Churchill christened his second battle of the war and it may well have been the more important one. In the Battle of Britain the Germans had failed to gain air supremacy over England; had they won it would have made an invasion possible, but not necessarily inevitable or inevitably successful. If the Germans had won the Battle of the Atlantic, as Churchill named the conflict between German U Boats and long range bombers on one side and merchant shipping to Britain and its air and sea escorts on the other, Britain would have been unable to go on fighting. Unlike the very public designation of the Battle of Britain, the term Battle of the Atlantic first appeared in a confidential directive, which Churchill signed as Minister of Defence. The Directive gave full priority in supplies of anti-aircraft weapons to the ships and promoted catapult-armed merchant vessels to provide air cover, but otherwise it was light on detail. One public result of the directive was to give the Admiralty fo
Having been largely on the defensive for most of 1940, RAF’s Fighter Command under its new, aggressive commander Sholto Douglas tried to take the fight to the Luftwaffe. The scheme had actually been proposed by "the father of the RAF" Hugh Trenchard in keeping with his doctrine of favouring the offensive and it ignored an unfavourable tactical siuation to pursue attacks with questionable military purpose. Operating under the general codename Circus it began to undertake operations over northern France to begin with in collaboration with Bomber Command, which had started at the end of 1940 but intensified in the new year. It escorted in strength bombing missions of a size calculated to draw German fighters into battle. Circus proved to be costly and ineffective. The bombers - notably the Handley-Page Hampdens used in the early attacks - were unsuitable for the work and did little worthwhile damage and the British fighters had no special advantage. Like the German fight
The British position in its protectorate Iraq had been under threat since the beginning of April when a military coup led by the four colonels of the “Golden Square” overthrew the pro-British regent and placed the nationalist and overtly pro-Fascist Rashid Ali in power. Relations between the new regime and the British deteriorated swiftly and deeply. The Iraqi army took positions on the escarpment that dominated the British air base at Habbaniya outside Baghdad and issued an ultimatum that training operations were to cease. The British commander launched pre-emptive bombing attacks on the Iraqis and open war ensued. The British garrison at Habbaniyah consisted mainly of 2,000 odd local Christian Assyrian Levies which were outmatched by the opposing Iraqi forces, but remorseless air attacks by the RAF planes including Wellington bombers from a distant base, kept the Iraqis in check. After a few days they abandoned the escarpment, which marked the end of serious military operations.