Battle of Britain
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
On 18 Jun, seeing the turn of events in Europe, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said to the House of Commons that "the Battle of France is over, I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin." He was right. Germany was planning on blockading Britain so that no food and supplies could get through, while pounding the British people into submission by aerial attacks. If necessary, Operation Seelöwe (Sea Lion) was to be launched to bring German troops onto British soil. Two days prior to Churchill's speech to the House of Commons, Adolf Hitler had already issued Directive No. 16, in which he noted:
As England, despite the hopelessness of her military situation, has so far shown herself unwilling to come to any compromise, I have therefore decided to begin preparation for, and if necessary to carry out, an invasion of England.
The aim of this operation is to eliminate Great Britain as a base from which the war against Germany can be fought, and, if necessary, the island will be completely occupied.
On 19 Jul, Hitler made one last attempt for a negotiated peace, stating at the Reichstag that "... it is my duty before my own conscience to appeal once more to reason and common sense. I can see no reason why this war must go on.... I should like to avert [the war], also, for my own people." After hearing an unfavorable response from the British, Hitler decided to continue on with his war plans. However, at the face of a powerful air force and navy protecting Britain, Hitler had his doubts; Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel observed:
In order to transport a large amphibious force across the English Channel, Germany would need air superiority, which translated to the need to remove the Royal Air Force, RAF. The first phase of the German plan was the Kanalkampf, or the Channel battles. Oberst (Colonel) Johannes Fink was placed in charge of this first phase of the attack, with 60 dive bombers and 75 twin-engine bombers under his command, while he also had support from at least 200 fighters from nearby bases. He issued his orders from a mobile command center converted from an old bus, parking it at Cap Blanc Nez right on the English Channel. He also established mobile radar stations code named Freya. The first major attack took place on 4 Jul 1940 when 33 Stuka dive bombers attacked convoys that were getting ready to depart Portland in Dorset County on the southern coast of England as well as naval facilities on land. The attack was not unexpected as the presence of German reconnaissance aircraft on the day before had warned the British of the impending attack; nevertheless, none of the British fighters were launched in time to meet the German attackers and the entire defense was placed on the shoulder of the anti-aircraft weapons located on ships and on land near the area. On 7 Jul, six British fighters were shot down, with four of the pilots killed, as they engaged German aircraft over the British coast. On 8 Jul, in the evening, three British pilots were killed, leading to No. 79 Squadron RAF being transferred north for regrouping and resting. German pilot Leutnant (Lieutenant) Albert Striberny, who was also shot down on 8 Jul, recalled his experience in combat on this day:
Having reached an altitude of 4,500m over the Channel we found ourselves in sunshine but saw that there were a lot of cumulus clouds over the English coast and Dover.... At about 1,700m, the clouds ended and together we flew over Dover.... I quickly noticed the Do 17 near us but then, much higher, saw the sun shining on many aircraft - Spitfires! Our situation was bad - low speed due to climbing through the cloud and so many aircraft coming down on us with the advantage of speed. I think now of the clear silhouette of our three aircraft against the white clouds.
In spite of our efforts to try and gain more speed, in no time they were on us and the battle was short. Whilst I was behind a Spitfire, another was behind me. I hear the sound as if one throws peas against a metal sheet and my cabin was full of dark smoke. I felt splashes of fuel on my face so I switched off the electrical system, dived back into the cloud and threw off the cabin roof. The smoke disappeared and I could breathe freely and noticed that the wings there came white streams of glycol. Whilst diving, I tried several times to start the engine, switching on the electrical system, but in vain. When I came out of cloud, I decided to bail out and undid the clasp of my seat belt and was about to climb onto the seat and jump when I thought of the high speed of the aircraft and I was afraid to be thrown against the tailplane so I pulled back the stick and slow the aircraft down. This took a matter of seconds; I did a half roll and fell out.
Striberny would land safely and was held as a prisoner of war in Britain until 1945. He was not the only German pilot lost, of course, as the Luftwaffe suffered as greatly as the RAF. Jagdgeschwader 51 (Fighter Group 51), for example, lost 10 pilots in Jul 1940 alone, half of them without scoring any victories.
On 10 Jul, a day with bad weather, a large number of German aircraft was launched to attack one of the eight convoys (code named "Bread") sailing in the English Channel. In turn, six Hurricane fighters of the No. 32 Squadron RAF based at Biggin Hill were launched to defend the convoy. At 1400 hours, British radar operators concluded that the incoming group of German aircraft was larger than expected; a short while later, the No. 32 Squadron pilots reported at least 60 enemy aircraft on the horizon. Immediately, aircraft of No. 56, No. 111, and No. 74 Squadrons were dispatched to reinforce. When the additional fighters arrived, Hurricane fighters of No. 111 Squadron headed straight into the bomber formation, ignoring the escorting fighters; the first attack saw one British aircraft down (Flying Officer Tom Higgs, crashing after clipping a German bomber) and four damaged, but the German bomber formation was broken up with three bombers shot down. Total losses at the end of the battle were 7 British aircraft lost and 13 German aircraft lost, which was a surprising success for the RAF. Although the Germans had already launched their Kanalkampf operation nearly a week prior, the British deemed 10 Jul, this aerial battle in particular, as the official start of the Battle of Britain as a morale booster. Of the "Bread" convoy, only one ship was lost.
On 14 Jul, German aircraft attacked convoys in the English Channel. From the coast, BBC reporter Charles Gardner gave the British listeners their first near-live eyewitness account of the Battle of Britain as he announced the play-by-play.
... the Germans are dive bombing a convoy out at sea. There are one, two, three, four, five, six, seven German dive bombers, Junkers 87s. There's one going down on its target now. A bomb! No! There, he's missed the ship! He hasn't hit a single ship. There are about ten ships in the convoy but he hasn't hit a single one....
But the British fighters are coming up. Here they come! The Germans are coming in an absolutely steep dive, and you can see their bombs actually leave the machines and come into the water. You can hear our anti-aircraft guns going like anything. I am looking round now. I can hear machine guns fire, but I can't see our Spitfires. They must be somewhere there. Oh, here's a plane coming down.... Somebody's hit a German and he's coming down with a long streak, coming down completely out of control, and now a man's bailed out by parachute. It's a Junkers 87 and he's going slap into the sea. There he goes, smash! A terrific column of water!
Now then, oh, there's a terrific mix up over the Channel! It's impossible to tell which are our machines and which are German. There's a fight going on, and you can hear the little rattle of machine gun bullets.... Oh, there's another fight going on, a way up, about twenty five or even thirty thousand feet above our heads. Oh, we have just hit a Messerschmitt! Oh, that was beautiful! He's coming down.... He's finished. Oh, he's coming down like a rocket now. An absolutely steep dive. Let us move round so we can watch him a bit more.... No, no, that pilot's not getting out.
Gardner had made several mistakes in his broadcast. For example, nearly every downed fighter was identified as German, and if the fights were really 25,000 feet in altitude, he would not be able to see much. Nevertheless, he captured the intensity of combat for the listeners like they had never heard from a radio broadcast before, especially not on location and only after a short period of time. Audience response was mixed. Some thought the report was inspiring, while others thought the BBC was turning combat, and the resulting injuries and deaths, into something of an entertainment. While the BBC made this revolutionary broadcast on 14 Jul 1940, the Germans could claim that they had been a step ahead. The German propaganda machine had long since attached reporters to front line units. From the early days of the Battle of Britain, reporters had been flying over Britain in German bombers, making recordings as bombs drop out of the bomb bay doors.
On 19 Jul, a number of Defiant turret fighters were launched to protect a convoy, piloted by the inexperienced members of the No. 141 Squadron. Within eight minutes of the arrival of German aircraft, six Defiant turret fighters were shot down, with entire crews killed. The remaining Defiant aircraft were saved only by the arrival of Hurricane fighters of the No. 111 Squadron.
By 29 Jul, losses in the English Channel, both with ships and planes, were so great that the Admiralty declared that daylight movements of merchant ships were to be limited. All convoy routes were rerouted.
On 21 Jul, Luftwaffe chief Hermann Göring gathered his top officers for an expansion of the attacks on Britain. On 1 Aug, Hitler issued Directive No. 17, which called for a temporary halt on the attacks on shipping, shifting the goal toward the destruction of the RAF. During the lull between the ending Kanalkampft and the upcoming Adlerangriff (Eagle Attack) operations, the British pushed through several convoys through the English Channel; although aerial attacks were fewer, losses to the small E-boat surface vessels were still significant. The responsibility of the new air offensive fell on the shoulders of Albert Kesselring's Luftflotte 2 and Hugo Sperrle's Luftflotte 3; the former was to attack southeast England (including London), while the latter West Country, Midlands, and northwest England. Further away, Colonel General Hans-Jürgen Stumpff in Norway, in command of Luftflotte 5, was to play a small part by attacking northern England and Scotland, largely as diversionary attacks.
On 12 Aug, 20 German Bf 109 and Bf 110 aircraft specially converted as fighter-bombers flew fast at the English coast, raiding British radar stations. A short time later, almost 100 Ju 88 bombers escorted by 145 Bf 110 fighters attacked Portsmouth and the Ventnor radar station on the Isle of Wight. RAF Manston at Isle of Thanet off Kent, southeastern England was also attacked by Do 17 bombers.
13 Aug was the official launch date of Adlerangriff. In the morning, the skies were grey and the atmosphere misty, so Göring attempted to postpone the operation. Unfortunately for the Luftwaffe, not all squadrons received the message. One of the attack groups carried on with only bombers as the bomber crews missed the radio message while the escorting fighters received it and turned back for home. Due to the bad visibility due to mist, the bomber crews had no idea they had no escorts until they were intercepted by fighters of the No. 74 Squadron RAF, who shot down 5 German bombers and seriously damaged a further 5. A raid by a group by Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers also suffered heavy casualties due to the breakdown in communications.
In the afternoon, as weather cleared, Göring gave the word to launch the major attacks. Detling airfield suffered heavy damages and 67 killed, but ultimately this attack did not achieve Luftwaffe's primary goals as this was a Fleet Air Arm (FAA) field and not a Fighter Command field. Nevertheless, many RAF airfields were attacked, as was Portland and Southampton, attacked as targets of opportunity. During the afternoon, 86 FAA aircraft and 1 RAF aircraft were destroyed on the ground and 13 aircraft were shot down in the air (with 3 deaths); the Luftwaffe suffered 87 killed or captured.
During the night of 13 Aug 1940, German bombers attacked British cities of industrial importance. Aircraft factories in Belfast and Castle Bromwich were damaged during the night. German bombers encountered little resistance in terms of fighter defense as the RAF nightfighters did not yet possess radar equipment at this stage of the war.
Some of the German fighter pilots blamed Göring for the failure of Adlerangriff. Adolf Galland, for example, noted that "[t]he problem was that at no point in time were the fighter leaders called in to assist in the planning.... We lost only around ninety aircraft and aircrews [but we lost] the initiative and focus necessary for future success.
In the early morning of 15 Aug 1940, the Germans launched low level raids in the south to get British fighters' attention; while these southern attacks on the airfields at Manston, Hawkinge, and Lympne were diversionary in nature, the number of aircraft was still significant. Shortly after, the main German attack appeared over Yorkshire. When the German bomber crews arrived, they could immediately tell that the diversionary attacks to the south did not work, as they were encountering heavy fighter defense. After heavy fighting, 14 German aircraft were shot down, which was a significant part of the attack. On the British side, 10 Bomber Command aircraft were destroyed on the ground, while there were no losses in the air. While the attacks on Yorkshire suffered heavy casualties, the southern attacks had mix results. One of the attacks heavily damaged a bomber factory. However, an attack of 50 Ju 87 Stuka aircraft, about 60 Bf 109 aircraft, and 40 Bf 110 aircraft against the Portland area encountered heavy fighter resistance over the Warmwell airfield; 3 Stuka and 13 Bf 110 aircraft were shot down. Another attack group consisted of the experimental unit Erprobungsgruppe 210 successfully dive bombed Martlesham Heath, destroying fighters on the ground; on the way home, they luckily ran into some British fighters in low altitude and were able to bounce them, downing at least one.
In the early evening of 15 Aug, German aircraft attacked Kenley airfield, but heavy fighter defense led to bombers dropping bombs as quickly as they could, resulting in the bombing of the smaller satellite field of Croydon by mistake.
Throughout this entire day, Göring and many of his top air force commanders were at a conference at his Berlin suburb estate of Karinhall. He had informed his aides that the conference was not to be interrupted for any reason. When he completed the conference at the end of the day, he was unpleasantly surprised to learn that on this day, he had lost a total of 75 aircraft, which made up about 20% of aircraft dispatched. The air crews who had survived the day saw so much destruction among their own forces that some of them named the day "Black Thursday".
Despite the heavy casualties sustained on 15 Aug, a failure on the part of German intelligence caused the Luftwaffe leadership to believe that the losses incurred by the Germans were either less than what the British had suffered, or that the British losses suffered were less easily replaced when compared to the Germans. On 16 Aug, the 5th Directive (intelligence section) of the Luftwaffe High Command reported the RAF Fighter Command only had about 300 fighters left. In actuality, it had about 400 Hurricane fighters and 200 Spitfire fighters available at the time, which was twice of Luftwaffe's estimate.
The Hardest Day
On 18 Aug, the Germans launched attacks in two general areas. Aircraft of Luftflotte 2 was to attack Kenley, Biggin Hill, Hornchurch, and North Weald airfields; while they were all sector stations, this fact was coincidental as the Germans only selected them due to their high activities. To the south, Luftflotte 3 was to attack the Portsmouth region, including the Poling radar station; while this southern attack was not small by any means, it was considered a diversionary attack, and the primary objective of the day was to damage the RAF Fighter Command airfields assigned to Luftflotte 2.
As the attacks took place, the British quickly figured out that Kenley and Biggin Hill were among the main targets and pulled in fighters from nearby airfields accordingly for defense. The attack on Kenley was mostly broke off, but the German bombers were able to reach Biggin Hill and release their bombs with minimal opposition; fortunately for the British, most of the bombs fell short of the airfield.
