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The Battle of Britain, 75th Anniversary

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The Battle of Britain, 75th Anniversary

  1. 1. Herbert Mason's iconic photograph of St Paul's dome emerging from the smoke of raging fires in surrounding streets was taken 70 years ago. On the night of December 29, 1940, ­Daily Mail chief photographer ­Herbert Mason was ­firewatching on the roof of the ­newspaper’s offices ­between Fleet Street and the Thames. The Luftwaffe’s blitz on London was at its height: after a brief pause decreed by Hitler on Christmas Day, Goering’s bombers had resumed their almost nightly pounding of the capital. A brief attack on December 27 inflicted 600 casualties, more than 50 of them in a single public ­shelter in Southwark which received a direct hit.
  2. 2. The view from St Paul's showing the destruction to the streets surrounding the Cathedral
  3. 3. Ruins of a building in the shadow of St Paul's still smoulder a week after the Blitz on the city in December 1940
  4. 4. The Battle of Britain 75th Anniversary
  5. 5. Battle of Britain by the numbers Number of British airmen: 2,353 Number of non-British RAF pilots: 574 Number of RAF airmen killed: 544 Number of British aircraft shot down: 1,547 Number of German aircraft shot down: 1,887 Average age of British pilots: 22 Number of Battle of Britain pilots killed later in the war: 791 Average life expectancy of a Spitfire pilot: 4 weeks Number of British fighters built in 1940: 4,283 Length of the Battle in days: 114
  6. 6. German Dornier Do 17 bombers over London, 7 September 1940.
  7. 7. Photo: A Nazi Heinkel He 111 bomber flies over London in the autumn of 1940. The Thames River runs through the image. AP Photo/British Official Photo
  8. 8. The effects of a large concentrated attack by the German Luftwaffe, on London dock and industry districts, on September 7, 1940. Factories and storehouses were seriously damaged; the mills at the Victories Docks (below at left) show damage wrought by fire. AP Photo
  9. 9. Timeline of key events
  10. 10. Hitler plans the invasion of Britain On 18 June 1940, Churchill gave a rousing speech to the British people, announcing: "... the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin." Four days later, France surrendered to Germany and Hitler turned his attention to Britain. German air superiority in the south of England was essential before Hitler could contemplate an invasion so Hermann Goering, the head of the Luftwaffe, was instructed that the RAF must be "beaten down to such an extent that it can no longer muster any power of attack worth mentioning against the German crossing".
  11. 11. British and German aeroplanes The Luftwaffe's principal fighter planes were the Messerschmitt Bf109 and the Messerschmitt Bf110. It had a number of favoured bombers: the Dornier 17, the Junkers Ju88, the Heinkel 111, and the Junkers Ju87 (also known as the 'Stuka' from Sturzkampfflugzeug, the German word for dive bomber). The RAF had the high-performance Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire fighters. Although on paper the Luftwaffe appeared to have the advantage in numbers of planes, pilots and experience, the two air forces were, in fact, evenly matched. The short range of the German planes and the fact they were fighting over enemy territory were both serious disadvantages for the Luftwaffe. The RAF also had radar, a priceless tool for detecting enemy raids.
  12. 12. The battle begins The battle began in mid-July and, initially, the Luftwaffe concentrated on attacking shipping in the English Channel and attacking coastal towns and defences. From 12 August, Goering shifted his focus to the destruction of the RAF, attacking airfields and radar bases. Convinced that Fighter Command was now close to defeat, he also tried to force air battles between fighter planes to definitively break British strength. However, Goering grew frustrated by the large number of British planes that were still fighting off his attacks. On 4 September, the Luftwaffe switched tactics again and, on Hitler's orders, set about destroying London and other major cities. Eleven days later, on what became known as 'Battle of Britain Day', the RAF savaged the huge incoming Luftwaffe formations in the skies above London and the south coast.
  13. 13. The invasion is postponed It was now clear to Hitler that his air force had failed to gain air superiority so, on 17 September, he postponed his plans to invade Britain. His attention was now focused on the invasion of the Soviet Union, although the Luftwaffe continued to bomb Britain until the end of the war.
