known as the "phoney war".

There were skirmishes along the fortified border between France and Germany, and the British Expeditionary Force was based in France.

The Soviet Union invaded Finland on the 30th November 1939, and the Nazis invaded Denmark and Norway on the 9th April 1940, and occupied both within a fortnight.

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill's famous "V for Victory!" gesture.
Winston Churchill's famous "V for Victory!" gesture.
Churchill walking through the ruins of Coventry Cathedral after heavy bombing nearly levelled the city.
Churchill walking through the ruins of Coventry Cathedral after heavy bombing nearly levelled the city.

The London Blitz

Children sitting outside a bombed-out building, London 1940.
Children sitting outside a bombed-out building, London 1940.
Crowds sleeping in the Elephant and Castle Tube Station, 1940, during a bombing raid.
Crowds sleeping in the Elephant and Castle Tube Station, 1940, during a bombing raid.

Churchill Becomes Prime Minister

When War broke out in September 1939, Neville Chamberlain was Prime Minster. Winston Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, and was also a member of the War Cabinet.

On the 10th May 1940, in recognition of the fact that he had for many years seen Hitler as a threat, George VI invited Winston Churchill to Buckingham Palace, and asked him to form a government and become Prime Minster.

In his first speech to the House of Commons after becoming Prime Minister, on the 10th May 1940, Churchill set out the truth as he saw it.

Churchill was a man whose hour had come. He had been irrelevant in politics in the 1920s and 30s, but cometh the hour, cometh the man, and Churchill became the great war leader.

Churchill offered no magic bullets, no miracle solutions, and no false hope. Instead, as he himself said on 13th May, shortly after forming his government:

I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."

Perversely, this seemed to cheer the population up a bit. Someone was telling it to them as it was, and that didn't seem all bad.

Speech in the House of Commons, 13th June 1940:

...the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us.

Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.

But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour.

And on 4th June 1940:

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender....

 

Invasion maps and plans

Invasion plan for the Low Countries
Invasion plan for the Low Countries
Invasion plan for Operation Sealion
Invasion plan for Operation Sealion

The Battle of France

On the10th May 1940, Nazi invasions of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg began. It was a typical Blitzkrieg attack, with fast advancing troops on the ground supported by large scale air forces in the skies.

France had mobilised approximately a third of French men between 20 and 44, but training had not been sufficient, and compared with the Nazi forces, the troops were extremely ill-equipped.

On 15th May 1940, the Netherlands surrendered, although Queen Wilhelmina escaped and established an exile government in London.

By the 14th May, the invasion of Belgium was complete. The French armed forces and politicians were stunned into sensing defeat.

As early as the 15th May, the French Prime Minster told Winston Churchill by telephone that it was all over. Churchill flew to Paris the following day, the 16th May, and allied troops continued to fall back through France.

On the 10th June, Italy declared war on France and the United Kingdom.

On the 22nd June, the new Prime Minster, Marshal Pétain, signed the Armistice in the same railway carriage in which the then powers had signed the Armistice ending the First World War in 1918. The Armistice took effect from the 25th June 1940.

France was divided into the puppet government of Vichy France, and the occupied northern zone. By the 25th May, most of the British Expeditionary Force was trapped in a narrow band near the coast.


Operation Dynamo - the evacuation from Dunkirk

After the surrender of Belgium, the Dunkirk evacuation began. 340,000 allied troops were evacuated from Dunkirk, but almost all of their tanks, heavy guns, and armed vehicles had to be left behind.

Operation Dynamo, the Dunkirk evacuation plan, was far more successful than was anticipated. The plan envisaged 45,000 men from the BEF evacuated in two days, and thought that after that 48 hours, no further evacuation would be possible.

As well as the Naval boats transporting evacuated soldiers across the Channel, a significant part of Operation Dynamo consisted of a fleet of small ships.

On the 27th May, the British War Ministry contacted as many small boat owners, particularly fishing boats, or private yachts along the south coast, East Anglia, and the rivers, and encouraged them to set sail for France.

700 or so small private boats set out across the Channel.