Around noon time, 109 Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers of Luftflotte 3, escorted by 150 Bf 109 fighters, reached the Poling radar station and the Ford naval station. Ford suffered heavy damage, while Poling lost one of the radar towers. The Germans paid a high price for the success, however, as 17 Stuka and 8 Bf 109 aircraft were shot down while the RAF had only lost 5 aircraft and 2 pilots.
In the evening, German bombers attacked North Weald, though most of the bombs were released too early and missed their targets.
At the end of this day, the Luftwaffe lost a total of 69 aircraft while the RAF Fighter Command 29. The British later named the day the "Hardest Day" to reflect the high casualties suffered by either side.
Late Aug 1940
During a conference on 19 Aug, after the heavy losses suffered on Black Thursday and the Hardest Day, Göring decided to withhold his valuable Stuka dive bombers from further attacks to preserve strength. The meeting focused on discussions of how to best use fighters to protect German bombers, and how to draw British fighters out to combat to wear down the strength of RAF Fighter Command. In terms of bomber targets, Göring instructed to focus on RAF Fighter Command airfields, while factories and RAF Bomber Command airfields were to be ignored for the time being. Finally, as for organizational changes, Göring transferred most of the fighters of Luftflotte 3 to Kesselring's Luftflotte 2 to consolidate command, and Luftflotte 3 and Luftflotte 5 were to become night bombers exclusively.
On the British side, the RAF took the opportunity with this lull of battle of replenish its losses. On 18 Aug, the No. 302 (Polish) and No. 310 (Czechoslovakian) squadrons were activated, followed by the arrival of a Royal Canadian Air Force squadron on 19 Aug. At around the same time, permission was given to No. 303 (Polish) Squadron, a training squadron, to engage in combat when opportunities presented themselves (No. 303 Squadron would be deemed operational on 30 Aug).
On 19 Aug, like his German counterpart, Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding also performed organizational changes. Within the No. 11 Group, he moved No. 111 Squadron and No. 601 Squadron to Debdan north of London. No. 64 Squadron was to move from No. 11 Group's RAF Kenley to No. 12 Group's RAF Leconfield. Going the other direction was No. 616 Squadron, which moved from No. 12 Group to No. 11 Group's RAF Kenley. Finally, the remainder of the casualty-ridden No. 266 Squadron was to remove to RAF Wittering in Lincolnshire. On the same day, No. 11 Group RAF commander Keith Park instructed his pilots to intercept Germans over Britain instead of over the English Channel in order to avoid losses at sea; an underlying reason for this tactical change was that he noticed German target selection seemed to be shifting away from shipping to targets on land. On the following day, 20 Aug, Park further instructed that German fighters were to be attacked only to expose German bombers; this order was to preserve strength of RAF Fighter Command.
On 20 Aug, Prime Minister Winston Churchill spoke before the House of Commons: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few", referring to the RAF Fighter Command personnel's efforts to defend Britain from persistent German attacks. Richard Grice, the station commander at Biggin Hill which had saw so much attention from German bombers took a different approach to fix up his station during this time; instead of repairing the damaged hangars, he left the main hangars in shambles, hoping that German reconnaissance flights might report that Biggin Hill had been abandoned due to damage beyond repair.
On 22 Aug, further organizational changes were made on the German side. Hauptmann Günther Lützow took over Jagdgeschwader 3, Major Hans Trübenbach took over Jagdgeschwader 2, and Hauptmann Johannes Trautloft took over Jagdgeschwader 54. These changes were called for by Göring, who wanted to put young and aggressive officers at the helm of fighter groups.
The lull did not last long, and German attacks resumed in late Aug with equal ferocity. On 30 Aug, Biggin Hill, to Grice's disappointment, was once again the target. The first wave of 90 Ju 88 bombers arrived just before noon, followed by an almost continuous stream of bomber waves, finishing up at 1800 hours with the final wave of 18 Ju 88 bombers. In total, 39 ground staff at Biggin Hill was killed and 26 were injured; many structures were damaged, including the operations room, briefly bringing down defense coordination at this site, but everything was back in operation by the morning. On the same day, in the mid-morning, Debden and North Weald were also attacked, causing minor damage. In the afternoon again on the same day, Duxford, Eastchurch, Croydon, and Hornchurch were attacked. 30 Aug was marked as RAF Fighter Command's day of greatest casualties with 40 aircraft destroyed, 9 people killed, and 18 people seriously injured.
Despite the apparent success on 30 Aug, some of the German leaders knew the battle would not be sustainable. In late Aug, Theo Osterkamp reported to his superiors in concerns about the loss of experienced pilots. Instead of triggering an evaluation that perhaps would lead to a larger pilot training program, he was demoted by Air Inspector Erhard Milch.
Late in the battle an Italian expeditionary force, the Corpo Aereo Italiano, briefly joined the fighting.
Early Sep 1940
On 1 Sep, Biggin Hill was the target once again for German bombers, along with Eastchurch, Debden, and Kenley, which were all RAF bases; the Fleet Air Arm base of Detling was also attacked on this day. On 2 Sep, Eastchurch, North Weald, and Biggin Hill were attacked; Biggin Hill once again suffered heavy damage (but operations continued almost seamlessly) while Eastchurch was down to only one slightly damaged runway with which to launch and recover fighters.
On 3 Sep, Göring met with his senior officers at the Hague in the Netherlands after Hitler expressed disappointment with Luftwaffe's inability to either bomb Britain into submission or achieve air superiority for a potential ground invasion. Kesselring suggested Göring to change the target to London, using the threat of civilian deaths to force more British fighters to come out and engage German aircraft, thus the British fighters would fight on German terms; additionally, Kesselring also thought that the bombing of airfields had proven to be useless because the British had so many of them. Sperrle disagreed with Kesselring's assessment, but Göring, faced with criticism that his defenses could not protect from British bombings on Berlin, agreed with Kesselring wholeheartedly, and Sperrle's objections were largely ignored. The notion of bombing London, especially after Berlin had already been bombed several times by the British Bomber Command, also won the support of Hitler.
On 4 Sep, Hitler addressed a crowd of factory workers, nurses, and relief workers, declaring that Germany would now answer British night raids on German cities with greater ferocity.
After the war, Kesselring revealed that his greatest concern during the first week of Sep 1940 was that the Royal Air Force would withdraw their main bases north of London where British fighters would still be able to protect southern Britain while it would be too far for German fighters to reach.
Also around this time, the British-to-German loss ratio has shifted in favor of the Germans. During the first weeks of the Battle of Britain, 2.4 German aircraft were lost for each British aircraft lost; by the first week of Sep 1940, the Germans were only losing 1.4 aircraft for each British aircraft lost. The decision to remove most Stuka dive bombers from raids on Britain attributed to this statistical improvement.
Operation Loge and the Bombings of London
On 7 Sep, German bombers launched Operation Loge, named after the Norse god of fire. Commenced at about 1600 hours, a total of 350 bombers from 5 different Kampfgeschwader, escorted by 617 Bf 109 and Bf 110 fighters, would be launched for London. Sandy Johnson, commanding officer of the No. 602 Squadron RAF, would later recall:
Despite Hitler's speech on 4 Sep, RAF Fighter Command still responded by flying toward the airfields, and by the time they were ordered to change course for London, it was too late, and 448 Londoners would be killed by falling bombs. Nevertheless, many of the fighters were able to engage German bombers, resulting in 38 bombers being shot down at the cost of 28 British fighters. After sundown, German bombers returned and dropped further explosives on the British capital. This night attack would mark the first of 57 consecutive night of bombings on London.
On 9 Sep, two aerial pincers were launched at London, with one coming over Dover and the other over Beachy Head. British fighters intercepted the Dover pincer, forcing the bombers to drop their bombs early over Canterbury. The Beachy Head pincer met a similar fate, with their bombs dropped early in the countrysides before turning back for the French coast. 24 German aircraft and 17 British fighters were shot down; 6 British airmen were killed.
At 1100 hours on 15 Sep, British radar operators detected German bombers coming in from the French coast, and a small number of fighters were launched as usual to intercept. What took a little bit for the British commanders to realize was that this was to be yet another large scale attack in which a total of almost 500 bombers, almost 500 Bf 109 fighters, just over 100 Bf 110 fighters, and 21 Bf 109 fighter-bombers would be launched against targets in Britain, with the focus on London. The Bf 109 fighter-bombers arrived first, taking out a rail station and damaging Dulwich and Norwood without heavy opposition. When the main bomber formations crossed the British coast, Park knew a major response might result in losses that he would rather not take on. Taking a gamble, he continued to defend with small forces as he had typically done in the past, keeping the Germans in check at the risk of German bombers reaching London and releasing their bombs. Fortunately for him, weather was on his side, and many German bombardiers were having trouble locating their targets (some German bombers reportedly turned for France without releasing their bomb loads). By 1400 hours, Park concluded that the German fighters must be about to run low on fuel, and finally launched his major response. Within the next hour or so, German fighters indeed began to see the low fuel lights come on, and many of them began to turn for home, leaving the bombers with a weaker escort on their ways back to France. As British fighters swooped in, the bombers frantically fired their defensive guns, but without their new escorts, which were still en route from France after the departure of many of their initial escorts, they were extremely vulnerable and suffered losses. Göring accurately sensing that the British must be running low on reserve fighters, ordered his bombers to refuel and rearm upon landing and launch additional attacks. British intelligence intercepted this order, which made Churchill, who happened to be observing the battle from Uxbridge on this date, nervous; he asked what reserved the RAF had in store, and he was given the answer that it would take hours for fighters to be brought in from other regions, and the fighters currently in the air might be caught on the ground should the Germans launch attacks on the airfields. Luckily, perhaps due to worsening weather, the Luftwaffe was never able to launch the additional attacks that Göring demanded. On this day, the Germans lost 56 aircraft, with 136 air crew killed or captured; the British lost 29 aircraft with 12 pilots killed.
On 17 Sep 1940, as German bombers dropped more than 350 tons of bombs on London on this day, Hitler postponed Operation Seelöwe indefinitely, but Göring was allowed to continue the aerial attacks on Britain.
A number of small raids were launched in the morning of 27 Sep as diversionary attacks on a main raid at London. As it would turn out, all attacks resulted in disastrous results for the German Luftwaffe. None of the targets on the ground were hit.
The small but continuous defense advocated by Dowding and Park had always been challenged by Trafford Leigh-Mallory and Sholto Douglas, who wanted to deploy "Big Wing" defenses where entire formation of fighters would swoop in against German bombers and cause great casualties against the enemy. Dowding and Park argued that small defenses were simple to deploy, where one or two squadrons could be called to launch to intercept bombers without having to wait for other squadrons. Meanwhile, operating one or two squadrons at a time meant that in a case of total defeat, only a limited number of aircraft and men would be lost. Finally, continuously dispatching one or two squadrons at a time, rather than sending nearly all available squadrons at once, meant that German bombers would be continuously hassled by fighters, keeping the enemy air crews tense through the entire flight. Although this strategic had proven to be working well, in Oct 1940, when the Battle of Britain was largely over when viewed in hindsight, Dowding was replaced by Douglas, and the British defense strategy quickly changed.
The Blitz Continued
According to a British Air Ministry pamphlet published in 1941, 31 Oct 1940 was the official end of the Battle of Britain. However, German bombers would continue to rain fire on London. Through Apr 1941, the Germans were at times dropping over 1,000 tons of explosives on London on a single night. The nine months of the Blitz killed 40,000 to 60,000 people, destroyed 250,000 homes, and damaged 2,000,000 others; in total, 46,000 tons of high explosive bombs and 110,000 tons of incendiary bombs were dropped by German bombers (in comparison the Allied bombings of German cities, which began even prior to the Blitz, killed 600,000 German civilians). Although the British losses from the Battle of Britain and the Blitz were great, the shift in German strategy that took place in early Sep 1940 gave the RAF a chance to proactively attack German bombers instead of reactively defend against German assaults. With what Keitel said as the "vastly superior" British Royal Navy guarding the rough English Channel, and the fact that Germany could hardly find enough transports and even river barges to mount such an invasion, Operation Seelöwe was officially abandoned on 12 Oct 1940.
RAF's successes at the Battle of Britain also brought the importance of radar to light. Dowding, commander of the RAF Fighter Command, was generally credited with setting up an early warning system that led to the RAF's final success. With his direction, experts under him architected a system where coastal radar stations lined the coast, augmented by the Observer Corps which visually tracked from ground posts any German aircraft that crossed the English Channel. Centralized intelligence stations received all reports from all forward observation stations, whether radar or eyesight, and processed the data for RAF Fighter Command headquarters, which disseminated the information down to the tactical commanders. This system proved to be extremely efficient and allowed the British to respond to attacks quickly. Although the British government dramatized the Battle of Britain as a victory that was won against all odds, many historians argued that Germany actually had little chance of winning it. Stephen Bungay, for example, said
While the fighters and fighter pilots of the RAF Fighter Command were much celebrated as the victors of the Battle of Britain, the Bomber Command and the Coastal Command contributed their share as well. While this statement made by a Bomber Command personnel was rather exaggerated, it reflected that not all the credit went to the Fighter Command; it was the Bomber Command missions that prevented the Germans from building up a transport fleet to bring troops to Britain.
Between Jul and Oct 1940, the Bomber Command flew 9,180 sorties; in Sep 1940, 60% of the missions were directed at Channel Ports, with certain nights where all attacks were directed at Channel Ports. The Coastal Command, which was in charge of protecting convoys, flew more than 80,000 sorties during the same period.
The final tally of losses during the Battle of Britain was 1,547 British aircraft lost (1,023 Fighter Command, 376 Bomber Command, and 148 Coastal Command) against 1,887 German aircraft. While the United Kingdom was able to slowly replenish the aircraft lost through its industries, and later through the Lend-Lease agreement with the United States, German losses would prove to cause greater consequences down the road. In terms of human lives, the RAF Fighter Command lost 544 airmen, while the British military overall lost about 2,300; the German Luftwaffe lost 2,698. 15 Sep was declared Battle of Britain Day in celebration of the victory, although it would be infrequently celebrated in the years to come.
