Thursday, 18 September 2014

Their Finest Hour

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few".

In preparation for Operation Sealion, the invasion of the British mainland, on 1 August 1940, Adolf Hitler issued the following orders:

"The German Air Force is to overcome the British Air Force with all the means at its disposal, and as soon as possible".

The Battle of Britain had begun.

On 15 September 1940, in an attempt to break the back of the Royal Air Force once and for all the Luftwaffe launched a massive aerial assault on Britain in two waves. The fighting was ferocious and continued all day but by the end of the day the Germans had failed in their objective and had sustained heavy losses.

It proves the turning point.

On 17 September, Hitler postpones Operation Sealion for the foreseeable future from now on the civilian population would be targeted and Britain would be bombed into submission.

After weeks of ferocious combat over its skies Britain ceased to be in imminent danger of invasion but the cost had been high for both sides:

Britain had lost 537 of its 1,200 pilots killed, 422  wounded, and 1,012 planes destroyed.

But German losses had been even higher with 2,662 men killed, 967 captured, and 638  missing with 1,918 aircraft destroyed.

Earlier Winston Churchill had addressed the nation:

"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 War by their prowess and their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few".

The Battle of Britain was over the Blitz had begun.

15 September, Battle of Britain Day - defeating fascism

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