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Battle of Britain

// Information about the Battle of Britain.

"Hitler knows that he will have to beat us in this island or lose the war. If we manage to resist him, all Europe may be free and life in the world can progress to larger and sunny situations. But if we fail, the whole world, including the United States, including all that we know and that is important, sink into the abyss of a new era of darkness, turned into something more sinister and perhaps more desperate, the lights of a perverted science. For this reason, we accept our duties and prepare us for mo that if the British Empire and itsCommonwealth get there for another thousand years, men continue saying: 'This was his moment of glory.' "- Winston Churchill (06/18/1940) 

With these words, uttered in the House of Commons on June 18, 1940, which strengthened the Winston Churchill British citizens for the great ordeal: the Battle of Britain. What were Adolf Hitler's plans to invade England? The basic plan was Operation Sea Lion. He intended to pave the way for a seaborne invasion by destroying Fighter Command. When the number of casualties has increased considerably, the Germans have forgotten your aim and began to unleash attacks on London and other UK cities, usually in an operation known as Blitz. 

The Germans set aside an army of about twenty divisions for this operation. One may question if the fleet was organized by them suitable to transport the army, to the extent that the German navy had suffered serious casualties during the campaign in Norway and was not able to escort the troops even along the sea route shorter than it is now known to have been chosen. Obviously, the safe disembarkation of the soldiers of the Luftwaffe depended more than the small German navy. Once ashore, they would face about 25 divisions, all in good condition, but with a serious lack of modern weapons, transportation and tanks. Despite their morale is very high, this army was not so experienced and so well trained as the German. Moreover, the army was scattered from Kent to Cromarty, unable to know the place of landing of the enemy. For a long time, the east coast seemed to be the most likely location. However, it was possible that there were several landings simultaneously. The possibility of landings by air should be taken into account, although there are no conditions for the paratroopers and the impact they could cause confusion that had spread to the Netherlands. 

The Corps of Local Defense (which shortly after came to be called the Home Guard) was created one evening in the month of May, and although at first armed with rifles and even old spears, was not of great value to the defense of vulnerable points. Its ranks were filled with resolute veterans of the war of 1914-18, which, undoubtedly, had made a brave and courageous behavior. The UK and its empire were now virtually alone. Moreover, the country could not employ all its scarce resources in the defense of the British Isles, because there was a need to maintain its position abroad, mainly in the Mediterranean. 

But it lacked allies in the UK, this continued to be friends with the U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. There was at that time no desire by Americans to proclaim: England is defeated.However, President Roosevelt had an important role in providing the following weapons:

  • 500,000 rifles;
  • 80,000 machine guns;
  • 130 million sets of ammunition;
  • 900 guns 75 mm and
  • 100,000,000 grenade;

Besides all this, the UK still had about two hundred tanks operational. 

The British Army struggled the most in their preparations against a possible invasion by the Germans. Many officers of proven ability, Generals Sir John Dill and Sir Alan Brooke, held the key positions of Chief of Imperial General Staff and commander in chief of metropolitan forces. Although he spent a long time before the army could move to the offensive, but as a guarantee of better times come, the commands were formed in order to deliver attacks anywhere between Narvik and Bayonne. No one need doubt that, with the mood prevailing in 1940, the British would have faced a German invasion with an obstinate fury. Still, it was great that the English army did not have to face the Wehrmacht in the fields of Kent. Keitel and other high officers of the armed forces of the German High Command were convinced, after the French armistice, that Britain was willing to negotiate terms of peace. It was a sign of how badly they knew the temper of the British people. 

Despite all this, the German air power was now at its peak:

  • Groups of 11 fighter aircraft (1,300 Messerschmitt 109);
  • 2 groups of fighter-bombers fighting and bombardment (180 Messerschmitt 110);
  • 10 bomber groups (1350 - Heinkel 111, Junkers 88, Dornier 17).

A total of 2,830 aircraft. 

With trained and experienced teams, who already knew the taste of victory, entered the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain confident in its success. Two air fleets took part: the first, commanded by Field-Marshal Kesselring (with headquarters in Brussels), and second, commanded by Field-Marshal Sperrle (with headquarters in Paris). On July 2, the German High Command gave orders to open up the way for the invasion of Britain. Two goals were defined:

  • The interdiction of the English Channel to the merchant, to be obtained in conjunction with the German naval forces, through the attack on the convoys, the destruction of port facilities and laying mines in the areas of ports and their access paths.
  • The destruction of the RAF (Royal Air Force).

To thwart this plan, Fighter Command had (on August 8) about six or seven hundred fighters, organized into 55 operational squadrons, including six with night combat aircraft(Blenheim), who did not attend daytime operations. The vast majority of aircraft were Hurricanes, about one-fifth were Spitfires and there were two squadrons of Defiants. Thanks to the efforts of Lord Beaverbrook, Minister of Production Air, the British air force has grown significantly, so that on 30 September had 59 squadrons (eight combat aircraft night). The Battle of Britain began on July 10, when German bombers attacked merchant convoys in the Channel. A week later (July 16), Hitler gave his instructions to Operation Sea Lion.Preparations should be completed by mid-August. Among them was the appointment by Heydrich, the SS Colonel, Professor Six, to the position of representative of the security police (Gestapo) in Britain. 