  14. 14. Germany advances through Europe September 1939 ­ May 1940. Between September 1939 and May 1940, Nazi Germany vanquished country after country across Europe. By the summer of 1940, Hitler had conquered the continent and Britain stood alone. Photo: Messerschmitt Me 110s fly over the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, 1940. (akg­images)
  15. 15. Churchill becomes Prime Minister. 10 May 1940 Friday 10 May 1940 was one of the most dramatic days in British history. The government was in disarray as Winston Churchill became PM and, on the continent, Germany ended the Phoney War by invading the Low Countries. Photo: Churchill leaving Downing St with Sir Kingsley Wood and Anthony Eden, 10 May 1940. (Getty Images)
  16. 16. Britain retreats from France. 26 May ­ 4 June 1940 Allied forces retreated from the German advance through north­western Europe, and fell back to the Channel ports of France where they were trapped. Their rescue was codenamed Operation Dynamo and, against all odds, thousands of men were dramatically evacuated in the "miracle of Dunkirk". Photo: British soldiers shoot at attacking aircraft during the evacuation, June 1940. (Getty Images)
  17. 17. Churchill decides to fight on May 1940 In late May, against the backdrop of the Dunkirk evacuation and the unstoppable German advance, Churchill disregarded calls for peace talks with Hitler. Britain would fight on, he ordered. Photo: Churchill examines a Tommy gun during an inspection of invasion defences near Hartlepool, 31 July 1940. (IWM H2646)
  18. 18. Hitler plans the invasion of Britain July 1940 After the invasion and defeat of France in June 1940, Hitler turned his attention to the invasion of Britain, the last country in Western Europe to stand against him. Photo: Hitler giving his 'Last Appeal to Reason' speech to the German Reichstag at the Kroll Opera House in Berlin, 19 July 1940. (akg­images/Ullstein Bild)
  19. 19. Germany bombs British towns and cities July ­ August 1940 The Luftwaffe carried out raids on British urban targets for two months prior to the start of the Blitz, with the loss of over 1,000 civilian lives. Photo: Stukas in formation in April 1940. Stukas terrorised servicemen and civilians across Europe. They were withdrawn from the Battle of Britain in mid­August after being savaged by the RAF's Hawker Hurricanes. (Getty Images)
  20. 20. Germany bombs British coastal airfields 11 July ­18 August 1940 The first phase of the Battle of Britain focused on the English Channel, where the Luftwaffe attacked convoys and English ports. Photo: Soldiers at a defence post on the south­east coast anxiously watch German aircraft overhead on 1 August 1940. (Getty Images)
  21. 21. Germany attacks RAF Fighter Command 24 August ­ 4 September 1940 From mid­August, as the Battle of the Channel faded, the Luftwaffe stepped up attacks on RAF infrastructure. These intense raids almost overwhelmed the British air force. Photo: A policeman and soldier inspect a German Heinkel HE­111 which crashed during an attack on Biggin Hill on 30 August 1940. (Getty Images)
  22. 22. Britain bombs Berlin 25­28 August 1940 On 25 August 1940, the RAF launched its first raid on Berlin in retaliation for the German bombing of London the previous day. Photo: A fateful picture of an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley taking off for a night sortie in June 1940. It later went missing during a raid on Germany on 17/18 of that month. RAF Bomber Command had an exceptionally high casualty rate, as did the Luftwaffe bomber crews. (IWM CH251)
  23. 23. Germany bombs London 7-15 September 1940 On 7 September 1940, the Luftwaffe unleashed a merciless bombing campaign against London and Britain's major cities. Instead of breaking morale, however, the raids only galvanised the will of the British people for the rest of the war. Photo: Winston Churchill inspecting bomb damage in Battersea, South London, 10 September 1940. (Getty Images)
  24. 24. Battle of Britain Day 15 September 1940 The most decisive confrontation of the Battle of Britain took place in the skies above London on 15 September. Photo: The average age of an RAF pilot in 1940 was 20. The strain they were under is clearly written on the face of Squadron Leader B J E 'Sandy' Lane (centre), pictured here aged 23. He was killed in combat 2 years later. (IWM CH1366)
  25. 25. Hitler postpones the invasion of Britain 17 September 1940 The RAF had denied the Luftwaffe air superiority over the south of England. Now Hitler could not invade Britain and, on 17 September 1940, he postponed Operation Sealion. Photo: Goering, sixth from right, and other German officers look out across the English Channel towards Dover on 1 July 1940. It was as close as they would get to invading. (IWM HU 1185)
  26. 26. An aircraft spotter atop a London building, St. Paul's Cathedral in background, early 1940s. Source United States National Archives
  27. 27. Two German Luftwaffe Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers return from an attack against the British south coast, during the Battle for Britain, on August 19, 1940. AP Photo
  28. 28. A German twin propelled Messerschmitt BF 110 bomber, nicknamed "Fliegender Haifisch" (Flying Shark), over the English Channel, in August of 1940. AP Photo
  29. 29. The condensation trails from German and British fighter planes engaged in an aerial battle appear in the sky over Kent, along the southeastern coast of England, on September 3, 1940. AP Photo
  30. 30. A ninety minute exposure taken from a Fleet Street rooftop during an air raid in London, on September 2, 1940. The searchlight beams on the right had picked up an enemy raider. The horizontal marks across the image are from stars and the small wiggles in them were caused by the concussions of anti-aircraft fire vibrating the camera. The German pilot released a flare, which left a streak across the top left, behind the steeple of St. Bride's Church. AP Photo
  31. 31. The Palace of Westminster in London, silhouetted against light from fires caused by bombings. Library of Congress
  32. 32. Firemen working to extinguish blazing buildings set afire during German air raid attack on the city. London, United Kingdom September 1940. Photographer:William Vandivert
  33. 33. Fires rage in the city of London after a lone German bomber had dropped incendiary bombs close to the heart of the city on September 1, 1940. AP Photo
  34. 34. The tail and part of the fuselage of a German Dornier plane landed on a London rooftop shown Sept. 21, 1940, after British fighter planes shot it down on September 15. The rest of the raiding plane crashed near Victoria Station. AP Photo
  35. 35. The biggest shipping center for London's food-supplies, Tilbury, has been the target of numerous German air attacks. Bombs dropping on the port of Tilbury, on October 4, 1940. The first group of bombs will hit the ships lying in the Thames, the second will strike the docks. AP Photo
  36. 36. A little English girl comforts her doll in the rubble of her bomb damaged home in 1940.