Many of the boats were used as dinghies, collecting soldiers from the Dunkirk beaches, and ferrying them out to the Naval boats further out to sea. Many other boats took soldiers all the way back across the Channel.

Operation Aerial

There was a similar evacuation, Operation Aerial, between June 14th and June 25th, when 215,000 allied soldiers were evacuated from Cherbourg and St Malo.

The operation and evacuation was largely successful, and not conducted under such pressure as Operation Dynamo.

During the evacuation, however, the RMS Lancastria, a Cunard Atlantic Liner which had been pressed into service, was bombed by aircraft. Nearly 6,000 men died.

A ship of a similar name, also owned by Cunard, RMS Lusitania, had been sunk in the First World War. My great-great-grandmother Fannie Jane Morecroft survived that sinking, and went on to be chief stewardess on the Lancastria. Fortunately for her, she was not on the Lancastria after it was taken over by the Navy.


Operation Sealion

Invading Britain was not going to be possible in the same way as invading continental countries.

The infamous Blitzkrieg Operations, with which the Nazi forces had rolled across Europe, needed additional help to cross the 20 miles or so of the English Channel.

On 16th July 1940, Hitler proclaimed his Directive 16 and stated,

I have decided to start to prepare for, and if necessary to carry out, the invasion of England.

The Operation Sealion was the plan for the invasion of the United Kingdom.

The German military had started to prepare Operation Sealion in early November 1939.

Anticipating the easy victories over the low countries and France, and the invasion of Poland already completed, the German forces started to prepare.

Once Hitler had issued his directive, he commanded the armed forces, “

since England, in spite of her hopeless military situation, shows few signs of being ready to compromise.....

Hitler set four conditions which needed to be met before the operation could proceed.

  • The first was that the Royal Air Force (RAF) needed to be defeated, so that the German forces had air superiority.
  • The second was to clear the English Channel of British mines, and to cut off the straits of Dover from the Royal Navy by laying German mines.
  • The third was to populate northern, occupied France, with artillery.
  • The fourth and final condition was to use the German Navy to attack the British fleets in the North Sea and the Mediterranean, in order to prevent the Navy interfering with the invasion.

 

Hitler hoped that the operation, and the massive build up forces on the southern side of the English Channel, would force the British authorities in suing for peace. He was not necessarily determined to defeat Britain, he merely wished to marginalise it.

The softening up operation began. The Nazis assembled a huge fleet of vessels to take the 160,000 German soldiers across the Channel.

In the early days of September 1940, British Intelligence showed a huge build up forces in the Channel ports, including Dunkirk, Calais, and Flushing. Large numbers of bombers were also moved to air fields close to the Channel and the straits of Dover.

The moon and tide cycles suggested that an invasion between September 8th and 10th was the most likely. On the 7th September 1940 the Chiefs of Staff of the British Armed Forces met, and issued an alert, Cromwell, meaning that they thought invasion was about to take place at any minute.

8pm on 7th September 1940 was a Saturday night, and the code word was misunderstood by many defence officers. Often officers thought that the Cromwell signal meant that the Germans were actually invading, and all over England in particular, and the United Kingdom in general, Army and Home Guard units donned their uniforms, grabbed their guns, and waited for the enemy to appear over the horizon.

Second World War posters

Royal Air Force poster, quoting Winston Churchill
Royal Air Force poster, quoting Winston Churchill
Poster urging people to be wary of carelss talk. Not exactly a feiminst example...
Poster urging people to be wary of carelss talk. Not exactly a feiminst example...

The Battle of Britain

As the Battle of France ended, the Battle of Britain began.

The Nazi Luftwaffe had more pilots, who were better trained, and included pilots who had fought before, in the Spanish Civil War and across Europe. They also had significantly more planes.

The Luftwaffe thought it would take approximately 4 days to wipe out Fighter Command in the south and south-east of England. They then intended to spend approximately 3 weeks bombing Army and Navy sites across the UK, and also as many factories producing war material as possible.

From about the 10th July for a month,a lot of the Luftwaffe action consisted of bombing raids over the Channel. This was intended to attack ship convoys, both merchant shipping and Royal Navy vessels.

