Battle of Britain


At Capel-le-Ferne, between Folkestone and Dover. Access is from the A20 from Dover, or the M20 from Folkestone, then via the A2011Opening Hours:

The car park and visitors centre are open daily 11.00 am to 5.00 pm (last admission 4.30 pm), 1 April to 11 November. The site may be accessed on foot outside of these times.

One of the major campaigns of the early part of World War II, the Battle of Britain is the name commonly given to the attempt by the German Luftwaffe to gain air superiority over the Royal Air Force (RAF), before a planned sea and airborne invasion of Britain (Operation Sealion). Neither Hitler nor the German Wehrmacht believed it possible to carry out a successful amphibious assault on the British Isles until the Royal Air Force had been neutralised. Secondary objectives were to destroy aircraft production and ground infrastructure, as well as terrorising the British people with the intent of intimidating them into seeking an armistice or surrender and attacking areas of political interest.

British historians regard the battle as running from 9 July to 31 October 1940, which represented the most intense period of daylight air raiding. German historians begin the battle in mid-August 1940 and end it in May 1941, on the withdrawal of the bomber units in preparation for the attack on the USSR. The failure of Nazi Germany to destroy Britain’s air forces to allow for an invasion or to break the spirit of either the British government or people is widely considered the Third Reich’s first major defeat.

Some historians have argued that no invasion could have succeeded–given the massive superiority of the Royal Navy over the Kriegsmarine, Sealion would have been a disaster. They argue that the Luftwaffe would have been unable to prevent decisive intervention by RN cruisers and destroyers, even with air superiority.

The RAF recognises 2440 British and 510 overseas pilots who flew at least one authorised operational sortie with an eligible unit of the Royal Air Force or Fleet Air Arm during the period 10 July to 31 October 1940. This group includes 139 Poles, 98 New Zealanders, 86 Canadians, 84 Czechoslovakians, 29 Belgians, 21 Australians, 20 South Africans, 13 French, 10 Irish, 7 from the United States, a Jamaican, a Palestinian Jew and a Southern Rhodesian. 498 RAF pilots were killed during the battle. An Italian expeditionary force called Corpo Aereo Italiano also took part in the latter stages of battle on the German side. The Battle of Britain was the first major battle to be fought entirely in the air. It was the largest and most sustained bombing campaign yet attempted and the first real test of the strategic bombing theories that had emerged since the previous World War.

Foreign contribution
From the very beginning of the war, the Royal Air Force accepted foreign pilots to supplement the dwindling pool of British pilots. The RAF roll of honour for the Battle of Britain recognises[2] 510 overseas pilots as flying at least one authorised operational sortie with an eligible unit of the Royal Air Force or Fleet Air Arm between 10 July and 31 October 1940.

Nationality Number
Polish 139
New Zealander 98
Canadian 86
Czechoslovakian 84
Belgian 29
Australian 21
South African 20
French 13
Irish 10
Unknown 8
American 7
Jamaican 1
Palestinian (Jewish) 1
Southern Rhodesian 1

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