Skies on Fire

The Battle of Britain was a series of aerial conflicts over Britain from July-September 1940. The German Luftwaffe was tasked with establishing aerial supremacy over Great Britain in preparation for a naval invasion. Adolf Hitler had assumed the British would surrender after their complete evacuation from the European mainland and the capitulation of France. As such, the German army and navy had no plans or preparations for a naval invasion. Only Hermann Göring, Air Marshal of the German Luftwaffe, expressed confidence in attacking Great Britain. With Winston Churchill unwilling to capitulate to German rule of the mainland, it was eventually clear to Hitler that an invasion of Great Britain was necessary to bring hostilities to an end. The only hope for the Germans was to control the air and suppress the British Royal Navy while their troops crossed the channel. As such, the German air force was tasked with suppressing the British Royal Air Force (RAF) to provide safe passage for a vulnerable landing attempt against the superior Royal Navy.

However, things would not go according to plan for the Germans. The British had superior fighter craft and the German attacks were ineffective at thinning out the RAF. Significant casualties were inflicted on the British population as the Germans tried to deteriorate the will of the British people to continue resisting. However, this came at a high cost to German fighters and bombers, resulting in a net loss of equipment. German aircraft were shot down faster than they could be replaced. Unable to reliably down British aircraft, and unable to bomb the population into submission, Hitler eventually called off plans for an invasion of Great Britain and turned instead to invading the Soviet Union. After months of responding to near-constant bombing raids, the RAF outlasted the Luftwaffe and spared the British island from German invasion. Years later, the British coastline would be used to launch Operation Overlord when British, American, and Candian troops would cross the English Channel and turn the tables against the Axis.

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill refused to capitulate to Germany or recognize Hitler’s rule over the European mainland.

Over 1,700 RAF aircraft were destroyed during the Battle of Britain with over 1,500 airmen killed. Nearly 50,000 civilians were killed or wounded by the air raids before the German Luftwaffe backed off. The Germans lost almost 2,000 aircraft and over 2,500 airmen before giving up on the offensive.

From the perspective of the Allies, the Battle of Britain was a dark and somber time. The European mainland was ceded completely to the Germans and Soviets. France was under German occupation. The British had abandoned the mainland. To many, the air raids over Britain seemed to be the beginning of the end. Nevertheless, this was not so. The British RAF held their own against the Luftwaffe until the Germans backed off, bringing the people of the Allies some semblance of hope.

Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring was the leader of the German Air Force during WWII, and the only German military leader with a plan to attack Great Britain.

The world has fallen
Darkness rises over all
Hope begins to fade
Time grinds to halt
The whole world seems to stand still
What will happen next?
A time of monsters
We come to the darkest hour
A time of heroes
German air forces over Britain
The German Luftwaffe attempted to exhaust the British air defenses in preparation for a naval invasion.
Doom is upon us
But the light has not fallen
Brave souls do yet stand
They take to the skies
Demons fly across the sea
And angels meet them
Uncertainty looms
Death rains from skies on fire
People hide below
RAF "Spitfire"
The RAF “Spitfire” was one of the British aircraft which was instrumental in defending against the German air raids.
Flesh and metal grind
The skies fill with flame and blood
With no end in sight
Through struggle they grow
Selfless souls fly into hell
To the stars they go
Their efforts prevail
Day and night, they stay the flame
Taming the dark beast
Civilians in Liverpool
As the air raids dragged on, many British people opted to emerge from their shelters and get on with their lives despite the dangers of the war.
The people hold strong
Across the ages they stand
To meet this moment
The beast wails in pain
Unable to bear the truth
That hope still remains
The beast turns away
Aching from its wounded state
The light still may shine
RAF emblem
The RAF was established in WWI. Their motto translates to, “through adversity to the stars” in Latin.

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All posts by The Pen and Sword are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Published by Louis

I am a freelance writer and English tutor from the United States.

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