Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Aircrew Forums > Military Aviation
Reload this Page >

Battle of Britain Day

Military Aviation A forum for the professionals who fly military hardware. Also for the backroom boys and girls who support the flying and maintain the equipment, and without whom nothing would ever leave the ground. All armies, navies and air forces of the world equally welcome here.

Battle of Britain Day

Old 18th Sep 2018, 20:30
  #61 (permalink)  
Danny42C
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
A very old man reflects on "Battle of Britain" Day.

It was widely believed in 1940 that Hitler had deliberately allowed the remnants of the "B.E.F." to "escape", reasoning that Britain was in a hopeless position now; the Chamberlain Government was bound to capitulate - and he did not want the trouble of looking after 300.000 prisoners. Accordingly Guderian was ordered to halt his armour for 48 or (72 ?) hours - and the "Miracle of Dunkirk" duly took place ...

Our position after the withdrawal from Dunkirk was this:

The 300,000 men we'd got back had left all the Expeditionary Force's armour, artillery, and transport back in France (and lost many of their rifles as well, coming ashore with just what they stood up in). They were in no sense an "Army", nor would they be till after several months of necessary re-equipping and retraining.

To defend against Hitler's planned invasion ("Sealion") in the autumn we had:

The Home Guard ("Dad's Army") ..... we-ell yes ... ???

The Navy ? Hitler had his dive and torpedo bombers stationed all along the French coast. And are we going to put capital ships into the Channel within range of this land based air power ? (what would happen then was to be amply demonstrated off Malaya in 1942): Singapore, reliant on the Navy for defence, was lost in two weeks.

Moreover, the Navy was already fully stretched fighting the "Battle of the Atlantic", and a long way from winning it at that stage. It was "Touch and Go" for them.

We were "beaten to the wall" (the American Ambassador, Joseph Kennedy, the patriarch of the clan, so reported to Roosevelt). Most of the world looked on aghast. Britain was a lost cause.

Only one thing remained: the "thin blue line" of the RAF. Hitler correctly understood that it had to be destroyed to enable a successful invasion to be mounted. He set about doing so.

We (all those who were adults at the time) all know what in fact happened (pace the "revisionist" historians). The "thin blue line" held; Churchill ousted the Halifax/Chamberlain cabinet; and put the fight back into the British people with his magnificent oratory. The "battle", in my opinion, was (in military terms) a "Score Draw" - but one of those draws which are far more advantageous to one side than another.

Hitler had to destroy the RAF. He failed. We had to keep it in being - we succeeded. By October, "Sealion" was postponed sine die. Hitler turned his sights on Russia. Britain had been saved from its greatest danger in a thousand years. And we all have the Royal Air Force to thank for that !

I was there, and lived through all this. (Remember: "A Nation which forgets its history is condemned to repeat it").
 
Old 18th Sep 2018, 21:51
  #62 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 79
Posts: 4,516
Well said Danny. You capture the moment as only one could having lived through it. War games can be about as effective as IMF forecasts, and they certainly didn't do the Wehrmacht any favours on D-day when many of their VSOs were gaming instead of directing, or famously taking new shoes home for the Frau!

Why some in the other two Services simply can't accept that the RAF bought the much needed time that meant national survival I really can't imagine, though of course the Army felt unprotected at Dunkirk, and the Navy resented the lack of air resources allocated to it in the Atlantic....
Chugalug2 is offline  
Old 18th Sep 2018, 22:37
  #63 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: The sunny South
Posts: 807
I don't wish to detract from the role of the RAF in the Battle of Britain but I take particular issue with this:

Originally Posted by Danny42C View Post
...The Navy ? Hitler had his dive and torpedo bombers stationed all along the French coast. And are we going to put capital ships into the Channel within range of this land based air power ? (what would happen then was to be amply demonstrated off Malaya in 1942): Singapore, reliant on the Navy for defence, was lost in two weeks.

Moreover, the Navy was already fully stretched fighting the "Battle of the Atlantic", and a long way from winning it at that stage. It was "Touch and Go" for them...
No need for capital ships, just seaworthy vessels equipped with small and medium calibre guns and able to produce a wake. They would have made small, difficult targets for bombers, especially at night or once they were in among any invasion fleet. The Germans had no torpedo bombers to speak of in 1940 and their anti-shipping bombing was still relatively ineffective; only six British destroyers were sunk during the entire Dunkirk evacuation.