Stephen Bungay, The Most Dangerous Enemy
Walter Görlitz, In the Service of the Reich
Colin Heaton, The German Aces Speak
Keith Lowe, Inferno
Kate Moore, The Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain Timeline
|6 Sep 1939||German aircraft attacked Great Britain for the first time.|
|29 Oct 1939||The first German aircraft to be shot down in Britain, a He 111 bomber, crashed near Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom. The kill was claimed by No. 602 and No. 603 Squadrons RAF. Two members of the crew of four survived the crash and were captured.|
|9 Nov 1939||Adolf Hitler issued directive No. 9 which called for German aircraft and submarines to attack British shipping and port facilities.|
|13 Nov 1939||German bombers struck the Shetland Islands, Scotland, United Kingdom but did little damage.|
|1 Jan 1940||German aircraft bombed RAF Coastal Command at Sullom Voe in the Shetland Islands, Scotland, United Kingdom damaging light cruiser HMS Coventry and ground facilities with the loss of one Ju 88 bomber.|
|3 Feb 1940||The first enemy aircraft to crash in England was a Heinkel He 111 aircraft shot down near Whitby, North Yorkshire by Flight Lieutenant Peter Townsend flying a Hurricane fighter of 43 Squadron. Two of the four German crewmen were killed. After the war Townsend became a household name for his ill-fated romance with Princess Margaret.|
|1 May 1940||A German bomber crashed in Essex, England, United Kingdom, killing the crew and two civilians, wounding a further 150 people.|
|1 Jul 1940||Operation Seelöwe (Sealion), a plan for the invasion of Britain, was first mentioned by the German General Staff. On the same day, German bombers began a campaign against British industrial centers, beginning with a daylight raid on Hull, England and Wick, Scotland, killing 12 and wounding 22.|
|3 Jul 1940||German Luftwaffe aircraft bombed Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom.|
|4 Jul 1940||Kanalkampf: German Stuka dive bombers and motored torpedo boats attacked British Allied Convoy OA178 south of Bournemouth, England, United Kingdom, which was near Portland. Five merchant ships were sunk, which were British ships Elmcrest and Dallas City, Dutch ships Britsum and Decalion, and Estonian ship Kolga; several other ships were damaged. Meanwhile, German aircraft bombed the Royal Navy base in Portland, sinking British auxiliary anti-aircraft ship Foyle Bank, killing 176, as well as tug boat Silverdial.|
|7 Jul 1940||Kanalkampf: Six British fighters were shot down during aerial battles with German aircraft, killing four.|
|9 Jul 1940||German Luftwaffe aircraft attacked shipping in the English Channel and off the British coast.|
|10 Jul 1940||Kanalkampf: A large German aerial formation attacked one of the eight British convoys in the English Channel; the target convoy was code named Bread, escorted by 6 Hurricane fighters. Upon detecting the incoming aircraft, four squadrons of British fighters were launched to counter the attack. At the end of the battle, seven British aircraft were destroyed and one of the Bread ships was sunk. The Germans lost 13 aircraft. This surprising victory led to the British announcing that 10 Jul was the start of the Battle of Britain. Elsewhere, the German Luftwaffe's first major targets on land included the Swansea docks and the Royal Ordnance Factory in Pembrey. The British tanker Tascalusa was sunk during one of the attacks.|
|11 Jul 1940||Battle of Britain: German aircraft attacked the British Royal Navy Base at Portland in southern England; 1 British Hurricane fighter, 2 British Spitfire fighters, 2 German Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers, and 2 German Bf 109 fighters were shot down. Off the eastern coast of England Hurricane fighters of No. 66 Squadron RAF attacked a Do 17 bombers on a reconnaissance mission, shooting it down but they also one of their own. Off the coast of Kent, a German rescue seaplane escorted by 12 Bf 109 fighters was shot down by the British while en route to rescue downed German airmen; 2 of the 6 Spitfire fighters and 2 of the 12 Bf 109 fighters were also lost.|
|12 Jul 1940||Battle of Britain: German He 111 and Do 17 bombers attacked Allied convoy code named Booty off of Essex and Suffolk, England; 2 British Spitfire fighters and 1 British Hurricane fighter were lost in the battle, but they prevented sinkings. In southern England, German Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers attacked Portland and Exeter, losing two aircraft. At Aberdeen, Scotland, a He 111 bomber on a reconnaissance mission was intercepted and shot down, but was able to release one bomb on the city before crashing into the city's ice rink.|
|13 Jul 1940||Kanalkampf: German bombers attacked Allied Convoy CS5 near Dover, England; escorting destroyer HMS Vanessa was damaged by near misses and had to be towed to port by destroyer HMS Griffin. Convoy Bread was attacked once again, this time off the Dorset coast; 6 German bombers were shot down while several British fighters were also lost, killing 3 pilots.|
|14 Jul 1940||German aircraft attacked the Allied convoys in the English Channel, sinking or damaging only 5 ships despite the large number of aircraft sent. German bombers also attacked RAF airfield at Manston in Kent in southern England, United Kingdom and a destroyer in Swanage Harbor, Dorset, causing little damage. BBC reporter Charles Gardner provided the first eyewitness radio report of the Battle of Britain as he watched German aircraft attacking a convoy in the English Channel. Meanwhile, the British Royal Air Force leadership directed its pilots to ignore German aircraft with Red Cross markings, as such aircraft were suspected of conducting military reconnaissance missions in the English Channel.|
|15 Jul 1940||Battle of Britain: Low cloud and rain kept most aircraft grounded, but small formations of German bombers still ventured into British air space. The attack along the Scottish coast was unfruitful, and the raid on the Westland Aircraft factory at Yeovil, Somerset, England damaged one runway and one hangar. German bombers were also sent to attack the convoy code named Pilot, but British fighters drove off the bombers before they reached the convoy.|
|16 Jul 1940||Battle of Britain: Low cloud, fog, and heavy rain kept aircraft grounded until the early afternoon. In the mid-afternoon, German bombers crossed the English Channel. One German Ju 88 bomber was shot down over the Isle of Wight by Spitfire fighters of No. 601 Squadron, and one German He 111 bomber was shot down in northeastern Scotland during the bombing of Fraserburgh and Peterhead by Spitfire fighters of No. 603 Squadron.|
|17 Jul 1940||Battle of Britain: German bombers attacked Bristol in western England and Scottish industrial towns on the east coast.|
|18 Jul 1940||Battle of Britain: 15 Spitfire fighters of No. 152 and No. 610 Squadron engaged 30 Bf 109 fighters off Beachey Head on the southern coast of England, resulting in 1 British fighter lost. Elsewhere, German bombers attacked Montrose Aerodrome on the east coast of Scotland, killing 2 and wounding 3. Further to the south, German bombers sank the East Goodwin Light Vessel. In the evening, at 1900 hours, the British retaliated by sending 18 British Blenheim bombers, escorted by 24 fighters, to attack German barges at Boulogne, France.|
|19 Jul 1940||Battle of Britain: Defiant turret fighters of No. 141 Squadron RAF were launched to protect a convoy off Folkestone, England but they were inadequate in defending against German aerial attacks. 6 of them were shot down by 12 German Bf 109 fighters within the first eight minutes of combat (10 killed, 2 survived), with the 3 remaining saved only by the arrival of Hurricane fighters of No. 111 Squadron RAF. Elsewhere, German bombers attacked various targets in southern and eastern Britain, leading to the loss of 3 Hurricane fighters, the death of 42 civilians in Glasgow, damage aboard destroyers HMS Griffin and HMS Beagle, and the sinking of tanker War Sepoy. The Germans lost 3 bombers and 3 fighters on this day.|
|20 Jul 1940||German aircraft sank transport Pulborough and damaging destroyer HMS Brazen off Dover, England, United Kingdom at the cost of 3 aircraft, shot down by Brazen's anti-aircraft guns. 10 miles off of the Isle of Wight, destroyer HMS Acheron was bombed and damaged by near misses. The day's actions cost the RAF 5 Hurricane fighters, 1 Spitfire fighter, and 1 Blenheim bomber, while 7 pilots and 1 gunner were killed; the Germans lost at least 6 fighters, 2 bombers, and 1 seaplane. The British government released the report that claimed 40 German aircraft shot down in the past week.|
|21 Jul 1940||Battle of Britain: German aircraft attacked convoys in the English Channel. 1 British Hurricane fighter and 1 British Spitfire fighter were shot down, while the Germans lost 3 fighters and 1 Do 17 bomber.|
|22 Jul 1940||Battle of Britain: During the day, German Luftwaffe flew only reconnaissance missions over the English Channel today, launching no attacks despite of the good weather; British Hurricane fighters of No. 145 Squadron shot down a lone Do 17 bomber off Selsey Bill, West Sussex in southern England. After sundown, many small German raids bombed coastal towns or lay naval mines off the coast; one Do 17 bomber was shot down during the night.|
|23 Jul 1940||Battle of Britain: German aircraft conducted raids on coastal cities in Britain and deployed naval mines overnight. A German Do 17 bomber of 1/KF1Gr 606 attacked British submarines HMS Narwhal and HMS Truant 125 miles east of Aberdeen, Scotland, sinking the former.|
|24 Jul 1940||Battle of Britain: At 0630 hours, German Luftwaffe aircraft bombed the Rolls Royce factory at Glasgow, Scotland, but instead the nearby printing works was damaged. At 0730 hours, German Ju 88 bombers attacked shipping in the Bristol Channel, with 1 Ju 88 shot down by British Spitfire fighters of the No. 92 Squadron. At 1200 hours, 18 Do 17 bombers escorted by 40 Bf 109 fighters attacked shipping in the Thames estuary, sinking minesweeping trawler Fleming, killing 19; ensuing dogfight above resulted in 9 Bf 109 fighters and 2 Spitfire fighters shot down. Finally, German bombers sank anti-submarine trawler Kingston Galena (killing 16) and minesweeper Rodino (killing 4) off Dover.|
|25 Jul 1940||Battle of Britain: German aircraft attacked shipping and naval bases at Dover, Portsmouth, Poole, and Portland; also on this day, aircraft and torpedo boats attacked convoy CW8 in the Dover Strait (sinking 5 and killing 9). By the end of the day, 21 German aircraft and 6 British fighters were lost. The British claimed that 25 German aircraft were shot down on this day, which was the highest daily claim yet.|
|26 Jul 1940||Battle of Britain: Several German raids launched against Britain were turned away by a combination of bad weather and timely RAF fighter arrivals. On this day, 3 German Bf 109 fighters and 1 British Hurricane fighter were shot down.|
|27 Jul 1940||15 German dive bombers attacked 6 British minesweeping trawlers and escort destroyers in the English Channel 20 miles off Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England. Destroyer HMS Wren sank after one of the several near misses she suffered made a large hole below the waterline (killing 37), while destoyer HMS Montrose lost her bow and had to be towed to Harwich, Essex. German aircraft also bombed Dover in southern England, sinking destroyer HMS Codrington who was undergoing boiler cleaning (wounding 3). At the end of the day, the Germans lost 2 fighters and 1 Ju 87 Stuka dive bomber, while the British lost 1 Spitfire fighter and 1 Hurricane fighter.|
|28 Jul 1940||Battle of Britain: 100 German aircraft in 5 waves crossed the Straits of Dover at 1335 hours and were intercepted by 4 squadrons of British fighters; 5 German Bf 109 fighters, 2 German He 111 bombers, and 2 British Spitfire fighters were destroyed during the ensuing battle. A few hours later, the Royal Navy withdrew all destroyers from Dover to Portsmouth. Overnight, German aircraft deployed mines and bombed British coastal cities.|
|29 Jul 1940||40 German Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers attacked Dover Harbor in southern England, United Kingdom at 0730 hours, escorted by 40 Bf 109 fighters; British fighters from No. 41, No. 43, No. 56, and No. 64 Squadrons shot down 8 German dive bombers and 7 fighters and anti-aircraft guns shot down 2 German dive bombers, while 2 British Spitfire fighters and 1 British Hurricane fighter were shot down. At 1700 hours, destroyer HMS Delight left Portland in southern England; at about 1830 hours, she was hitting by a bomb from a German aircraft from Cherbourg, France, killing 18 and wounding 59, but she was able to return to Portland under her own power.|
|30 Jul 1940||Battle of Britain: Low clouds and rain restricted flying all day. Five German raids targeted the northeastern British coast in the morning, while other waves of aircraft attacked convoys in the English Channel off Essex and Suffolk, England. A small number of German aircraft were shot down on this day at no cost to the British RAF. Overnight, German bombers conducted raids over southern and central England and southern Wales.|
|31 Jul 1940||While German Army and Navy leadership continued to disagree over the plans for the invasion of Britain (with Admiral Raeder convincing Hitler to delay the invasion until mid-Sep 1940), the Luftwaffe moved forth with its plans and began to shift the main target from English Channel shipping to RAF airfields in southern England. Although 77 RAF aircraft were destroyed and 43 were damaged (along with 67 airmen killed and 23 wounded), aircraft production during the month was greater than aircraft lost.|
|1 Aug 1940||30 German He 111 aircraft reached Norwich, England, United Kingdom and bombed the Boulton-Paul Aircraft Works and the Norwich railway station without any opposition, killing 6 and wounding 54 civilians. Meanwhile, in Germany, Hitler issued Directive No. 17, calling for a temporary halt on attacks on British shipping, shifting attention to the RAF.|
|2 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: Before dawn, two German He 115 seaplanes attacked British ship Highlander of convoy FN.239 20 miles south of Aberdeen, Scotland; one of the aircraft was shot down by sloop HMS Weston, while the other crashed onto Highlander's poop deck after clipping the mast. During the day, German aircraft attacked convoys in the English Channel and along the east coast of Britain, sinking anti-submarine trawler HMT Cape Finesterre off Harwich, Essex, England, killing 1.|
|3 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: Heavy fog restricted the German Luftwaffe to conducting only a small number of raids on Britain during the day. Overnight, German bombers attacked Bradford, Liverpool, Crewe, and the Firth of Forth.|
|5 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: Large Luftwaffe formations patrolled the Dover Straits and attacked convoys off the east and southeast coast of England; 4 German Bf 109 fighters and 1 British Spitfire fighter were shot down as RAF fighters rose to intercept.|
|6 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: At 0630 hours, Hurricane fighters of No. 85 Squadron RAF shot down a German Do 17 aircraft on a reconnaissance mission over a convoy east of Lowestoft, Suffolk, England. Also on this day, a lone German aircraft bombed the RAF station at Llandow, South Wales.|
