Operation Moonlight Sonata: The German Raid on Coventry

By Allan W. Kurki | Go to book overview

9
The Battle of Britain

"The Reichsmarshall never forgave us for not having conquered the English."

Oberst Karl Holler, Staff Officer and later Goering's Chief of Staff

Deighton, Fighter, p. 267


INTRODUCTION

The Battle of Britain was the popular name given to the German air attacks carried out against Great Britain early in World War II. Although the actual air attacks extended over a much longer time span, the Battle of Britain is officially considered to cover only the eighty-two-day period from July 10, 1940 to October 31, 1940. These dates were established by the Royal Air Force as the basis for awarding the Battle of Britain Clasp to those pilots and aircrew members of fighter aircraft who participated in the fighting. 1 To receive this citation, the aviators must have flown in at least one operational sortie in an accredited Battle of Britain squadron, flight, or unit during this particular time period.

The actual fighting over Britain, however, started even before the fall of France on June 22, 1940, and extended beyond June of 1941, when Germany attacked Russia. Even after this date and the withdrawal of the major portion of the Luftwaffe bombers from the west, the GAF continued to use manned aircraft to bomb Britain until May of 1944. At times these raids were light, sometimes carried out by only a single aircraft, but at other times they were very heavy, such as during the first five months of 1944. Beginning in June of 1944, the Germans started a new and final phase in their air attacks when they unleashed their so-called vengeance weapons against the British. First, the unmanned V-1 buzz bombs were used to terrorize the British, and then shortly after the V-1s were first

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