The Kriegsmarine had only a handful of destroyers and not much else following the Battles of Narvik while the Royal Navy had all these vessels at its disposal around the UK coast, most of which were perfectly capable of sinking or capsizing canal barges, auxiliaries and other small craft:
FODPlod is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2018, 07:10
  #64 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Bucks
Posts: 87
Originally Posted by FODPlod View Post
I don't wish to detract from the role of the RAF in the Battle of Britain but I take particular issue with this:


only six British destroyers were sunk during the entire Dunkirk evacuation.
Perhaps, but I think over 200 ships and boats overall were sunk during the Dunkirk evacuation, which paints a rather different picture.
Rheinstorff is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2018, 09:36
  #65 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Welwyn Garden City
Age: 60
Posts: 1,497
Originally Posted by pr00ne View Post
Finningley Boy


The fact that the outcome at the time was nowhere near as vital as we thought does nothing to discredit the enormous morale boost it gave us at the time, and that warm glow persisted for about 20 years. It has cooled and hardened now as we see the true perspective.

If it was as important to Hitler as we thought at the time then he could have come back in 1941 or 42 and, FW190 vs Spitfire V etc, could well have won. Or, as someone else above pointed out, he could have concentrated 100% on the night blitz that we were lising badly, or, as Danny42C pointed out, concentrated on a blockade and starved us to defeat.

He did none of these things as we simply were nit that important to him and his eyes were always looking greedily and eagerly eastward, and THAT really lost him the war.

pr00ne,

I certainly take your point about revisionist history largely being a revelation which corrects understanding of previous events. There are of course some, on both sides of the fence, who do seize upon small qualified changes, which come to light later which do change the popular impression a little. As for FW190s v Spitfire Vs, by the time we got there, Hitler was, of course, charging across the plains of the western USSR. Not only that, the RAF bombing campaign, while not yet what it became under Harris, was becoming more of a problem for the Germans not to mention the trouble Hitler had gotten into in the Western Desert where the Afrika Korps had to redress the situation between ourselves and the Italian Army. Hitler's invasion of the USSR was doubtless launched too late and he had had to split his available resources due to both UK continued resistance, resistance movements and the reportedly poor performance of the Italian Forces, I suspect the latter problem was due more to the lack of loyalty to Mussolini rather than anything else.

FB

Last edited by Finningley Boy; 19th Sep 2018 at 09:39. Reason: correction
Finningley Boy is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2018, 11:01
  #66 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 79
Posts: 4,516
FB, Revisionism seems more concerned with postulating 'what ifs' rather than it "corrects understanding of previous events". Not content that we won the Battle and then the War, we have to be constantly bombarded with theories that begin with "even if..." or "if only we'd...". Well we didn't, we did what we did and we won. They lost thank God, and no thanks to the armchair warriors that seem to think WWII was a computer game where just points are scored or lost. It was lives that were lost, many millions, and if there is one lesson to learn from it all it is that you should always carry a big stick. A lesson clearly forgotten by today's leaders...
Chugalug2 is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2018, 11:44
  #67 (permalink)  
Danny42C
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
FODPlod (#63),

At the time, I would think that almost all our available destroyers and frigates would be fully committed to the Western Approaches defence, and to convoy escort duties. Churchill was only too glad to concede land rights in a number of British possessions on the Eastern seaboard to the US in exchange for 50 WWI obsolete coal-burning destroyers to help in the fight.

..."equipped with small and medium calibre guns"... They'd be lucky ! At ITW as late as summer '41, I learned "armaments" with an (obsolete) Vickers G.O. gun - as all the Brownings were needed in service. I mounted guard with a "pick-helve" - as the "Local Defence Volunteers" (later the "Home Guard") had had to do in 1940.

..."and able to produce a wake"... You mean a repeat of the Dunkirk: "Day of the Little Ships" ? Well, even if it could be laid on again (and you would need guns (if any) and mountings fitted (which would need time, and who would work the guns ?) the Me 109s, 110s and Stukas should have litle difficulty in polishing them off (we are assuming the RAF, defeated, is no longer there).

The truth is: we do not know what might have happened, and it is pointless to speculate. We only know what actually happened - the RAF won ! (and we are all speaking English still).
 
Old 19th Sep 2018, 12:01
  #68 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Cambridge
Posts: 651
Originally Posted by Danny42C View Post
A very old man reflects on "Battle of Britain" Day.

It was widely believed in 1940 that Hitler had deliberately allowed the remnants of the "B.E.F." to "escape", reasoning that Britain was in a hopeless position now; the Chamberlain Government was bound to capitulate - and he did not want the trouble of looking after 300.000 prisoners. Accordingly Guderian was ordered to halt his armour for 48 or (72 ?) hours - and the "Miracle of Dunkirk" duly took place ...

Our position after the withdrawal from Dunkirk was this:

The 300,000 men we'd got back had left all the Expeditionary Force's armour, artillery, and transport back in France (and lost many of their rifles as well, coming ashore with just what they stood up in). They were in no sense an "Army", nor would they be till after several months of necessary re-equipping and retraining.

To defend against Hitler's planned invasion ("Sealion") in the autumn we had:

The Home Guard ("Dad's Army") ..... we-ell yes ... ???

