Dunkirk evacuation

by Mitch on April 18, 2010 0 Comments
 
The German Blitzkrieg brought the Battle of France to so swift and devastating a conclusion that the bulk of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and other troops had no choice but to retreat to Dunkirk on the English Channel French coast near the Belgian border. German general Gerd von Rundstedt expressed to Adolf Hitler his reservations about the extremely aggressive tactics of Blitzkrieg advocate and armor commander Heinz Guderian, who was determined to push virtually the entire BEF into the English Channel. Rundstedt believed that Guderian’s tanks could not do this alone and advised calling a halt to their advance until more conventional infantry divisions could catch up. Hitler agreed, Guderian’s advance was halted, and a narrow window of opportunity was thereby opened for British and French troops to be evacuated from Dunkirk.
 
The evacuation, which has been called miraculous, was a mammoth effort (appropriately code named Operation ...
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Clive Ponting, 1940: Myth and Reality (1990)

by Mitch on April 18, 2010 0 Comments
 
By May 1940 the British contribution to the Allied forces was minuscule - just seven per cent of the total. The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in northern France totalled nine divisions (less than the Dutch army and only forty per cent of the size of the Belgian) compared with the French army of eighty-eight divisions, raised from a population smaller than Britain's. The discrepancy confirmed long-standing French suspicions that Britain expected its allies to bear the brunt of the fighting and made for strained relations even before the events of May 1940. Under the pressure of war and the sudden prospect of defeat, conflicting national interests came rapidly to the fore. The French, quite naturally, regarded the battle in northern France as the decisive moment of the war and took the view that every effort should be made first to contain and then defeat the Germans. For the British this ...
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Coventry air raid

by Mitch on April 16, 2010 0 Comments

Holy Trinity Church rises above a scene of devastation in Coventry following the air raid on the night of 14/15 November 1940.

On the night of November 14–15, 1940, as part of the Blitz, German bombers raided this industrial city in the British Midlands, making use of a major advance in electronic warfare, the Pathfinder Force, KG 100, and X-Gerät radio beacon systems. Of 509 German aircraft sent against Coventry, 449 reached their target, and only one was shot down. This rep resented not only a major failure of Royal Air Force interceptor aircraft, but also a failure of British radio-beam countermeasures, which were designed to jam electronic guidance systems. The result of the raid was the destruction of a dozen armaments factories and most of the city’s commercial center. Coventry Cathedral, dating from the 14th century, was left in ruins and became, for Britishers and the ...

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The Battle of Britain – RAF Experience

by Mitch on April 16, 2010 0 Comments

SPITFIRE!

Fighter Command Centre - Stanmore

The RAF particularly distinguished itself in 1940 during the Battle of Britain and prevented a German invasion. The German dictator Adolf Hitler saw England as a key target to be taken for his own designs. The Battle of Britain began its first phase of defense against the German aggression in August and September of 1940, when the fall of France had left Britain exposed to immediate German invasion. This period also forms what has been referred to as the most dangerous period of the war. England had scarcely enough equipment to arm two divisions, but the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, raised the fighting spirit in the people and particularly among the RAF pilots who were called on night after night to fight in the skies over England. His famous words regarding the absolute need for victory are well known:“We shall defend our island whatever ...

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The Attack on Britain

by Mitch on April 16, 2010 0 Comments

The Battle of Britain was fought in the air to prevent a seaborne invasion of the British Isles. The German invasion plan, code-named Operation Sealion, took shape when Britain failed to sue for peace, as Hitler had expected, after the fall of France. On 16 July 1940, German Armed Forces were advised that the Luftwaffe must defeat the RAF, so that Royal Navy ships would be unprotected if they tried to prevent a cross-Channel invasion. It was an ambitious project for the relatively small German Navy, but success would hinge upon air power, not sea power.

 

There were only some 25 divisions on British home ground, widely scattered and ill supplied with equipment and transport. The RAF alone could gain the time necessary for the army to re-equip after Dunkirk, and hold off the Germans until stormy fall weather made it impossible to launch Operation Sealion. The air arm was ...

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End of the Blitz

by Mitch on April 7, 2010 0 Comments

In 1945, following successful Allied advances on the continent, the air attacks on Britain came to end: The last V1s fell in Hertfordshire on March 6. Civilian casualties were estimated at 60,595, while 86,000 individuals suffered serious injuries. The heaviest casualties were in 1940 and 1941, when the bombing claimed over twenty thousand deaths a year. Almost half of the civilian dead were in London, where there were 29,890 casualties. The comparable figures for Germany were even higher, where the death toll in Dresden alone equaled that in all of Britain.

 

In total, out of 13 million houses in 1939, 200,000 were destroyed, and 3.75 million were damaged, many of them several times. From September 1940 to May 1941, 1.15 million houses were destroyed in London, with the East End of London suffering disproportionately. In human terms, this meant that 2.25 million people ...

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War Begins – The Threat to Civilians

by Mitch on April 7, 2010 0 Comments

'TWICE IN THE FIRES OF SACRIFICE CONSUMED HAS LONDON LAIN: TWICE HAS LONDON BURNED AND TWICE SHALL LONDON RISE AGAIN!' WHAT BETTER COMPLEMENT TO THIS PICTURE OF ST PAUL'S THAN THOSE WORDS OF THE POET FRANCIS BRETT YOUNG

The declaration of war on September 3, 1939, was accompanied by the first air-raid warning in London. This was a false alarm, but the ululating siren was to become one of the most memorable sounds of the war ...

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The Definition - Blitz

by Mitch on April 7, 2010 0 Comments

The term “blitz” stems from the German Blitzkrieg, or “lightning war,” a description used in the world press to describe the rapidity of the German conquests on continental Europe between September 1939 and June 1940. With its connotations of danger from the air, it became the popular term for German aerial bombardment. Although “the Blitz” is often used to refer to the bombing of London between September 1940 and May 1941, London was only one of many areas targeted by German bombers, and the mainland remained vulnerable to aerial attack until the end of the war. In World War I, Britain had been targeted in 103 raids, during which 300 tons of bombs had been dropped, mainly on London, resulting in 1,413 casualties. In World War II, the Blitz had several goals: to prepare for a possible invasion of Britain, disrupt the military and industrial machine, and destroy civilian ...

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The British Home Front

by Mitch on March 30, 2010 0 Comments

While its pre-war government had been prepared to appease Hitler to avoid war, Britain did not enter the war entirely unprepared. The appeasement period had given time for some rearmament, and most importantly for work to be completed on some vital technological developments, particularly radar. Aircraft production was increased from 1934 and contingency arrangements made to deal with aerial bombardment. Shadow factories capable of conversion to military production were built alongside civilian ones from 1936 and 27 new arms works were built between 1936 and 1939. Limited conscription was introduced in April 1939. However, Britain’s army was still not fully mobilised when war broke out, and was ill-equipped. The retreat from Dunkirk saved the bulk of the Army, but most of its heavy weapons had been left behind. As Britain’s armed forces were expanded, American supply of aircraft and tanks in particular was vital.

The blitz of London ...
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Sealion Witness

by Mitch on March 20, 2010 0 Comments





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