|7 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: German aircraft bombed one convoy, but otherwise very little activity was seen during the day over and near Britain. Overnight, German aircraft bombed coastal cities and laid mines in the English Channel and between Land's End and Liverpool.|
|8 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: After several days of little action, the Germans launched continuous operations against the large convoy CW9, codenamed Peewit, of 25 merchant ships with Royal Navy escorts in the Strait of Dover. Torpedo boats attacked before dawn, sinking British ships Ouse, Holme Force (killing 6), and Fefe Coast (killing 5). As the convoy traveled westward, 300 Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers escorted by 150 fighters struck, sinking Dutch ship Ajax (killing 4), British ship Coquetdale, and British ship Empire Crusader (killing 5); as the British fought back, 17 Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers, 26 Bf 109 fighters, and 9 Bf 110 fighters were shot down, but the RAF also lost 13 Hurricane fighters, 4 Spitfire fighters, and 1 Blenheim bombers.|
|9 Aug 1940||Hermann Göring believed Luftwaffe had control of the air having successfully attacked many convoys and excluded Royal Navy ships from the English Channel during daylight. Overestimated downed RAF planes and underestimated Luftwaffe losses further convinced him the RAF was almost beaten; in reality, RAF was stronger than a month ago, with losses (84 fighters) less that half the Luftwaffe's (227 aircraft). Göring ordered new tactics to destroy RAF's fighting capacity by attacking their airfields, control centers and radar. These tactics could not be put into effect, however, as cloudy weather allowed only reconnaissance patrols; 1 He 111 aircraft was shot down. At 1645 hours, R. D. Ritchie of No. 605 Squadron crashed his Hurricane fighter into the sea and died off Dunbar on the east coast of Scotland.|
|10 Aug 1940||Hermann Göring's Adler Tag offensive against RAF airfields was canceled due to the weather; only reconnaissance patrols and small attacks on isolated trawlers and merchant ships were launched. Overnight, German aircraft mined the coast of Britain. No aircraft were lost by either side on this day.|
|11 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: Although the weather was fine, the German Luftwaffe did not start its offensive against RAF airfields, instead mounting a carefully prepared feint. Starting at 0730 hours, Bf 109 and Bf 110 fighters bombed and strafed Dover Harbor in southern England as a prelude to a larger attack on Portland Naval base and Weymouth, aiming to draw RAF fighters. Spitfire fighters of No. 64 and No. 74 Squadrons responded, but most RAF units remain on the ground per Keith Park's strategy of sending up only enough fighters to counter the German attack and withholding the remaining in reserve. As a larger formation consisted of 56 Ju 88 bombers and 20 He 111 bombers arrived with 97 Bf 110 fighters in escort was detected in the direction of Cherbourg, France at 0945 hours, there were enough British fighters to counter that attack; the ensuing battle caused 20 British Hurricane fighters, 5 British Spitfire fighters, 27 German bombers, and 10 German Bf 110 fighters to become destroyed. The day's German bombing damaged 4 British destroyers: HMS Windsor in the Thames Estuary, HMS Esk at Harwich, and HMS Scimitar and HMS Skate in Portland Harbor.|
|12 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: 20 German Bf 109 and Bf 110 fighters, especially converted as fighter-bombers, raided British radar stations along the coast. As the radar station operations were disrupted, almost 100 Ju 88 bombers escorted by 145 Bf 110 fighters attacked Portsmouth and the Ventnor radar station on the Isle of Wight, while Do 17 bombers attacked RAF airfields of Manston, Lympne, and Hawkinge near Kent. Most of the radar stations would be repaired by the end of the day, but the Ventnor radar station would be out of commission for two weeks. Portsmouth was also bombed, killing 100 civilians. Minesweeping trawler HMT Pyrope was sunk (killing 6), so was HMT Tamarisk (killing 7), by German aircraft during this day. 55 German aircraft were shot down during aerial combat at the cost of 6 British Spitfire fighters and 9 British Hurricane fighters. British anti-aircraft guns claimed 7 bombers.|
|13 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: German Luftwaffe launched Adlerangriff, Eagle Attack, in the afternoon, but miscommunications in the morning meant some aircraft took off early and suffered heavy casualties. At 1500 hours, 300 German aircraft were launched. 86 British Fleet Air Arm and 1 RAF Fighter Command aircraft were destroyed on the ground and 13 RAF Fighter Command aircraft (2 Spitfire and 11 Hurricane) shot down; the Germans lost 87 airmen killed or captured; 40 German bombers and 36 German fighters were lost. Overnight, German aircraft damaged aircraft factories in Belfast and Castle Bromwich. The minesweeping trawler HMT Elizabeth Angela was sunk by air attack on this day off Dover, killing 1.|
|14 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: Cloudy weather prevented Germans from launching large scale raids early in the day as planned. At 1200 hours, 300 German aircraft flew over the Dover Strait and attacked Dover and Folkestone in southern England, which drew out the No. 65 Squadron RAF for defense, leaving RAF Manston undefended during the attack that came shortly afterwards (though anti-aircraft gun crews were able to shoot down two Bf 110 fighters). At 1545 hours, RAF Middle Wallop in Hampshire was bombed by Ju 87 dive bombers and He 111 horizontal bombers, killing 3 airmen and 1 civilian. In Portland Harbour, British sloop HMS Kingfisher and tug Carbon were damaged by bombing. On this day, the Germans lost 30 aircraft while the British lost 3 Spitfire fighters and 5 Hurricane fighters.|
|15 Aug 1940||As the weather over Britain cleared up, the German Luftwaffe launched a major strike, with aircraft from Norway and Denmark joining their counterparts based in France. A formation of 1,100 German aircraft crossed the Dover Strait before diverging to different targets, damaging aircraft, runways, hangars, and radar stations. At 1850 hours, German Bf 110 fighter-bombers bombed Croydon airfield south of London, England, United Kingdom by mistake, meeting stiff resistance; one of the shot down Bf 110 aircraft crashed into a London suburb, killing 60 and wounding 120. At the end of the day, 161 aircraft, mostly bombers, were lost, leading to the nicknaming of this day Black Thursday. The RAF lost 34 fighters and 18 pilots.|
|16 Aug 1940||Despite fine weather, German attacks on Britain were limited to small raids. At noon, German bombers attacked shipping in the Thames estuary and various airfields in southern England; at 1630 hours, some of the same targets were hit a second time. Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers attacked RAF Tangmere and Ventnor radar station, destroying many Hurricane fighters and Blenheim bombers in the hangar at the former and damaging radar installations at the latter. Pilot Officer W. M. "Billy" Fiske, an American pilot in the RAF, would become injured during one of the raids and would die on the following day, becoming the only American killed in combat during the Battle of Britain. On this day, the RAF lost 22 fighters while the Luftwaffe lost 72. In Germany, the 5th Directive (intelligence section) of the German Luftwaffe High Command reported the RAF Fighter Command only had about 300 fighters left; in actuality, it had about 400 Hurricane fighters and 200 Spitfire fighters available at the time, which was twice of the estimate.|
|18 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain, the Hardest Day: German aircraft attacked Kenley and Biggin Hill airfields, among other locations, subjecting the airfields to heavy bombing. Losses on both sides were heavy with the Germans losing 69 aircraft and the RAF Fighter Command 29.|
|19 Aug 1940||Cloud and rain limited German reconnaissance capability in the morning. In the afternoon, German Luftwaffe changed its tactics, sending single aircraft, mainly Ju 88 bombers, to attack targets along the southern coast of England and Wales in the United Kingdom. The Germans lost 1 Bf 109 fighter and 4 Ju 88 bombers during the day, while the British lost 1 Spitfighter fighter in the fighting and 1 Blenheim fighter over southern Norway during a reconnaissance mission. Meanwhile, the government in London declared the entire United Kingdom a defense area. To reinforce the RAF, a Royal Canadian Air Force squadron arrived in Britain.|
|20 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: At 1445 hours, 190 German aircraft flew over the Thames Estuary in search of British shipping, but failed to find any; British fighters arrived and shot down five German aircraft. Meanwhile, RAF Manston was attacked; 1 Spitfire fighter was shot down while attempting to defend the airfield. In total, 7 Luftwaffe aircraft and 3 RAF aircraft were lost today. At the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made the "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few" speech.|
|21 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: Bad weather prevented large formations of bombers from forming, so the German Luftwaffe dispatched only small one- to two-aircraft raids against coastal Britain. On this day, 1 Hurricane fighter was shot down, 2 RAF personnel were killed on the ground, and 40 RAF personnel were wounded; 4 civilians were killed, and 178 were wounded; several merchant ships were damaged or sunk. On the German side, 13 bombers were shot down.|
|22 Aug 1940||Harrow in northwest London, England, United Kingdom received a German bomb at 0330 hours, the first to fall within the borders of the London Civil Defence Area. After daybreak, bad weather once again prevented large German raids. At 0900 hours, German 38-centimeter guns at Cape Gris Nez, France shelled the convoy "Totem" in the Strait of Dover for 80 minutes, but no ships were hit. At 1300 hours, German Ju 88 bombers, escorted by Bf 109 fighters, attacked the same convoy, but were engaged by Spitfire fighters of No. 54 Squadron and Hurricane fighters of No. 610 Squadron; 1 Ju 88, 1 Spitfire, and 1 Hurricane aircraft were shot down, wit the Hurricane fighter shot down by friendly fire. In the evening, the 38-centimeter gun fired again, this time at the city of Dover; British 14-inch gun "Winnie" returned fire. From 1830 hours through the night, German bombers raided British cities, including Aberdeen, Bristol, and Hull.|
|23 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: Rain and clouds prevented the Germans from mounting large raids against Britain, giving the British airmen a chance to rest and crews a chance to repair airfields. Single-aircraft raids were, however, mounted against southern and central England, as were raids against shipping; two merchant ships were sunk and one was damaged by He 115 torpedo bombers. Overnight, German bombers raided British cities; British fighters shot down two of the night raiders with no losses of their own, while anti-aircraft gunners claimed a third.|
|24 Aug 1940||Before dawn, the London Blitz began as a misguided group of German bombers of KG1 unloaded their bombs London's Thames Haven oil terminal, which also damaged the church of St. Gile in East End; Göring demanded to know the crews that did this so to punish them. Clear weather allowed the German attacks to restart in size. German bombers arrived in waves against RAF Hornchurch, RAF North Weald, and RAF Manston in southern England; the Germans lost 22 fighters and 18 bombers, while the British lost 20 fighters. At 1600 hours, 50 German aircraft bombed Portsmouth in southern England, killing 100 civilians and wounding a further 300, while damaging HMS Acheron (killing 2, wounding 3) and HMS Bulldog (killing the commanding officer) in the harbor. Overnight, deliberate bombing of London, England, United Kingdom began, hitting north, east, and west of the city.|
|25 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: At 1700 hours, German bombers attacked the RAF airfield at Warmwell and the harbor of Dover; during the defense, Czechoslovakian pilot Count Manfred Czernin, flying a Hurricane fighter for the RAF, shot down three Bf 110 fighters in one minute. Overnight, German bombers attacked South Wales, Bristol, Birmingham, and other cities in the Midlands. In total, the Germans lost 38 fighters and 14 bombers, while the British lost 16 fighters and 2 bombers.|
|26 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: With clear weather, the Germans launched three major raids. At 1200 hours, 150 aircraft flew over the Strait of Dover from Calais in France; No. 616 Squadron's Spitfire fighters of RAF Kenley and No. 264 Squadron's Defiant fighters were attacked and devastated by escorting German Bf 109 fighters; the German bombers split up after reaching Britain and bombed RAF Biggin Hill, RAF Kenley, and various towns in Kent. At 1500 hours, 170 German aircraft flew up the Thames estuary, but most were turned back by British fighters; 6 Do 17 bombers made it through the fighter defense and bombed RAF Debden, causing heavy damage. At 1600 hours, 55 German bombers of KG55 escorted by about 100 fighters attacked Portsmouth, but the group was repulsed by 5 No. 11 Group and 3 No. 10 Group squadrons. In total, the RAF lost 28 fighters and the Luftwaffe lost 22 bombers and 24 fighters. While the machine losses were heavy for both sides, the RAF only lost 6 airmen, while most of the downed German crews were killed or captured.|
|27 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: Bad weather limited the Germans to flying reconnaissance missions only during the day. Overnight, German bombers attacked industrial centers and RAF airfields.|
|28 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: Shortly after 0800 hours, German bomber formations were detected above Calais, France; the incoming 33 bombers and 120 Bf 109 fighters would drop 100 bombs on Eastchurch, but failed to disable the RAF airfield. At 1235 hours, 30 German fighters attacked RAF Rochford, which received 30 bombs. Two additional raids would reach airfields in southern England in the afternoon. During the day, the Germans lost 14 Bf 109 fighters, 8 modern bombers, and 1 WW1-era Gotha biplane bomber; the British lost 15 fighters; despite the fighter losses, after Winston Churchill's tour of some airfields, he was much more concerned about the German ability to damage runways, which could seriously disrupt fighter operations, thus he ordered more manpower to be assigned to the RAF for airfield repairs. Overnight, Birmingham, Coventry, Derby, Sheffield, Manchester, and South Yorkshire were bombed.|