Occurred in the Channel intense German attacks against merchant convoys between the 8th and August 12th. Then the Germans shifted their attention to the fields where the fighters parked (in South and Southeast of the United Kingdom). However, even though they caused much damage, were not getting the results previously outlined. During the first ten days of the campaign in August, the Luftwaffe suffered losses far in excess of the RAF, which lost only 153 planes. British losses were to fighters seaters. The enemy lost many bombers, carrying a crew of five, two-seaters and also many fighters. In intense battles of the 15th of August, the Germans lost a total of 76. The Spitfire had a considerably higher than the performance Messerschimitt 109, while the Messershimitt 110 was faster than the Spitfire, but had difficulties in handling. The Hurricane, a slower machine, was showing its value against the German bombers. 

It would be absurd to underestimate the value and skill of the pilots of the Luftwaffe, among whom were aces like Galland and Moelders. The truth is that the British fighter pilots aware that victory depended on his courage and tenacity, initiative and showed more courage than their opponents. There have been many cases in which a plane was hit and the pilot was saved by parachute jumping, going back to fight with another plane on the same day. There was a performance advantage in domestic areas, as many RAF pilots forced to leave their phones - even those who fell in the sea - they could be rescued. The organizational control of Fighter Command, under the command of Vice-Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, and the 11th Fighter Group, under the command of Vice-Air Marshal Park, left little to be desired. 

The development of radar in the UK has a great advantage in order to be able to distinguish between false and true German offensives, so that they could use their resources as best we can. The Germans then increased the proportion of fighters against the bombers and, after a brief pause, struck eleven major attacks during the first five days of September. This time the targets were the fighter air bases located within the country and aircraft factories. Casualties were beginning to make the Germans lost sight of its true purpose, namely the destruction of the RAF. At the moment they began to change their targets, were routed, although this had not during printing. 

On September 7, was the first mass attack on London. This, said Goering, is the historical time in which our air force struck their first blows in the heart of the enemy. This attack was carried out between 5 and 6 pm. About 320 bombers, escorted by more than six hundred fighters, came along the river Thames and bombed the arsenal at Woolwich, Beckton refinery, Dockland, the power plant at West Ham, the city center, Westminster and Kensington. Large fires were caused by the attack, and the population of Silvertown had to be evacuated by river. At 20.10, over 250 bombers approached, the attack continued until 4:30 in the morning. Among the civilian population was 430 deaths and about 1,600 people seriously injured. The London Fire Brigade fought all day to quell the fires. At 19:30 on the 8th, two hundred other bombers appeared, who, guided by the flames, made the Blitz. 

For 23 consecutive days, the Luftwaffe kept the pressure. U.S. observers were impressed with the way Londoners accepted the situation. It is almost unbelievable, reported Helen Kirkpatrick, Chicago Daily News (September 9), see how people are relatively calm after this terrible experience. There is a certain amount of terror, but not on the scale expected by the Germans and certainly not on a scale that makes the English think of anything else but to continue the fight. The fear is mixed to the point with a deep, almost uncontrollable rage, which is difficult to know where one ends and the other begins feeling. The number of casualties, although high, was never as intense as the disciples of Douhet hoped . 

The biggest day of the attacks occurred on September 15 and the intense struggles between London and Dover Strait cost the Germans 56 devices. This was the climax of the battle.The increasing number of casualties was beginning to decrease the power of the Luftwaffe. The bombers left to act during the day around 5 October. The attacks, carried out by fighter-bombers (Messerschmitt 110), with a large escort, flying about 914 meters tall and each carrying only two pumps were never very impressive. At the end of the month, the Battle of Britain ended. 

On 12 October, Hitler canceled Operation Sea Lion because the Luftwaffe had failed to establish conditions for the Germans succeeded in crossing the Channel. This attempt cost theLuftwaffe 1733 handsets. It was a great British victory, one of the decisive battles of World War II. And was not easily won. Although the battle itself is over, the shelling continued overnight. London, Southampton, Plymouth, Bristol, Liverpool, Coventry, Birmingham and Exeter were among the cities that were attacked. Many civilians died, but the attacks against the cities only served to emphasize that the Germans had failed to achieve its real goal - the destruction of the RAF. 

The RAF countered the Ruhr, the refineries in West Germany and Berlin. Goering's statement to the effect that a British plane would never appear on the territory of the Reich proved to be false. The Italians did not escape unscathed. In autumn, the RAF flew over the Alps to bomb Milan and Turin. We can not say that the bombardment during this phase of the war diminished in some way its duration. The damage caused to relatively small arms industry were quickly repaired on both sides. The morale of the civilian population failed to be sufficiently affected to cause concern to the government. The government of Winston Churchill through the Emergency Powers Act, had taken control over the lives and possessions of the British population, an attitude which, being more subtle, no less serious than the iron control exercised by a dictator or fascist nazi . The year 1940, which witnessed the greatest triumph of Hitler, had come to an end. It was no longer heresy to question the German invincibility. It is true that Senator Burton K. Wheeler said this year's Christmas in the United States were hurting a lot Britain, encouraging the country to continue and fight until exhaustion ... There was not a single official of sound mind, he said, he believed that Britain would be able to land troops on German territory. And even that our advertisers are able to involve us in war ... I doubt that the joint efforts of Britain and the United States can succeed in this project.

The english version of this article will be available soon. In the meanwhile, the text above was the result of a Google translation from portuguese version to english.

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