Why Britain Won the Battle of Britain
By the summer of 1940, the Germans under Hitler dominated most of
Europe. His one remaining active enemy-Britain, under a new prime
minister, Winston Churchill-vowed to continue fighting. Whether it
could was debatable. The British army had left most of its weapons on
the beaches at Dunkirk. Britain stood alone as Russia led by Stalin
had signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler and the U.S. A. although
shocked by the fall of France and sympathetic to Britain, was against
getting into the war.
The Germans hoped to subdue the British by starving them out. In June
1940 they undertook the Battle of the Atlantic, using submarine
warfare to cut the British overseas lifelines. The Germans had
submarine bases in Norway and France. At the start of World War II
Germany only had 28 submarines, but more were being built - enough to
keep Britain in danger until the spring of 1943. This was arguably
more effective than the effects of the German air campaign.
Invasion was the only way to defeat Britain. This involved crossing
the English Channel. Hitler would not risk crossing the Channel unless
the British air force was defeated first. As a result, the Battle of
Britain was fought in the air, not on land as all previous wars had
been fought. In August 1940 the Germans launched daylight raids
against ports and airfields, and in September against inland cities
like London, Coventry, Bristol, Plymouth and Liverpool. The objective
was to draw out the British fighters and destroy them. It was hoped by
Hitler that these raids on civilian targets would lower the morale of
the British people.
Of immense significance was the fact that Hitler was not personally
interested in the Battle of Britain or invading England. He relied on
his commander Goering, who although he had the most...