|29 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: Low clouds and rain in the morning prevented Germans from launching attacks on Britain; reconnaissance flights were mostly left alone by the British. At 1500 hours and 1915 hours, the Germans launched large groups of fighters in an attempt to draw out British fighters, which was initially successfully, but very quickly Air Vice Marshal Keith Park saw through the German attempt and recalled the fighters; only 9 fighters were lost on either side. On this day, RAF leadership decided to stop using Defiant turret fighters as daylight intercepters as they were no match for German fighters. Overnight, German bombers attacked Portsmouth, Tyneside, Hartlepool, Swansea, Manchester, and Liverpool; decoy fires were lit in the countryside to lure German bombing, which were partially successful.|
|30 Aug 1940||Albert Kesselring knew that the British were used to large raids every few hours by this time, so he changed tactics by dispatching smaller raids every 20 to 30 minutes. The airfield at Biggin Hill in England, United Kingdom was attacked repeatedly, but for the most part bombs fell on the town instead of the airfield, killing 39 and wounding 26; nevertheless, the few bombs that hit the airfield did damage the operations room and briefly brought down defense coordination at this site. Other targets attacked by German bombers on this day include Dietling (placed out of commission for remainder of day), Debden, North Weald, Duxford, Eastchurch, Croydon, and Hornchurch. The Ken radars were also brought offline briefly as power lines were damaged. This day, with 1,310 sorties flown by the Luftwaffe, would become RAF Fighter Command's day of greatest casualties, with 40 aircraft destroyed, 9 people killed, and 18 people seriously injured. German losses were great as well: 33 fighters and 30 bombers. Heavy attacks continued in England after nightfall, with Liverpool, London, Portsmouth, Manchester, Worcester, and Bristol bombed.|
|31 Aug 1940||Battle of Britain: Overnight, the British did enough repairs to bring RAF Biggin Hill back to operational status. At 0800 hours, radar installations at Kent picked up German formations; it was soon discovered to be all fighters, thus fighters already dispatched to intercept were called back, and only 3 fighters (all Canadian) were lost. Before noon, the real German raids arrived. 200 bombers attacked Essex; No. 56 Squadron RAF shot down 1 bomber but lost 4 fighters to German escort fighters from III./ZG26 and III./JG26. Debden, North Weald, Eastchurch, Dietling (strafed by fighters), Croydon (bombed by Bf 109 fighter-bombers of Erprobungsgruppe 210), and Hornchurch were all attacked in the morning. In the afternoon, Hornchurch was attacked again, destroying 2 Spitfire fighters on the ground but at the cost of 5 Bf 109 fighters. At 1800 hours, Biggin Hill was bombed from low level, destroying 2 of the 3 remaining hangars, cutting telephone lines, and destroying the operations room. On this day, the RAF lost 41 fighters and 9 pilots, while the Luftwaffe lost 56 fighters and 29 bombers. After sundown, Liverpool was bombed for the fourth consecutive night; other cities received bombs, too.|
|1 Sep 1940||Formations of German fighters arrived in Britain in the morning to lure British fighters, but the tactic did not succeed. At 1100, 1330, and 1730 hours, large German raids attacked Debden, Biggin Hill, Hawkinge, Lympne, Kenley, Detling, Eastchurch, Tand Sherburn, as well as the Tilbury Docks in the East End of London. Luftwaffe lost 17 fighters and 8 bombers, while the RAF lost 15 fighters (with 6 pilots killed). Overnight, German bombers attacked Kent, Bristol Channel, and South Wales.|
|2 Sep 1940||Battle of Britain: In the morning, German bombers attacked Eastchurch (destroyed buildings and down to only one runway), Rochford (bombs fell on Gravesend instead of the airfield), Northweald (most bombers forced back), and Biggin Hill (suffered heavy damage). In the afternoon, Hornchurch (most bombs missed), Eastchurch (bomb dump detonated), and the Vickers bomber factory at Brooklands, Weybridge, Surrey was attacked. On this day, the RAF shot down 27 German fighters and 10 bombers, while British anti-aircraft fire shot down a further 1 fighter and 3 bombers; 20 RAF fighters were shot down, with 10 pilots killed. Overnight, German bombers attacked Liverpool, Manchester, and Sheffield.|
|3 Sep 1940||50 German Do 17 bombers escorted by 80 Bf 110 fighters and 40 Bf 109 fighters flew up the Thames Estuary in souther England, United Kingdom, then split up to hit RAF airfields at North Weald, Hornchurch, and Debden. All three airfields were badly damaged, but all remained operational. Biggin Hill also saw two minor raids on this date. Luftwaffe lost 17 fighters and 8 bombers, while the RAF lost 20 fighters and 2 bombers (to friendly fire). During a meeting on this date, Kesselring recommended Göring to cease the bombing of British fighter airfields because there were too many of them; instead, he suggested to bomb London and use the threat of civilian deaths to force large numbers of British fighters to come to battle. Overnight, German bombers attacked Kent, Liverpool, and South Wales.|
|4 Sep 1940||German bombers attacked RAF airfields at Eastchurch, Lympne, and Rochford, along with the Short Brothers factories at Rochester and the Vickers-Armstrong aircraft factory at Brooklands in Surrey (55 killed, 250 wounded). RAF Group Captain Grice at Biggin Hill decided to blow up his own hangars to prevent further German attacks; he was later censured in a Court of Enquiry for this action, but no conclusions were made in court. On this day, the Germans lost 6 Bf 109 fighters, 13 Bf 110 fighters, and 1 He 111 bomber; the British lost 9 Spitfire fighters and 6 Hurricane fighters and combat. Meanwhile, Hitler addressed a crowd of factory workers, nurses, and relief workers during the Winter Relief Campaign at the Berlin Sportpalast, declaring that Germany would now answer British night raids on German cities with greater ferocity. Overnight, British cities in South Wales and the Midlands were attacked by German bombers.|
|5 Sep 1940||In the morning, German bombers attacked RAF airfields at Eastchurch, Lympne, North Weald, Kenley, and Biggin Hill in England, United Kingdom; in the afternoon, German bombers attacked RAF airfields at Detling and Biggin Hill, as well as the Hawker factories at Brooklands and oil storage tanks at Thameshaven. Eastchurch and Biggin Hill were placed out of action after sustaining heavy damage, while the fires at Thameshaven could be seen from London. When Churchill spoke to the House of Commons on this day, he promised compensation for families who had lost homes due to German attacks. On this day, 23 German aircraft were lost, as were 20 RAF fighters. Overnight, London, Manchester, and Liverpool were bombed by German bombers.|
|6 Sep 1940||A German paratrooper dressed in civilian clothes with a Swedish passport was dropped in Northamptonshire, England, United Kingdom at 0300 hours to report damage to airfields; he was injured upon landing and would be captured at 1720 hours. At 0900, 1300, and 1800 hours, German bombers flew up the Thames Estuary and bombed RAF airfields at Heston, Kenley, and Biggin Hill, as well as the Hawker factories at Brooklands (only minor damage) and the oil storage tanks at Thameshaven (caused large fires). The Germans lost 37 fighters and 7 bombers on this day, while the British lost 22 fighters. Overnight, German bombers attacked London.|
|7 Sep 1940||Ignoring the RAF airfields, German bombers instead attacked London, England, United Kingdom as the new Operation Loge commenced; Göring rode his personal train Asia to Pas-de-Calais, France in a freshly made uniform to personally oversee the first night of the operation. At 1600 hours, 300 bombers and 200 Bf 110 fighter-bombers escorted by 600 Bf 109 fighters. British fighters expected the attacking force to split up to attack airfields, thus were unprepared when they flew straight for East End, London. By the time the British fighters arrived, the bombers had already unloaded their bombs. However, as the Bf 109 fighters had already left due to low fuel levels, German bombers became easy prey. During the day, 53 German bombers were shot down, as was 21 Bf 109 fighters; the British lost 27 fighters. Overnight, German bombers continued to attack East End, which saw 490 killed and 1,200 wounded on this day. This would mark the first of 57 consecutive nights of German bombings on the British capital.|
|8 Sep 1940||At 1200 hours, 20 German bombers escorted by 30 Bf 109 fighters flew for London, England, United Kingdom, but the group was intercepted by British fighters; 3 German bombers and 1 German fighter were shot down at the cost of 4 British fighters. At 1930 hours, 30 German bombers dropped incendiary bombs on London, causing fires for the purpose of marking target zones for bombers that would arrive during the night. The night time raid saw bombs dropped on East End in London once more; 3 of the German night raiders were shot down by anti-aircraft guns. Meanwhile, the British War Cabinet was convinced that the German invasion of Britain would take place very soon. The warnings passed to local Home Forces commanders led to many church bells across England being rung as some commanders thought the invasion had already started; some of them went as far as blowing up bridges. Finally, on this day, the British government declared the National Day of Prayer.|
|9 Sep 1940||A large German raid crossed the English Channel at 1700 hours and flew toward London, England, United Kingdom in two pincers. Unexpectedly, a British "Big Wing" formation came to intercept, shooting down 29 bombers and 21 Bf 109 fighters and prevented most of the German bombers from reaching London. The British lost 20 fighters (6 pilots killed) in the battle. Overnight, London was heavily bombed.|
|10 Sep 1940||Bad weather restricted the Germans to flying reconnaissance missions only through most of the day. At 1715 hours, 6 small raids approached London, England, United Kingdom; 2 bombers were shot down and all of the rest were turned back by British fighters at the cost of one Spitfire fighter. Also on this date, ocean-going ships were banned from the port of London as these easy targets attracted German attackers. Overnight, the East End section of London was bombed, damaging the Buckingham Palace among others; South Wales, West Midlands, and Liverpool were also attacked during the night.|
|11 Sep 1940||After an entire morning without attacks, 300 German bombers flew across Kent in southern England, United Kingdom and up the Thames Estuary in 2 waves at about 1500 hours. British figthers from No. 11 Group RAF engaged the escorting fighters, while British fighters of No. 12 Group RAF attacked the bombers. Some of those bombers got through and bombed the East End of London. On the same day, Portsmouth and Southampton were also bombed. Off Ramsgate, Kent, destroyers HMS Atherstone and HMS Fernie were attacked in the Strait of Dover, badly damaging HMS Atherstone, which also suffered 6 deaths. Overnight, London and Liverpool were bombed.|
|12 Sep 1940||Bad weather restricted German activity to small reconnaissance flights over Britain during the day. Overnight, 50 bombers attacked London, England, United Kingdom. St. Paul's Cathedral was hit by a bomb which failed to detonate; Royal Engineers Lieutenant R. Davies and Sapper J. Wylie were later awarded the George Cross for defusing this bomb. On this night when two of the German bombers were shot down, London searchlight and anti-aircraft gun crews attempted to improve their coordination.|
|13 Sep 1940||Bad weather restricted the size of German raids, but still a continuous stream of single-bomber raids attacked London and surrounding RAF airfields in England, United Kingdom throughout the day; one of the bombs landed in front of the Buckingham Palace and another in the palace courtyard. Three of the German bombers were shot down during the day. Meanwhile, Royal Navy transferred battleships HMS Nelson and HMS Rodney to Rosyth and battleship HMS Revenge to Plymouth to deter a possible German landing through the next few days during tide conditions favoring landings. Overnight, German bombers attacked London and Cardiff.|
|14 Sep 1940||At 1530 hours, 150 German aircraft crossed the coast for London, England, United Kingdom; another 100 approached at 1800 hours. Most bombers were unable to reach their targets due to British fighter opposition. Overnight, there was little bombing of London.|
|15 Sep 1940||At 1130 hours, 250 German bombers with fighter escort crossed the English Channel, with 100 of them targeting London, England, United Kingdom. At 1430 hours, another 250 bombers arrived in 2 waves, with 70 of them reaching London. At 1600 and 1800 hours, the aircraft factory at Woolston in Southampton, building Spitfire fighters, was bombed, but with little damage. On this day, 56 German aircraft and 29 British aircraft were shot down; 136 German airmen were killed or captured and 12 British pilots were killed. Overnight, the German Luftwaffe conducted heavy bombing raids over Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, London, Manchester, and Southampton.|
|16 Sep 1940||At 0730 hours, more than 100 German Bf 109 fighters made a raid on Kent, England, United Kingdom to draw British fighters, which never rose to meet them. Overnight, German bombers attacked London, Liverpool, Manchester, Coventry, Birmingham, and Bristol.|
|17 Sep 1940||At 1400 hours, German Ju 88 bombers attempted to attack factories in Bristol, England, United Kingdom but were turned back by Spitfire fighters of No. 152 Squadron RAF. At 1530 hours, a formation of converted Bf 109 fighter-bombers attacked Kent; 4 were shot down by British fighters without doing much damage. In Berlin, Adolf Hitler postponed Operation Seelöwe indefinitely, but Hermann Göring was allowed to continue the aerial attacks on Britain. Meanwhile, in London, Winston Churchill announced that 2,000 civilians were killed and 8,000 were wounded during the Blitz thus far. Overnight, more than 350 tons of bombs were dropped on London, South Wales, and Liverpool.|
|18 Sep 1940||70 German Ju 88 bombers escorted by 100 Bf 109 fighters crossed the English Channel at noon and were intercepted by British fighters of No. 11 Group RAF; 60 of the bombers would reach London, England, United Kingdom and drop their bombs. At 1600 hours, 200 bombers in multiple waves attacked targets in Kent in southern England; they were engaged by fighters of No. 11 and No. 12 Groups and suffered 23 bombers and 10 fighters lost, but they were able to shoot down 12 British fighters in exchange. Overnight, London was bombed by several waves of bombers; Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, and other cities were also attacked.|
|19 Sep 1940||Bad weather restricted aerial activity during the day, thus the Germans only launched reconnaissance missions. 5 Ju 88 bombers dispatched on reconnaissance missions were lost, including one that was forced to land at RAF Oakington at 1500 hours due to engine trouble. Overnight, London, England, United Kingdom was bombed several times between 2000 hours and midnight.|
|20 Sep 1940||Three waves of German Bf 109 fighters totaling over 100 aircraft flew across the English Channel for London, England, United Kingdom; they successfully lured out British fighters and shot down 7 of them (killing 4 pilots) at the cost of 2 of their own. Overnight, London was attacked by German bombers.|
