No other battle in Britain’s recent history has been given the same status as the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940.
Although usually seen as a battle between RAF Fighter Command and the German Air Force, the conflict during the summer involved other British forces – RAF Bomber Command, RAF Coastal Command, the Anti-Aircraft forces, the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Navy.
The Battle of Britain was a collective effort against the threat posed by Hitler’s Germany. It has been fashionable of late to argue that Hitler was not really serious about invading Britain and that the Battle was less decisive than is often thought. There has also been a move to play down the role of Fighter Command and to argue that the mere presence of the Royal Navy was a sufficient deterrent to prevent the German invasion plan, ‘Operation Sealion’, from ever being launched.
Both these views are misplaced. If the German air fleets had succeeded in winning air superiority over southern England they could have acted as a shield for an invasion force and have intercepted and sunk Royal Navy vessels. German aircraft sank 350,000 tons of shipping in the second half of 1940 and there is nothing to suggest that the Royal Navy would have been immune.
(text reproduced from an article by Richard Overy for Channel 4 – here’s the full text
All images are my own and were taken in Odiham 2010 as the village remembered the Battle Of Britain.