The nation that is famous for its conquests of lands across the globe was in danger of being invaded itself for the first time in 1940. The invader was none other can Sir Adolf Hitler leading Germany in an invasion of Britain by air and sea, named operation sea lion. But due to poor weather conditions and logistical problems, Germany was forced to call it off. Following which, Hitler switched to Plan B and decided to launch a large-scale aerial bombing of England. Here are some of the must-know facts of the battle :
- London was bombed 57 times in a row –
As the bombing campaign intensified the most extended period of bombing endured by Londoners lasted 57 consecutive nights. It destroyed a million houses and killed 40,000 civilians.
- Hitler offered peace in return for Britain’s Surrender –
Hitler was aware of Britain’s geographical advantages and the superiority of its’ Royal Navy, as a result of which he did not want to launch a direct attack on the British. Instead, he hoped that Britain would acknowledge the hopeless situation of her armed forces and opt for peace by surrendering to Germany. Winston Churchill though was determined to take on the Germans.
- First Battle entirely in Air –
The fight for Britain transformed into an air contest between the Luftwaffe’s bombers and Messerschmitt Bf109s and British Fighter Command’s Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires.
- Female Warriors –
Many Air Transport Auxiliary pilots were women, as that allowed men to switch to combat flying from transit flying. The lack of women pilots of the ATA would have caused transit delays.
- Buckingham Palace at stake –
RAF Sergeant Ray Holmes spotted a German Dornier bomber headed towards the Buckingham Palace. Having already used up all his ammunition, he steered his Hawker Hurricane right into the enemy’s aircraft. The impact sliced the Dornier’s tail off and caused it to crash. Holmes is known as a national hero for having saved the royal residence from potential disaster
- Royal Airforce Squadrons had many foreign pilots –
Out of 2900 RAF pilots, only 2350 were British. Pilots of other nationalities belonged to various commonwealth territories such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa as well as countries such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, etc. American Pilots too took part in the war effort.
- Marks one of the earliest uses of Radars –
RAF possessed a secret weapon in the form of Radio Direction Finding(RADAR). It enabled the RAF to pin down locations and scramble fighters to intercept them. This helped the RAF to remain a step ahead of the Luftwaffe consistently.
- The Carrot Myth –
RADAR being Britain’s big secret in the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. To hide the existence of the Radar, the government stirred a rumour that carrots were good for eyesight, and it is this that enabled the British display such accuracy in locating the enemy aircraft.