Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Battle of Britain

"The Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin..."
—Winston Churchill

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Britain.

The Battle of Britain was fought in the air. The German Luftwaffe assaulted the United Kingdom continuously from July 1940 through that fall, without letup. The world had never seen hell rain down to earth on such a scale before. It was imperative to the German plan of continued conquest that they gain air superiority over the British. Coastal shipping was attacked. Ports were attacked. Aircraft and munitions factories were attacked. Finally, in desperation, the Germans began the terror bombing of population centers. Had the Germans succeeded, the United Kingdom almost certainly would have been forced into a separate armistice.

The RAF held.

Through it all, the skies over Britain were NEVER uncontested. The Germans finally left off. Operation Sea Lion would never materialize. Much of Britain was in shambles, and years of hardship lay ahead, but the British had defended their island. They were staggered, but they were still standing.

When the final history was written, it would be the British who accepted the German surrender.

Indescribable bravery began over Britain, 70 years ago today.


  1. I'd heard about the Battle of Britain, of course, and especially so because my father in law was in the RAF. What I hadn't know was quite how badly the part of Kent where I now live was affected. East Kent was called Hellfire Corner and I think the name speaks for itself. I've heard some remarkable individual stories of what it was like in those days.

  2. You just posted that picture to push my buttons, didn't you?
    The picture aircraft type was a Boulton-Paul Defiant, which probably sounded like quite a good idea on paper, "hey, lets build a fighter plane, but then stick a big heavy turret in it, so it can sneak up on bombers and shoot at them from all sorts of unexpected directions. That'll catch the enemy by surprise!"
    Well, it worked for about five minutes. Fighters attacking them from the rear, as was customary, were met by a totally unexpected blasting from four machine-guns. a A Defiant squadron in one day took out 18 german fighters. however, the germans soon learned that attacking from the front or from below gave them a totally helpless target.
    The Defiants were quicker than most of the german bombers, and a little more manoeuvreable. Unfortunately for them, they were much slower and less manoeuvrable than pretty much any german fighter you could think of. As their job in the battle of Britain was to intercept the bombers as soon as possible, they tended to operate well within the range of the german fighter escort.
    When they were attacked, they had little chance of escape, and no forward firing guns.
    If they were hit, the pilot might just get out, but the gunner had little chance.
    The Battle of Britain was won by pilots in Hawker-Siddely Hurricanes, and Supermarine Spitfires.
    The death-trap-defiants were banished to night-fighting duty, and sent to the north of the country, where they might encounter bombers unprotected by a fighter escort.

  3. Hitler of course never intended to invade at that time. His mind was on Soviet Russia! Had he defeated the Soviets, who instead defeated him, he would have had no choice but to risk and invasion of Britain. The response would have been the same!

    The 'Defiant,' indeed a night fighter at best. Quite how they thought no forward guns were required beats me, even Great War aircraft of similar type had those!

  4. @A. - I didn't know your FIL was in the RAF. That's interesting. Obviously, though, Kent is attacked first in any invasion throughout history. It's sort of an unwritten law. You're so... so.... CLOSE. So it was with William, so it was with Adolf. And still you put up no fortifications after 1000 years. Except for that castle with the cannon that are all blocked up with concrete..

    @Soubriquet - Well, now I suppose I'm obliged to admit I just grabbed the first fighter photo I could find with RAF markings on the airplanes. I couldn't tell one from the other from WWII, American aircraft either. Well, I guess I could pick out a B-17. If what you say is true (and why should I doubt you?) then it was a dumb configuration, that shooting backwards thing. Hawker-Siddely Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires. No wonder I can't recognize them. Why not just call them things like P-38s? It worked for us.

    Flyer: I'm hit! I'm hit! I'm going down!

    Control: What type of aircraft are you in so we can look for you?

    Flyer: I'm in a Hawkins-Snidely... WAIT! I mean a Hawker-Siddely Hur.... ack ack ack.


    @Adullamite - I'm sure. Hitler phoned you, right? Like he wouldn't attack England if he had gained air superiority? He wanted Russia so badly? So he would have invaded later after you had built more airplanes? On the other hand, maybe you are right - who knows? I sure don't know. I was only trying to compliment the brave British flyers in the Battle of Britain. I wanted to compliment the French too, but just couldn't come up with anything.

  5. Is it true the U.S. is about to attack Switzerland over Polanski? That's the rumor from here.

  6. Whatever happened to the good old days when the CIA just assassinated people and then denied it? I long for that less complicated time, don't you? I suppose some are glad that's in the past. Amadinajaaaad for example.



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