Where was the Battle of Britain fought?

Answer

This battle took place in the skies over Britain. The Battle of Britain was a contest between the British and German air forces. The Germans were trying to destroy the British air force as a prelude to invading the island.

The first stage (the Battle of Britain in the narrower sense, from about early July-October 1940) saw the attempt by the German Luftwaffe to destroy the RAF bases.

In September 1940 the focus shifted to atttacks on civilian targets. This second phase if often referred in Britain as 'the blitz'. Over a period of several months in 1940 they launched huge daily air raids on various targets in England, most particularly a long campaign of terror bombing of London and other cities. Ultimately though the British were shooting down far more German planes than the Germans were British and Hitler gave up in May 1941 in order to prepare for his invasion of Russia.

Answer

After the British withdrew from Dunkirk Churchill said "What General Weygrand called the Battle of France is over, the Battle of Britain is about to begin". It took place mainly over the South and East of England from July 10th 1940 to 31st October 1940. German sources have the Battle finishing later when the last bombing runs were made (May 1941) while the British dates cover the main action.

There were 4 main parts:-

1. July 10th - August 7th Initial probing across the Channel and raids on Radar stations

2. August 8th - September 6th - Airfield raids to destroy aircraft and facilities

3. 7th September - 5th October Massed attacks against the London, other cities and industry

4. 6-31 October 1940 Night Raids

The Battle of Britain was an air battle fought in the skies primarily above Southern England.

The East Coast and Midlands were also attacked by Aircraft based in Norway.
The Battle of Britain was the final stand against Hitler's dominance of Europe.

Hitler wanted to invade Britain. He called his plan Operation Sealion. He had detailed plans of who would rule Britain after it was conquered. His propaganda machine had already made a newsreel of the 'victorious' German soldiers and the British they had 'captured'.

But Britain was defended by the Royal Navy, which was much stronger than the German Navy. If Hitler was going to mount an invasion of Britain, he would have to find a way to defend his invasion barges from attack. The German airforce - the Luftwaffe - could defend the invasion, but, to do that, Hitler would first have to knock out the Royal Air Force (RAF). That is how the Battle of Britain came about. The Battle of Britain was really the first part of Hitler's invasion of Britain.

Four developments laid the foundations of Britain's survival:

  1. Firstly, Britain had built a series of radar stations (July 1935). British radar was superior because, not only could it tell where the enemy planes were coming from, but it had a way to telling the fighters so that they could go and attack them.

  2. Secondly, in July 1937, Air Chief Marshall Dowding was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Fighter Command. He was a brilliant commander who - on a small budget - was able to reorganise the RAF into four Groups, each divided into a number of sectors (each with a main sector airfield with a number of supporting airfields).

  3. Thirdly, the British developed two brilliant planes - the Hurricane (Nov 1935) which was reliable and was used to shoot down the Luftwaffe bombers; and the Spitfire (March 1936), the fastest plane in the world, which was used to destroy the Nazi fighters which protected the bombers.

  4. Fourthly, in May 1940, Churchill put Lord Beaverbrook (owner of the Daily Express) in charge of aircraft production. He ran one appeal for aluminum - 'We will turn your pots and pans into Spitfires and Hurricanes' - and another scheme where towns, groups or individuals could 'buy' a Spitfire (for £5000) and send it off the fight the Nazis. He also set up a Civilian Repair Organisation, which made new planes from the left-over pieces of planes which had been shot down. Beaverbrook cut through government red tape, and increased the production by 250%; in 1940, British factories produced 4,283 fighters, compared to Germany's 3,000.