  37. 37. King George VI of Great Britain and Queen Elizabeth talking to a workman in a bomb damaged area of London. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images). 18th October 1940
  38. 38. Undaunted by a night of German air raids in which his store front was blasted, a shopkeeper opens up the morning after for "business as usual" in London. AP Photo
  39. 39. This smiling girl, dirtied but apparently not injured, was assisted across a London street on October 23, 1940, after she was rescued from the debris of a building damaged by a bomb attack in a German daylight raid. AP Photo
  40. 40. Mrs. Mary Couchman, a 24-year-old warden of a small Kentish Village, shields three little children, among them her son, as bombs fall during an air attack on October 18, 1940. The three children were playing in the street when the siren suddenly sounded. Bombs began to fall as she ran to them and gathered the three in her arms, protecting them with her body. Complimented on her bravery, she said, "Oh, it was nothing. Someone had look after the children." AP Photo
  41. 41. Huge crowds followed Winston Churchill when he inspected damage and bomb craters in London. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images). 10th September 1940
  42. 42. All that remains of a German bomber brought down on the English south-east coast, on July 13, 1940. The aircraft is riddled with bullet holes and its machine guns were twisted out of action. AP Photo
  43. 43. British workers in a salvage yard break up the remains of wrecked German raiders which were shot down over England, on August 26, 1940. AP Photo
  44. 44. Two barrage balloons come down in flames after being shot by German war planes during an aerial attack over the Kent coast in England, on August 30, 1940. AP Photo
  45. 45. Firemen spray water on damaged buildings, near London Bridge, in the City of London on September 9, 1940, after a recent set of weekend air raids. AP Photo
  46. 46. Air raid damage, including the twisted remains of a double-decker city bus, in the City of London on September 10, 1940. AP Photo
  47. 47. An abandoned boy, holding a stuffed toy animal amid ruins following a German aerial bombing of London in 1940. Toni Frissell/LOC
  48. 48. A German aircraft drops its load of bombs above England, during an attack on September 20, 1940. AP Photo
  49. 49. Life in London during The Blitz. London. Westminster. Whitehall. Hitler's Doom effigy outside the Free French headquarters at 4 Carleton Gardens.
  50. 50. Children sitting outside the bomb-damaged remains of their home in the suburbs of London, 1940. New Times Paris Bureau Collection/USIA/NARA
  51. 51. The Record Office in London, lit by flames ignited by a German air in 1940. LOC
  52. 52. Firemen using hoses to extinguish blazing buildings set afire during German air raid attacks on the city. London, United Kingdom September 1940. Photographer:William Vandivert
  53. 53. Soldiers carrying off the tail of a Messerschmitt 110, which was shot down by fighter planes in Essex, England, on September 3, 1940. AP Photo
  54. 54. A German raid smashed this hall in an undisclosed London district, on October 16, 1940. AP Photo
  55. 55. The artist Ethel Gabain, newly appointed by the Ministry of Information to make historical war pictures, at work among bombed ruins in the East End of London on November 28, 1940. AP Photo
  56. 56. A boy sits amid the ruins of a London bookshop following an air raid on October 8, 1940, reading a book titled "The History of London." AP Photo
  57. 57. A scene in central London, the morning after a bomb raid. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images). 1940
  58. 58. London, England, October 15, 1940 A bus lies in a large crater in the road in the London neighbourhood of Balham after a German air raid during the Battle of Britain. William Vandivert/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
  59. 59. A fireman attempts to check the flames from a gas explosion, after an air raid in Central London the previous night. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images). 1940
  60. 60. Holland House, Kensington, London, 1940.
