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© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Battle of Britain: Selected full-text books and articles

The Test of War: Inside Britain, 1939-45 By 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
Royal Air Force, 1939-1945: The Fight at Odds By 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 By Denis Richards; Hilary St. George Saunders Her Majesty's Stationery Office, vol.2, 1954
Operation Moonlight Sonata: The German Raid on Coventry By Allan W. Kurki Praeger Publishers, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "The Battle of Britain"
On Air Defense By James D. Crabtree Praeger, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "England: From the Battle of Britain to Nato"
Hitler Confronts England By Walter Ansel Duke University Press, 1960
Twentieth-Century Britain By 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 By 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 By 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 By 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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