Battle of Britain

Battle of Britain, in World War II, series of air battles between Great Britain and Germany, fought over Britain from Aug. to Oct., 1940. As a prelude to a planned invasion of England, the German Luftwaffe attacked British coastal defenses, radar stations, and shipping. On Aug. 24 the attack was shifted inland to Royal Air Force installations and aircraft factories in an effort to gain control of the air over S England. Failing to destroy the RAF, the Germans began (Sept. 7) the night bombing, or blitz, of London. Heavy night bombings of English cities continued into October, when the attack was shifted back to coastal installations. The Germans gradually gave up hope of invading England, and the battle tapered off by the end of October. Though heavily outnumbered, the RAF put up a gallant defense; radar, used for the first time in battle by Britain, played an important role. The Germans lost some 2,300 aircraft; the RAF 900. The Battle of Britain was the first major failure of the Germans in World War II, and it thwarted Hitler's plan to force Britain to accept peace or face invasion.

See D. Wood and D. Dempster, The Narrow Margin (1961, repr. 1967); A. McKee, Strike from the Sky (1960, repr. 1971); R. Collier, Eagle Day (1966); T. Taylor, The Breaking Wave (1967); P. Townsend, Duel of Eagles (1970); R. Overy, The Battle of Britain (2001); M. Korda, With Wings like Eagles (2009).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Battle of Britain: Selected full-text books and articles

The Narrow Margin: The Battle of Britain and the Rise of Air Power 1930-40
Derek Wood; Derek Dempster.
Hutchinson, 1961
The Test of War: Inside Britain, 1939-45
Robert Mackay.
UCL Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz, May 1940 to June 1941" begins on p. 8
The Battle of Britain: And the American Factor, July-October 1940
David Alan Johnson.
Combined Publishing, 1998
Besieged: Seven Cities under Siege: Madrid, 1936-1939 ; London, 1940-1941 ; Singapore, 1941-1942 ; Stalingrad, 1942-1943 ; Warsaw, 1939, 1943, 1944 ; Jerusalem, 1947-1949 ; Berlin, 1945-1949
J. Bowyer Bell.
Chilton Books, 1966
The First Great Air Battle in History: The Battle of Britain, an Air Ministry Record of the Great Days from August 8th to October 31st, 1940
Great Britain, Air Ministry.
Garden City Publishing, 1941
Royal Air Force, 1939-1945: The Fight at Odds
Denis Richards; Hilary Aidan St. George Saunders.
Her Majesty's Stationery Office, vol.1, 1953
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VI "The Battle of Britain"
Royal Air Force, 1939-1945
Denis Richards; Hilary St. George Saunders.
Her Majesty's Stationery Office, vol.2, 1954
Operation Moonlight Sonata: The German Raid on Coventry
Allan W. Kurki.
Praeger Publishers, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "The Battle of Britain"
North Atlantic Civilization at War: The World War II Battles of Sky, Sand, Snow, Sea, and Shore
Patrick Lloyd Hatcher.
M.E. Sharpe, 1998
On Air Defense
James D. Crabtree.
Praeger, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "England: From the Battle of Britain to Nato"
Hitler Confronts England
Walter Ansel.
Duke University Press, 1960
Twentieth-Century Britain
Alfred F. Havighurst.
Harper & Row, 1966 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: "The Battle of Britain" begins on p. 293
The Second World War: Ambitions to Nemesis
Bradley Lightbody.
Routledge, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "Battle of Britain"
Selling War: The British Propaganda Campaign against American "Neutrality" in World War II
Nicholas John Cull.
Oxford University Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Their Finest Hour: Projecting the Battle of Britain, May to September 1940"
A World in Flames: A Short History of the Second World War in Europe and Asia, 1939-1945
Martin Kitchen.
Longman, 1990
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Two "The Battle of Britain and the Balkan Campaign (July 1940-June 1941)"
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