The Battle of Britain remains one of the most famous battles of World War Two.
from July. to Oct., 1940
The Battle of Britain was an air battle fought in the skys above southern England
Who fought: series of air battles between Great Britain and Germany
Why it happened:
Because before Germany could launch a seaborne invasion of Britain it had to gain air superiority over the English Channel. To accomplish this, it has to wipe out the RAF. They wanted control of the skies over Britain and the Channel.
The airmen who Churchill dubbed “the few” comprised 2,353 pilots and air crew from Great Britain and 574 from overseas. All flew at least one authorized operational sortie with an eligible unit of the Royal Air Force or Fleet Air Arm from July 10 to October 31.
Participants included Poles, New Zealanders, Canadians, Czechs, Australians, Belgians, South Africans, French, Irish, Americans as well as a Jamaican, a Southern Rhodesian and a flyer from the Palestinian Protectorate.
Five hundred and forty-four lost their lives.
More than 100 Canadians are deemed to have participated in the Battle of Britain, and 23 lost their lives.
The key players in this battle were the fighter pilots.
The Battle of Britain was in Phases-
The Battle of Britain begins
Phase I – The Channel Battles (Kanalkampf)
Phase I of the battle began on July 10 and lasted for a month. During this time, the Luftwaffe attacked convoys in the English Channel and Channel ports. They also began attacking radar stations on the south coast of England.
Phase II – Eagle Attack (Adlerangriff)
Phase II, the main assault, was marked by further attacks on radar positions and massive attacks against airfields to destroy Great Britain’s fighter capability in the air and on the ground. In particular, the airfields of 11 Group, located in the southeast of England, came under fire. The only Royal Canadian Air Force squadron in the Battle – No. 1 (Canadian) Squadron, later renamed 401 Squadron – was part of 11 Group.
The launch of the main assault took place on August 13, called Eagle Day (Adlertag) by German High Command. The previous day the Luftwaffe heavily damaged but did not destroy the southern chain of radar stations. On Adlertag, “the Luftwaffe came out in force, hitting radar stations, airfields, and aircraft factories,” says Stokesbury. “They flew almost fifteen hundred sorties, and the British responded with about seven hundred.”
On August 20, as Adlerangriff was in full flight, Churchill delivered his speech praising the airmen fighting the Battle in words that have echoed through the decades:
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 airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world by their prowess and 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 attacks continued throughout the month and into September
However, the Germans “decided that their attacks on the radar stations were not paying off – just as they were beginning to – and they discontinued them, another in their chain of fatal mistakes,” notes Stokesbury.
Phase III – The Blitz
On August 1, 1940 Hitler issued Directive No. 17, which said that “the war against England is to be destructive attacks against industry and air force targets…” However, he said, “I reserve to myself the right to decide on terror attacks as measures of reprisal” – i.e., attacks against civilians.
Later in the month, when it appeared that the Luftwaffe was winning, the Battle of Britain took another unexpected turn.
There had already been some bombing of