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The Battle of Britain Essay

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The Battle of Britain was the most important turning point in World War II for the Allied powers against the Nazis and their Axis powers. The Battle of Britain was almost lost before it was ever fought, but the reason behind this was the Battle of France: It was over in just six weeks and didn’t leave Britain much time to prepare their defenses. The French mentality was to blame. The personal failings on the part of Gort, Georges, and Gamelin. They paid no attention to the approaching danger which was building up on the German side of the Maginot line.

Time and again, the French chose to ignore reports of German mobilizations near the line. It seemed not to matter. They had up-to-date intel and proof of impending attack, and still did nothing. France’s general Gamelin’s way of putting things was, “the French preferred to await events”. Soon, France surrendered. They signed the armistice on June 22nd in Marshal Foch’s railway carriage at Compiegne. This left France humiliated with only a shred of dignity left, and the rest of Europe to wonder when and where the Nazis would strike next. The Nazi’s Luftwaffe set out to control the skies in fighter squadrons.

The Germans found it hard to compete with the British aircraft, which were designed to be even better dogfighters than the German Messerschmitt Me109. The Germans, however, gained the upper hand in the Battle of Britain because of France’s surrender. This made Britain susceptible and unprotected from U-boat attacks and under constant aerial attack and in fear of invasion. At first, many in Britain wanted to propose conditions of surrender and talk peace because they thought they could not beat Hitler, but prime minister Winston Churchill knew he could finish the job if he got the “right tools”.

One advantage that Britain had over the Nazis was that Britain was fighting above her home soil, and this gave the advantage in two aspects. First, they could recycle their pilots. If British pilots were shot down over Britain, they could get another plane, and second, this gave Britain more time to fight the Luftwaffe in their own skies because they did not have to fight from long distances. At the time, the only Allied powers were Britain, France, and Poland, and that was not going to be enough to defeat the Nazis on the Western front.

To make matters worse, Italy declared war on June 10th against the Allied powers, and Hitler encouraged Japan to join the Axis to get rid of the United States as well. Britain was in a tough spot. They knew that they needed supplies and materials from America to have any chance against the Nazis. It was apparent that Germany had made some critical mistakes in fighting Britain. They were unable to cripple the British aircraft industry because it outproduced Germany by a huge margin, allowing British fighter commanders to catch up with any suffered losses. On September 17th, Hitler postponed Operation Sea Lion indefinitely.

He went from day and night time raids to only nighttime ones, and this was more of a nuisance to the British empire than a threat. In three months, the RAF lost half as many aircraft as the Luftwaffe, and this considerably crippled the Germans on the Western front. Soon, the Battle of Britain was won, and their leader Winston Churchill, celebrating jubilantly, claimed “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few. ” The British have proven that their war effort was worth supplying by the Americans and in no danger of imminent collapse.

Historian and author Richard Overy made claims in his book, “The Battle”, that this whole Battle for Britain was hidden in a myth. First, Overy claims that Britain was never overwhelmed by the Luftwaffe. Overy also discounts that the Luftwaffe was only after ground targets. Overy also states that, while Britain claims they alone in the battle in 1940, that was a myth. He claims they had help from their commonwealths and had amassed supplies and resources, and that they had other squadrons such as from the Czechs, Poland, Canada, and some French squadrons.

Richard Overy says, by his accounts, the Battle of Britian was won by the virtue of good fortune, or German misjudgment. Richard Overy’s revision states that the British didn’t have that bad of a time against the Nazis because the Nazis were never really coming, it was all a bluff. Operation Sea Lion was nothing more than an elaborate hoax. The Battle for the Atlantic would be just as tough as the Battle for Britain would be. The first casualties of the battle of the Atlantic were taken by accident: On September 3rd, the captain of U-Boat 30 mistook the Athenia, a merchant cruiser bound for Canada, as a hostile vessel.

It fired torpedoes without warning and sunk it. This was just the beginning of the Nazi’s terror in the Battle of the Atlantic. The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest campaign in the entire War, and it was a battle for the British of national survival and ultimate victory. The British believed the only way that they could keep themselves alive was mastery of the ocean routes and free approach to the entry ports. The German U-boat fleet was small at the start of the war: Only fifty-seven vessels, but they proved to be a formidable and vicious threat to Britain’s supply lines.

They captured the Atlantic ports of Brest, Saint-Nazarene, La Rochelle, and Lorient. Moreover, the U-boat’s range was being extended by refueling at sea from submarine “milch cows” (p. 58). The U-boats were also becoming more skillful at organizing patrols to detect convoys. The B-dienst (observer service) gave the Germans a distinct advantage in communicating in the ocean. The famous enigma ‘Shark’ key was not broken by the United States or their allies until May of 1943. Germany was sinking ships at five times the rate of replacement launchings by the British.

The Battle of the Atlantic was turning tides. The most important factor for this was the entry of the United States into the war on December 7th, 1941. Finally, German U-boat losses were equal to the monthly launchings of about 15 a month. U-boat losses overtook their replacement by more than double in May of 1943. This was because of long-range patrol aircraft and proved echo sounding equipment, new depth charge launchers, the hedgehog and squid. The Germans were too far behind in the war effort to catch up. Soon, the Nazis would have to accept that they were losing World War II. just as they had lost the Battle of Britain and the Battle of the Atlantic. Many outcomes and consequences were a result of the short-term and long-term effects in the Battle for Britain and the Battle for the Atlantic. The short-term effects were the fall of the French miltiary that left Britain vulnerable to U-boat attacks. The loss of the Enigma machine by Germany was not felt immediately: It became a long-term problem for the U-boat service. The Luftwaffe suffered both long and short-term effects: Their poor fighter pilot plane designs and their waiting to implement key and new technology to make their cause winnable.

Also, underestimating the RAF’s ability to fight hurt the Nazis in the short-term, and in the long-term, Britain was able to gain the support of America and its people in the war. The long-term effects of the Battle of Britain gained the respect of Britain’s allies and their belief that Britain could win the war if they were helped. The allies underestimated the Nazis’ ability in the short term at the start of World War II, and the Allies paid heavy prices for their miscalculations of the Nazis.

The Nazis, however, also underestimated the Allied powers to be able to recover from the initial losses in World War II. This was mostly because France surrendered so quickly, and the Nazis thought that Britain would surrender quickly, as well. Another effect was that, by being supplied by America and their other allies, Britain became the adversary she had once been and proved to be just as cunning and smart as the Nazis. Fighting alongside their new Allied partners, the British, Americans and Russians proved that the Nazis had no chance in the second World War.