It was an extremely difficult time for the RAF, as the constant need to patrol over the Channel exhausted pilots and wore down machines.

Beginning on the 12th August, the Luftwaffe attempted to bomb RAF radar stations and airfields. It was an intensive and viscous bombing campaign.

On the 23rd August 1940, bombing air raids started, with raids on Birmingham, Portsmouth, and the East End of London. There were also 24 large scale attacks against airfields, and the East Church and Biggin Hill airfields suffered particularly, being bombed 7 and 4 times respectively.

The RAF was stretched almost to its absolute limit, but the Luftwaffe still failed to establish air superiority.

Fascinating newsreels from 1940 about the Battle of Britain

"The Few"

At the height of the Battle of Britain on 20th August 1940, Winston Churchill gave the famous speech in which he said:

The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airman who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion.

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

All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day.

The RAF pilots were suffering. New pilots joining the battle measured their life expectancy in weeks.

The RAF Battle of Britain pilots became known as "the few", and continue to be so known to this day.


A gas mask for a baby - every civilian was issued with one. The baby went inside the whole mask.
A gas mask for a baby - every civilian was issued with one. The baby went inside the whole mask.
The leaflet preparing civilians for coping with an invasion.
The leaflet preparing civilians for coping with an invasion.

The Blitz

In early September, the Blitz against civilian targets began.

On the 7th September, 400 bombers and 600 or so fights attacked the East End of London for approximately 24 hours, targeting in particular the docks along the River Thames crucial to the import and transport of goods.

British civilian losses during the Blitz were very heavy. Between July and December 1940, nearly 60,000 British civilians were either killed or seriously injured in bombing raids.

It wasn't just London which suffered, either. Most major cities suffered repeat bombing, such as Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool.

Coventry was, later in the war, almost levelled by repeated bombing raids.


Defence and engineering

A large series of stop lines were built and fortified across southern England, including the anti-tank line, known as the GHQ line which went around London, across southern England to one side, and north up the centre of England towards Yorkshire.

Large numbers of pill boxes and gun emplacements were built all along the south coast, and parts of Romney Marsh, a low lying drained marsh area in Kent, were flooded and much more of it would have been flooded had the invasion taken place.

The chain home radar system had been installed in the UK before the outbreak of the Second World War, starting in 1937. Aircraft based radar capability was an absolutely crucial aspect of the defence of Britain.

Local Precautions

  • All sign posts and place names were removed. Every railway station name sign was removed, maps were banned from being sold in the shops, and anybody wandering around in an unfamiliar area would have no idea where he was going.
  • In June 1940, the Ministry of Information published ‘If the invader comes, what to do, and how to do it.’ This leaflet told British civilians what to do if and when the invaders arrived.
  • Half the civilian population in the counties of Kent, Suffolk and Norfolk were relocated inland.
  • Occupation committees were formed in towns and villages across the UK.
  • The ringing of church bells was forbidden in June 1940; for the rest of the War the ringing of Church bells was a sign that an invasion had started.


The Home Guard, or "Dad's Army"

The Local Defence Volunteers were formed on the 14th May 1940, and by the end of June 1.5 million men, mostly either too young or too old to join the regular armed forces, had enlisted.

The unit was later renamed the Home Guard.

Recording of Alfred Piccaver singing "There'll always be an England"

Keeping up moral


Popular at the time in the general imagination were historical declarations of the country's independence.

My grandparents married on the easy-to-remember date, 2nd September 1939. They listened to Neville Chamberlain's radio broadcast less than 24 hours after their marriage began.

They had intended to marry later in 1939, but as the war loomed, their plans were brought forward. My grandfather was in the Royal Navy Reserves, and assumed (rightly) that he would be called up swiftly once war broke out.

My Granny recalls that both the professional theatres and local amatuer dramatic societies in the north-west of England, where she lived, reached frequently for plays and texts which recalled the nation's independence, and resisting invaders.

