THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN: Did it really save Britain in ww2?




 
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November 18th, 2004  
Young Winston
 
 

Topic: THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN: Did it really save Britain in ww2?


Did the German High Command really want to invade Britain in 1940?

Was the RAF nearly on its knees? Did the Luftwaffe make a terrible mistake in shifting from bombing airfields to the major cities?

Was it "their finest hour" as Churchill put it?

Well, what to people think? From what I have read from the German point of view, they didn't consider it an important battle (maybe its because Goering lost it!)
November 19th, 2004  
Doppleganger
 
 

Topic: Re: THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN: Did it really save Britain in ww2


Quote:
Originally Posted by aussiejohn
Did the German High Command really want to invade Britain in 1940?

Was the RAF nearly on its knees? Did the Luftwaffe make a terrible mistake in shifting from bombing airfields to the major cities?

Was it "their finest hour" as Churchill put it?

Well, what to people think? From what I have read from the German point of view, they didn't consider it an important battle (maybe its because Goering lost it!)
My own answers to your points:

1. No

2. Yes. Fighter Command had plenty of Spitfires, but their pilot pool was exhausted from weeks of constant sorties. I think it's generally acknowledged that they were days away from admitting defeat. However, it should be remembered that Hitler's strategy to switch to civilian terror raids was recognized as sound by every military aviation expert in the world at that time.

3. Absolutely yes. The RAF performed brilliantly and heroically against a well trained and numerically superior enemy.

In the great scheme of things it did not alter the course of the war, as Unternehmen Seelöwe (Operation Sealion) was far from a certainty even if the Luftwaffe had won. In fact, it has been suggested that had the Luftwaffe won, Churchill would have been replaced as Prime Minister by Lord Halifax who was in favour of peace negotiations with Germany.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Sealion

There are no sources supporting the above link but the website is generally reliable.
November 19th, 2004  
Young Winston
 
 
It would be great to read a German perspective as well. Anyone know of any?
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November 20th, 2004  
redcoat
 
 

Topic: Re: THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN: Did it really save Britain in ww2


Quote:
Originally Posted by aussiejohn
Did the German High Command really want to invade Britain in 1940?
Depends on which part of the High Command you ask
.
The army was keen to invade, or it was until they found out the logistical capability of the Navy, or lack of it, to be more accurate.

The air force never saw the need to invade, they were convinced they could bring Britain to its knees without an invasion.

The navy considered an invasion of Britain would be little more than suicide, but its leaders were too cowardly to admit this to Hitler. So they just went along with it, but pointed out the problems and hoped that everyone involved would realize it was madness without them having to admit it to Hitler. Fortunately this proved to be the case

Quote:
Was the RAF nearly on its knees? Did the Luftwaffe make a terrible mistake in shifting from bombing airfields to the major cities?
No, on the 6 September 1940 the RAF's Fighter Command had 725 serviceable fighters and 1,381 pilots available, an increase of 150 planes and 200 pilots from the beginning of the Battle in July.
The Luftwaffe wasn't even coming close to winning the war of attrition

As for lack of pilots at no point during the BoB did Fighter Command operational pilot strength drop below 1,000 pilots. The number of trained, operational pilots actually increased at all stages during the BoB, from 1,094 on June 15 to 1,422 by August 31 to 1,737 by October 19. By October 12, the RAF actually had a surplus of trained operational pilots, with not enough operational squadrons to send them to.
While the RAF at the height of the battle did suffer from a loss of experienced pilots,( to act as Flight Commanders and Squadron Leaders) and this did cause Dowding some concern, people often fail to notice that the Luftwaffe fighter arm was suffering from the same problem. On the 20 August Erdard Milch began a five day tour of the air force in France, during it the Luftwaffe fighter arm complained that new pilots were being sent to them who had only done ten landings in a Bf 109, had never fired their cannon, and were unable to navigate.

