10 Things You Should Know About The Battle Of Britain
10 Things You Should Know About The Battle Of Britain

10 Things You Should Know About The Battle Of Britain

Stephanie Schoppert - July 17, 2016

4. Winston Churchill had Predicted a Showdown with Germany and Named it the Battle of Britain

10 Things You Should Know About The Battle Of Britain

In May 1940 the tide of the war was changing, much of Western Europe had fallen to the Nazis. Belgium, the Netherlands, and France had all fallen. Great Britain stood as the only Allied power left. Hitler expected that the British would just surrender without a war considering that they stood no chance. Even some of Winston Churchill’s advisers suggested that they negotiate a deal with Hitler. But Churchill refused, he refused to let Europe fall and he refused to let Britain lose who she was, but he had to convince the British public that their sacrifice would be worth it.

So on June 18th he delivered a speech that spelled out the stakes of the upcoming war and what would be lost if Britain fell to Germany. He said “The Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of a perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour”.”

3. Pilot Shortages Caused the Training Time to be Cut to 2 Weeks.

10 Things You Should Know About The Battle Of Britain

Winston Churchill once spoke that “never had so many owed so much to so few” and in that he referred to the British people and their debt to the fighter pilots who fought to try and save British cities. The pilots were exhausted working 15 hour shifts, doing multiple bombing runs a day and only getting a few hours of sleep at a time. Some pilots were known to take amphetamine pills just to keep up and stay fighting. Pilots were exhausted but on the British side they were willing to keep fighting because they believed their way of life was at stake. The Germans also experienced fatigue and pilot shortages but they had a harder time motivating their forces and filling the pilot shortages.

Unfortunately the RAF had already been fighting the war in France which meant that they had lost hundreds of their experienced pilots. When it came time to defending their own homeland, the RAF was short on skilled pilots and therefore did not have the pilots they needed to allow for rotations and pilot leave. They called in the reserves but many of those men had little flying experience and no gunnery training. The RAF had no shortage of volunteers, especially once the Battle of Britain began, but they were hampered by the typically 6 month training period. They were so desperate for pilots that training was cut down to a mere two weeks. When some pilots took to skies in order to defend the country during the Battle of Britain they had spent a little as 9 hours in a modern fighter plane.

2. Even After the Battle had Ended, German still Continued with their Bombing Raids

10 Things You Should Know About The Battle Of Britain

In October 1940, Hitler realized that the Luftwaffe had still not achieved air superiority over the RAF, so he turned his attention away from his quest to take over the British airspace to attacking the Soviet Union. But even though this marked the end of the Battle of Britain that did not stop German bombing raids on British soils. The Blitz Operation went on conducting series of bombing raids against Britain, most of which took place at night. Hitler hoped that the continued bombing raids would break British resilience and he would be able to invade Britain at a later date. The Luftwaffe conducted these nighttime bombing raids over places like London, Coventry, and a handful of other cities in British.

This went on for several months, but the Germans still could not break the fighting spirit of the British and the whole of Western Europe. Over 267 days London was attacked 71 times and other cities continued to be bombed as well. The bombings continued all the way up until May of 1941 when Hitler finally abandoned any hope of doing an invasion of Great Britain. But the damage to the country had been significant more than a million homes were damage and tens of thousands had lost their lives.

1. Hitler Tried to Convince Britain to Surrender Without a Fight

10 Things You Should Know About The Battle Of Britain

Britain was the last country in Western Europe to stand against Hitler after he had conquered other European nations. The defeat of France was an especially hard blow and one that Hitler believed would lead to a British surrender. But despite his lightning conquest of France and after just six weeks of the combat, he was still wary of invading Britain. Since Britain was under the protection of the English Channel and also being that their Royal Navy was superior to the German Kriegsmarine, he wanted to avoid an invasion. Hitler hoped that Britain would peacefully surrender to Germany and agree to a negotiated peace settlement.

However, even though a small contingent of British politicians also favored a compromise, Churchill dismissed any negotiations of surrender and declared that Britain was determined to fight on. The truth is, Hitler never wanted to go into a fight with the British. He had expected them, and compelled them to surrender without a fight and sue for peace, but Britain refused, stating emphatically “We shall never surrender.”

Hitler was then forced to issue “Directive Number 16” code-named Operation Sea Lion, an invasion that was considered as a last resort if the peace agreement failed. However, Operation Sea Lion depended on the Luftwaffe dominating the RAF which never happened, so Operation Sea Lion was postponed after the Battle of Britain. As the war progressed, Hitler abandoned Operation Sea Lion entirely and he never attempted an invasion of Britain.