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Showing posts from August, 2020

Eighty years ago, the air war begins to change direction and Stalin settles an old score

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  As the Luftwaffe continued its attempts to gain air superiority over South East England, the Battle of Britain started to take a new turn. German planes started to bomb outlying parts of the Greater London area. Little damage and few casualties resulted; there was no obvious purpose. The raids did, though, provide a magnificent public justification for the RAF to bomb Berlin. The German capital lay at the extreme end of the range of RAF bombers, but 81 reached the target area. Air raid warnings sounded but no significant damage was done. The British claimed, naturally, that only military targets had been attacked and that this was by no means a reprisal for bombing London. There was a material propaganda or psychological impact. Herman Goering had claimed that if an enemy plane bombed Germany at all he could be called Meyer: Meyer was a common surname amongst Jews. Contrary to legend the bombs on Berlin did not immediately provoke the all-out attack on London soon to be called the

Eighty years ago, heroism, oratory and (mainly) working democracy

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      The Battle of Britain reached its height on what came to be called the “hardest day.” Both sides suffered their heaviest casualties of the Battle but there remains considerable doubt over the precise numbers. The Luftwaffe lost approximately 70 aircraft and the RAF perhaps half that number in the air with more destroyed on the ground; the Luftwaffe’s main effort was to attack British air bases. The crucial difference in the casualties was that practically all the crew of destroyed Geram planes were killed or taken prisoner whilst many of the British pilots parachuted to safety and could return to combat. Luftwaffe Ju87 Stuka dive bombers suffered disproportionately high casualties, when confronted by modern fighters. They played no significant part in the remainder of the Battle. The propaganda organisations of both sides claimed about twice as many successes than had been achieved and understated their losses by half. The air battle over England inspired Churchill to make

Eighty years ago, the British Empire is defended by Spitfires, Hurricanes and camels

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  The Luftwaffe began to launch sustained attacks on RAF Fighter Command airfields and radar stations in South East England under the grandiose codename Adlerangriff (eagle attack) in a concerted effort to gain air superiority over the intended invasion area. Bad weather had forced the attack to be postponed by a few days and Adlertag (Eagle Day) fell on August 13. By then almost a month had gone by since Hitler issued the Directive ordering the invasion. Even allowing for the need to regroup following the armistice with France, it is hard to detect any urgency in Goering’s moves to put into action a plan in which he never seemed to have much confidence. This was the start of the Battle of Britain proper. The Luftwaffe flew the largest number of sorties against Britain of any day of the Battle but RAF losses were light. Fortunately for the British, the attacks on the radar stations, which did interrupt coverage, were not followed through. Italy had declared war on Britain at th