The Battle of Britain as a turning point of the Second World War
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The battle of Britain is probably one of the most famous battles in Britain’s long history of war, it is remembered for the “few” that stood between Hitler and the conquest of Britain, the Battle was fought over Britain between the 10th July and 31st October 1940, and 544 brave men lost their lives during the Battle. The Battle of Britain stands as a landmark in the resistance to Hitler’s evil empire, the first country to withstand and defeat the conquering army; this little island stood alone against a force that significantly out numbered it but they came out triumphant because they were not just fighting for their lives but also their land and whole way of life. This showed the invincible army of the third Reich could be beaten and this little victory turned in to a tremendous and decisive war winning battle. It has been said that there were other more decisive factors that turned the war such as, Stalingrad or the USA’s entry to the war but none of these could have helped were it not for the Battle of Britain as I will argue in this essay.
The German attack was sudden and unexpected to most countries and they did not have time to react, even if the country did know it was coming they were poorly prepared. The German tactics were new and unseen so that nobody knew how to counter them or withstand them. Tactics such as blitzkrieg and using paratroopers were unheard of. During the pre-war years, they perfected the Blitzkrieg (lightening war) and unleashed it on countries who were still preparing for static warfare such as in World War 1. The blitzkrieg tactics gave the Germans quick successes even though the total force arrayed against them was often numerically larger than their own.
Hitler’s conquest of Europe was all mainly land based fighting whereas he could not use these tactics to invade Britain because there was a disadvantage of the channel which they could not safely cross with out destroying the mighty British navy which could not be destroyed with out firstly have air supremacy over Britain, so began the fight which if lost the Empire of Britain would be no more. So the Luftwaffe launched a massive attack concentrating on airfields, destroying whole airfields meant the RAF could not take off to defend and were subsequently being annihilated but on one fatefully night a British bomber dropped its load on Berlin and the Nazis were furious at this and decided to pound the cities of Britain into the ground which in some ways was good and some ways bad because it gave time for the RAF to build its airfields and forces again and be able to defend it self again, this gave Britain the chance she needed to rise up and beat back the attacking forces and give them a taste of there own medicine by forcing the Luftwaffe back to there own bases.
With the Battle of Britain gone and air supremacy still in the hands of the British it left they free to bomb major industrial sites that were critical to the German war machine, with air supremacy the British were a force to be reckoned with however the battle of the Atlantic was not yet won and this could have been a major turning point it because it looked as if Britain and her allies were on the brink of defeat because about 30,000 merchant sea men lost their lives in the battle, four million tons of allied shipping was sunk in the first 18 months and more then a 1000 ships sunk, at one point during the summer a ship was going down every 4 hours and u boat losses were still very low, Winston Churchill once said ” the battle of the Atlantic was a dominating factor all through the war” what he means is that if the German navy one the battle and controlled the Atlantic Britain would soon run out of food and supplies that was coming from America and Britain desperately needed to carry on the war effort, this is another decisive factor in the war.
In the long term all lot of different events added up to the winning of the war, winning the battle of Britain meant that it was a secure island right next to the fortress of Europe and could easily be used for bombing raids or attacks, Britain refused to agree terms which the Germans did not expect so they turned their attention to invading Russia in1941. When they realised that they did not have the proper man power and equipment to fight a war on two fronts it was too late they were greatly out numbered by the Soviet Red Army. It also meant a place for the newly introduced American army to stay and prepare, it also allowed them to drop supplies to the French underground which was getting information to the allied forces which ultimately aided in the success of the D-day landings because the allies knew what to expect in terms of men and vehicles and where they would be coming from so they could deploy their units accordingly.
Before Stalingrad, the Nazis never lost a significant battle on the Eastern Front. After it, they never won one. It was, along with El Alamein, the first time the Nazis were comprehensively defeated. In particular, Stalingrad showed that you didn’t have to have generals as brilliant as the Germans in order to beat them – sheer brute force would do it. The Germans lost the whole of the Sixth Army, 250 thousand fit, experienced troops while the Soviets lost over one million troops which they easily replaced. In the following two summers of 1943 and 1944, Hitler attacked in Russia again with all the force his army still had, but in both cases his advancing forces were first stopped by fierce defensive fighting of Russian lines of defence, and later heavily beaten in massive counter attacks that caused the Germans huge losses which at that stage were no longer replaceable. After these two great bloody battles, the Russian army gained the initiative and moved from defence to attack, an attack which pushed the German army all the way back to Berlin.
Also winning the battle of the Atlantic meant that America could freely send supplies and troops over to Britain to help out on the front which would lead to be a decisive factor in the winning of the war, June 6, 1944 – After months and years of fighting and preparations, the western allies were finally ready for their decisive move of invading western Europe in order to occupy Germany from the west to match the Russian advance from the east. D-Day, the invasion of France, did not change the outcome of the war, as Germany was already losing it, but it marked the long awaited beginning of the last chapter of the war. The war ended a year after D-Day, D-day was only possible because Britain was free, it meant a massive army could assemble there and be ready to make the short journey across the channel to France and what was better yet is that it could mean they could pick any spot up and down the French coast to attack and the German force would not know where it was coming until it was to late.
The Battle of Britain in some respects may and may not have been the turning point of the war but it was a significant factor as it led the way for far greater events such as D-day but once again other factors contributed to that as well, this question is a very complex one to answer and there probably will never be a right answer to it. It was a domino effect really because one event led to another then that led to another so it cant really be said what was the turning point because there would be to many ifs and buts. But in final conclusion to the question I believe that the Battle of Britain was an extremely important turning point because it set the scene for other major war winning events that were a consequence of the Battle of Britain.