|21 Sep 1940||Through out most of the day, the German Luftwaffe only dispatched reconnaissance missions against Britain. The only major raid of the day came at 1800 hours when over 200 aircraft flew toward London, England, United Kingdom; this attack was turned back by British fighters. In London, the British government officially sanctioned the usage of the Tube underground rail stations as air raid shelters, though this usage had already been in place for some time; many stations had already been equipped with first aid stations, food canteens, bunks, and toilets. The Tube tunnel near the Aldwych branch of the Piccadilly Line was reinforced with concrete and was used to store antiques and artifacts from the British Museum such as the Elgin Marbles. Overnight, London and Liverpool were bombed.|
|22 Sep 1940||Bad weather restricted flying on both sides; only 1 German aircraft (Ju 88 bomber on reconnaissance mission shot down near the Isle of Wight, with entire crew captured) and 3 British Hurricane fighters (became lost in fog while on patrol) destroyed during the day. Overnight, London, England, United Kingdom received a heavy bombing from German bombers.|
|23 Sep 1940||Two German raids approached London, England, United Kingdom at 0930 hours and 1730 hours, but few aircraft reached London, turned back by RAF fighters; the Germans lost 10 Bf 109 and 1 Bf 110 fighters, while the British lost 11 fighters. Overnight, German bombers attacked London and Liverpool.|
|24 Sep 1940||At 0830 and then again at 1115 hours, 200 German bombers, escorted by 400 fighters, were launched to attack targets in Kent in southern England, United Kingdom; Portsmouth, Southampton, and the nearby Spitfire fighter factory at Woolston were among the targets. Meanwhile, as the British government announced plans to expand evacuation, 444,000 children had already been evacuated from the London area. The arrival of German bombers on this night marked the 18th consecutive night in which London had been bombed; Liverpool, Dundee, and other cities and towns were also bombed.|
|25 Sep 1940||At 1145 hours, 27 German bombers escorted by 30 fighters attacked the Bristol Aeroplane Company factory at Filton in southwestern England, United Kingdom; construction sheds and 8 newly-built aircraft were destroyed, while 132 were killed and 315 were wounded; the Germans lost 6 aircraft (8 killed, 10 taken prisoner), while the British lost 4 fighters (1 killed). At 1647 hours, 24 German bombers escorted by 12 Bf 110 fighters attacked Plymouth in southern England, losing 1 bomber. Overnight, London and other cities were bombed, while other German bombers laid mines in the Thames Estuary.|
|26 Sep 1940||At 1630 hours, 100 German aircraft attacked Southampton in England, United Kingdom, causing damage to the factory at Woolston producing Spitfire fighters. RAF fighters claimed 16 bombers and 16 fighters shot down, which was likely over-estimated, while losing 10 fighters and 3 pilots. Overnight, London, England was bombed for the 26th consecutive night, while Liverpool and other towns and cities were also attacked.|
|27 Sep 1940||At 0900 hours, 80 German bombers escorted by 100 fighters flew over Kent toward London, England, United Kingdom; most of the bombers were turned back near Maidstone and Tonbridge, but some got through and released their bombs over London. At 1120 hours, 25 bombers escorted by 45 Bf 110 fighters were intercepted before they reached their industrial targets in Bristol. Between 1200 and 1230 hours, 300 German aircraft, mostly fighters, conducted a sweep and engaged in dogfights near London; 20 bombers within this group were able to bomb London. By the end of the day, the Germans lost 21 bombers and 34 fighters while the British lost 27 fighters with 13 pilots killed. Overnight, London, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Birmingham, and Nottingham were bombed.|
|28 Sep 1940||At 1000 hours, over 120 German aircaft crossed the coast of Kent in southern England, United Kingdom in two waves; British fighters intercepted most of them, and only 6 bombers were able to reach London to release their bombs. At 1330 hours, 35 German bombers escorted by 125 fighters attacked targets in Kent; this group was turned back by 1410 hours. At 1415 hours, 60 German aircraft flew toward Portsmouth, southern England from Cherbourg, France; they were intercepted over the English Channel, released their bombs into the water, and returned to base. Although most German missions failed to reach their targets, the kill ratio of the day favored the Germans; 16 British fighters were shot down with 9 pilots killed, while the Germans only lost 6 fighters. Overnight, London was heavily bombed, while Liverpool was also attacked; meanwhile, German aircraft mined the Thames Estuary.|
|29 Sep 1940||At 1600 hours, a large group of German aircraft, mostly fighters, conducted a sweep in Kent in southern England, United Kingdom; this sweep failed to draw British fighters. Overnight, London was heavily bombed, while Liverpool was also attacked.|
|30 Sep 1940||4 German raids, each consisting of 60 to 200 bombers and escorted by large numbers of fighters, crossed into southern England, United Kingdom at 0900, 1000, 1300, and 1600 hours; some got through to London, but some did not drop their bombs as they had little visibility due to low clouds, overshooting their targets as radar operators misread the Knickebein radio beacon signals. Meanwhile, 2 groups of about 100 bombers each attacked cities on the southern coast. On this day, the Germans lost 14 bombers, 28 Bf 109 fighters, and 1 Bf 110 fighter, while the British lost 19 fighters with 8 pilots killed. Today's daylight attacks would represent the last major raids of such type conducted by the Luftwaffe. Overnight, London, Liverpool, and several others cities were bombed; the aircraft factory at Yeovil was attacked but was only lightly damaged as most bombs fell on the town instead.|
|1 Oct 1940||Small raids of 20 to 70 aircraft each attacked RAF airfields in England, United Kingdom; London was not targeted during the day. The Germans lost 4 fighters and the British lost 5 fighters with 4 pilots killed. London was bombed overnight.|
|2 Oct 1940||A German Ju 88 bomber became lost in the darkness during an early-morning reconnaissance mission and landed at Brightlingsea, Essex, England, United Kingdom at 0630 hours and was captured. During the day, the German Luftwaffe launched 6 raids of Bf 109 and Bf 110 fighters and fighter-bombers against London and Kent in southern England; only one of the raids contained bombers. The Germans lost 5 bombers and 5 Bf 109 aircraft, while the British lost 1 fighter without the loss of its pilot. Overnight, London, Manchester, and Newcastle were bombed.|
|3 Oct 1940||London, Worcester, Birmingham, and Wellingborough in England, United Kingdom were attacked by single-bomber raids. The British suffered damage at the De Havilland aircraft factory at Hatfield, while the Germans lost one Ju 88 bomber to ground-based anti-aircraft fire. Overnight, London was the target to several small German raids.|
|4 Oct 1940||In Britain, German bombers attacked Kent in southern England and the area near London, damaging homes, farms, and factories. The Germans lost 2 Ju 88 bombers and the British lost 3 fighters with 1 pilot killed. Overnight, London was bombed between 1900 and 2100 hours.|
|5 Oct 1940||Between 0930 and 1600 hours, 4 German raids of mainly fighters attacked southern England, United Kingdom. At 2035 hours, the Royal Navy base at Portland was bombed. The Germans lost 2 bombers and 20 fighters, while the British lost 9 fighters with 2 pilots killed. Overnight, London suffered a heavy raid which started a large fire at the West India Dock on the River Thames in the East End area of the city.|
|6 Oct 1940||German Bf 109 and Bf 110 fighter-bombers conducted day time raids against British factories and RAF airfields, accompanied by a small number of medium bombers. On this day, the Germans lost one Do 17 bomber and the British lost one fighter with the pilot killed. Overnight, London, England, United Kingdom sustained a small raid.|
|7 Oct 1940||German Luftwaffe dispatched large raids of 50 to 100 aircraft against southern England, United Kingdom, with fighters being 66% to 75% of each wave. On this day, 21 German fighters and 6 bombers were shot down, while the British lost 16 fighters with 6 pilots killed. Overnight, London, Bristol, Liverpool, Firth of Forth, and other locations were bombed.|
|8 Oct 1940||The German Luftwaffe mounted 4 raids of 30 to 160 aircraft consisted mostly of fighter-bombers and fighters, with few medium bombers, against London, England, United Kingdom; various government offices in Whitehall and the Charing Cross Railway Station were damaged by bombs. The Germans lost 1 Bf 109 fighter and 3 bombers; the British lost 4 fighters with all 4 pilots killed. Overnight, London, East Anglia, East Midlands, Portsmouth, and Southampton were bombed, with a serious fire damaging wharves and nearby warehouses.|
|9 Oct 1940||German fighter-bombers dropped bombs in London, Maidstone, Hastings, Falmouth, and other British towns. 3 German fighters and 1 German Ju 88 bomber was shot down, while the British lost 1 fighter with the pilot unhurt. Overnight, London, Liverpool, and Manchester were bombed; St. Paul's Cathedral in London was hit, destroying choir stalls and the High Altar but the building was not structurally damaged.|
|10 Oct 1940||A lone German Do 17 bomber on a reconnaissance mission was caught over RAF Tangmere in England, United Kingdom by British fighters. While attempting to shoot it down, two British fighters collided, killing both pilots. Then, another fighter, piloted by Sergeant Ellis, was damaged by the German bomber's guns, and crash landed The Do 17 bomber sustained heavy damage, but was able to make it back to France, crash landed, and saved all of its photographs. During the day, four German raids of 20 to 100 aircraft were mounted, with bombs dropping on London and other towns. Through the day, the British lost 5 fighters with 3 pilots killed, while shooting down 3 German fighters and 1 Do 17 bomber. Between 1824 and 1844 hours, Dover was struck by 18 shells from German guns at Calais, France. Overnight, London, Manchester, and various airfields were bombed.|
|11 Oct 1940||While small raids of 10 or few aircraft harassed southern England, United Kingdom all day, a number of larger raids, with 25 to 90 aircraft, attacked larger towns. The larger raids were composed mostly of fighters as the Germans continued to try to wear down British fighter strength. On this day, the Germans lost 1 Do 17 bomber and 4 Bf 109 fighters, while the British lost 8 fighters with 3 pilots killed. Overnight, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, and the Tyne and Tees areas were bombed; 3 Do 17 bombers were shot down over Anglesey after attacking Liverpool, at the cost of 1 British fighter.|
|12 Oct 1940||German reconnaissance aircraft scouted England, United Kingdom between 0650 and 0900 hours, and then between 0900 and 1715 hours several raids attacked southern England, many of which reached London. During this day, Germans lost 9 Bf 109 fighters and 1 Ar 95 seaplane over the Dover Strait; the British lost 10 fighters with 4 pilots killed. Overnight, London received light bombing, while Birmingham and Coventry were also attacked.|
|13 Oct 1940||Four raids of 25 to 50 aircraft attacked southern England, United Kingdom between 1230 and 1600 hours, consisted mostly of fighters. The Germans and the British each lost 2 fighters. Overnight, London was bombed from 1900 hours until 0600 hours of the next day; Middlesborough, Hull, Huddersfield, Grantham, Liverpool, and Manchester were also attacked overnight.|
|14 Oct 1940||Poor weather limited German ability to attack southern England, United Kingdom, thus only a few small attacks were launched against coastal areas; no losses were suffered on either side on this day. Overnight, London, Birmingham, Coventry, Liverpool, Blackburn, and Preston were bombed; at 2002 hours, a 1,400-kg armor piercing bomb hit Balham Tube Station in London, causing flood that killed 66 of the about 600 civilians using the station for shelter.|
|15 Oct 1940||The German Luftwaffe launched 5 fighter sweeps toward London and 1 over Southampton, both in England, United Kingdom; the Germans lost 16 fighter and 3 bombers, while the British lost 15 fighters with 6 pilots killed. Overnight, 400 German bombers dropped 530 tons of high explosives on London, killing 400 and wounding 900; Bristol and Birmingham were also attacked.|
|16 Oct 1940||Heavy fog during the day limited operations, thus the day's losses were limited to 1 German aircraft damaged and 1 British Hurricane fighter lost. Overnight, London, Bristol, Liverpool, Birmingham, Perth, and other locations in the United Kingdom were bombed.|
|17 Oct 1940||The German Luftwaffe mounted four raids against southern England, United Kingdom during the day. Meanwhile, at 1530 hours, at the Air Council room at the Air Ministry in London, British fighter commanders including Portal, Douglas, Dowding, Park, Bader, and others gathered to discuss strategy; specifically, Park's approach was attacked by some of the others. Overnight, London, Liverpool, and Birmingham were heavily bombed.|
|18 Oct 1940||Foggy weather limited German ability to attack southern England, United Kingdom, thus only few aerial battles were fought with no losses for either side. Overnight, London was bombed, hitting the Rose and Crown Pub which resulted in 42 killed and 6 injured; Liverpool and Birmingham were also attacked.|
|19 Oct 1940||During the day, a German Ju 88 bomber was shot down near Maidstone, Kent and another near Falmouth, Cornwall in England, United Kingdom. A raid of 60 German fighters and fighter-bombers for London was intercepted by 5 RAF squadrons over Kent at 1430 hours; 2 British fighters were shot down during the battle with 1 pilot killed. Overnight, London, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, and Coventry were bombed.|
|20 Oct 1940||5 raids consisted of German fighters and fighter-bombers flew over Kent in southern England, United Kingdom toward London between 0930 and 1500 hours; the Germans lost 6 Bf 109 fighters and 1 Bf 110 fighter, while the British lost 3 fighters without losing any pilots. Between 1900 hours and 0100 hours of the next day, London, Coventry, and Birmingham were bombed.|
|21 Oct 1940||Between 1100 and 1400 hours, heavy fog limited Germans to small raids against southern England, United Kingdom and kept British fighters on the ground; as the result, bombs were successfully dropped on London, Lancashire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Sussex, and Kent; 1 Ju 88 bomber was lost. Overnight, London, Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Liverpool, and South Wales were bombed.|
|22 Oct 1940||As the heavy fog dissipated in the afternoon, two German fighter sweeps attacked southern England, United Kingdom; 3 German fighters and 6 British fighters were shot down. Overnight, London, Liverpool, and Coventry were bombed; Coventry suffered 150 fires.|
|23 Oct 1940||Germans only mounted small raids against southern England, United Kingdom due to poor weather; no aircraft were shot down on either side during the day. Overnight, light bombing hit London, England and Glasgow, Scotland.|