She reckoned that between 1939 and 1941, she attended 5 different productions of Shakespeare's Richard II, not normally the most popular of his plays, but with a roaring speech in Act II by John of Gaunt:

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England

Also popular at the time were recitations of Elizabeth I's speech at Tilbury, in Essex, when the Spanish Armada was trying to invade in 1588:

I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm

Also popular were the old Victorian Imperialist songs, such as Rule Britannia,

Modern songs were also produced to raise the fighting spirit, such as There'll Always Be An England.

There'll always be an England,
And England shall be free
If England means as much to you
As England means to me.


Winston Churchill's speech in 1946, introducing the phrase, "the iron curtain"

Operation Sealion postponed

On 12th August 1940, the Luftwaffe began to bomb British radar stations, airfields scattered across south-east England, and factories making aeroplanes and components for aeroplanes. The air operations were intended to last for approximately a month, and the invasion was planned for early September 1940.

On the 17th September 1940, at a meeting in Berlin, Reichsmarschall Göring, Field Marschal von Rundstedt, and Chancellor Hitler, agreed to postpone Operation Sealion.

Complete air superiority had not been achieved, and the operation was postponed.

Forces remained earmarked for Operation Sealion until after the Nazi invasion of Russia in February 1942, but the real threat was over by the end of 1940.

More by this Author


Comments 43 comments

Jeff 7 years ago

I found this story from Digg. This really is a great piece about the WWII history that I wish I taught in school.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Hi Jeff - glad you enjoyed it!


bgpappa profile image

bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

Another amazing hub. Well done.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Magnificent account of Britain's "Finest Hour." Winston Churchill, in my opinion, was the greatest leader of the 20th Century. His speeches were inspirational to all free people everywhere. Another wonderful hub, LondonGirl. The videos are priceless, too. Thank you.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Another great hub, LG!  The wonder is that Hitler didn't make England one of his first targets, instead of the last, thereby allowing Churchill and the country time to prepare.  Had Britain been invaded early, you would all be speaking German now. 


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

LondonGirl, enjoyed the stroll through history and the beautiful examples of stirring patriotic speeches. You don't hear that sort of thing today, on either side of the Atlantic.

"He was not necessarily determined to defeat Britain, he merely wished to marginalise it."

That was one of Hitler's many mistakes. You can't go after an enemy without the intent to defeat them and expect to win a war.


perrya profile image

perrya 7 years ago

Well done! you know, I have a couple of wargames on this topic that when played out, the Germans can indeed land forces around Dover etc., but the their staying power even against the Home Guard can only last not more than week because of the logistics of getting it across the channel, the the British navy had. Even if the Luftwaffe had conquered the air, it was still very dicey for the Germans. So in this regard, Hitler made one of his most intelligent decisions: not do it.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

What I find most disturbing was the gas mask for the baby. I realize everyone had them, but I guess I had never thought about the ones for the babies. Very in depth and thorough look at the history of early World War II.


Sufidreamer profile image

Sufidreamer 7 years ago from Sparti, Greece

Wonderful Hub, London Girl.

My grandmother was evacuated from Salford to the countryside in North Lancashire. She met my grandfather there, so you could say that if it were not for the Luftwaffe, I would not be here!

Thanks for the interesting read.


BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol

An amazing hub.

Obviously I am way too young to have been a part of this, but there are still many elderly members of the community who were around then and I feel it is really important that all of their stories are told and written down.

Once again well done.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Hi bgpappa - thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

William - glad you enjoyed the videos. Neville Chamberlain's speech is just so whingy - "not my fault, Miss! It was that big boy over there, Miss!"


WHoArtNow profile image

WHoArtNow 7 years ago from Leicester, UK

Great hub LG! Obviously a lot of work went into it!

I'm sending it to my mum, she's a history teacher and I think she should read it.

Andre


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Hi JamaGee - Hitler couldn't invade the UK first, because he needed to have squashed the Low Countries and France in order to invade, luckily for us!

Hello Aya - I think Hitler hoped that Britain might stay out of his way. He wasn't automatically as anti Britain as he was the "sub human" Slavs, for example, as he thought of the British as Aryan. But Britain was not prepared to stay out of his way.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Hi Perrya - the Sandhurt wargames in 1974 agreed with you - personally, I'm glad we didn't have to try the idea out the hard way!

