Britain is a country that has been shaped by turmoil and several significant events that have taken place in the nation's history. While some of the events have also had significant impact on other countries, Britain has mainly been shaped by events that have occurred within the country. Generally, British history is characterized by a variety of individuals occupying a wide range of regions. In some cases, the country has experienced intermittent periods of collaboration and rivalry between people occupying various parts of the United Kingdom. Some of the major events in British history that have dramatically influenced the United Kingdom, the British society, and Britain's international presence include the Battle of Britain, The Colonial Empire, and Defeat of the Spanish Armada.
The Battle of Britain:
The prelude to the Battle of Britain was characterized by little time between the Fall of France and the beginning of this war for RAF to reorganize and recoup (Wilson, 1995, p.2). This battle has usually provoked a certain fascination for both historians and aviation enthusiasts since it was a fighter-versus-fighter combat. Moreover the battle of Britain is considered as eventual aerial dispute of the 20th Century that happened over the skies of southern England in the long and hot summer of 1940. During the battle, the fate of the free world was effectively dependent on the shoulders of various thousand aviators flying with RAF Fighter Command in straight defense of the British Isles. The opponents of this command were war-hardened Luftwaffe whose main aim was to neutralize Britain aerial defenses to pave way for the launch of seaborne invasion across the Channel from France (Holmes, 2007, p.4).
The battle of Britain began on July 10, 1940 in the airspace over the United Kingdom during the Second World War. During this period, the Second World War had emerged in Europe and Adolf Hitler was ready and determined to conquer England. As a result, the major combatants in this Battle were the United Kingdom and Germany, whose plan was to be rolled out in various phases. Notably, the Battle of Britain was a prelude to a planned attack on England as the Germans assaulted British shipping, radar stations, and coastal defenses. In the Battle of Britain, the German Luftwaffe was commanded by Hermaan Goring while the Royal Air Force of Britain was commanded by Sir Hugh Dowding's Fighter Command. As previously mentioned, the main aim of the battle was the German plan to gain superiority over the English Channel and Southern Britain through the destruction of the British Royal Air Force and the aircraft industry ("World War 2 -- Battle of Britain," n.d.).
Britain stood alone in this war because Germany had defeated Belgium, northern France, and the Netherlands before the war. Moreover, British lone stance was also fueled by the fact that the Soviet Union and the United States were still characterized by hesitant isolationism. As he turned his focus on British Isles, Adolf Hitler directed a force of more than 1,200 fighters and 1,350 bombers first against airfields, shipping, and towns.
In the Battle of Britain, the Royal Air Force (RAF) had a significant advantage against attacks launched from the hugely differentiated airfields. As a result, Britain benefited from interior lines as described by strategists in addition to the country's system of radar guidance and tracking. Secondly, RAF had the comfort of fighting over familiar territory that enabled pilots who parachuted or crash-landed from the aircrafts to return to battle. Thirdly, British advantages were enhanced by the fact that German forces i.e. Luftwaffe had not adopted a concept of strategic bombing. These advantages were regardless of the fact that Britain had insufficient civil-defense and anti-aircraft preparations at the beginning of the war.
Feltus (n.d.) states that German forces could have won the Battle of Britain easily but had too many errors and disadvantages. First, Luftwaffe was not equipped or trained for the long-range operations, which characterized this battle. The forces were unsuitable for the new campaign in the war because their tactics were mainly based on the concept of close air support for ground forces. Secondly, the tactical advantage that Luftwaffe had established in previous disputes was annulled after the fighter aircraft was ordered to offer close escort to the German bomber formations. The bomber formations were later identified at the extreme cost of the German fighters that they were unable to defend themselves.
At the start of the battle, Britain was rapidly losing experienced pilots since the Luftwaffe attacked shipping in the English Channel and carried out restricted bombings against RAF bases. The initial German attack was followed by Operation Sea Lion, which originated from Hitler's further directive to intensify air and sea warfare against Britain. Operation Sea Lion officially commenced on August 8, 1940 in attempts to capture airfields and destroy radar stations. While Aldertdag, which was initially planned for August 10, was delayed due to bad weather, it was launched on August 13. As the Luftwaffe flew 1,485 sorties, it lost 39 airplanes whereas Britain lost 15 airplanes. In the process, the Luftwaffe also knocked out several radar stations that contributed to the shutting off the eyes of Fighter Command. Despite of the quick repair of the Fighter Command, the German fighters remained on the edge for several days later.
The British Royal Air Force was rescued by a simple and costly mistake by the German Luftwaffe. As a result, Royal Air Force of Britain accomplished a significant and decisive victory over the German fighters ("Battle of the Britain Facts," n.d.). This was despite of the fact that commander of the German Luftwaffe had assured Adolf Hitler that Britain could be conquered by air power alone. Generally, this battle was classified into four stages with each of the stages having different tactics and outcomes. The first stage was between July 10 and August 12, 1940 involving the focus on reconnaissance missions for larger future attacks by Luftwaffe. The second phase involved the attempt by the German fighters to destroy RAF planes in the air and on the ground between August 13 and September 6, 1940. The third stage is commonly known as The London Blitz that took place between September 7 and October 5, 1940 and involved large scale bombing attacks against major cities like London (Rickard, 2008). The final phase was a continuation of the heavy attacks on major cities though they were less frequent because of flying difficulties due to winter between October 6 and October 31, 1940.
Impact of the Battle on British Society and Britain's International Presence:
Similar to other major events, the Battle of Britain had huge impact on the British society and Britain's international presence. While the actual date or period when the Battle of Britain ended is still uncertain, its end had considerable effects and impacts on the United Kingdom. Some of the effects of this dispute include & #8230;
As evident in Churchill's mythologisation of the few, British win in the Battle of Britain reflected its superiority since it contributed to the general belief that the nation was a superior breed to Germany (Bungay, 2010, p.251). Even though the key to the difference in military performance was not in pilots, British superiority in the war was attributed to effective leadership. This was a major impact of the event on British society since the Royal Air Force outclassed German Luftwaffe because of effective leadership. Actually, the win is attributed to several contributors who were both combatants and non-combatants with collective responsibilities. These main contributors include one general, three engineers, three airmen, two scientists, and one politician. This was a clear reflection of the fact that the British could gather people from diverse sectors to provide effective leadership, especially in defense of Britain's homeland.
Lack of German Dominance:
From the international front, the outcome of the Battle of Britain showed that Germany did not dominate or conquer Europe. This contributed to a changed perspective on Britain and Germany's previous victories in conflicts. Prior to this dispute, Germany had been involved in various battles across Europe, which it dominated. However, their defeat in this battle ensured that they were not considered as the dominant nation across Europe. Consequently, Britain was now considered as a superior nation across Europe because of its victory in the Battle of Britain. Furthermore, the outcome of the battle also demonstrated that Britain was not completely under German control.
Germany had become a predominant power in Europe by spring of 1940 before the beginning of the Battle of Britain (Lund, 1996). Actually, one of the major reasons for Germans involvement in the battle was to increase its dominance in the continent through the destruction of British air power. The Luftwaffe had grown to become with over 3000 combat aircraft and approximately one-half million men. If Germany could have won the battle, it could have increased her continental dominance and had negative impacts on Britain's global presence.