The Battle For Free World Survival
By Tom Morrow
Arguably, the “Battle of Britain,” which took place in the summer and fall of 1940, saved the free world from Nazi tyranny and possible world domination – at least it slowed down Germany’s Adolf Hitler.
“The Battle of Britain” didn’t win the six-year long World War II, but it brought Hitler’s menacing march across Europe to a standstill. Hitler didn’t conquer any more countries, thanks to the stubborn British people. That encounter should be more aptly named: “The Battle For Freedom.”
After Hitler’s lighting success in capturing most of Western Europe using the German army’s “Blitzkreig” (lighting warfare) tactics, only Great Britain remained to be harnessed in the Nazi yolk of dictatorship. All that stood in the way of Nazi domination of England, Scotland, and Wales was the English Channel and the world’s most powerful flotilla: Britain’s Royal Navy and a beleaguered group of young pilots of the Royal Air Force.
At that time, German Luftwaffe (air force) was the most powerful in the world with more than 2,500 fighters and bombers; Britain’s RAF numbered less than 800 fighters and bombers. Probably around 600 usable aircraft was a more-realistic accounting. Hitler decided that bombing British airfields and demolishing the RAF would be a prelude to a Channel crossing and land invasion from the French coast some 25 miles away. Such a military maneuver hadn’t been tried in centuries.
Luftwaffe leader and Hitler’s No. 2, Reichsmarshall Herrman Goring, underestimated the tenacity of the British people’s will to resist as well as the bravado of RAF pilots. In order to equalize the numbers, British pilots had to shoot down invading German planes on a four-to-one ratio.
Hitler was confidant his bombers could overwhelm the British with brute force, knocking out coastal defenses and shipping, eventually giving the Germans air control over the whole of southern England.
When the initial mission failed to destroy the RAF, Hitler launched a night-time bombing campaign, or as the British called it, the “Blitz,” of London. So confident was Goering of his air force’s superiority, he bragged to Hitler that if any British bombs ever fell on Berlin, he mockingly told the Nazi leader he could call the rotund air commander, “Meyer,” (a Jewish name considered by the Nazis to be a supreme insult). When the first RAF bombs rained down on Berlin, no one knows what Hitler said to”Meyer” Goering, but it’s a good bet it wasn’t pleasant.
Hitler under estimated the stamina of the British people and the skill of RAF pilots and their aircraft. While the Me-109 fighter was a fast and agile aircraft, the RAF “Spitfire” was a superior weapon.
The Brits united under Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s leadership to defend their nation at all costs. They refused to give up, even as their cities were repeatedly bombed. The British had an advantage over the Germans: radar, which they invented and perfected. The Brits knew exactly when the Luftwaffe was coming, in what strength and at what altitude. RAF fighters, “Spitfires” and “Hurricanes,” kept German air raids at bay with a great cost to the RAF, but not as much as to the Nazis. British and German aircraft factories were turning out planes as fast as possible to keep up with the daily destruction. Still, when the Battle of Britain ended, the British had lost some 900 aircraft to the Germans’ 2,300 planes. The RAF had nearly equaled their needed “four-to-one” combat ratio.
Though the United States had yet to enter the war, President Roosevelt persuaded Congress to approve the “Lend-Lease” agreement, which sent ships, planes, guns, ammo, and desperately-needed food and medical supplies to the beleaguered British people. Historians generally agree that if the British nation had not stopped the Nazi aggression, an attack on North America would have been imminent. That five-month air battle in the summer of 1940, might very well have preserved our democratic way of life instead of living under a dictatorship.
Churchill paid tribute to those legendary Battle of Britain airmen by saying: “Never so many owed so much to so few.”
A WWII Footnote: During the air battle with the British, Hermann Goering asked his top flight leader and fighter ace what he needed to defeat the RAF? Luftwaffe Lt. Gen. Adolf Galland replied: “Sir, give me a squadron of Spitfires.” Goring was not amused.
SCAG SEZ: “Ya know, they say what you don’t know can’t hurt you, but it can make you look pretty damned stupid.” – Cecil Scaglione, Mature Life Features.