|24 Oct 1940||During hte day, poor weather restricted German efforts against Britain, limiting missions to that of reconnaissance only; one Do 17 bomber was shot down on such a mission. Overnight, London and Birmingham were bombed.|
|25 Oct 1940||16 Italian BR20M bombers attacked Felixstowe and Harwich in Britain; 1 crashed on take off and 2 crashed on the return flight. Meanwhile, four groups of German Bf 109 fighters swept southern England, United Kingdom, shooting down 10 British fighters while losing 14 of their own. At dusk, German He 111 bombers attacked Montrose airfield in Scotland. Overnight, London, Birmingham, Pembroke, Cardiff, and Liverpool were bombed.|
|26 Oct 1940||The German Luftwaffe conducted the longest night time raid on London, England, United Kingdom to date.|
|27 Oct 1940||5 raids of 50 to 60 German aircraft attacked Britain throughout the day, most of which were German fighter-bombers and medium bombers, but Italians also contributed several BR20M bombers for the attack on Ramsgate, England, United Kingdom; 6 German fighters and 4 bombers were shot down, while the British lost 8 fighters with 4 pilots killed. Overnight, London and Liverpool were bombed.|
|28 Oct 1940||At 1300 and 1430 hours, German fighters conducted sweeps towards the British airfield at Biggin Hill in England, United Kingdom, but were turned back. Between 1630 and 1710 hours, Bf 109 fighter-bombers and Ju 88 bombers attacked various sites in southern England; 2 Bf 109 and Ju 88 aircraft were shot down without any British aircraft losses. Overnight, London and Birmingham were bombed.|
|29 Oct 1940||German bombers conducted several raids in southern England, United Kingdom all day, escorted by Bf 109 fighters, damaging areas of London and Portsmouth. At dusk, German Ju 88 aircraft, acting as dive bombers, attacked airfields in East Anglia, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire. Italian BR20M bombers bombed Ramsgate in formation. During the day, the Germans lost 22 Bf 109 fighters, 3 Bf 110 fighters, and 2 Do 17 bombers; the British lost 7 fighters with 2 pilots killed; the Italians lost 5 bombers. Overnight, London, Birmingham, and Coventry were bombed.|
|30 Oct 1940||The German Luftwaffe launched two raids over southern England, United Kingdom at 1130 and 1540 hours; the Germans lost 8 Bf 109 fighters and 1 He 111 bomber, while the British lost 5 fighters with 4 pilots killed. London was bombed overnight.|
|31 Oct 1940||According to a British Air Ministry pamphlet published in 1941, this date was the official end of the Battle of Britain, but bombings on London, England, United Kingdom would continue.|
|1 Nov 1940||German bombers attacked British shipping in the Thames Estuary in southern England, United Kingdom, sinking Letchworth (1 killed), sinking minesweeping trawler HMT Tilbury Ness (10 killed), and heavily damaging sloop HMS Pintail (10 killed, 3 wounded); one German bomber was shot down by the anti-aircraft ship Royal Eagle. On the same day, a force of around ten Italian BR.20 bombers escorted by forty CR.42 fighters set off to attack the docks at Harwich, England; eight of the bombers were claimed as destroyed by the RAF, which contributed to the Italian decision to withdraw from the Battle of Britain in the next few weeks.|
|3 Nov 1940||The British capital of London experienced the first night in 57 nights without seeing any bombing.|
|11 Nov 1940||At 1330 hours, British radar at Essex, England picked up incoming aircraft, which turned out to be 12 Italian BR.20M bombers and 12 CR.42 biplane fighters heading for Harwich. Hurricane fighters from No. 257, No. 46, and No. 17 Squadrons RAF were launched to intercept over the Thames Estuary, shooting down 3 bombers and 3 fighters, while damaging 2 bombers, without incurring any losses. Winston Churchill would later quip that the Italian aircraft "might have found better employment defending the fleet at Taranto", referring to the successful British raid to take place later on the same day.|
|12 Nov 1940||A captured German airman warned of a planned bombing against the British city of Coventry; British intelligence officers thought the airman was fed incorrect information in case he was captured, and the actual target would be London. On 14 Nov, a massive raid on Coventry by 440 German bombers killed 568, injured 863, and destroyed the city's 14th century cathedral.|
|14 Nov 1940||A massive night time raid on Coventry, England by 437 German He 111 bombers, dubbed Operation Moonlight Sonata, killed 568, injured 863, and destroyed 60,000 buildings (including the city's 14th Century cathedral) with 450 tons of high explosive bombs, 50 parachute bombs, and 36,000 incendiary bombs. Only one German bomber was shot down by anti-aircraft fire. British intelligence officers received this information two days prior from a captured German airman, but they incorrectly thought the information was meant for deceit and the actual target would be London.|
|19 Nov 1940||357 German aircraft bombed Birmingham, England, United Kingdom overnight, dropping 403 tons of high explosive bombs and 810 incendiary bombs. About 900 were killed and 2,000 injured.|
|20 Nov 1940||116 German bombers dropped 132 tons of high explosive bombs and 296 incendiary bombs on Birmingham, England, United Kingdom overnight.|
|21 Nov 1940||A German aircraft bombed the British Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom, damaging the diplomatic section, the telephone exchange, and the typists room. There were no casualties. The attack was almost certainly accidental, as the Germans did not know of the importance of this site.|
|23 Nov 1940||German bombers attacked Southampton, England, United Kingdom overnight, damaging British troopship Llandovery Castle and paddle minesweeper Duchess Of Cornwall.|
|24 Nov 1940||German bombers dropped 156 tons of high explosive bombs and 12,500 incendiary bombs on Bristol, England, United Kingdom. Historical buildings such as the Dutch House and St Peter's Hospital, and various buildings in the historical Castle Park district, were damaged. 207 were killed, 689 were injured, and 1,400 were made homeless.|
|28 Nov 1940||German Luftwaffe bombers attacked Liverpool, England, United Kingdom overnight. A parachute mine hit Edge Hill Training College on Durning Road, the site of a large underground shelter; the blast, boiling water from a damaged boiler, and gas from damaged pipes killed 166 of the about 300 civilians taking shelter there. 96 were seriously injured.|
|2 Dec 1940||Overnight, German bombers bombed Britstol, England, United Kingdom.|
|3 Dec 1940||51 German aircraft bombed Birmingham, England, United Kingdom, dropping 55 tons of high explosive bombs and 448 incendiary bombs.|
|4 Dec 1940||62 German bombers dropped 77 tons of high explosive bombs and 184 incendiary bombs on Birmingham, England, United Kingdom.|
|6 Dec 1940||German bombers attacked Bristol, England, United Kingdom overnight.|
|11 Dec 1940||278 German aircraft attacked Birmingham, England, United Kingdom, dropping 277 tons of high explosives and 685 incendiary bombs.|
|20 Dec 1940||Liverpool, England, United Kingdom was bombed by the Luftwaffe. 42 were killed when two official shelters collapsed, 72 were killed when bombs destroyed a shelter in the Blackstock Gardens tenement, and a further 42 were killed when an unofficial shelter at Bentinck Street under railway arches was hit.|
|21 Dec 1940||Luftwaffe bombers struck Liverpool, England, United Kingdom overnight.|
|22 Dec 1940||270 Luftwaffe bombers attacked Manchester, England, United Kingdom, dropping 272 tons of high explosive bombs and 1,032 incendiary bombs; the Piccadilly area was engulfed in large fires, while the Gibsons shelter at the Hulme Town Hall collapsed without any deaths. During the same night, Liverpool was bombed for the third night in a row.|
|23 Dec 1940||British Lord Haw Haw warned of a second night of bombing for Manchester, England, United Kingdom. Overnight, from 1915 until 0129 hours the next day, 171 German aircraft attacked the still-burning Manchester with 195 tons of high explosive bombs and 893 incendiary bombs. In two nights, 363 civilians were killed and 1,183 were wounded.|
|28 Dec 1940||German bombers attacked two destroyers under construction at Southampton, England, United Kingdom; future destroyer Norseman was blown in half, and future destroyer Opportune was also heavily damaged.|
|29 Dec 1940||244 German Luftwaffe bombers dropped 30,000 incendaries on the historic city center of London, England, United Kingdom, destroying the London Guildhall and eight Wren churches. St. Paul's Cathedral, however, was saved by clergymen who successfully prevented the flames on the roof from spreading. In the aftermath the Government ordered that "fire-watchers" be stationed on all factories, offices, and shops to act as spotters to provide early warning. This order proved to be very unpopular with Trade Unions.|
|3 Jan 1941||German bombers attacked Bristol, England, United Kingdom overnight for 12 hours, targeting the docks and the railway station. 149 were killed and 351 were wounded. The granary on Princes Wharf was destroyed, along with most of the 8,000 tons of grain inside.|
|10 Jan 1941||300 German bombers attacked Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom overnight, killing 171 and wounding 430. The Guildhall was heavily damaged and would remain closed until 1959.|
|19 Jan 1941||German Luftwaffe aircraft bombed RAF Feltwell in England, United Kingdom.|
|19 Feb 1941||German bombers began a three-day campaign against the port city of Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom.|
|20 Feb 1941||German Luftwaffe bombed Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom for the second consecutive night.|
|21 Feb 1941||Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom was attacked for the third consecutive and final day as bombers flew over the port city from 1950 hours until after midnight. Over the course of the three days, 35,000 incendiary bombs and 800 high explosive bombs were dropped on Swansea, killing 230 and wounding 409, but the strategically important docks and nearby oil refineries were relatively unaffected.|
|9 Mar 1941||German aircraft bombed London, England, United Kingdom overnight, damaging Buckingham Palace and destroying the underground nightclub Café De Paris; 80 patrons were killed at the latter.|
|10 Mar 1941||German bombers attacked Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom overnight, killing 10 people on shore, sinking minesweeping trawler HMT Revello (killing 1) and damaging destroyer HMS Sherwood, destroyer HMS Witherington, destroyer HMS Tynedale, training ship HMS Marshal Soult, and 4 minesweeping trawlers.|
|11 Mar 1941||135 German aircraft dropped 122 tons of high explosive bombs and 830 incendiary bombs on Birmingham, England, United Kingdom.|
|12 Mar 1941||German bombers attacked Merseyside (containing the city of Liverpool), England, United Kingdom. 8 merchant ships were sunk, one floating crane was destroyed, and 174 people were killed in the town of Wallasey.|
|13 Mar 1941||236 German bombers attacked Glasgow and Clydeside, Scotland, United Kingdom for the first time, targeting munitions factories and docks, sinking 3 cargo ships and damaging 2 destroyers. To the south, German bombers attacked Liverpool for the second night in a row, pushing total casualty to about 500.|
|14 Mar 1941||203 German bombers bombed Glasgow and Clydebank, Scotland, United Kingdom for the second night in a row, damaging shipyards and the Rolls Royce aircraft engine factory.|
|16 Mar 1941||162 German bombers attacked Bristol, England, United Kingdom overnight, targeting the docks at Avonmouth and the city center; 257 were killed, 391 were wounded.|
|19 Mar 1941||370 German Luftwaffe aircraft bombed London, England, United Kingdom, killing 750. Several freighters and auxiliary anti-aircraft ship Helvellyn were sunk or damaged in London docks.|
|20 Mar 1941||King George and Queen Elizabeth visited Plymouth, England, United Kingdom where they took tea with Lady Nancy Astor, the first woman to take a seat in the commons. The local people took the Royal visit as a "gala day" with bands and dancing on the Hoe, but no sooner had the Royal party departed 125 German bombers appeared overhead causing great damage to the docks (sinking British tug HMS Sir Bevois (9 killed), tug HMS Elan, and transport Mari II) and city centre.|
|3 Apr 1941||German aircraft conducted a heavy raid on Bristol, England during the night.|
|8 Apr 1941||German bombers conducted a raid on Coventry, England, United Kingdom.|
|9 Apr 1941||237 German bombers conducted a raid on Birmingham, England, United Kingdom, dropping 285 tons of high explosive bombs and 1,110 incendiary bombs.|
|10 Apr 1941||206 Luftwaffe aircraft attacked Birmingham, England, United Kingdom, dropping 246 tons of high explosive bombs and 1,183 incendiary bombs.|
|11 Apr 1941||153 Luftwaffe aircraft bombed Bristol, England, United Kingdom; it was nicknamed the "Good Friday Raid". The city's docks, St Philip's Bridge, and residential areas were damaged. The city tramways power supply line was destroyed by the bomb that hit St Philip's Bridge; it was decided that the damage was too severe to repair and all the tram cars were soon to be scrapped for the war effort; none of the tram cars were preserved for historical purposes.|
|15 Apr 1941||Starting at 2300 hours, a heavy German air raid by 200 Luftwaffe bombers attacked Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. The attack would last until 0500 hours on the next day.|
|16 Apr 1941||At 0500 hours, the German air raid on Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom which began at 2300 hours on the previous date ended; the 203 tons of high explosive bombs, 80 parachute mines, and 800 incendiary bombs dropped killed 758, wounded 1,500, and destroyed 56,000 homes; 100,000 residents were made homeless. At the end of the day and into the next day, 681 German aircraft bombed London, England, United Kingdom.|
|17 Apr 1941||The bombing of London, England, United Kingdom which began on the previous date ended before dawn. 1,179 were killed.|
|19 Apr 1941||712 German bombers conducted a heavy raid on London, England, United Kingdom starting in the evening hours. Although the primary target was the London docks, the Old Place School in Poplar, East London, which was being used as a sub-fire station, was struck by a stray bomb, killing 13 London firefighters of both genders and 21 male Beckenham firemen; it was the largest single loss of firefighters in British history. The bombing continued past midnight.|
|20 Apr 1941||The bombing of London, England, United Kingdom which began on the previous date ended before dawn; 449 were killed. Via a speech made in Ireland, Irish Prime Minister Eamon De Valera protested the German bombing of Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom; "they are our people", he said, "we are one and the same people, and their sorrows in the present instance are also our sorrows".|
|21 Apr 1941||Starting after sundown and lasting until the next day, German bombers attacked Plymouth, England, United Kingdom, damaging cruiser HMS Kent, destroyer HMS Lewes, and destroyer HMS Leeds.|
|23 Apr 1941||German bombers attacked Plymouth, England, United Kingdom.|