Hi SweetiePie - they are horrible things, aren't they? You put the baby in it, then had to hand-pump it so that the poor little sod could breathe.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Sufi, my paternal grandparents wouldn't have met either - they met as a result of the war. I bet that's true for a lot of British people, as well.

Bristol boy - glad you found it interesting!

Andre, I'm hoping your mother doesn't take too much red pen to the thing.....


WHoArtNow profile image

WHoArtNow 7 years ago from Leicester, UK

@LG - Lol, Red for bad, green for good, and black when she loses the other two! I'm sure she'll like it.


Maria 7 years ago

Very good article


Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

London must have been such a strange landscape to live in during the Blitz. Belfast was bombed, too, because of the shipyards, and my mother's family was evacuated, although she stayed in Belfast for part of the time with her father, who was a fire warden. They learned how to put claymores in buckets of water (? I'm not sure if I'm remembering that correctly). Their air-raid shelter was the kitchen table, which had a reinforced metal top.

Thank you for this informative hub. You are always coming up with such different topics, and you write so well on all of them -- I'm getting a real education. Thanks!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Let's hope she loses the red one (-:

Teresa - glad you enjoyed it! Sorry I write about random stuff, I think that reflects a rather random mind, sadly.

My Granny and (baby) Uncle Anthony were bombed out - they were in a reinforced under-the-stairs shelter, and the house collapsed around them. That was in Liverpool in 1943, I think, and my Granny loathed cupboards under the stairs for hte rest of her life.


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

LG, this was an outstanding read, I almost felt like I was living history!  Thank goodness I knew what you were talking about here --most of the time anyway! :-)

I get shivers when reading some of Churchill's so very famous words, in my humble opinion the inspiration he provided was paramount to sustain the spirit of victory in the hearts of English people.

Excellent article!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

I agree - he was a very significant factor indeed in winning the war. Glad you enjoyed it!


BrianS profile image

BrianS 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

Great hub, I love the history around the 2nd world war.


lillyjose 7 years ago

nice hub , very attractive . me new in hub pages . please read my hubs and advise me . me join ur fan .please join to mine if u don't mind


Verax profile image

Verax 7 years ago from Oregon

Thank you so much. You have encouraged me to move forward with the stories of my family. It is critical that we have truth tellers like you to recount the actual history. On a personal note I apologize for the behavior of the current occupants of the white house and their actions taken toward England and the prime minister and his wife.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Hi Brian - glad you found it of interest.

Lillyjose, I've read your Isle of Wight hub, and you really do need to correct the spelling - search engines and so forth will not find it from "Weight".

Verax - glad you've enjoyed it! It's a fascinating time, and within living memory.

No-one could dismiss Gordon Brown enough for my liking, so don't worry (-: Unlike the president, we separate the ceremonial and practical powers of government, so we can all have the Queen as a figure head, and cuss the PM as much as we like!


mulberry 7 years ago

Very interesting hub. I love history and have read numerous books on WWII alone.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

thanks - glad you enjoyed it!


Lisa HW profile image

Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

LondonGirl, I enjoyed this Hub (in a kind of "eerie way").  My father was a WWII veteran; and before my mother and father were married, my mother was married to a young Marine who was killed in the war.  Her twin brother was injured.  As a "Baby Boomer", I grew up (to some extent) in the shadows of the war.  It wasn't as if my parents "put it on" their children; but it was part of their history that was just there.

My mother was once in the hosital with a roommate who was from the UK, and who had been sent out of the country as a young girl, in attempts to keep her safe.  She wistfully talked about the war in your country, and my mother, of course, had experienced it as an American.

That generation lived through something that was nothing more than "Dad's war stories" to my generation.  Having seen some of the impact of the war "one-removed", my own generation was, I think, more personally impacted by it in their own way.  As the next generation came along, WWII has become farther and farther in the past, and, in ways, has become more "history" than "real" (if you know what I mean).