The Navy ? Hitler had his dive and torpedo bombers stationed all along the French coast. And are we going to put capital ships into the Channel within range of this land based air power ? (what would happen then was to be amply demonstrated off Malaya in 1942): Singapore, reliant on the Navy for defence, was lost in two weeks.

Moreover, the Navy was already fully stretched fighting the "Battle of the Atlantic", and a long way from winning it at that stage. It was "Touch and Go" for them.

We were "beaten to the wall" (the American Ambassador, Joseph Kennedy, the patriarch of the clan, so reported to Roosevelt). Most of the world looked on aghast. Britain was a lost cause.

Only one thing remained: the "thin blue line" of the RAF. Hitler correctly understood that it had to be destroyed to enable a successful invasion to be mounted. He set about doing so.

We (all those who were adults at the time) all know what in fact happened (pace the "revisionist" historians). The "thin blue line" held; Churchill ousted the Halifax/Chamberlain cabinet; and put the fight back into the British people with his magnificent oratory. The "battle", in my opinion, was (in military terms) a "Score Draw" - but one of those draws which are far more advantageous to one side than another.

Hitler had to destroy the RAF. He failed. We had to keep it in being - we succeeded. By October, "Sealion" was postponed sine die. Hitler turned his sights on Russia. Britain had been saved from its greatest danger in a thousand years. And we all have the Royal Air Force to thank for that !

I was there, and lived through all this. (Remember: "A Nation which forgets its history is condemned to repeat it").
Interesting you thought it was a score draw Danny sir. Your old adversary Hermann thought so too. I think if it had been a boxing match we'd have nicked it on points though?
Treble one is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2018, 12:24
  #69 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: UK
Posts: 1,136
My personal view is that for a variety of Luftwaffe, Kreigsmarine, Wehrmacht, principles of war and geographical reasons - the Germans couldnít have invaded the UK. Nothing quite as irrelevant as historical conjecture however.

What they probably could have done is win the engagements of what is now referred to as the Battle of Britain.

The fact that they didnít is (speaking as an aviator of the dark blue variety) down to the performance of the Royal Air Force which was magnificent.
orca is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2018, 12:58
  #70 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 79
Posts: 4,516
orca, the reason that the Luftwaffe fought the engagements of which you speak was to destroy Fighter Command (among whom were aviators of the dark blue variety of course). They failed in that, so whatever the reasons for them wanting to achieve that aim, they lost. As a member of the light blue persuasion I can only think that it was to achieve Air Superiority over the Channel and Southern England, by day at least. The only reason that they would want to achieve such air superiority (which is by its nature purely transient) would be to invade, or at least threaten so convincingly to invade to encourage us to sue for peace. Either way they failed because they didn't achieve their aim. That their invasion plans don't pass inspection in retrospect may well be true, or not, but it was a very real possibility at the time. Enough of a possibility for the fellow travellers to seize upon if Fighter Command had lost. It didn't and their swansong, the flying visit of the Reich Deputy Fuhrer, underlined their failure and Churchill's resolve.

Thank you for your warm words for the Royal Air Force, all the more so for it coming from someone of the Royal Navy, which fought the longest Battle of all of course and prevailed. Just as that was a joint effort so was the Battle of Britain. We frustrated our enemy and we survived. Let us all "Rejoice at that news"!

Last edited by Chugalug2; 19th Sep 2018 at 13:08.
Chugalug2 is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2018, 14:06
  #71 (permalink)  
I don't own this space under my name. I should have leased it while I still could
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Lincolnshire
Age: 78
Posts: 16,751
Day-Night

The advantage of night crossing of the channel afforded concealment from the RAF and daylight to disembark and deploy - exactly as the case on D-Day.

The disadvantage of a night crossing was the risk that the RN, freed from threat from the Luftwaffe, could wreak havoc with the invasion fleet.

The tactical problem was to balance the risk.

A day crossing meant the Luftwaffe could counter the RAF and threaten any RN attacks.

Clearly the influence the RN could bring to the invasion depended on whether the Germans attacked by day or night. For my money s day crossing offered more advantages.
Pontius Navigator is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2018, 15:02
  #72 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: UK
Posts: 1,136
Chugalug2,

FWIW - I think that youíre absolutely right and that protagonists on both sides thought an invasion possible and/or probable. My opinion (pointless as it is) is based on a perspective none of those there at the time would have had.
orca is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2018, 15:33
  #73 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Dark Side of West Wales
Age: 82
Posts: 147
I believe around 520 or 530 aircrew were killed during the BoB but does anyone know how many groundcrew and support staff were also snuffed out?

