The Battle of Britain: Five Months That Changed History, May-October 1940 by James HollandIf Hitler fails to invade or destroy Britain, he has lost the war, Churchill said in the summer of 1940.He was right.The Battle of Britain was a crucial turning point in the history of the Second World War. Had Britains defences collapsed, Hitler would have dominated all of Europe and been able to turn his full attention east to the Soviet Union.
The German invasion of France and the Low Countries in May 1940 was unlike any the world had ever seen. It hit with a force and aggression that no-one could counter and in just a few short weeks, all in their way crumbled under the force of the Nazi hammer blow. With France facing defeat and with British forces pressed back to the Channel, there were few who believed Britain could possibly survive.Soon, it seemed, Hitler would have all of Europe at his feet.
Yet Hitlers forces were not quite the Goliath they at first seemed, while her leadership lacked the single-minded purpose, vision and direction that had led to such success on land.Nor was Britain any David.Thanks to a sophisticated defensive system and the combined efforts of the RAF, Royal Navy as well as the mounting sense of collective defiance led by a new Prime Minister, Britain was not ready to roll over just yet.
From clashes between coastal convoys and Schnellboote in the Channel to astonishing last stands in Flanders, and from the slaughter by the U-boats in the icy Atlantic to the dramatic aerial battles over England, The Battle of Britain tells this most epic of stories from all sides, drawing on extensive new research from around the world. In so doing, it paints a complete picture of that extraordinary summer - a time in which the fate of the world truly hung by a thread.
10 Things You Should Know About the Battle of Britain
Mediterranean and Middle East. It has been described as the first major military campaign fought entirely by air forces. The primary objective of the German forces was to compel Britain to agree to a negotiated peace settlement. In July , the air and sea blockade began, with the Luftwaffe mainly targeting coastal-shipping convoys, ports and shipping centres, such as Portsmouth. Eventually, it employed terror bombing on areas of political significance and on civilians. The Germans had rapidly overwhelmed France and the Low Countries , leaving Britain to face the threat of invasion by sea.
Anthony Eden on the Battle of Britain
In the summer and fall of , German and British air forces clashed in the skies over the United Kingdom, locked in the largest sustained bombing campaign to that date. But Prime Minister Winston Churchill rallied his stubborn people and outmaneuvered those politicians who wanted to negotiate with Adolf Hitler. This then would be the first all-air battle in history. Britain possessed an effective air defense system, first-rate fighter pilots, and a great military leader in Air Marshal Hugh Dowding. On the other hand, the Germans had major problems: they had no navy left after the costly conquest of Norway, their army was unprepared for any form of amphibious operations, and the Luftwaffe had suffered heavy losses in the west the first two factors made a seaborne attack on the British Isles impossible from the first. Even more serious, the Germans had poor intelligence and little idea of British vulnerabilities. They wasted most of July in waiting for a British surrender and attacked only in August.