I was surprised and pleased to see this Hub, because the awfulness of that war should never be allowed to fade too far away from "real life" in people's minds.  Remembering it may not be pleasant, but there is much to be learned from the whole horror.

(I saw Sufidreamer's comment about how if it hadn't been for the war h/she would not be here. If it hadn't been for my mother losing her young, first, husband; my three siblings and I, five of my parents' grandchildren, and my sister's four grandchildren were not be here either. I don't think about that much, but it's how it is. Kind of weird....)


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Hi Lisa,

glad you enjoyed it. I think it's true for a lot of us that we wouldn't be here - certainly for me, as my Dad's parents met as a result of the war.

It's also true for my other half, as his paternal grandparents met as Polish Jewish refugees in London, and they wouldn't even have met in Poland.

It must have been very hard for your mother, being widowed so very young. Did she have children with her first husband?

For me, the War is in living memory. All my grandparents were adults at the start, and my parents and uncles were born just after it, and remember rationing, demobs, etc.


Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

Very interesting hub nice to know about history


Tim Blackstone profile image

Tim Blackstone 7 years ago

Fascinating hub. Well researched and an excellent read. I still remember seeing lots of bombsites in London still vacant in the 1960's. It is hard to imagine what it must have been like to live through all of that.


DREAM ON profile image

DREAM ON 7 years ago

I will return again and again to this hub.Very shocking to realize how bad things were and they could of got very worse at any moment.Thank God for the many brave souls who fought and others who gave there lives for the freedom we hold so dear.VERY SAD BUT A VERY MOVING HUB.


DREAM ON profile image

DREAM ON 7 years ago

Enjoy and have a great Thanksgiving.


Chris 6 years ago

Very well done. Paints a vivid picture of the desperation of the times and the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives so that we could be here to honor their memory. Thank you


Dave Harris profile image

Dave Harris 6 years ago from Cardiff, UK

Great hub LondonGirl, very informative, I have been writing similair pieces to tie in with my own WW2 artwork, nice one!


Chris 5 years ago

Good read, its scary how close England was to defeat, if Hilter didn't order his Panzer divisions to halt before Dunkirk the entire 350,000 man BEF would have been destroyed. If Hitler was more willing to accept/ask the help of Mussilini he would have had the additional Air and Naval power to win the Battle of Britian and Battle of the North Sea and been able to land ground forces on Brittish soil, I do not think he would have made it to the highlands tho...


Just History profile image

Just History 5 years ago from England

An excellent hub- I love the quotations from the politicians like Chamberlain - they are just so full of meaning- I wonder how many hours of work and thought went into preparing the wording for the declaration of war. Thanyou for a lovely read- well recommended to anyone


Matt Weeks profile image

Matt Weeks 4 years ago from Burlington, NJ

An absolutely excellent read. All of the primary documentation really serves to add depth to the narrative.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 4 years ago from London Author

Thanks - glad you enjoyed it.


paul hart 3 years ago

What propaganda rubbish! Churchill's 'rousing' speeches were given merely weeks after he had evacuated British armies from Dunkirk in disgrace and panic. His new defiant speeches were easy to give from the safety of England with Hitler having ZERO intention of invading Britain...He and the OKW were already planning Barbarossa.

Got to laugh at the 'blitz' explanation and the fact that no mention is made that Churchill started the bombing of civilians in Berlin before Hitler responded and the whole thing degenerated from there.It was well known from intercepts that Hitler had given strict orders not to target London.His sportspalast speech also bears out the chronology of events and the fact that Britain was the instigator of civilian targeting.

Tally ho and long live England!....puerile chest-thumping histories will do! who needs the truth!!


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 17 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Londongirl, this was a great historical hub about the operation sealion and Churchill's involvement into it. Congrats on Editor's Choice, too. Voted up!


Chantelle Porter profile image

Chantelle Porter 15 months ago from Chicago

Fabulous article. So well done. Loved it.


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 5 months ago from Philippines

This is a great article. Churchill won because he stood up against the odds. How many leaders would do that today, I wonder? He is really a great man. Thank you for writing so coherently about the history of Britain during the war.

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