I was fortunate to have served both on a BoB Squadron and a BoB airfield in the 1950's. Later at reunions it was interesting to hear from the surviving BoB ground crew of that time of the appalling conditions they were forced to work under. Some were reduced to sleeping under hedges and hot meals were a rarity but God Bless the Sally Anne and the NAFFI wagon with their hot tea and a wad. Funny there is no memorial to those Heroes!
DODGYOLDFART is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2018, 15:50
  #74 (permalink)  
Danny42C
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
My old Dad was never sparing of his praise for the "Sally Anne" (Salvation Army) canteens in WWI in France. Nice to hear (from DOF) of them working together to help the troops in WWII - in normal circumstances the NAAFI is very jealous of its official monopoly to supply food and drink.
 
Old 19th Sep 2018, 15:56
  #75 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: UK
Posts: 78
Originally Posted by DODGYOLDFART View Post
I believe around 520 or 530 aircrew were killed during the BoB but does anyone know how many groundcrew and support staff were also snuffed out?

I was fortunate to have served both on a BoB Squadron and a BoB airfield in the 1950's. Later at reunions it was interesting to hear from the surviving BoB ground crew of that time of the appalling conditions they were forced to work under. Some were reduced to sleeping under hedges and hot meals were a rarity but God Bless the Sally Anne and the NAFFI wagon with their hot tea and a wad. Funny there is no memorial to those Heroes!
I don't know the answer to your question but there is the very poignant Airforces Memorial at Englefield Green that lists the names of "more than 20,000 airmen and women who were lost in the Second World War during operations from bases in the United Kingdom and North and Western Europe who have no known grave." Many of those were ground crew who were in the wrong place when a bomb landed.
msjh is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2018, 15:59
  #76 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Welwyn Garden City
Age: 60
Posts: 1,497
Originally Posted by Chugalug2 View Post
orca, the reason that the Luftwaffe fought the engagements of which you speak was to destroy Fighter Command (among whom were aviators of the dark blue variety of course). They failed in that, so whatever the reasons for them wanting to achieve that aim, they lost. As a member of the light blue persuasion I can only think that it was to achieve Air Superiority over the Channel and Southern England, by day at least. The only reason that they would want to achieve such air superiority (which is by its nature purely transient) would be to invade, or at least threaten so convincingly to invade to encourage us to sue for peace. Either way they failed because they didn't achieve their aim. That their invasion plans don't pass inspection in retrospect may well be true, or not, but it was a very real possibility at the time. Enough of a possibility for the fellow travellers to seize upon if Fighter Command had lost. It didn't and their swansong, the flying visit of the Reich Deputy Fuhrer, underlined their failure and Churchill's resolve.

Thank you for your warm words for the Royal Air Force, all the more so for it coming from someone of the Royal Navy, which fought the longest Battle of all of course and prevailed. Just as that was a joint effort so was the Battle of Britain. We frustrated our enemy and we survived. Let us all "Rejoice at that news"!
No no no Chugalug, Dialogue Dialogue as a certain contender for No. 10 Downing Street would certainly run down the path of if placed in any position with even the clearest demand for a military resolve and regardless of the risk!

FB
Finningley Boy is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2018, 16:32
  #77 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 79
Posts: 4,516
FB:-
No no no Chugalug, Dialogue Dialogue as a certain contender for No. 10 Downing Street would certainly run down the path of if placed in any position with even the clearest demand for a military resolve and regardless of the risk!
Er, not quite following your banter old man. Got the Jaw-Jaw bit but lost it after cabbage crates. Any chance of saying it slower?
Chugalug2 is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2018, 12:23
  #78 (permalink)  
Cunning Artificer
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: The spiritual home of DeHavilland
Age: 74
Posts: 3,125
This revisionist RN nonsense is just that and says more about the RN than it does about the RAF. A pity, given that thanks to the RN's success in the Battle of the Atlantic we survived the following five years as well!
I seem to recall that the Royal Navy seconded a significant number of FAA pilots for the Battle of Britain..
Blacksheep is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2018, 12:56
  #79 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Welwyn Garden City
Age: 60
Posts: 1,497
Originally Posted by Chugalug2 View Post
FB:-


Er, not quite following your banter old man. Got the Jaw-Jaw bit but lost it after cabbage crates. Any chance of saying it slower?
Sorry Mr C2, I wasn't actually referring to the politicians of 1940, rather those of today, specifically Mr Corbyn and how he would approach the matter confronting an ultimatum from Hitler? Mr Corbyn is well known for giving his opinion on any matter which the Government seeks to pursue a military solution as a matter which can instead be resolved with dialogue.

Best Regards,

FB
Finningley Boy is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2018, 15:16
  #80 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Bucks
Posts: 87
Originally Posted by Blacksheep View Post
I seem to recall that the Royal Navy seconded a significant number of FAA pilots for the Battle of Britain..
56, of which 9 were killed in action
Rheinstorff is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.