  61. 61. East Londoners are made homeless during German air raids on London. (Photo by Fred Ramage/Keystone/Getty Images). Circa 1940
  62. 62. Mrs Bowley, the wife of a school caretaker, shakes the hand of her rescuer, Johnny Driscoll of an A.R.P. rescue team, as she is carried away on a stretcher. Bowley had been trapped in the wreckage of an air raid shelter for thirteen hours after a German bombing raid on London, 17th October 1940. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  63. 63. Police in London during the Blitz 1940
  64. 64. Civilians take shelter in Elephant and Castle Underground Station in south London during an air raid in November 1940.
  65. 65. Life in London during The Blitz, London. Steel helmets were worn by all who could get them.
  66. 66. A milkman delivering milk in a London street devastated during a German bombing raid. Firemen are dampening down the ruins behind him. (Photo by Fred Morley/Getty Images). 1940
  67. 67. Firemen working to extinguish blazing buildings set afire during German air raid attack on the city. London, United Kingdom September 1940. Photographer:William Vandivert
  68. 68. Tower Bridge silhouetted against the fires burning on London's docks, ignited during German air raid attack on the city. London, United Kingdom September 1940. Photographer:William Vandivert
  69. 69. Heinkel He 111 bombers in formation. The He 111H was the mainstay of the German bomber force in 1940. To escort and protect its bombers, the Luftwaffe had two fighters: the single- engined single-seat Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the twin-engined two-seater Messerschmitt Bf 110. MH 6547.
  70. 70. German Dornier Do 17 bombers over London, 7 September 1940.
  71. 71. Hawker Hurricanes of Fighter Command, a first line of defence against the incoming German bombers attacking England, flying in formation in the first major battle to be won in the air. (Rex)
  72. 72. Messerschmitt Bf 109E Emil Jagdgeschwader 26 – As of August 22nd, 1940 JG.26 was under the command of Major Adolf Galland. JG.26 claimed claimed 285 fighters shot down for the loss of 76 during the Battle of Britain
  73. 73. Luftwaffe Commander-in-Chief Hermann Göring addresses a group of German pilots during the Battle of Britain. The Luftwaffe was officially created on 26 February 1935, with Göring as its commander-in-chief. He had been a celebrated First World War fighter pilot and was one of Hitler’s closest political associates. The Luftwaffe enjoyed a rapid expansion in its first five years, in large measure due to Göring’s considerable political influence. MH 13382.
  74. 74. Bruno Loerzer, Hermann Göring, Adolf Galland during an inspection of a Luftwaffe unit in France [Bundesarchiv]
  75. 75. A group of RAF pilots and sailors scramble for their planes. Keystone
  76. 76. A forward machine gunner sits at his battle position in the nose of a German Heinkel He 111 bomber, while en route to England in November of 1940. AP Photo
  77. 77. Caption from LIFE: "Three armorers, called 'plumbers,' reload Hurricane's eight machine guns with ammunition belts. Each gun gets 300 bullets, enough to last through 15 seconds of firing which comes is brief bursts. Each plane takes twelve ground men to keep it up."William Vandivert—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
  78. 78. RAF ace pilot Albert G. Lewis (R) getting helped into cockpit before engaging German Luftwaffe aircraft during the peroid of WWII known as the Battle of Britain. United Kingdom October 1940. Photographer:William Vandivert
  79. 79. Caption from LIFE: "Between flights, member of ground crew sits in the shade of his plane's wing. Notice emergency starter apparatus at his feet, already hooked up, and four little holes in front edge of wing. Through these, four of plane's eight machine guns fire in unison."William Vandivert—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
  80. 80. RAF pilots relax with the squadron mascot before the next scramble during the Battle of Britain sends them to an uncertain future. The importance of the squadron dog cannot be overstated. Life Photo
  81. 81. Scene during the Battle of Britain, RAF Fighter Command airfield, 1940. William Vandivert—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
  82. 82. Scene during the Battle of Britain, RAF Fighter Command airfield, 1940William Vandivert—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images.
  83. 83. Royal Air Force ace Albert Gerald Lewis climbs out of his plane after an air battle above England, 1940. William Vandivert—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
  84. 84. Pilots at rest between flights during the Battle of Britain, RAF Fighter Command airfield, 1940. William Vandivert—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
  85. 85. Groundcrew of a Polish Air Force bomber squadron, writing messages to the enemy on a bomb at RAF Hemswell, 15 August 1940.
  86. 86. Me109 in front of Parliament, 1940
  87. 87. A young boy places a Union flag into the remains of his home, which was destroyed in an air raid on London in 1940.
  88. 88. “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister during the Second World War
  89. 89. World War II poster containing the famous lines by Winston Churchill end
  90. 90. cast The Battle of Britain _ 75th Anniversary images and text credit www. www.iwm.org www.bbc.co.uk avaxnews.net time.com/ Music wav. created olga.e. thanks for watching