World War 2 The Battle Of Britain ww2
Dogfight over London
After the successful evacuation of the British army from Dunkirk on June 25th 1940 and the surrender of France on the following day the 26th of June, Hitler still hoped that Britain would settle for peace.
Winston Churchill the new leader of Britain however had no intention of accepting any peace agreement from Germany.
Having failed on a settlement, Hitler on the 16th July 1940 signed Fuhrer directive number 16 which authorised Operation Sealion, The Invasion of Britain.
Operation Sealion involved a massive seaborne invasion across the English Channel.
For the plan to work The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) had to defeat the Royal Air Force (RAF).
German Dornier on a raid over Britain
The Battle of Britain Newsreels
The Battle Of Britain
The First attack on British airfields came on the 10th of July 1940, wave after wave of German Dornier Bombers escorted by Messerschmitt fighters filled the sky over the southeast of England, British Hurricane fighters and Spitfires took to the sky in retaliation.
There were many more preliminary attacks on Britain from the air throughout the rest of July 1940.
On August 1st 1940 Hitler signed Fuhrer Directive Number 17 Which ordered the Luftwaffe to destroy the RAF as quickly as they could.
The Directive also ordered attacks on Britain's ground facilities and supply centres, they were to attack the ports and the factories, the orders stipulated that cities were to be kept out of the attack, and that Channel ports that would be required for Operation Sealion should be left intact.
The first 7 days in August saw several more preliminary air attacks on Britain.
On August the 8th 1940 the real Air war began 1500 German Bombers were sent over to attack the British airfields and Radar stations. Between the 8th and 13th of August, Britain lost 88 aircraft and the Germans lost 145 aircraft, between the 13th and the 17th Britain lost a further 184 aircraft and the Germans another 255.
By late August 1940, The Luftwaffe came very close to ending the battle of the air, British airfields were almost crippled because of the craters left by the German s constant bombing, Radar stations and operations centres were critically damaged and Britain began losing more planes in Battle than the Luftwaffe, between the 24th of August and September 6TH 1940 Germany lost 378 planes Mostly Bombers and Britain lost 262 fighter planes which deflated their air superiority immensely.
On August 24th an accident by a German Bomber helped to turn Britain's fortune, Late in the evening the bomber accidentally hit a non-military targets in London.
Winston Churchill appalled by the attack ordered a retaliatory attack on Berlin.
81 twin-engine bombers took off for the German capital Berlin on the 25th of August, and although the damage they caused was minimal, Hitler who had promised the German people that attacks like this would never happen, abandoned the August 1st directive and ordered the terror bombing of London. Only 29 British aircraft returned from the Berlin bombing attack.
St Pauls Cathederal During a Bombing Raid
The German Bombing campaign that followed became known as the Blitz (Lightning) it began on the 7th of September 1940 after over 300 tonnes of bombs were dropped over London, Liverpool and Coventry were also hit hard as were cities all over Britain.
The bombing raids took it's toll on the population but it also gave the RAF time to regroup, between the 7th and 30th of September shot down 380 German planes with only 178 losses.
Sunday the 15th of September was to prove a decisive day, Germany launched a series of attacks and British air defences came in to a class of their own they claimed to have shot down over 180 German planes that day and although the actual figure was only 56, Britain had defeated the Germans in the air and were now shooting down bombers faster than Germany could produce them.
The Blitz continued on a lesser scale and mainly in hours of darkness until the end of October 1940 but by that time it was generally considered that the Battle of Britain was over.
Operation Sealion was scheduled to start on September 24th, the landings would begin at dawn. On the14th of September Hitler postponed the invasion for a further 3 days and because of heavy bombing from the British the fleet was ordered to be dispersed on the 14th but in a way that they could reassemble quickly at a moments notice.
The defeat in the Battle of Britain was a major blow to Hitler's invasion plans and the forces that were so close to invading Britain never received the re assemble order and The Invasion of Britain was never to take place.
Britain only lost 470 pilots during the battle of Britain.