What was the purpose of the Battle of Britain and the effect it had on the Allied cause?
After the fall of France most countries felt the war was over. The British seemed surrounded and corner, with no real allies. The Soviets were selling raw materials to the Nazi war effort, the US cowardly refused to fight, Hitler seemed to many to have won. An era of darkness was expected to fall upon the human race.
The Spanish, French, Turkish and US Generals were ready to cut a deal with Hitler after the defeat of the British airforce and their surrender, however it did not happen.
The UK air force may have been outnumbered 3 to 1 but the British had superior radar, intelligence, tactics, planes and pilots. This not only saved the UK but the world also.
If Britain had lost then the whole of Europe, Asia, Africa, the Arab world and inevitably the Americas would be under Nazi rule. The light of mankind would indeed have been extinguished.
After the British victory, with courageous help from other allies such as Czech, Polish, NZ pilots, Hitler was heart broken. He said the defeat of the German airforce was the main reason for his defeat, he felt his whole dream of world domination had gone.
In a fit of anger and bewilderment he invaded his closest allie the Soviet Union. Not one German general agreed with this as it seemed unimportant to the Nazi war effort. The defeat at the BOB had repercussions as the Japanese in a fit of similar crazed anger attacked the USA a country over twice the size of them, again for no reason.
The BOB was not only the key turning point in WWII but also the most important battle in the history of war fare. No battle before or since held so much importance.
In May 1940, Germany launched it's "Blitzkrieg" on the west with attacks on Belgium, Holland and France. The Use of pin point airstikes combined with fast moving armour allowed them to rapidly cut through the defenders lines, pushing the Anglo French forces further and further back. Belgium and Holland both fell to the advancing Germans.
With all hope of saving France gone, the British decided to evacuate their forces via the channel port of Dunkirk. Destroying any equipment they couldn't carry the British and French armies assembled on the beaches, still under constant air attack, while a flotilla of fishing boats, private yachts and steam ferries (mainly crewed by civilians) sailed from England to collect them. Despite this armada of tiny vessels being constantly under attack some 175,000 British troops and a similar number of French were taken directly back to Britain or transferred to larger warships further of shore.
Having defeated France in just five weeks Germany seemed invincible. All that stood in the way of Hitler securing the whole of Western Europe was now the British and the British alone - no European allies left! Her army now seriously lacked equipment and supplies due to Dunkirk but her navy and air force were still intact and would cause serious problems for the invasion that Hitler now planned.
The first stage of the plan began in late June and early July with air strikes against channel shipping and ports. In August the Battle of Britain proper got underway. With the German army assembled along the French coast ready for the invasion the Luftwaffe would have to have to win air superiority by destroying the Royal Air Force and so switched to attacks on British air bases and radar stations.
These attacks were extremely successful and forward air bases such as Manston or Biggin Hill were continually put out of action. Aircraft losses to Britain, both on the ground and in the air, in this phase of the battle were dangerously high. More worrying still was that pilots were being killed faster than they could be trained and replaced. Far from winning the battle the RAF were just about holding on. But Hitler was furious and postponed the invasion until 15th September.
In early September 1940 the luftwaffe bombed civilian areas of London, possibly due to a navigation error. In retaliation the RAF bombed Berlin. From this point onwards the nature of the whole air war would change. On 7th September, the luftwaffe abandoned attacks on RAF targets and instead sent two massive waves of bombers against London itself. This was the beginning of the "London Blitz" and marks the final stage of the Battle.
With it's air bases free from attack, the RAF could now meet the luftwaffe on equal terms over southern England. The raids now intensified and came by day and night. During the day Londoners watched the vapour trails from the dogfights going on above them and sheltered in the underground stations at night.
On 15th September (which should have been invasion day) the luftwaffe threw massive formations of hundreds of bombers at London. In response the RAF, it's pilots exhausted after weeks of heavy combat, launched every fighter it had - nothing was held in reserve. As night fell the RAF had destroyed 176 German aircraft with only 20 losses themselves. Losses to the luftwaffe at that rate could not be sustained and they were forced to continue bombing only by night. The nightly Blitz would continue into 1941 and claim over 40,000 British lives but the Battle of Britain was over.
As for the effect the battle had. Well,it must be remembered that at this point in the war Britain's only allies were her commonwealth countries, all of whom were far away. Alone, isolated and with the enemy at the very door Britain chose to continue fighting and, although it was undoubtedly a British victory it was won with the assistance of commonwealth pilots and pilots who had escaped from occupied Europe - French, Belgian, Polish and Czech (there were even one or two American volunteers).
It had also been a victory earned by the British people themselves - the ordinary civilians who endured night after night of heavy bombing, who volunteered for fire fighting after a full day's work, who cleared the rubble to keep roads open, who dug survivors out from bombed buildings and who worked back to back shifts to keep aircraft factories working round the clock.
Importantly the Battle of Britain marked the first defeat for Nazi Germany, they were not invincible. From the benefit of our position in time we can now see that from this point on Germany would fight a defensive war in the west for Hitler didn't invade Russia instead of Britain, he was well aware that peace with Russia could not last, and he was working to a strict timetable. He had to strike at Russia when he did before she was ready to strike at him.
But he had failed to defeat Britain who steadily come back at him with it's own heavy bombers, it's commando raids and the various resistance groups it co-ordinated throughout Europe, Britain would niggle away at him relentlessly. Later, when America entered the war Britain became a huge storage depot for men and equipment, British and American bombers would carry the war to every town and city in Germany and when they were ready their armies would embark from British ports for D Day and the advance towards Germany. Trapped by his war against Russia and his failure to eliminate Britain Hitler was doomed. That was the effect of the Battle of Britain on the allied cause