Originally posted by waynos
Bungay firmly and irrevocably gives the lie to that commonly held notion these days that 'Britain didn't win the Battle of Britain, Germany lost
it', illustrating in fine detail just why it was indeed a magnificent Victory for the RAF.
I am now in the mood for a discussion on the subject if anyone wants to
[edit on 17-7-2007 by waynos]
Then I hope I'm not too late :
Seriously, I tend to agree that it was not such a close thing as has been previously described, but the Luftwaffe did make some serious mistakes.
Firstly, remember that the two side were fighting a completely different Battle of Britain. The Luftwaffe's aim was to destroy Fighter Command and
attain air superiority (what would now be called air supremacy) to pave the way for invasion. The RAF was fighting a battle against the bombers and
taking on the fighter escorts only as necessary. That the Luftwaffe forgot their primary task is shown by two decisions.
1. Shifting the bombing offensive away from Fighter Command and on to London (Whatever disruption it was causing Fighter Command was removed from
them by the switch) [Hitler's decision, I believe], and
2. The tying of Luftwaffe fighters ever tighter to the bombers to reduce bomber loses, thereby depriving them of the initiative [Goering's decision].
Remember, from the Luftwaffe perspective, the bombers were really only bait to bring Fighter Command into action. (without the bombers, Fighter
Command could have withdrawn from the battle and awaited the invasion).
In case 1. (above), the Chain Home radar stations proved invaluable, as it is often forgotten that one of the reasons that the Luftwaffe felt that
their attacks on Fighter Command airfields was ineffective, was that they almost never caught a squadron 'on the ground', but never worked out why -
forewarning by the radar stations.
By contrast single low level raiders (under the radar) did get through and caught squadrons refueling and rearming. The Luftwaffe WAS disrupting
Fighter Command operations by attacking their airfields and the radar stations (Ventnor on the Isle of Wight (I think) was out of action for much of
the BoB) and it was senseless to take that pressure off the airfields, regardless of the extent of the disruption it was causing. That the RAF was
able to conceal the effects or extent of that disruption from the Luftwaffe, partly due to the radar stations, must have had some influence on the
decision to move the attack away from Fighter Command airfields.
Added to the situation was the fact the the Luftwaffe never had an effective intelligence gathering system in Britain - all implanted agents were
caught and 'turned' to provide misinformation.
Further, it was never a contest about material attrition. What Churchill's words refer to is the very limited number of trained fighter pilots
available (to either side). Here Fighter Command was always at an advantage, in that pilots (of both sides) parting company with their aircraft
almost invariably landed in Britain. May I remind you that no Luftwaffe PoW ever escaped from Britain during WWII. Thus many of Fighter Command's
downed pilots were able to return to battle, while every downed Luftwaffe aircraft removed crews permanently from WWII. Indeed the importance to both
sides of the limited number of trained pilots prompted both sides to go to rather extreme lengths to recover crews from the Channel (as well as the
humanitarian reasons, of course).
One could go further and say that Germany could not actually afford to go to war in 1939, and that economically the only reason that it could do so
was by looting the treasuries of the occupied countries. Further, Germany NEVER had the fuel reserves to wage WWII, and thus Hitler HAD to attack
Russia to gain access to its oil reserves (He didn't get Moscow, but he did get the oilfields!) and it had to be done on a fairly strict timetable,
or Germany's war machine would have ground to a halt. (as an aside, have you ever considered why things such as gold fillings were removed from gas
chamber victims - the Reich needed them to pay for the war!)
Much has been said of Germany's lack of four engined strategic bombers, but Germany did not plan for a long war, only short battles, BECAUSE Germany
could not afford anything more - it just didn't have the reserves.
So probably the two most important turning points in the European theatre were the Battle of Britain (disrupting Hitler's timetable severely - thanks
Hermann, you pompous git!) and America's entry into the war - bringing - more importantly than its troops - its financial and industrial might. While
it is romantic to think of battles as being between individuals or squadrons or even different pieces of equipment, the fact is that war is a battle
of economics - simply, regardless of any other constraints, in the first instance, you can only field what you can pay for!
Magnificent victory - I don't know, Waynos - certainly a very important one, but the German high command did make some serious and fundamental
Some have argued that with Germany's economic situation, that it was only Goering's arrogant overconfidence in the capabilities of his forces
(repeated at the siege of Stalingrad - which wasted most of the Luftwaffe transport fleet) that Hitler decided to enter into the BoB. Perhaps it was
never actually possible for the Luftwaffe to win in the time available, even without the tactical errors - no one will ever know.
Did Britain win, or Germany lose? Does it matter? Long live the mythology
The Winged Wombat
[edit on 19/7/07 by The Winged Wombat]