Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so fewWinston Churchill
The Battle of Britain was one of the most important Allied victories of the Second World War. The German air force (Luftwaffe) had been at the front of every attack the Nazis had made on their neighbouring countries, starting with the military attack on Poland in September 1939.
The Luftwaffe would attack all the key defences of a country, including the airfields, clearing the way for the ground troops (the army) to invade. The idea was that the country being attacked would not be able to stop the invasion, as its air force would have been destroyed and its military bases damaged.
The battle plan had been successful for the Nazis when they attacked Poland, but was also very effective when they attacked Luxemburg, Belgium, the Netherlands and France in May to June 1940.
It took the Germans just six weeks to take the four countries. By late June 1940, it was obvious that the last country the Germans needed to defeat to achieve their conquest of Western Europe was Britain.
For the Germans, it was essential that they destroyed Britain’s defences on its southern and eastern coasts before an attack was mounted across the English Channel. At the end of June 1940, German aircraft began flying across to Britain, carrying out reconnaissance and limited attacks. This was all in preparation for the main attack to begin.