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It was September 15th 1940 . An auspicious day. The Allies had faced enormous adversity In June 1940; the Wehrmacht had overcome most of Western Europe and Scandinavia. 

At that time, the only major power standing in the way of a German-dominated Europe was the British Empire and the Commonwealth.

There had been dark days and days that were increasingly full of light from the daylight raids on London from the German attacks that were set to test the resolve of the British people. 

 

Adolf Hitler decided that, in order to win the war and turn the tide, he would send the greatest fleet of aircraft to attack London that could be amassed.  It has become known as the Battle of Britain.

So many of us have seen the movie. So many more of us have not.

We have read of the heroism of the pilots and the bravery of the people who defied this takeover of a homeland that meant so much and was worth fighting for.

Germany believed that, after months of intense assault, the Royal Air Force was on the verge of collapse. Hitler believed that an attack on the heart of Britain, London, he could slay the beast that had so far defied his call to obedience.

The name ‘Battle of Britain’ comes from a speech by Winston Churchill. The imminent surrender of France in June 1940, Churchill said to the House of Commons 

‘The Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin.’

And so it did.

Hitler’s intention was to invade Great Britain in an operation -  ‘Operation Sealion. However, to do so he had to gain control of the English Channel, which was – Britain’s key route to the continent. He knew he couldn’t achieve this unless he had triumphed over the RAF. Hitler's goal was to establish the German Luftwaffe as the superior Air Force.

Britain was isolated. Or was it?

Most of Europe had already surrendered to Germany, and the US government was not interested in engaging in another European war. Hitler saw Britain as vulnerable, and if he could destroy the RAF, he could move to invade. 

To be fair, before the war, the Luftwaffe was indeed stronger than the RAF.

They had 2,500 planes compared to the RAF’s 1,200, and their pilots were much better trained for warfare. 

The RAF had also developed a powerful weapon:

RADAR

By the Spring of 1940, there were over 50 radar bases around the country, and in addition to these, the Commander of RAF Fighter Command created an efficient method of relaying information from the radar stations to the pilots, known as the Dowding System.

The British pilots had the home ground advantage. They were able to navigate both the land and the sky, working with their knowledge of the British countryside. They were also fed important information that had been gathered. The Germans were operating on foreign territory.

They were also, unlike the British, unable to re-arm on the ground, change pilots during strategic landings, or refuel efficiently. Geographically, the British were in a much stronger position, and the radar systems took the RAF from strength to strength. 

For myself, I wish to say that, on the anniversary of the Battle of Britain, over 80 years ago, the speech given by Winston Churchill is more impactive and more important than ever before.

Think and weep.

 

 

 

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