|29 Apr 1941||Overnight, German bombers attacked Plymouth, England, United Kingdom, damaging cruiser HMS Trinidad and sinking auxiliary patrol vessel Pessac.|
|1 May 1941||At 2215 hours, German bombers began attacking Liverpool, England, United Kingdom; it was to be the first of seven consecutive nightly bombings on the city.|
|2 May 1941||After sundown, German bombers attacked Liverpool, England, United Kingdom for the second consecutive night.|
|4 May 1941||The German bombing on Liverpool, England, United Kingdom that began on the previous date ended before dawn on this date, killing 850 people and destroying ammunition ship Malakand in the harbor.|
|5 May 1941||In the United Kingdom, German aircraft bombed naval facilities at Belfast in Northern Ireland (carrier HMS Furious, seaplane tender HMS Pegasus, destroyer HMS Volunteer, and corvettes HMS Bryony, HMS Buttercup, and HMS La Malouine suffered minor damage), Liverpool in England (bombed consecutively since 1 May 1941), and the Clyde Estuary in Scotland (HMS Marksman, submarine HMS Traveller, and submarine HMS Trooper suffered damage).|
|7 May 1941||German aircraft conducted the first of the two consecutive nightly raids on Hull, England, United Kingdom. Meanwhile, Liverpool, England was bombed for the seventh (and final) consecutive night, damaging destroyer HMS Hurricane; by this time, 75% of Liverpool's port capacity had been destroyed.|
|8 May 1941||German aircraft conducted the last of the two consecutive nightly raids on Hull, England.|
|9 May 1941||At RAF Waddington in Waddington, Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom, a direct hit by a German bomb on the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) station and a nearby air-raid shelter killed three airmen and seven women who worked in the NAAFI, including Mrs. Raven, the manageress.|
|10 May 1941||German bombers mounted what would turn out to be the last major raid on London, England, United Kingdom. Low tide on the River Thames made firefighting difficult as it was harder to draw water, thus fires caused more damage than usual. The Houses of Parliament were among the buildings damaged during this night.|
|11 May 1941||John Colville, secretary to Winston Churchill, observed great fires burning on the southern shore of River Thames in London, England, United Kingdom, result of the previous night's bombing. During the day, German Luftwaffe aircraft bombed RAF Feltwell in England.|
|16 May 1941||German bombers conducted what would turn out to be the last major raid against London, England, United Kingdom, as most Luftwaffe units were being transferred to the Eastern Front.|
|31 May 1941||Before dawn, German bombers attacked Merseyside, England, United Kingdom in the early hours of the day.|
|1 Jun 1941||Before dawn, German bombers attacked Merseyside, England, United Kingdom in the early hours of the day.|
|2 Jun 1941||Before dawn, German bombers attacked Manchester and Salford in England, United Kingdom in the early hours of the day; 70 were killed and 86 were seriously injured.|
|3 Jun 1941||Before dawn, German bombers attacked Hull and Tweedmouth in England, United Kingdom in the early hours of the day.|
|4 Jun 1941||The British Home Security Situation Report noted that, for the week ending at 0600 hours on 4 Jun 1941, about 178 were killed by German bombing in Britain, and 185 were seriously injured.|
|5 Jun 1941||Before dawn, German bombers attacked Birmingham, England, United Kingdom in the early hours of the day; the bombs mostly missed their targets and fell outside the city.|
|21 Jun 1941||After dark, German bombers bombed Southampton, England, United Kingdom and dropped many naval mines in surrounding waters. The bombing caused a leak in the King George V Dry Dock, and demolished the down-line platform of the Southern Railway Central Station, blocking much rail traffic.|
|23 Jun 1941||The Southern Railway Central Station in London, England, United Kingdom, damaged by German bombing over the night of 21 to 22 Jun 1941, was cleared of debris and returned to full operational status.|
|25 Jun 1941||During the day, a report was released that, for the week ending at 0600 hours on 25 Jun 1941, about 39 people were killed and 116 were seriously injured in Britain due to German bombing; none of the casualties were from London, England, United Kingdom. After dark, German bombers bombed Southampton, England, United Kingdom and dropped many naval mines in surrounding waters.|
|3 Jul 1941||The only daylight bombing on Britain during the week of 2 Jul to 9 Jul occurred on this date at Land's End in southwestern England, United Kingdom; the German aircraft dropped bombs but they failed to explode.|
|6 Jul 1941||After sundown, German bombers conducted a light attack on Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom.|
|7 Jul 1941||After sundown, German bombers attacked Southampton, England, United Kingdom.|
|8 Jul 1941||After sundown, German bombers conducted a light attack on Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom.|
|9 Jul 1941||A British report noted that, for the week ending at 0600 hours on 9 Jul 1941, an estimated 78 people were killed by German bombing while an estimated 67 people had been seriously injured.|
|17 Jul 1941||After sundown, German bombers attacked Hull, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom. 160 fires displaced 3,500 people and several factories were damaged. 111 were killed and 108 were seriously injured.|
|2 Oct 1941||After sundown, in England, United Kingdom, German bombers attacked the Tyneside and Tees-side areas in northern England (50 were killed, 250 buildings were destroyed, shipbuilding and repairing facilities at South Shields severely damaged) and Dover area in southeastern England (10 killed).|
|12 Oct 1941||After dark, German bombers attacked Manchester, Clayton, Denton, and Oldham in England, United Kingdom, causing generally light damage. 23 were killed at Oldham.|
|15 Oct 1941||British authorities reported that, in the week ending at 0600 hours on 15 Oct 1941, an estimated 61 people were killed and 69 seriously injured by German bombing.|
|10 Jan 1942||After sundown, German bombers attacked several cities and towns in England, United Kingdom; oil pipelines were damaged at Ellesmere Port in western England while utility services were interrupted in Liverpool just to the north.|
|13 Jan 1942||German bombers attacked Lowestoft, Suffolk and Redcar, Yorkshire in England, United Kingdom during daylight hours; minor attacks were also conducted over Aberdeenshire, Scotland and the Shetland Islands.|
|14 Jan 1942||The British government reported that, for the week ending at 0600 hours on 14 Jan 1942, 85 civilians were killed by German bombing while a further 59 were injured. 63 of the deaths occurred at Lowestoft, 12 at Liverpool in England, and 10 at Redcar.|
|2 Apr 1942||German bombers attacked Dover and Weymouth, England, United Kingdom.|
|9 Apr 1942||German bombers attacked Worthing in southern England, United Kingdom during the day, damaging a hospital and a gasometer and killing 2.|
|13 Apr 1942||German bombers attacked Portland and Weymouth, England, United Kingdom during the day, damaging a number of homes. After dark, German bombers attacked Grimsby on the eastern coast of England, lasting until the next date.|
|14 Apr 1942||The German bombing on Grimsby, England, United Kingdom that began before midnight on the previous date ended; it killed 13, injured 28, and destroyed a number of homes.|
|15 Apr 1942||German bombers attacked Middlesbrough in northeastern England, United Kingdom after dark, lasting until the next date.|
|16 Apr 1942||The German bombing on Middlesbrough, England, United Kingdom that began before midnight on the previous date ended; it injured 52, damaged some roads and homes, and caused interruptions to public utility services. During the day, the weekly Home Security Situation Report was filed, noting that for the week ending at 0600 hours on 15 Apr 1942, 20 were killed and 33 were seriously injured due to German bombing.|
|17 Apr 1942||German bombers attacked Southampton, England, United Kingdom.|
|23 Apr 1942||Luftwaffe began attacking "cathedral cities" in Britain, starting with Exeter, England, United Kingdom.|
|24 Apr 1942||Luftwaffe aircraft conducted a raid on Exeter, England.|
|25 Apr 1942||Luftwaffe aircraft conducted a raid on Bath, England, United Kingdom.|
|26 Apr 1942||Luftwaffe bombers conducted a raid on Bath, England.|
|27 Apr 1942||Luftwaffe aircraft conducted a raid on Norwich, England, United Kingdom.|
|28 Apr 1942||The historic Guildhall in York, England, United Kingdom was destroyed by fire started by a German air raid on the city.|
|29 Apr 1942||German bombers attacked Norwich, England, United Kingdom.|
|30 Apr 1942||German bombers attacked Norwich, England, United Kingdom for the second consecutive day.|
|3 May 1942||90 German bombers attacked Exeter, England, United Kingdom.|
|8 May 1942||German bombers attacked Norwich, England, United Kingdom.|
|19 May 1942||German bombers attacked Hull, England, United Kingdom.|
|24 May 1942||German bombers attacked the Royal Navy seaplane training center at Poole in southern England, United Kingdom.|
|29 May 1942||German bombers attacked Grimsby, England, United Kingdom.|
|31 May 1942||German bombers attacked Canterbury, England, United Kingdom.|
|2 Jun 1942||German bombers attacked Canterbury, England, United Kingdom.|
|3 Jun 1942||German bombers attacked Poole, England, United Kingdom.|
|6 Jun 1942||German bombers attacked Canterbury, England, United Kingdom.|
|21 Jun 1942||50 German Luftwaffe aircraft conducted a raid on Southampton, England, United Kingdom.|
|24 Jun 1942||Luftwaffe aircraft conducted a raid on Birmingham, England.|
|26 Jun 1942||German bombers attacked Norwich, England, United Kingdom.|
|28 Jun 1942||German bombers attacked Weston-super-Mare in southwestern England, United Kingdom, killing 102 and wounding 400; German intelligence had incorrectly determined that Winston Churchill was at Weston-super-Mare this night.|
|25 Jul 1942||German bombers attacked Middlesbrough, England, United Kingdom, damaging buildings in the city center.|
|27 Jul 1942||Before dawn, German bombers attacked Birmingham, England, United Kingdom. After daybreak, a single German bomber attacked Manchester, England, killing 3 and wounding 7 in the Palmerston Street-Hillkirk Street-Russell Street area.|
|31 Jul 1942||German bombers attacked Hull, England, United Kingdom with 46 tons of bombs between 0215 hours and 0325 hours, damaging Victoria Dock facilities and destroying several homes on Grindell Street.|
|3 Aug 1942||A German Do 217 medium bomber attacked Middlesbrough, England, United Kingdom at 1308 hours, damaging the railway station, killing 8 civilians, and wounding 56.|
|20 Aug 1942||German bombers attacked Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom.|
|27 Aug 1942||German bombers attacked Leeds, England, United Kingdom in the late hours of the day, lasting until the next day.|
|28 Aug 1942||German bombers attacked Bristol, England, United Kingdom; 2 buses were hit by bombs in the center of the city, killing 44. Elsewhere, St Ives in England and Cardiff in Wales were also attacked.|
|29 Aug 1942||Before dawn, German bombers attacked the village of Blackhall Colliery in County Durham, England, United Kingdom. On the same day, Swindon and Brighton were also attacked.|
|1 Sep 1942||German bombers attacked Lydd in southeastern England, United Kingdom. After sundown and lasting until the next date, Doncaster was attacked.|
|2 Sep 1942||German bombers attacked Teignmouth, England, United Kingdom. In London, England, the British War Cabinet received the Home Security Situation Report for the week, which noted that in the week ending at 0600 hours on 2 Sep 1942, 92 British civilians were killed by German bombing while a further 91 were seriously wounded.|
|24 Sep 1942||German bombers attacked Hastings, England, United Kingdom; 19 were killed, 17 were seriously injured. Seaford in southeastern England was also attacked.|
|25 Sep 1942||After sundown, German aircraft attacked Penzance, southwestern England, United Kingdom.|
|28 Sep 1942||German bombers attacked Colchester and Broadstairs, England, United Kingdom.|
|29 Sep 1942||A lone German bomber attacked the rural town of Petworth in Sussex County, England, United Kingdom in the morning, destroying a boys' school; 23 were killed (20 of whom were children), 30 were seriously injured (24 of whom were children). Somerton, Somerset County; Shrewton, Wiltshire County; and Betteshanger Collthbourne, Kent County were also attacked.|
|30 Sep 1942||German bombers attacked Lancing and Colchester, England, United Kingdom.|
|20 Jan 1943||German fighter-bombers made a surprise daylight attack on London, England, United Kingdom during which bombs were dropped on a school in Lewisham killing 39 children and five teachers.|
|3 Mar 1943||British anti-aircraft gunners used a new rocket projectile for the first time during an air raid on London, England, United Kingdom. Civilians descending into a new tube station at Bethnal Green to take cover became panicked by the unfamiliar sound and, believing they were being bombed, stampeded down the stairs. In the crush someone stumbled causing others to fall. Those behind, not being able to see what was happening below continued to press forward, and soon 300 bodies were piled up. Tragically 173 people were crushed to death or suffocated. For the sake of public morale, news of the tragedy was suppressed for another two years.|
|17 Mar 1943||90 Luftwaffe bombers attacked Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom.|
|3 Apr 1943||German Fw 190 fighters strafed Eastbourne, England, United Kingdom.|
|16 Apr 1943||The first night fighter attack on London, England, United Kingdom, carried out by thirty Focke-Wulf 190 aircraft, turned into a farce. Only two bombs hit the city, and four German pilots got lost, thought that they were over France and landed at West Malling RAF fighter base in Kent where three were taken prisoner and one was killed crash-landing.|
|12 Jun 1943||Luftwaffe aircraft conducted a night raid on Plymouth, England, United Kingdom.|
|15 Aug 1943||The German Luftwaffe mounted the heaviest raid on Plymouth, England, United Kingdom in two years with 91 aircraft.|
|21 Jan 1944||90 German bombers attacked southern British cities.|
|29 Jan 1944||Luftwaffe bombers attacked London, England, United Kingdom.|
|5 Feb 1944||The German Naval High Command temporarily halted preparations for Operation Sealion, seeing that at this stage of the war an invasion of Britain was not likely to happen.|
|18 Feb 1944||The German Luftwaffe's "Little Blitz" continued as London, England, United Kingdom was bombed again.|
|24 Mar 1944||90 German bombers attacked London, England, United Kingdom.|
|24 Dec 1944||Fifty German Heinkel bombers air-launched V1 flying bombs from off the eastern coast of Britain targeting the Manchester area. Most fell harmlessly all over the north of England but a handful came down in the Oldham area, killing 42 and injuring more than 100.|
|10 Apr 1945||A reconnaissance flight over Scotland, United Kingdom by an Arado jet was the last operational sortie over Britain by a Luftwaffe aircraft.|
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