On the 5 September Air Vice-Marshal Park commander of 11 Group spoke to his Chief Controller Lord Willoughby de Brooke " I know you and the other controllers must be getting worried about our losses" Park said "Well I've been looking at these casualty figures, and I've come to the conclusion that at our present rate of losses we can just afford it. And I'm damned certain the Boche can't. If we can hang on as we're going, I'm sure we shall win in the end"

On the 7th September the Luftwaffe blinked, they bombed London
Quote:
Was it "their finest hour" as Churchill put it?
Yes.
Britain could have cut a highly favorable deal with Hitler, and left the rest of Europe to its fate, but they didn't.

ps, here a light hearted look at the problems the Germans faced with Sea Lion
http://www.flin.demon.co.uk/althist/seal1.htm
November 21st, 2004  
Doppleganger
 
 

Topic: Re: THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN: Did it really save Britain in ww2


Quote:
Originally Posted by redcoat
Depends on which part of the High Command you ask.

The army was keen to invade, or it was until they found out the logistical capability of the Navy, or lack of it, to be more accurate.

The air force never saw the need to invade, they were convinced they could bring Britain to its knees without an invasion.

The navy considered an invasion of Britain would be little more than suicide, but its leaders were too cowardly to admit this to Hitler. So they just went along with it, but pointed out the problems and hoped that everyone involved would realize it was madness without them having to admit it to Hitler. Fortunately this proved to be the case
Why do you say the German Army was keen to invade? The lack of logistical capablitity of the Kriegsmarine was no secret. What evidence do you have that the Kriegsmarine were 'too cowardly' to admit to Hitler that an invasion would 'be suicide'? Hitler was no idiot - don't believe the hype. He asked the various arms of the Wehrmacht whether invasion was possible and was told that air superiority over England was vital.

Quote:
Originally Posted by redcoat
No, on the 6 September 1940 the RAF's Fighter Command had 725 serviceable fighters and 1,381 pilots available, an increase of 150 planes and 200 pilots from the beginning of the Battle in July.
The Luftwaffe wasn't even coming close to winning the war of attrition

As for lack of pilots at no point during the BoB did Fighter Command operational pilot strength drop below 1,000 pilots. The number of trained, operational pilots actually increased at all stages during the BoB, from 1,094 on June 15 to 1,422 by August 31 to 1,737 by October 19. By October 12, the RAF actually had a surplus of trained operational pilots, with not enough operational squadrons to send them to.
Remember though that by October the Luftwaffe had already switched it's focus to terror raids. There is abundant evidence that suggests that pilot fatigue in Fighter Command was becoming a real worry. September 7th 1940 was the turning point but before then fighter pilot fatigue was becoming critical and the RAF were close to defeat because of this one reason alone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by redcoat
Britain could have cut a highly favorable deal with Hitler, and left the rest of Europe to its fate, but they didn't.
This is very true. We could have but we didn't. We nearly did though. If Lord Halifax had gotten into power it was suggested he would have made peace with Hitler.

Operation Sealion was never a realistic proposition and indeed, Hitler would have much preferred a seperate peace with Great Britain. Hitler's eyes were always looking towards the East - that was the real goal for his German Reich.
November 21st, 2004  
redcoat
 
 

Topic: Re: THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN: Did it really save Britain in ww2


Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
[

Why do you say the German Army was keen to invade? The lack of logistical capablitity of the Kriegsmarine was no secret.
Actually it was to the Heer in May 1940. Having never considered that this information was important, they were shocked and dismayed when they found out the facts.
Quote:
What evidence do you have that the Kriegsmarine were 'too cowardly' to admit to Hitler that an invasion would 'be suicide'?
Peter Flemings book Invasion 1940 makes it quite clear that Reader knew that an invasion would indeed be suicide, but was either too proud or cowardly to admit it to Hitler.

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by redcoat
No, on the 6 September 1940 the RAF's Fighter Command had 725 serviceable fighters and 1,381 pilots available, an increase of 150 planes and 200 pilots from the beginning of the Battle in July.
The Luftwaffe wasn't even coming close to winning the war of attrition

