Published on November 13, 2007
Britain Alone: Britain Alone 1940-41 September 1939 – Poland invaded: September 1939 – Poland invaded September 1939- May 1940The so called ‘Phoney War’: September 1939- May 1940 The so called ‘Phoney War’ Children evacuated from danger areas. No actual air raids on Britain May 1940 – Germany attacks in the west.: May 1940 – Germany attacks in the west. April 1940 – Denmark & Norway were invaded and occupied by Germany. May 10th 1940 – German attacks on Holland, Belgium and France ‘No-confidence debate’ in the House of Commons causes Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to resign. The King asked Winston Churchill to form a new government. Chamberlain associated with defeat.: Chamberlain associated with defeat. Churchill had been the biggest critic of Hitler and the British policy of appeasement before the war. Slide6: The German army moved swiftly across France and surrounded the British army sent there to help defend France. Disaster at Dunkirk: Disaster at Dunkirk The 330,000 soldiers of the B.E.F. (British Expeditionary Force) were surrounded by the German army at Dunkirk and had to escape by boat back home. Slide8: Dunkirk was held for a vital few days to allow time for the British army to escape. Slide9: Evacuation of the British army from the beaches around Dunkirk. The surrender of France – June 18th 1940: The surrender of France – June 18th 1940 Hitler’s first and only visit to Paris. Hitler’s Europe………: Hitler’s Europe……… How could Britain alone mount a full scale invasion to liberate Europe from Nazi rule ? Hitler plans to invade Britain next.: Hitler plans to invade Britain next. ‘Operation Sealion’ (the invasion of Britain) was scheduled to take place on September 15th 1940. Hermann Goering’s plan: Hermann Goering’s plan The German army must cross the English channel in order to invade Britain. But….the British navy was far superior to the German navy and would sink the German invasion fleet before it could reach Britain. The British navy can only be destroyed by sustained aerial attack. The aircraft of the British RAF must be destroyed first to give the Germans a chance of success. Goering was Hitler’s deputy and head of the German air force or Luftwaffe. RAF Fighter Command was Britain’s main line of defence. A few hundred planes stood between Britain and a German invasion.: RAF Fighter Command was Britain’s main line of defence. A few hundred planes stood between Britain and a German invasion. Radar stations: Radar stations Radar stations and air fields were the main targets for the German bombers. British losses: British losses Within a few weeks Britain’s RAF had lost 25 % of its pilots. Aircraft could be replaced quickly but a pilot takes at least a year to train. Volunteer pilots came from many nations (Australia, Canada, Poland, South Africa etc) German tactical mistakes: German tactical mistakes At the height of the ‘Battle of Britain’ the German Luftwaffe switched targets to bombing civilian centres like London and Coventry. This was a mistake as it gave the RAF a chance to repair their airfields and rest their exhausted pilots. St Paul’s cathedral surrounded by flames. Was Britain fighting alone ?: Was Britain fighting alone ? Britain’s allies came from the Empire & Commonwealth (Canada, Australia, South Africa) 25 % of RAF fighter pilots in 1940 were foreign. USA supplied Britain with oil, weapons, food, aircraft and all kinds of material for war on a ‘cash and carry’ basis. In March 1941 cash and carry gave way to ‘Lend-Lease’. Destroyers for bases: Destroyers for bases In September 1940 Britain was so desperate for extra warships that she purchased 50 obsolete destroyers from the USA in exchange for British bases in Trinidad, Jamaica and Bermuda. Lend -Lease: Lend -Lease Britain could purchase from the USA all the necessary material of war on a loan basis. There was no payment required until after the war. There was no limit on how much Britain could take from the USA. Without Lend-Lease Britain would have run out of money by 1942 and would have been unable to continue to pay for the war. Britain received between $14 – 20 billion worth of US aid. Slide22: “They are fighting in the front line of civilisation as we speak. They need tanks and guns and planes and supplies of all kinds. From America they will receive tanks and guns and planes and supplies of all kinds.” President Franklin Roosevelt on the Lend Lease scheme June 22nd 1941. Germany invades Russia (then known as the USSR): June 22nd 1941. Germany invades Russia (then known as the USSR) Britain no longer had to fight Germany alone. The main bulk of the German army and air force was sent to Russia. Britain was safe from invasion. 1941 – the Atlantic Charter: 1941 – the Atlantic Charter August 14th 1941 Churchill and Roosevelt meet and proclaim the ‘Atlantic Charter’ declaring common principles of democracy and freedom. The USA was not at war yet but was clearly on Britain’s side. President Roosevelt of the USA meeting Winston Churchill. December 7th 1941 – Pearl Harbour: December 7th 1941 – Pearl Harbour Japanese attack on US navy at Pearl Harbour brings the USA into the war against Japan and Germany. Churchill’s reaction to Pearl Harbour: Churchill’s reaction to Pearl Harbour “So we have won after all” Churchill’s diary entry December 7th 1941. A historian’s view…….: A historian’s view……. Churchill saw no way of winning the war without full American participation. His famous ‘give us the tools and we will finish the job’ radio broadcast of 9th February 1941 was a piece of tactical phrasing and not hard truth. What he really meant was ‘give us the tools and we will hold out long enough for you to take your time about joining the war’. It was therefore a moment of joy when he heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Churchill wrote famously in his diary of that attack ‘so we have won after all’ Churchill, by Roy Jenkins (2001) Your task: Your task Using the information from this presentation and the video, you will prepare in groups of 2-3 a short radio or film bulletin of the first two years of the war. It could be for an American audience. The USA did not join the war until 1941.