The Bloody Battle of Britain Finally Comes To An End

Today on October 31, 1940, the bloody Battle of Britain finally ends along with Hitler’s plans for invading the United Kingdom.

The Battle of Britain was the first major military campaign in history that was fought entirely between air forces. The battle saw the Royal Air Force (RAF) defend Britain against continuous large-scale aerial attacks from the German Luftwaffe (air force). From the onset, Hitler’s primary objective was to force Britain into submission and negotiate peace terms; he severely underestimated Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the British people’s resolve to resist Nazi Germany. The conflict officially started in July 1940 with the German’s blockading several British ports by air and sea.

The Luftwaffe initially only targeted coastal shipping convoys and commercial shipping centers. By early August, the Luftwaffe’s mission was altered to achieve air superiority over the English Channel and southern Britain. Therefore, they began bombing RAF airfields, aircraft factories, and strategic infrastructure. The attacks tragically shifted towards “terror bombings”, which meant dropping bombs on civilian neighborhoods and political buildings. Continental Europe had quickly fallen to the German blitzkrieg, however, Britain was proving to be a much greater challenge for Hitler. He eventually ordered the army to begin preparing for Operation Sea Lion, an amphibious invasion of Britain.

After several intense weeks of aerial fighting, the Luftwaffe ultimately failed to gain air superiority. As a result, Hitler canceled the invasion of Britain, as he knew the German ships would not stand a chance against the Royal Navy. The German High Command shifted their attention towards preparing to invade Russia. The Battle of Britain was Hitler’s first major defeat and is now recognized as a turning point in the war. After four long and anxious months of bombardment, the battle finally came to end. Its estimated almost three thousand airmen from over fifteen different countries across the British Empire lost their lives. The Germans lost similar numbers as well, however, they tactically lost the greater number of aircraft.

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