As for lack of pilots at no point during the BoB did Fighter Command operational pilot strength drop below 1,000 pilots. The number of trained, operational pilots actually increased at all stages during the BoB, from 1,094 on June 15 to 1,422 by August 31 to 1,737 by October 19. By October 12, the RAF actually had a surplus of trained operational pilots, with not enough operational squadrons to send them to.
Remember though that by October the Luftwaffe had already switched it's focus to terror raids. There is abundant evidence that suggests that pilot fatigue in Fighter Command was becoming a real worry. September 7th 1940 was the turning point but before then fighter pilot fatigue was becoming critical and the RAF were close to defeat because of this one reason alone.
Pilot fatigue was almost as bad in the Luftwaffe, remember the Luftwaffe only started the battle with a 3:2 advantage over the RAF in single seat fighters and the odds worsened as the battle progressed.
Also it has to be remembered that the Luftwaffe was only fighting part of Fighter Command during the battle,( those in the South-East of England) the other Sectors were barely involved.
It was indeed a hard fought battle, but as the words of the Commander of 11th Group Keith Park shows, the RAF was not near to defeat.
I'd recommend reading Stephen Bungay's book 'The Most Dangerous Enemy, a History Of The Battle Of Britain'
an excellent read, and it will make you see the battle in a new light
November 21st, 2004  
A Can of Man
 
 
If Britain had lost the Battle of Britain, yes, the UK could have been forced into the negotiating table, which very well could have meant no American re-enforcements and no D-day.

Also if the Luftwaffe controlled the skies, the Royal Navy within the area of operations would have become toast.

Hitler had a soft spot for the English, feeling they were kin with the Germans, so an all out invasion may have not resulted anyway and Hitler may have wanted to just settle for a peace treaty and focus on the Eastern Front.

The Battle of Britain may have not saved Britain's sovreignty, at least in the short term, but in the long term it helped stage the opening of the Western Front which was instrumental to Nazi Germany's defeat.
February 9th, 2011  
jran70
 

Topic: Myth


Quote:
Originally Posted by Young Winston
Did the German High Command really want to invade Britain in 1940?

Was the RAF nearly on its knees? Did the Luftwaffe make a terrible mistake in shifting from bombing airfields to the major cities?

Was it "their finest hour" as Churchill put it?

Well, what to people think? From what I have read from the German point of view, they didn't consider it an important battle (maybe its because Goering lost it!)

RAF was not on its knees the Luftwaffe was. Go read Bungay's most dangerous enemy. Lufftwaffe suffered far greater losses in aircraft and pilots. The RAF though badly hurt was never in serious danger of losing battle of attrition. The myth of the airfields is just not true. By the end of the Battle of Britain Lufftwaffe had 300 fighters compared to nearly 800 combined spitfires and hurricanes. On Eagle day alone, the day Goring launched his biggest attack up to that point (Aug 12th) the Luftwaffe claimed they shot down 83 RAF aircraft...erm no they shot down a measly 13. The RAF shot down 47 luftwaffe aircraft. Given the Luftwaffe needed nearly a 5-1 kill ratio to meet the timetable for Sealion you can obviously see Luftwaffe was never likely to win. RAF was never on their knees, this a popular BS myth.
February 9th, 2011  
NZDF
 
 

[QUOTE=A Can of Man;64231]
Also if the Luftwaffe controlled the skies, the Royal Navy within the area of operations would have become toast.

Hitler had a soft spot for the English, feeling they were kin with the Germans, so an all out invasion may have not resulted anyway and Hitler may have wanted to just settle for a peace treaty and focus on the Eastern Front.

An interesting discussion,
I have heard a proposition (I believe it was from the BBC History magazine) that even if the Battle of Britain had been "lost" by the english, an invasion was still not likely to have been succesful.
If I remember correctly, the a key point of this argument was that Germany lacked the skills and effective "air to ship" weapons capability to mount an effective anti ship campaign.
This would have meant that the R.N would still be able to cut off logistical supply across the channel...if not hinder/destroy the invasion fleet.
(In addition as refernced above..the argument also held that Hitler did not truly want to invade Britain and the B.O.B was "negotiation by force").

I am repeating anothers opinion...but how does that sound to you all?
February 9th, 2011  
MontyB
 
 
I would tend to agree with that opinion although the Germans did have experience in specifically that type of attack with the invasion of Norway however for this to work Britain would pretty much have to have collapsed once an invasion force was established and I really do not think that would have happened.

I think that the Germans knew that even with air superiority over the channel they could not have prevented the Royal Navy from breaking into the invasion lanes and causing havoc amongst the barges.