Keyanna Russell (going to edit)

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Battle of Britain

July 10 - September 30, 1940

(Also known as Operation Sealion)
A battle fought completely in the air, the Battle of Britain was a merciless fight between the German Luftwaffe and the British Royal Air Force. The target for the Germans lay in the skies above the English Channel, which would have been a momentous gain for the aggressing power.

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With countries rapidly falling to the control of the Germans (France, Poland, Holland, Belgium, Denmark and Norway), Britain found herself standing alone against the tantalizing, yet expected attack. Churchill foresaw that their island was next on Hitler’s hit list and tried to prepare his country accordingly, weary of the fact that they were only seperated by the 25 miles of the English Channel. Ironically, Hitler wanted to leave Britain untouched – he admired her strong establishment as a democratic nation, and the security in they had in their position. Unfortunately, however, he soon saw no other way to complete his goal of domination. He firstly considered sending the German Navy in, but they were weak at that point, and well aware of how powerful the Royal Navy was - they were a monster that Hitler did not wish to awaken. As a result, he sent in Herman Goering, the head of his Luftwaffe, to complete what they thought would be a quick defeat, if not an instant surrender. The time that they estimated for the invasion to be successful was four days. They did not take into account the resilient and determined attitude of the Brits, or what they would be able to endure through the months of fighting.


The Attack


Goering’s strategy was simple: violent, relentless air raids. He started in July by targeting convoys in the Channel, then on August 12 moved to air fields and radar stations. Even though they were outnumbered 3:1 with their planes, the Brits had many advantages that helped them acquire the upper hand. The Spitfire, a quick and efficient British fighter plane, proved itself to be superior to all other aircrafts. It helped the British to end with a kill ratio of 1882 German planes to 1017 of their own. Another huge positive to their defensive strategies was their development of radar which allowed them to detect attacks coming from all the way across the channel. Since a language barrier was present among the two opponents, the Brits were also very fortunate to acquire Enigma, a machine that allowed them to decode and understand German messages.
Before long, it seemed at though the Germans were unstoppable. The RAF was taking a beating, and were running out of new pilots to replace the one who had been killed in battle. They were growing anxious, and for the first time, their confidence was beginning to waver. On August 24, however, Hitler's squadron made a fatal mistake. A group of planes got lost and mistakenly bombed civilians in London, rather than their target. Churchill retaliated by ordering a strike against Berlin. It was at this time that Hitler made a mistep that potentially costed him the Battle. He moved his target from bombing airfields and radar stations to bombing London itself. This was known as "The Blitz". Unfortuantely for Hitler, he did not know how close he was to defeating the RAF, so he unknowingly gave them the opportunity that they needed to
rebuild by switching targets. Led by their brilliant and determined leader, Churchill, the people of Britain refused to lose face during this time. At night, they hid in subway stations and bomb shelters, and during the day they appeared unfazed and unharmed. Hitler might have destroyed their homes and their town, but he was never able to diminish their spirit. Churchill's famous "we will never surrender" speech gave them the strength that they needed to perservere and get through the impossible times that they were facing. Due to their resilience and their amazingly admirable attitudes, the German dictator postponed his invasion at the end of September 1940 indefinitely.
Up until this Battle, Hitler had always succeeded in his conquests - Britain was the first takeover that he had failed at. This also prolonged British survival in the war - it allowed them time to restrategize and hope for new Allies (little did they know that the USA was soon to join their side). The Brits also managed to keep the land that they needed to give them a hugely useful springboard into the rest of Europe for later battles. This battle was momentous in terms of the Second World War. It awakened the spirits of many who had felt already defeated, and is considered to be a huge turning point in the history of the war.
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Map of Operation Sealion Plan
Map of Operation Sealion Plan

















Sources:
The Student Workbook
http://www.iwm.org.uk/upload/package/27/battleofbritain/intro.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Britain
http://s134542708.websitehome.co.uk/pillboxes/html/german_invasion_plans.html