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Battle of Britain

Page history last edited by Alan Hartley-Smith 3 years, 3 months ago

Military Early Days




The Battle of Britain was the key event of the summer and autumn of 1940, when there was an imminent threat of German invasion.


The Royal Air Force, supported by many military and civilian groups, repulsed the larger forces of the German Luftwaffe. Had the enemy prevailed, the following seaborne invasion would probably have resulted in complete victory by the Wehrmacht and the German occupation of Britain.


After the end of the First World War, the United Kingdom government had initially pursued disarmament, then, after the accession of the Nazi party to power in Germany in 1933, re-armament. Between the wars, the performance of all types of aircraft greatly increased, and Prime Minister Baldwin’s statement that “the bomber will always get through” was much-quoted. The air defence problem was two-fold: the detection of enemy aircraft in time to position defending fighters, and guiding fighters to intercept. In 1934, current detection methods were hopelessly inadequate; a new technology provided the answer – today called radar, but then ‘RDF’, Radio Direction Finding, a cover name for locating aircraft by their reflection of powerful radio waves, a system devised by government scientists.


The radar stations were integrated through trials into an infrastructure including airfields,radar, radio communications, anti-aircraft guns, and civilian observers, called the ‘Dowding System’ after the head of RAF Fighter Command. The first five radars were operational in 1938, and by mid-1940, with equipment now supplied by industry, there were nineteen along the east and south coasts, called the ‘Chain Home’ system. ‘Chain Home’ enabled the RAF, with its limited resources of fighters and pilots, to defeat the Luftwaffe's intention to clear and command the skies over the English Channel as a prerequisite to Operation Sealion, the invasion plan of the German dictator, Adolf Hitler.


80th Anniversary 2020

During the period July to October many organisations mounted celebratory events - the following are links to a collection of these - here, here, herehere, here, here, here, here and here.


Also, a lecture mounted by the Chelmsford Civic Society embodying a Marconi theme, together with some resulting inputs (to come)


Military Early Days




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